Photo by Ryan Faulkner/BYU

My Date with Mark Zuckerberg


Photo by Ryan Faulkner/BYU

OK, so maybe it wasn’t so much a date, as I was in a sea of thousands of people and he was there speaking to us… aaannnddd… he has a girlfriend…aaaannnndddd… I’m married.  But still.  It was an AWESOME afternoon!  It was a Technology “Forum” with Senator Orin Hatch and Mark Zuckerberg.  When Mark came out to the stage the entire audience stood up and cheered wildly for him!  He was a total rock star.  Even the other 30-something women bloggers I was sitting with were completely geeking out over it.

Senator Hatch started things out light, by saying that the reason he invited Mark to speak at BYU was so Mark would finally accept his friend request.  Of course the audience thought that was hilarious.  Next Sen. Hatch moved onto the questions that were submitted on the BYU Facebook page.  The first question was, “How did you get started and has it turned out how you thought it would?”  Mark responded by saying that he wasn’t trying to start a company, and he continued having the intention of going back to Harvard.  As Facebook continued to expand though, it became apparent that he wasn’t heading back to Harvard any time soon.

They then moved onto talking about whether marketing or management was the key to success.  Mark discussed that there are always a lot of folks trying to do the same thing, they key is to execute it better then they are.  He attributes his success, not to himself, but to the team he built.

Since this forum was taking place on a University campus, logically he was asked about the classes he took when he was at Harvard that he thought were most beneficial.  Surprisingly he was actually a double major, one being computer science, the other being psychology.  He said building a successful software or internet company is as much about sociology and psychology as it is about technology.  People are most interested in what is going on with people they care about, and so Facebook became wildly successful.

Photo by BYU

They talked about internet safety, and what Facebook is doing to keep it safe and clean.  Most of which Mark said was implementing several protocols such as the https encryption I spoke about a few weeks ago, and extra security if you log in from a location you haven’t really been to before (like a computer on the other side of the world) which would pull up pictures of your friends, asking you which one isn’t one of your friends, etc.

One part they started to discuss that really interested me was what is the way technology can enhance the traditional style of learning.  Mark stated that him and his girlfriend often talk about education and kids (which included a throw away line, that may or may not have mentioned that his girlfriend was pregnant, I couldn’t quite hear what he said and it was said so quickly, but if she is… you heard it here first.  🙂 )  He said his girlfriend was a teacher (hence the discussions about education), and they recently made a donation to New York’s education system.  Sen. Hatch came back with the fact that BYU was a great school (obviously hinting about funding) which threw Zuck right out of his comfort zone, and he was speechless for a second.  What Mark mentioned was that there are no standards for college education.  There are no metrics for how well colleges are educating their students.  He thinks technology can help improve the measurements of that.  He spoke about Khan Academy which is an online resource for learning about all sorts of things.  There are tutorials on there on everything from solving quatratic equations to the French Revolution.  He also spoke about Startup Education which is the foundation he started to take a startup company approach to our educational system.  From their information on their facebook page they state “There are many different challenges all facing education at once. Teaching needs to be more respected and revered as a career. School districts need more autonomy and clearer leadership so they can be managed more like startups than like government bureaucracies. And outside the classroom, we need to support students’ interests, give them a safe environment to grow up in, and keep everyone healthy.”

Stay tuned for the second half tomorrow!


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