Watch this short video first, take careful note of what Zuckerberg says and then read the article.
There is a lot to learn from watching this short video.
First, there’s the all-important lesson that everybody who “gets there” gets there the same way: by putting on their pants, or in this case gym shorts, one leg at a time.
Obviously, the scale and scope of Facebook has changed dramatically since the time of this interview.
New money, new expertise, and new ambition has poured in.
But look at where Mark Zuckerberg started.
He didn’t start out with the ambition to make billions of dollars. He also was not thinking about creating a service that would be so huge it would challenge even Google in traffic.
The answer is very simple and it’s the answer to everything: he focused on getting what was in front of his face at the moment right.
I detect no wild ambition, no intoxication with the fantasy of limitless riches, no rush to bring something to market ready or not.
Instead, I see a guy who just picked up his tools everyday, worked on his blueprint, and took pains to get it right.
I know this flies in the face of typical “get rich quick” seminar bullshit, especially the famous “shoot, ready, aim” method that students of a certain type of “guru” are encouraged to follow.
The truth is that nothing goes right the first time, but the idea that you can build a lasting success with a “sell first and get the quality right later” approach is a great way to fail.
That being said, it certainly is possible to package and sell things, even at high prices, that are not ready for market. You can even make money launching products, selling a lot of them, and then abandoning support for the product, which is another way of saying screwing your customers.
Yes you can do it, but it’s…
Unfortunately, this approach has become the new normal in the Internet marketing education world, so much so that I find that some among the new generation of would-be educators don’t even realize there’s another way to do things.
This is bad for the marketplace, it’s very bad for people who are trying to learn Internet marketing, and it’s a stupid and shortsighted way of doing things.
Big spikes of income from episodic hyped up promotions of products that have no basis in reality does not make a business.
Businesses are built on selling products and services. Products and services that do what they say they are going to do and are supported and improved when they don’t.
“We wanted to make sure it was going to work before going any further with it.” – Mark Zuckerberg.
After getting a good results from a test at one school, he didn’t roll it out to the world. He tested it at just three schools.
After those three schools continued to prove the concept, then he rolled it out to 29 schools.
Then, he geared up to launch the service to schools around the world. Not the world. Just the world’s schools.
Does that mean he wasn’t a “possibility thinker?” That he didn’t practice positive thinking? That he didn’t have the intelligence to see the value of what he had?
No, no, and no.
He was working on exactly what he was supposed to be working at: getting what was in front of his face right.
I’m all for creative, open-ended, blue sky thinking. It’s where many of our best ideas come from, but when it comes to putting boots on the ground and rubber on the road, fantasy doesn’t cut it.
Long-term success requires engineering and engineering, to be successful, has to be as precise as possible and rooted in the real world.
Let’s look at the other 800 pound gorilla on the Internet, Google.
The founders of Google had a very simple original goal which was to improve what at the time was near- total and easy-to-manipulate crap (search engine results) into something reliable and worthwhile.
All they wanted to do was develop the technology and sell it to someone.
Had you known them and had you had $1 million back in 1997, you could’ve bought it from them because that was what they were willing to sell it for. The name of their product (in this case a set of algorithms)? “Backrub.” Yup, that was the original name that Google’s founders wanted to call their service.
They succeeded in the long term for the very same reason that every other major search service of the time is now in the financial toilet: Google focused on getting it right while the other companies didn’t.
The owners of Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, Infoseek, Hotbot, and many others were OK with the obviously substandard results they were returning to their users. They were making money and that’s all that mattered to them. End result: today they are out of business or operating in greatly reduced circumstances.
By the way, Larry Page and Sergey Brin offered that deal – all the Google patents for $1 million – to the CEOs of every one of those companies and not a single one considered it seriously.
In his case, his intended “market” was the community of particle physicists worldwide who needed a better way to keep up-to-date with experiments going on in their field. He focused on getting that right and happened to change the world in the process.
Then along came Marc Andreessen (co-founder of Netscape), who at the time was an undergraduate working for $6.85 an hour in the physics lab at the University of Illinois. All he wanted to do was put an easy-to-use graphical interface on the World Wide Web which he first came across on his job.
Marc got someone to help him do it, Eric Bina, and together they focused on doing it right. Then they created versions for other operating systems and did that right too. Then Andreessen personally supported users without charge for program that he gave away free. Within a year or so, Mosaic had 1 million users.
All this – Netscape, Google, Facebook and even the Web itself – happened because the people involved focused on getting it right.
If there’s a venture anywhere on earth, large or small, that’s lasted and had any other foundation, let me know.
What a travesty.
And besides being unethical, it’s stupid.
Try to find anyone who has had more than a few years run without blowing themselves up using this approach.
The average life span of a “I’m in a rush to get rich” Internet marketing guru is about two years from the time they’re “famous” to the time they’re despised. And though through to the power of momentum they may continue to make money, even “great” money, for a while afterwards, it always ends the same: reduced reputation, reduced prospects, reduced income.
Peter Drucker, arguably the most highly regarded business advisor of the last 100 years, put it best:
“The purpose of business is to create customers and to innovate.”
Nowhere in that definition did he include making as much money as you possibly can with as little effort and as little concern for your customers as possible.
Even under the best of circumstances, doing business right is tough. It’s possible to do everything right and have a reversal that takes out the game. But one thing’s for sure: if your focus is anything other than getting it right – not with lip service, but in reality – then you’ll be building a foundation on sand.
The good news is that the number of so-called business people who understand this principle, let alone live it, are so few and far between that in most fields there is rarely any truly serious competition.
P.S. I don’t know what it’s going to take to drain the ethical swamp that Internet marketing (and many other industries) have descended into in the last several years.
Our recent contribution to the effort has been to bring to print a previously private manuscript by former Libertarian presidential candidate (1996 and 2000), author, publisher and business owner, the late Harry Browne.
Many know his classic book “How I Found Freedom In and Unfree World.”
Few people know that Browne also conducted trainings for business people as well. One of his most important works – on the real art of selling and business building – never made it into print.
Now it has and it’s worth a look.
– Ken McCarthy
P.S. For over 25 years I’ve been sharing the simple but powerful things that matter in business with my clients.
If you’d like direction for your business that will work today, tomorrow and twenty years from now, visit us at the System Club.