Mark Zuckerberg, clearly one of the most influential (older) millennials of our time speaks to Congress, and nails it! Wearing a suit, poised like the senior executive he is, he sat on the firing line against the United States Congress, and beautifully represented his company’s global brand.
More importantly he did what few CEO’s have ever done when their companies make mistakes — he apologized. He owned his company’s lack of responsibility in managing privacy matters, and he personally committed to make it right. As someone who’s counseled many senior executives with much more experience than Mark Zuckerberg, this ownership is often an exception to the business as usual protocol.
I applaud Mark for his leadership, his authenticity, and validating his own capability in managing one of the most influential companies on the planet, and in the process, changing the public perception and stereotypes of Millennials. Granted, as a father of two, at one month shy of 34 and married to a fellow Harvard graduate (Pediatrician and Philanthropist, Priscilla Chan), he’s far from your average Millennial.
Yet as someone who’s “made it” and could easily stay behind the scenes, (a criticism heard in the past) he’s working hard to make a difference at Facebook and beyond. He garnered a lot of attention with a 2012 Commencement Speech on “purpose” at Harvard that followed, and many believed surpassed, a fellow visionary’s ideas in Steve Jobs. He defined “purpose” as something that brings true happiness and while Jobs talked about finding our purpose, Zuckerberg said: “We not only need to find our sense of purpose but create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.”
He positioned three keys to creating a higher sense of purpose — Taking on big meaningful projects together, redefining equality and building community. Perhaps this is what the Millennial CEO really stands for, everything we expect in the walls of business but also exemplifying much more beyond. The compensation and idyllic status given to the top echelon of leaders requires more than just making their shareholders money. They are being held accountable for doing the right thing for their business, their community and increasingly, the world around them. Even if it requires navigating what must have been very humbling and pressure filled moments of the highest consequence.