For Billionaires, Business Decisions Should Be No ‘Joke’

How would you classify Facebook?

I would classify it as having origins as a pseudo-stalking application that became a great collective time-suck that has designs on becoming a dominate source of connection and conversation. While I will attest to hating to have to be on Facebook (and having to be on it so much during my day), I love the idea of what it is, and accept my fate as a Facebook user as a person who works in the ‘talking to people all day’ industry.

But I do not like Mark Zuckerberg’s inability to convey a message to multiple communities.

The headline from an article published today at Business Insider reads “Mark Zuckerberg Says That Facebook’s Failed Snapchat Competitor Poke Was ‘More Of A Joke.’” But the implication just isn’t funny to me. Or multiple me’s.

News reporter me would have rather heard, “Poke was an app that we didn’t put a lot of resources behind as we waited to see how competitive it really was.”

Tech follower me would have rather heard, “Poke was not a quick clone of a competitor, but it was a project quickly put together that we couldn’t justify sustaining.”

Business investor me would have rather heard, “Poke was not a viable product as it was originally produced and would not become viable by tweaking the original product.”

What I heard from all versions of the story that I read today was Zuckerberg saying, “There is this thing called Snapchat. We had nothing like it, and we were a little worried. So some guys hacked together a Shapchat-like-thing over a few days to see if it could be done. It could, so we threw it out there to see if anyone would jump at a Facebook-branded-Shapchat-like-thing so we could gauge if we should actually build a Facebook-branded-Shapchat-like-thing with some serious intent.”

I know that some of the best selling and easiest spread commentary follows a simple hate the player and the game. And I often fall into that trap with my commentary. But this interview to me is just another example of a person winning the cosmic lottery and thinking they have no need to every change. I get that he’s a billionaire and not even 30. Most sub-30-year-olds have the privilege of spouting one-offs without care, and no one pays them any mind. I even had that right as a sub-30-year-old talk radio producer.

I didn’t have that right as a sub-30-year-old Air Force Captain. Lay people assumed my words and actions had some meaning, or I wouldn’t have been given the authority I possessed.

Mark Zuckerberg wants to be the hoodie-wearing fun guy for as long as he wants. He can do whatever he likes. But being the hoodie-wearing fun guy is not why he had to pay a $2 billion tax bill for 2013. Its the whole ‘running a business that aims at becoming a dominate source of connection and conversation-thing. If I sound like I’m hating the player, well, maybe I am. If I were a billionaire (and I am far from it), I would have billions of reasons not to care as well.

So Who Are You Listening To?(From October 24, 2011)

Researching some titles for a new podcast I may or may not ever get around to actually producing, I googled (do you use lower case for Google as a verb) upon an old blog from 2011 that brought out other ideas I may or may not ever get around to actually acting on as well. It fits in on one of the theme that I keep gravitating towards in the past six months, so I’m re-sharing it here. Plus, that leaves one less post I have to write this week…

Pop Quiz: Who would you be more willing to accept a message or courage and perseverance from?

1. Being Successful In Business From:
a) Fortune 500 CEO
b) Silicon Valley Startup CEO

2. Being A Champion From:
a) Michael Jordan
b) LeBron James

3. The Power Of Faith From:
a) Mega Church Pastor
b) Struggling Alcoholic

4. What To Teach Your Children From:
a) A First Time Mother To Be
b) A Mother Of Five

5. The Meaning Of Life From:
a) An Elderly Man At His First Day In A Nursing Home
b) A Five-Year-Old Boy At His First Day In School

This is a trick question, as there is no right answer as to who you could take advice from. Assuming both of your choices are giving a similar message, it’s all based on who you personally resonate with (and want to here the message come from).

Let’s use the choices in question number 3 for example. We have a hypothetical pastor of a mega church with a flock of thousands locally, and maybe millions through television and the internet. We pair him up with someone we’re listing as a struggling alcoholic, a general anybody from anywhere. Both are speaking on the use of faith.

The preacher can tell you about God and the power that comes from Him. He (the preacher) will tell you that He (God) wants you to be prosperous, and that faith in Him will help Him show you the way to your own prosperity on Earth, and much later in Heaven.

Our hypothetical alcoholic could preach the exact same sermon, and should be just as correct as the preacher, if you believe the words as spoken by the preacher. Chances are the alcoholic will talk short of God bringing you everlasting salvation and long on God being a day-to-day presence, available to lean on for everything, and more than willing to help you do the things you need to just get by.

Bottom line, two people can offer up the same message, but you may perceive the message as more viable from one person over another.

Remember this next time you’re watching Dr. Phil and he says something profound . . . only to be reminded by your spouse they have been saying the very same thing that you’ve been ignoring for years.