Mark Zuckerberg, the spark behind the social media platform Facebook, reads voraciously as a means to explore “new cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies”.
His goal is to read a new book every two weeks and in 2015, he started ‘A Year of Books’ club, sharing whatever he read with an enthusiastic community.
The Grand Young Man of Media
The American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur is chairman, chief executive officer and co-founder of – Facebook. His net worth is estimated to be over $54 billion, making him the list of the fifth richest man in the world at time of writing.
After launching Facebook from his dormitory rooms in 2004, Zuckerberg’s platform now unites over 2.0 billion people in the whole world.
As Harvard President Drew Faust put it: “And few individuals can rival Mark Zuckerberg in his drive to change our world through the innovative use of technology, as well as his commitment to advance science, enhance education, and expand opportunity through the pursuit of philanthropy.”
Book under the Bonnet
The secret behind Mark Zuckerberg’s cognitive and behavioral awareness and drive seems to be the age-old magic wand – the Book.
Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page.
The quintessential tech whiz has obviously been an avid reader for long, as his self-reflection and musings reveal.
However, he articulated this passion only a few years ago. “My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week…” he wrote.
He started the Book Club and went on to describe each book he read. His narratives show that he internalises every message and takes them as guide maps for his life and plans.
Having drawn a number of book lovers, Zuckerberg gives some guidelines in the market. Whatever he recommends creates a sensation.
The Atlantic wrote that his Oprah Book Club “has the potential to be Oprahesque in its influence on book sales”. Zuckerberg’s first recommendation was Moisés Naím’s ‘The End of Power’. It shot up the Amazon record sales for stock.
His descriptions remain wide and deep. About ‘Zero to One’, by Peter A. Thiel & Blake Master, he commented: This book delivers completely new and refreshing ideas on how to create value in the world.
An interesting recommendation is The Muqaddimah, or ‘The Introduction’, written in 1377 by the Islamic historian Khaldun, who took a scientific perspective of history.
“While much of what was believed then is now disproven after 700 more years of progress, it’s still very interesting to see what was understood at this time and the overall world view when it’s all considered together”, Zuckerberg said.
How self-reflection helped
Zuckerberg knows that reading would fuel his introspection and take him towards new worlds as well as alternative perspectives.
As he said: I’m excited for my reading challenge. I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today.
Many books are like microcosms of the worlds he understands and tries to mirror.
For instance ‘Creativity, Inc.’ by Alice Wallace and Edwin Catmull has helped him to think and adjust. He comments on how these works fuelled his adaptation:
His deep understanding is the reason that Mark Zuckerberg views even obstacles as empowering.
He showed his gratitude when he addressed his fans: Thank you to all 50,000 of you in our community who gave me suggestions for different challenges… Many of you proposed reading challenges….
The more tangible and real challenges are like those that are normal but huge among all successful media moghuls: competition, accusation of idea theft and indignation from shareholders.
Even as Zuckerberg faces adversaries over the issue of piracy theft and the future of Facebook – his future as well as that of Facebook does not seem to be irretrievable, even though it is a bit worn at the edges.
Like Mark Zuckerberg, every obstacle can be met with determination and firmness.
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