Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard as the CEO of Facebook to receive an honorary degree after he declined to earn one after dropping out.
While his commencement speech was commendable, he stated one thing that shows how out of step he is with the reality of our world. When speaking about the loss of jobs from economics, automation and technology; he sounded similar to Donald Trump about just working harder to create jobs replaced by these issues.
Instead of thinking that automation is a bad thing, why not focus on it as a way of freeing up labor to do other things. When companies train employees to advance, this can only help to build morale and create the next generation of learning.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard with a message on fighting inequality and taking risks in the name of innovation.
Zuckerberg, who, like the graduates, is a millennial, started Facebook in his Harvard dorm room in 2004. He dropped out the following year and returned Thursday to receive an honorary degree.
You can read the full speech here or just skip down to the highlights.
Here are top excerpts from his commencement speech:
“Let’s face it, you accomplished something I never could. If I get through this speech today, it’ll be the first time I actually finish something here at Harvard.”
“The idea of a single eureka moment is a dangerous lie. It makes us feel inadequate since we haven’t had ours. It prevents people with seeds of good ideas from getting started.”
“When you don’t have the freedom to take your idea and turn it into a historic enterprise, we all lose. Right now our society is way over-indexed on rewarding success and we don’t do nearly enough to make it easy for everyone to take lots of shots.”
“My best memory from Harvard is meeting Priscilla. I had just launched this prank website Facemash, and the ad (administrative) board wanted to ‘see me.’ Everyone thought I was going to get kicked out. My parents drove up here to help me pack my stuff. My friends threw me a going-away party. Who does that? As luck would have it, Priscilla was at that party with her friends. And we met in line for the bathroom in the Pfoho Belltower (a dorm), and in what must seem like one of the all-time most romantic lines, I turned to her and said: ‘I’m getting kicked out in three days, so we need to go on a date quickly.'”
“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.”
“In our society, we often don’t do big things because we’re so afraid of making mistakes that we ignore all the things wrong today if we do nothing. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can’t keep us from starting.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas. We’re all going to change jobs and roles many times, so we need affordable child care to get to work and health care that’s not tied to one employer.”
“Millennials are already one of the most charitable generations in history. In just one year, more than three in four U.S. millennials donated to charity and more than seven in 10 raised money for another one. But it’s not just about giving money. You can also give time. And I promise you, if you just take an hour or two a week – that’s all it takes to give someone a hand and help them reach their potential.”
“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.”
“Every generation expands the circle of people we consider ‘one of us.’ And in our generation, that now includes the whole world. … But we live in an unstable time. There are people left behind by globalization across the whole world. And it’s tough to care about people in other places when we don’t first feel good about our lives here at home. There’s pressure to turn inwards.”
“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. I know a lot of you will have your own stories just like this. A change in the world that seems so clear you’re sure someone else will do it. But they won’t. You will.”
“It’s good to be idealistic. But be prepared to be misunderstood. Anyone working on a big vision will get called crazy, even if you end up right. Anyone working on a complex problem will get blamed for not fully understanding the challenge, even though it’s impossible to know everything upfront. Anyone taking initiative will get criticized for moving too fast, because there’s always someone who wants to slow you down.”
“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.”
“We can all make time to give someone a hand. Let’s give everyone the freedom to pursue their purpose — not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because when more people can turn their dreams into something great, we’re all better for it.”
“Change starts local. Even global changes start small — with people like us. In our generation, the struggle of whether we connect more, whether we achieve our biggest opportunities, comes down to this — your ability to build communities and create a world where every single person has a sense of purpose.”
“The greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.”