Mark Zuckerberg may have dropped out of Harvard to make Facebook, the most used social network on the internet, but he was invited back today to give the commencement speech to the graduating class of 2017. He urged graduating Harvard students to give some thought to creating a culture where it was more socially acceptable to take risks.
The Harvard commencement speech, which can be read in its entirety on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page, started with a joke. Zuckerberg said that if he finished the speech it would be the first thing that he’d ever finished at Harvard. He then congratulated the graduates of the Harvard class of 2017 for accomplishing something that he could not.
After talking about some memories he had of Harvard, Mark mentioned his first website, Facemash. He noted that Facemash was not nearly as important in creating Facebook, as the movie implied (referring to the 2010 movie, The Social Network). However, it was important to him because it played a big role in meeting his wife, Priscilla. Mark told them that because of Facemash, he thought he would get kicked out so he threw a big party. He met Priscilla standing in line for the bathroom and he told her, “I’m going to get kicked out in three days, so we have to go on a date quickly.”
Mark Zuckerberg himself is a risk taker. At 33-years-old he is the founder of the biggest and most successful social networks online. Not only is Facebook the largest social network, it is possibly the social network that takes the most tech savvy risks. Whether it is implement financially successful advertising techniques, or buying out potential competitors, Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook demonstrate that there is a future in risk taking.
Zuckerberg told the Harvard graduating class that he knows he never would have been able to take the risk of leaving Harvard to create Facebook if he did not had the support of his family. Without that support, he would not have had any backup if he failed.
Addressing the Harvard graduates, Mark Zuckerberg shared his opinion.
“There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in ten years when millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business.”
Mark told the students that everyone loses when people do not have the freedom to take their ideas and turn it into a profitable business.
Zuckerberg addressed the topics of having a purpose and having the freedom to pursue that purpose. He included wealth inequality as one of the things that is preventing people from going after what they want to do. He used the example of a high school student that wanted to go to college but didn’t know if he would be allowed to because he was undocumented.
“We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful.”
Although he could not give any specific solutions to the graduates of Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg encouraged them to think about the question of risk taking.
As Reuters reported, Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard commencement speech is not the first one to be given by a Harvard dropout. Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, also dropped out of Harvard and gave the 2007 commencement speech.
According to The Star, Mark Zuckerberg received his honorary doctorate degree from Harvard. It was 12 years ago that Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard.
Did you read Mark Zuckerberg’s commencement speech on his Facebook page or watch the video? What did you think about it? Was it better or worse than what you expected? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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