IRS 303
Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook, was the featured speaker at the afternoon session on Harvard’s 366th commencement day on Thursday, 26thof May 2017.

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Addressing the graduating class of 2017, Zuckerberg joked,”I’m honored to be with you today, because you have accomplished something today that I never could. if I get through this speech today, it will be the first time I finished something in Harvard”.

He began talking about purpose, he said”Today, I want to talk about purpose,” said Zuckerberg, “But I’m not here to give you the standard commencement about finding your purpose. We are millennials, we try to do that instinctively. I’m here to tell you that finding your purpose is not enough”.He believesthat the challenge for the current generation is to create a world whereeveryone has a sense of purpose.”Zuckerberg noted that purpose is the feeling that you are part of something that is bigger than yourself, that you are needed and have something better ahead to work for. He remarked, “Purpose is what creates true happiness.”Talking about the generational shift, Zuckerberg commented that when the previous generation graduated, their purpose came from their job, church, and community. But now technology and automation are replacing many jobs, memberships in communities have been declining, and a lot of people have been feeling disconnected and depressed. Zuckerberg said,”For our societyto move forward, we have a generational challenge, to not only create new jobs but a renewed sense of purpose”.Knowing it is easy to make the same mistake he did, Zuckerberg observed,”It is not enough to have a sense of purpose yourself. You also have to create a sense of purpose for others. I found out the hard way. My hope was to never build a company but to createanimpact”.But as more people joined Facebook, Zuckerberg falsely assumed that they all had the same vision and believes that he didn’t communicate the company’s goal well enough. After a few years, when a big company wished to acquire Facebook, Zuckerberg wanted to connect more people and work on their newsfeed feature. But at this stage nearly everyone else wanted to sell. Zuckerberg noted,”Without a sense of higher purpose, this was their startup dream come true. And it tore our company apart”.Zuckerberg recalled that some advisors had told him that if he didn’t sell the company at this stage he would regret it for the rest of his life. This was his hardest time leading Facebook. He noted,”I believed in what we were doing, but I felt alone.” Lookingback,he realizedthat things work out like this when there is no sense of higher purpose. He believed that there are three ways to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose.

Firstly, take on big, meaningful projects.Zuckerberg has noticedthat every generation has its defining works. More than 3,00,000 people worked to put a man on the moon. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio. He noted that these projects didn’t just provide a purpose for the people doing those jobs, they gave people a sense of pride that they could do great things. Zuckerberg added that no one really has everything figured out when they begin. He said,”Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only became clear as you work on them. You just have to get started. If I had to understand everything about connecting people before I began, I never would have to started Facebook”.

He realizedthat in our society, we often don’t do big things because we’re so afraid of making mistakes. The reality is, anything we do will have issues in the future. But that can’t keep us from starting”.So,Zuckerberg believes that it is time for our generation to help instopping climate change before we destroy the planet and getting millions of people involved in manufacturing and installing solar panels. He said,”How about curing all diseases and asking volunteers to track their health data and share their genomes? Today we spendmore treating people who are sick than we spend finding cures so people don’t get sick in the first place”.

He also contemplated amodernizingdemocracy where everyone could vote online and also personalising educationsoeveryone could learn. He strongly,believes that these achievements are within our reach.

Secondly, Redefining equality.Henoticedthat while our parents’ generation had stable jobs throughout their careers, the current generation is more entrepreneurial and it is easy to try lots of new ideas. Citing examples of JK Rowling,Beyonce, and himself, Zuckerberg noted that the greatest successes come from having the freedom to fail.But today, the world has a level of wealth inequality that hurts everyone. He believes that when people don’t have the freedom to take their idea and turn it into an enterprise, we all lose.Rightnow,our society is way over-indexed on rewarding success. Zuckerberg said,”Let face it. There is something wrong with our system when I can leave here and make billions of dollars in 10 years while millions of students can’t afford to pay off their loans, let alone start a business”. Zuckerbergsaid he knows a lot of entrepreneurs butdoesn’t knowa single person who gave up on starting a business because they might not make enough money.He said,”Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights. Now it’s our time to define a new social contractfor our generation”.Zuckerberg believes that we should explore ideas like universal basic income to give everyone acushion to try new things. We’re going to change jobs many times, so we need affordable childcare to get to work and healthcare that isn’t tied to one company. As technology keeps changing, we need to focus more on continuous education throughout our lives.Hesaid,”Giving everyone freedom to pursue purpose isn’t free. People like me should pay for it. Many of you will do well and you should too. That’s why Priscilla and I have started a Chan Zuckerberg initiative and committed our wealth to promoting equal opportunity. These values of our generation”.

Thirdly, Building community.Zuckerberg discoveredthat in a survey asking millennials around the world what defines their identity, the most popular answer wasn’t nationality, religion, or ethnicity, it was “citizen of the world.” Every generation expands the circle of people they consider “one of us,” and he believes that it now encompasses the entire world.He also preached thatour greatest opportunities are now globalwe can be the generation that ends poverty, that ends disease. The greatest challenges need global responses too and no onecountry can fight climate change alone or prevent pandemics. Progress now requires coming together not just as cities or nations but alsoas a global community. He said,”But we live in an unstable time. There are people left behind by globalization across the world. It’s hard to care about people in other places if we don’t feel good about our lives here at home. There’s pressure to turn inwards”.Zuckerberg believedthat we all get meaning from our communities. Whether our communities are houses or sports teams, churches or music groups, they give us the sense that we are part of something bigger, that we are not alone.That’swhy it’s so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter. That’s a lot of people who now need to find purpose somewhere else. But he stronglybelieves that we can rebuild our communities and start new ones because many people have already done it. He said,”Change start local”. Even global changes start small. in our generation, the struggle whether we connect more, whether we achieve our biggest opportunities, comes down to this-your ability to build communities and create a world where every single person has a sense purpose”.

These ideas which he spoke of, even though idealistic has some element of truthto it.His speech is an eye opener for a better incorporation of states in the International system that is the unity of both states and non-states actor in a bid to solve transnational issues like hunger and terrorism, equality of states, the phenomenon of globalization and most importantly the drive to impact the lives of people.


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