Book Review: Think Like Zuck

Book Review: Think Like Zuck

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Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg by Ekaterina Walter lifts the lid on Facebook in a bid to help readers learn from both its leadership and phenomenal growth. Walter knows her subject well having worked with Facebook for more than four years in social media and social innovation roles at Intel. She’s also a MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

The nine-year old social network passed a billion users in February last year. It has become a key online media platform for brands seeking to engage with consumers.

Walter identifies five key principles that drive Facebook founder Mark Zukenberg, namely: passion, purpose, people, product and partnerships. In each section she shares the back stories of its phenomenal growth.

The book is packed with lessons for the public relations industry as it modernizes and uses new forms of media to engage with audiences. It shows what is possible when a business has a strong vision and authentic leadership.

The overarching narrative that runs through every page of the book is drive. Zuckenberg has an extraordinary sense of purpose and motivation from which he never wavers. It’s a story of somebody that has learnt quickly on the job and has no fear.

Any threat to Zuckenberg’s mission of connecting the world is quickly overcome, including his own failings. Walter shows Zuckenberg to be a humble leader contrary the image portrayed by the popular media.

An offer by Yahoo! to purchase the company for $1billion in 2006 was declined; issues over Zuckenberg’s management are addressed by seeking out the wisdom of Silicon Valley elders; and a consumer backlash over a controversial advertising platform called Beacon resulted in it being mothballed in 2007.

While Facebook is the main topic of the book other companies including College Humor, Dyson, JESS3, Threadless, TOMS, XPLANE, and Zappos, provide strong supporting evidence.

Walter stops short of interviewing Zuckenberg directly in the book. It appears to be an obvious omission. I asked her why earlier this week.

“I didn't really seek out Mark for interviews because I wanted to stay objective. I've done a lot of research and wasn't really sure where this book is going to take me. I wanted to be able to keep an outsider view as much as possible,” said Walter.

“As a marketer I think there are a lot of things the company needs to improve [to be] really appealing for brands. So I wanted to look back and see what I can uncover about Zuck from a personal and leadership perspective without sitting down with him,” she added.

Ekaterina Walter calls on us to mimic the leadership of Mark Zuckenberg and bring entrepreneurial skills to our role in business. It’s a compelling call to action.

Think Like Zuck was published in print by McGraw-Hill in the US earlier this month, other markets to follow.

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