Mark Zuckerberg will be delivering the commencement address to Harvard University’s class of 2017 in May. Like the luminaries before him who had the same opportunity, he will be conferred an honorary degree.
The Facebook co-founder wrote on his social media site:
The post elicited varying reactions ranging from nonchalant to somewhat condescending, to highly appreciative. Zuckerberg, after all, has become a symbol of technology and connectivity.
Harvard President Drew Faust expressed through the Harvard Gazette that the decision to invite Zuckerberg to speak at the 366th commencement was an easy one to make. “Few inventions in modern times can rival Facebook in its far-reaching impact on how people around the globe interact with one another,” she explained.
She added that few individuals can rival Mark Zuckerberg in his drive to change our world. She also cited his commitment to advance science, improve education, and create opportunities through his philanthropic projects.
As Zuckerberg mentioned, among the leaders who accepted an invitation from the private Ivy League university was George Catlett Marshall Jr., Chief of Staff of the United States Army under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. American business magnate William Henry “Bill” Gates III also had his chance.
Gates said that his Harvard days were “exhilarating, intimidating, sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging… an amazing privilege,” adding that though he left early, he was transformed by Harvard. For his part, Zuckerberg left the hallowed halls of Harvard as a sophomore in 2004, then moved to Palo Alto, California to pursue his social network endeavor.
Facebook today is among the robust global companies that have kept its focus on outcomes and has created an engaging customer experience. Zuckerberg has become the embodiment of innovation.
As Don Clifton wrote in his book First, Break All the Rules — What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, “Strong companies become experts in the destination.” Mark Zuckerberg has always identified his desired ends and given his targeted public the thrill of the journey.
Inspiring Today’s Graduates, Tomorrow’s Leaders
The Facebook CEO epitomizes certain qualities that graduating students can take to heart. Apart from realizing that education can come outside the academe, qualities like being proactive, thinking critically, owning up to mistakes, being goal-oriented, passionate, and open to learning new things can lead to a bright future for today’s graduates.
Facebook also offers an important lesson to the new crop of graduates — to rise when challenges or setbacks occur. In its case, the social networking company has had to deal with skepticism about American online companies’ practices pertaining to the privacy of users’ personal information. It has also received flak for the proliferation of “fake news.”