In 2015, while addressing a gathering of students and faculties at Tsinghua University, Beijing, Mark impressed everybody in the auditorium by talking and answering questions in Mandarin, which the entrepreneur had been learning since 2010. It was Facebook CEO’s new year’s resolution in 2010 to learn Chinese. Although it took him four years to learn a totally alien language, he not only achieved his resolution but also inspired many to achieve theirs.
Let’s look at his new year’s resolution over the years, starting with 2010.
Resolution: To learn Chinese
Like I mentioned, in 2010, Mark challenged himself to learn Chinese. The Facebook founder took 4 years to learn the language that is drastically different from the language he speaks and is spoken in a completely different dialect and written in a script quite dissimilar to Latin.
“There are three reasons I decided to learn Chinese. The first, my wife is Chinese. Her grandmother can only speak Chinese. When I told her in Chinese I was going to marry Priscilla, she was very shocked. Then I want to study Chinese culture. The third: Chinese is hard and I like a challenge!”, Mark said in an interview. On his personal Facebook, he announced the news
Learning someone’s language is the shortest path to learn their culture. This is what Mark wanted. Consequently, despite the unavailability of Facebook in the Mainland, Zuckerberg enjoys an enormous popularity in China.
Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurship is something Chinese (especially youths in technology) are fascinated with. Although downright Western, Chinese government is not indifferent to the style.
During the 30-minute session at the university in Beijing, he described his Chinese speaking skill level “really terrible”, hilarity ensued.
It’s high-time, Communist Party of China should unblock Facebook access to Chinese.
Resolution: To become a vegetarian and only eat meat that I kill
In 2011, as a part of his resolution for that year, Mark decided to turn a conditional vegetarian. The condition was: he can still have meat provided he kills the animal himself.
“In order to practice thankfulness, I want to be more connected to the food I eat and the animals that give their lives so I can eat them,” he wrote on his Facebook wall
In a reply to Fortune magazine, trying to implicit his bizzare new year’s resolution, he replied in an email.
He started with a sea-animal. His first kill was a lobster, gradually moving over to chicken and later goat and pig.
“It was a difficult kill, at least emotionally”, he said. During the year, Zuckerberg refrained himself to vegetarian restaurants. He also realized when he calls friends for a supper.
Resolution: To code every day in order to better connect with his employees and better understand Facebook at its most granular level.
As a founder who knows fair amount of coding, Mark realized that as the company has grown from small-time startup to a publicly traded giant, he has lost connection to the most granular part of the Facebook, the coders. So, he decided to better connect with the coders and coding community of Facebook; he would code every day.
That means working in a team of developers and interacting with them as a team member, not CEO. This will help him understand them better.
This new year’s resolution by CEO made many founders and CEO to work with their core team as a part, not as a boss and is a part of many growing startups culture.
Resolution: To meet someone outside of work every day
“I’m meeting one new person outside of Facebook every day. Who doesn’t work at Facebook,” Zuckerberg said in an interview to Fortune Magazine. “It’s going well—I’ve done a bunch of things in the community and just tried to get broader exposure.”
This will relate to people who are stuck in a 9-to-7 job and, hardly, get time to meet people outside their job purview. When you don’t meet with average Joe outside your work, you become detached with the world you’re living in.
Mark Zuckerberg has really inspired a generation of young employees to take a break from their daily routine and explore the other side of the world.
Resolution: To handwrite or email a thought-out thank-you note to someone every day of the year in 2014.
“It’s important for me, because I’m a really critical person,” he said in an interview to Bloomberg. “I always kind of see how I want things to be better, and I’m generally not happy with how things are, or the level of service that we’re providing for people, or the quality of the teams that we built. But if you look at this objectively, we’re doing so well on so many of these things. I think it’s important to have gratitude for that,” he added.
CEOs tend to get very busy. There is no doubt in that. However, by making an effort to handwrite or type a mail out of his busy schedule every day, he has made many CEOs to start appreciating people around them with on a more personal note.
2014 was the year when Facebook turned ‘10’.
Resolution: To read a new book every 2 weeks and inspire others to do so
Zuckerberg read 23 books in the year 2015. Many people took the challenge “A Year of Books” with him when Mark declared his 2015’ resolution on his personal Facebook.
The cofounder and CEO of Facebook would name the book every two weeks that he’s going to read on his Facebook page, starting Mark Zuckerberg book club.
Within hours of his first book pick, The End of Power went out of stock on Amazon.com. Zuckerberg’s announcement met with a lot of press exposure.
The Atlantic called it to have “the potential to be Oprahesque in its influence on book sales”, drawing parallelism with Oprah Book Club after The End of Power went out of stock. The New Yorker drew a similar comparison.
Resolution: Build a robot butler like Iron Man’s Jarvis
On Jan. 3 2016, Mark took to the Facebook like he does every year to share that year’s personal challenge—to use artificial intelligence to create a personal assistant.
He wants to build an artificial intelligence that bears a resemblance to the one called J.A.R.V.I.S (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) in the “Iron Man” films.
“The reason I’m building this just for myself is that the technology in every home is different, so it’ll be much easier for me to start just building this for mine that building a general product that works for everyone,” he replied to a comment on the above post.
Jarvis uses of facial and speech recognition technology and Zuckerberg build a Messenger bot for Jarvis while coding in his free time.
“The CEO showed his desires to open-source the code.”
Finally, over time, it would be interesting to find ways to make this available to the world. I considered open-sourcing my code, but it’s currently too tightly tied to my own home, appliances and network configuration,” replied in the comments while asked about the future of Jarvis.
He uses Jarvis every day since January 3 2016. Although challenges are ending, he believes there is always a thing or two to add or building over existing feature set.