Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday returned to the Harvard University amid rainy skies to present a commencement speech at the university’s 366th Commencement ceremony and collect his degree after over a decade of dropping out from the college. Zuckerberg had dropped out from Harvard after he started Facebook from his dormitory room in 2004.
Talking to the class of 2017, Zuckerberg not only shared his ‘best memory’ from Harvard but also talked about the sense of purpose that the millennials should have in order to create a better world. Zuckerberg said that he had launched a prank website Facemash when the ad board summoned him.
“My best memory from Harvard is meeting Priscilla.”
“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,” he shared with graduates..
“I said- ‘I’m gonna get kicked out in three days, so we need to go on a date quickly‘”.
The Facebook founder started his speech on a rather nostalgic note asking the students to remember what they were doing when they got the acceptance letter from Harvard. Talking about his own memory, Zuckerberg said that he was sitting on a couch and playing a video game when he got the letter.
“Getting into Harvard is the thing my parent are most proud of me for.”
The 33-year old billionaire not only talked about the challenge that our generation was facing but also about the things like climate education, curing diseases and modernising democracy, that the millennials need to work towards.
“We have a generational challenge to not only create jobs but to create a renewed sense of challenge.”
The Facebook founder shared his three-step mantra of creating a better world which includes taking up meaningful projects that would not only help in individual growth but also help in the development of the society at large.
“There are three ways we can create the world where everyone has a sense of purpose– by taking on big meaningful projects together; by redefining equality so that everyone has the freedom to pursue their purpose and by building community all across the world,” he shared.
“Let’s do big things not just to create progress but to create purpose.”
The Boy wonder also talked about the importance of ideas and of persistence while pursuing one’s dreams. In an honest conversation with the students, Zuckerberg shared that making a beginning is important and that the ideas become clear as one traverses the path.
“Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to know everything about connecting people before I got started, I never would have built Facebook.”
Keeping the conversation real, he also shared tales of the stormy times he faced while leading Facebook. He talked about the time when he had a tough choice to make between selling Facebook and keeping it afloat. Zuckerberg shared that while he was against selling the company, his top management executives were in favour of the sale. However, going against their advice, he decided to keep the company even as they left.
“It’s really good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision is going to get called crazy, even if you end up right.”
Zuckerberg also pointed out several flaws in the education system. He said that while he was making billions of dollars, there were some students who couldn’t even pay off their loans. He stressed that such discrepancies in the education system needed to be addressed immediately.
“There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can’t even afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business.”
The Facebook founder highlighted how the struggle faced by the millenials was different from that of their previous generations as he called for the younger generations to establish a new social order.
“Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. They had the New Deal and Great Society. And now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract.”
Shedding light on the struggle of our times, he said that the battle faced by our generation was not of nations but that of ideas.
“This is the struggle of our time. The forces of freedom, openness and global community against the forces of authoritarianism, isolationism and nationalism. Forces for the flow of knowledge, trade and immigration against those who would slow them down. This is not a battle of nations. It’s a battle of ideas.”
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