Mark Zuckerberg’s Legacy
If you don’t know the name Mark Zuckerberg, you’ve likely been living under a rock – either do not participate in much, if any, internet based activity … or possibly don’t go to the movies; since in addition to being founder and CEO of the online empire known as Facebook, he’s already had a movie made about his life and that phenomenon. And he’s only 27 years old.
Yet he’s a true pioneer and visionary, whose legacy is already unfolding even if he doesn’t fully realize it.
Zuckerberg was one of a handful of internet and online media gurus who presented at the first “e-G8” meeting in Paris – a two day summit that started on May 24, 2011. This gathering of e-leaders was kicked off by French President Nicolas Sarkozy (a project that is now one of his own legacies, especially as it carries forward and morphs into whatever form of dialogue that industry and world leaders will need for the future of communications and community building). The intent of the conference was to provide the digital world’s input for the more recognized Group of 8 (aka “G8”) Summit taking place starting May 26, 2011. (The G7 began in 1976 as meetings by the heads of the world’s richest, industrialized countries – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada – adding Russia in 1997 to form the G8).
The G8 meetings have not been without controversy – and true to form the e-G8 will add to that with its discussions about enacting rules to ‘govern’ the internet (protection of children, addressing theft of copyrighted material through illegal downloads, and dealing with spam) while protecting communication freedoms and possibilities for creative expression, even economic growth and even pursuit of democracy – as events in Egypt and other middle eastern countries has demonstrated lately.
Presenters at the e-G8 cautioned against regulation of new technologies that can spawn innovation and a shift of power back to the people – to individuals. Indeed, this echoed the U.N.’s independent expert on freedom of speech, who just recently stated that governments which curtail users’ access to the Internet are violating a basic human right – regardless of the justification.
At his presentation during e-G8, one of the questions Zuckerberg was asked was one that seems to come up more frequently these days – as matters of truly cooperating and making contributions that can change the world for the better seem to be discussed more often. He was asked about “what he thought his legacy would be.” His response was characterized as being caught off guard by the question, when he reminded people of his age, laughing and saying “It’s a little early … give me a break.”
But really, is it ever too early to consider? Especially when it’s a matter of creating something and not of disposing of the residual aspects of life - when it’s about being active rather than passive? I’m glad to see people of all ages considering the question at all. And I’m thrilled that it is happening more frequently. My view is the sooner the better, and that younger people often seem to get the concept of legacy even better than their elders. In truth, Zuckerman has already created a huge legacy and, not yet thirty years old, is poised to develop many others – so long as he has what I like to call the “consciousness for joyful contribution.”
Legacy is about who you are and what you choose to do in the world that has the possibility of leaving a positive, lasting impact to benefit others – the people, places and things you care about and are most interested in. Finding your own path and purpose(s) in life, and then living into that authentically and with passion are what allow for such expressions of true significance. That approach creates ultimate win-win experiences that feel terrific. Legacy is not simply about leaving stuff behind when you die, or something to think about at the end of life.
I for one am glad to see the question being considered more often, by more people. The whole point of the work I’m doing now, is to help people not only consider the issue of their personal legacy, but to help them both live and build it in a way that is ultimately one of the most satisfying ways to approach life … starting from wherever they are. Especially successful women, who have the abilities and wherewithal to make bigger impacts than ever, but may lack the guidance or support to pursue their greatest work. It’s not about how old, or how rich, it’s just about making a decision to give forward and add value, and then taking the steps to doing something about it. (That’s what the 7 Steps to Creating Your Legacy program is all about … see our self-directed slide show here).
So go for it, Mark Zuckerberg – take the time to think about what you want your legacy ultimately to be, recognize the contributions you’ve already made, and get really jazzed about what more you can do.
That goes for all the rest of you, too. Be great – you are!!