Mark Zuckerberg was already known to millions worldwide as the Harvard dropout who started the world’s largest social network in his tiny dorm room.
Today, his persona has expanded to epic proportions as Facebook’s IPO has made him the third wealthiest tech entrepreneur in the United States (and among the top 30 richest people in the world, population 7 billion).
People who have followed Facebook and Zuckerberg’s meteoric rise know that Zuckerberg is an introvert. And he’s not one of these closet introverts who looks like an extrovert to anyone who doesn’t know it. His introversion is fairly obvious and well-documented.
The good news for Zuck (that’s his Facebook username, so I trust I can be that cozy) is that introvert sentiment is on the upswing. It’s almost hip to be an introvert and to be who you are, in all of your introvert glory.
So here are a few “introvert, honor thyself” thoughts for you, Zuck, to consider as the spotlight goes from bright to blinding:
- The move from private to public means the focus shifts from internal to external. While you’ve always been aware of the outside, the expectations – and the number of eyes watching – have increased billions of times over. Recognize that the increased demands on your attention and need to project your energy outward are going to require an equal increase in time to recharge. Adrenaline will only carry you so far. Make “mellow out” time a priority to avoid a meltdown. Know your boundaries.
- Introverts are notoriously private and sometimes hard to read. That doesn’t necessarily mesh with being a public company. Now, your every word, even your weight and wardrobe, will impact your stock prices. Your need for privacy and independence must be balanced with transparency. People can’t read your mind, and if you make them do it, they will probably not be thinking the same thing you are. Thanks to Facebook (ironic, isn’t it?), news travels fast. You might as well make sure you are the one communicating that news and not assuming others will just figure it out.
- Remember the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As an introvert, you prefer solitude and privacy. Keep that in mind as you build the Facebook empire and make decisions that affect others’ privacy. People do business with people they know, like and trust. As Facebook becomes more and more obviously a business to the end user, it becomes exceedingly important that people know, like and trust YOU.
- By having extroverts like COO Sheryl Sandberg on your team, you’re surrounding yourself with people who have a complementary energy. Continue to add people who bring that balance you value. This allows you to save your energy for the internal visionary creative work, as well as your additional public duties.
- Don’t let your company cannibalize you, and avoid turning it into a “cult of personality.” If Facebook = Zuck and Zuck = Facebook (consider your fellow introvert entrepreneur colleague Steve Jobs), it’s going to suck even more energy out of you. People will be increasingly dependent on you for everything. You won’t always want to eat, sleep and breathe Facebook, and there may come a time when someone else decides they don’t want to you to, either. Introverts know: ultimately, all we have is ourselves. When companies and people have come and gone, we’re all we’ve got. Don’t get so attached that you lose yourself in the process.
What advice do you have for Zuck? How would you take care of yourself if you were in a similar situation?
PS: I’d be remiss if I didn’t invite you to join us on Facebook 🙂 http://facebook.com/TheIntrovertEntrepreneur
Zuckerberg image: http://cunysps.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/zuckerberg-hoffman-dorsey-are-the-new-rockefeller-morgan-and-carnegie/