13 Lessons I Learned From Zuck:
1. FOCUS on ONE BIG GOAL
At Facebook: We made every single decision through the filter of “Does this help user growth?” If a feature did, we would make it, if not we wouldn’t.
Personal Story: One time I came to Mark with an idea to monetize Facebook, and all he did was write “GROWTH” on a whiteboard. He wasn’t interested in monetizing in the early days, only in user growth.
2. Have a BIG ASS VISION
Why? A big vision is what motivates people to get up and come give their best at the office. It gives employees a sense of purpose beyond money.
At Facebook: In 2005 Mark was saying that he wanted to connect the world.
Personal Story: When I was at FB all I did was think/talk/dream about Facebook. Facebook was my girlfriend. It didn’t feel like a job, so I put in all my hours.
3. Only hire A players
- A players might be more expensive, but they will make you way more money.
- They will make your life so much easier because they’ll solve your problems.
- The flywheel of hiring: A players attract other A players. B players attract more B players.
At Facebook: the people I worked with there were the smartest people I’ve ever worked with (all Ivy leagues from Stanford & Harvard). I never felt like the smartest person in the room.
At AppSumo: I only want to work with IMPRESSIVE people. If someone’s not impressive I don’t work with them.
4. Move fast
At Facebook: We shipped several updates to the site every day. In comparison companies like Microsoft would take months to write out product details, discuss them in a lot of meetings, and finally build them.
At AppSumo: Move fast is one of our “Sumo-isms”.
5. Treat your employees well
- Mark recognized that having a work environment you want to work at would appeal to potential employees and make the existing ones proud to be there (and stay later at night).
- All of these perks minimize distractions so employees can focus on work.
At Facebook: The list of perks EVEN in the early days was endless!
- A fancy office in one of the most expensive neighborhoods of Silicon Valley
- Hyper competitive salaries
- $1000 office chairs for everyone
- Comped PowerBook and BlackBerry
- Delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner catered
- Fridge stocked with any drink you can imagine
- All expenses paid trips to Las Vegas
- Free happy hours every Friday
- Free laundry/dry cleaning service
- Subsidized housing. $600/month if you lived within 1 mile of the office.
- Summer housing/Winter Cabin that anyone could use
6. Scratch your own itch
- When you’re building something for yourself things are less ambiguous, you don’t have to do as much market research
- There’s nothing more exciting than working on something that you personally use.
At Facebook: Everyone working there was in love with the product we were building. It’s all we would talk/think/dream about.
At AppSumo: I started AppSumo because I loved tech products and deals…
7. Don’t listen to your customers for product features
This one is controversial… The truth is, users/customers often don’t know what they want.
Why? Customers often don’t know what they want, and they’re not spending as much time thinking about the product as you are.
- We were getting 10,000 pieces of feedback every day. Most of them were asking for features that other sites had or were just really bad suggestions.
- Mark was building a product he wanted to use. A lot of the feature requests would come from him directly or bottoms up from engineers.
Personal Story: Users hated the newsfeed when it first launched -they felt like it invaded their privacy. After a couple of weeks, they loved it.
8. Have high standards + Pay attention to details
Why? How you do the small things represents how you do everything else. If you mess up the small things people won’t trust you for the bigger things.
- Mark didn’t accept anything less than perfect. If he thought something was shit he would tell you and you’d have to start over.
- Mark was anal about capitalizing the F in Facebook
- Attention to detail, grammar, and ease of use were the most critical things on the site.
Personal Story: Mark gifted me the book Elements of Style by Strunk and White (a grammar book) for Hanukkah 🙂
9. Give your employees a sense of ownership of the product
- If they feel like an owner they will act as an owner
- You don’t have to oversee everything they do (less work for you)
- They will solve problems and find ways to add value to your business by themselves
At Facebook: Engineers and product managers could come up with features and build them out without needing anyone’s approval.
10. Hire fast, fire fast
At Facebook: Mark removed the people that were holding Facebook back immediately and he quickly promoted the ones that were helping FB achieve its goals
Personal Story: I got fired from Facebook…
11. Never say the word “user”
Why? Humanizing the people that use your products allows you to serve them better. You’re able to better relate to the problems they’re facing vs just looking at numbers.
At Facebook: Mark would literally yell at you if you used the word “user”.
At OkDork: You guys watching/reading aren’t just viewers/readers, you’re people with hopes, dreams, aspirations! Love you guys!
12. Do it for the love of the game, not for the money
- Facebook got an offer from Yahoo early on for $1 billion, but Mark didn’t consider selling for a second
- Mark and Dustin “took some cash off the table” and were millionaires early on, but they kept driving the same cars and the money didn’t change a thing about them
- Mark drove an Infiniti FX45 SUV and Dustin a Toyota 4Runner
Personal Story: Mark’s apartment was the definition of minimalism. A small bed, some clothes, and a teapot. That’s it. Barely any dishes or food, no TV, no internet.
In my personal life: I’m a millionaire but I still drive a Miata, life in a small house, eat at Taco deli…
13. Be strategic
- When you’re in a competitive space like social media was at the time, a bad decision can put you out of business. In the end, there’s usually only one big player, so you can’t make any big mistakes.
- Facebook became the #1 social network because Mark kept making the right decisions, and if he made any mistakes he would fix them very quickly.
- Even though we were moving fast, every decision we made was strategic and carefully thought throughout.
- Mark would spend a lot of time alone thinking through his decisions
- Mark had an incredible ability to think in the future, he was thinking 5 years ahead of the competition