Sam Semako Career Development 11 Lessons from Mark Zuckerberg’s Commencement Speech At Harvard

11 Lessons from Mark Zuckerberg’s Commencement Speech At Harvard

In May 26 2017, Mark Zuckerberg delivered a commencement speech in Harvard to the Class of 2017.


I have always loved commencement speeches since I came across some of them while reading what is called READERS in Lagos State Polytechnic and Lagos State University libraries.


The last commencement speech I read and picked lessons from was that of Arianna Huffington at Smith College 135th commencement ceremony on Sunday, 13th May 2013 which she titled THRIVE.


I just love commencement speeches. (If you find one, send it to me.)


So, here are my first 11 lessons from Mark’s commencement speech.


I hope you learn a thing or two or more from them.


Lesson 1: Because you couldn’t complete it, doesn’t necessary mean that your life won’t still count. What you do afterwards will determine whether your life will count or not.


“I’m honored to be with you today because, let’s face it, you accomplished something I never could. If I get through this speech, it’ll be the first time I actually finish something at Harvard.”


Lesson 2: The routes to our different destinies are not the same.


“…We may have taken different paths to get here…”


Lesson 3: Because some people are awkward and different do not make them less than who we are.


“I was late so I threw on a t-shirt and didn’t realize until afterwards it was inside out and backwards with my tag sticking out the front. I couldn’t figure out why no one would talk to me — except one guy, KX Jin, he just went with it. We ended up doing our problem sets together, and now he runs a big part of Facebook. And that, Class of 2017, is why you should be nice to people.”


Lesson 4: Your soul mate, or your business partner, or helper, is close by.


“But my best memory from Harvard was meeting Priscilla. I had just launched this prank website Facemash, and the ad board wanted to “see me”. Everyone thought I was going to get kicked out. My parents came to help me pack. My friends threw me a going away party. As luck would have it, Priscilla was at that party with her friend. We met in line for the bathroom in the Pfoho Belltower, and in what must be one of the all time romantic lines, I said: “I’m going to get kicked out in three days, so we need to go on a date quickly.” Actually, any of you graduating can use that line. I didn’t end up getting kicked out — I did that to myself. Priscilla and I started dating. And, you know, that movie made it seem like Facemash was so important to creating Facebook. It wasn’t. But without Facemash I wouldn’t have met Priscilla, and she’s the most important person in my life, so you could say it was the most important thing I built in my time here.”


Lesson 5: Your life is interwoven with mine, and vice-versa.


“…I’m here to tell you finding your purpose isn’t enough. The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.”


Lesson 6: The work you do is an extension of what I do.


“One of my favorite stories is when John F Kennedy visited the NASA space center, he saw a janitor carrying a broom and he walked over and asked what he was doing. The janitor responded: “Mr. President, I’m helping put a man on the moon”.”


Lesson 7: If what you do doesn’t spread joy in a way, but sorrow, you haven’t found purpose.


“Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness.”


Lesson 8: Don’t stand still, ‘change’ is moving. Move with change.


“When our parents graduated, purpose reliably came from your job, your church, your community. But today, technology and automation are eliminating many jobs.”


Lesson 9: In every generation, the challenges are different. Are you in tune with the challenges confronting your generation?


“To keep our society moving forward, we have a generational challenge: to not only create new jobs, but create a renewed sense of purpose.”


Lesson 10: All you are required to do at the beginning is, START! Wherever the idea now leads you, follow it.


“I remember the night I launched Facebook from my little dorm in Kirkland House. I went to Noch’s with my friend KX. I remember telling him I was excited to connect the Harvard community, but one day someone would connect the whole world. The thing is, it never even occurred to me that someone might be us. We were just college kids. We didn’t know anything about that. There were all these big technology companies with resources. I just assumed one of them would do it. But this idea was so clear to us — that all people want to connect. So we just kept moving forward, day by day.”


Lesson 11: Spread the sense of purpose; infect others. Stir up in them, a sense of their own purpose.


“But it’s not enough to have purpose yourself. You have to create a sense of purpose for others.”


P.S. Which lesson stands out for you?

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Author: Sam Semako

I am a Career Development Consultant who mentors those who are confused regarding what to do with their lives, or frustrated about their work or struggling to find what they need to do with their lives. I also help train them to become experts in their fields by providing them with significant career-based information, resources (in form of opportunities and networks), and training relevant to their fields in order for them to live their dreams and make a lasting impact in a space of 1 year and beyond.

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