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Mark Zuckerberg Says Secret of His Success Is Making Lots of Mistakes


Mark Zuckerberg Says Secret of His Success Is Making Lots of Mistakes

Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook's f8 developers conference in April in San Francisco.Credit Robert Galbraith/Reuters
Now we know why Facebook is so unafraid to make mistakes, whether it is the company’s privacy stumbles or new products that fail, like Facebook Home and Slingshot.
Mark Zuckerberg, the social network’s co-founder and chief executive, thinks mistakes are good.
Addressing questions from Facebook users Thursday at his second town hall meeting with the public, held at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., and live-streamed on the web, Mr. Zuckerberg said that successful people not only learn from their mistakes but spend most of their time making mistakes.
“If you’re successful, most of the things you’ve done were wrong,” he said. “What ends up mattering is the stuff you get right.” If you get a few big things right, he said, “you can make some pretty important changes in the world.”
As with his first town hall, Mr. Zuckerberg covered a range of topics, like the company’s privacy policies and its new tool that allows people to search past Facebook posts.
Asked if the social network would ever add a dislike button, he said the company was thinking about it. Mr. Zuckerberg said that while there isn’t likely to be a button that says “dislike” because of the potential for hurting people’s feelings, the company is trying to find a way for users to express a wider range of emotional reactions, such as sadness, to a post.
He joked with some of the questioners. When someone asked what his favorite pizza topping was, he said that if you’re going to eat pizza, you might as well go all the way and put fried chicken on top.
Another questioner, a woman who said she lives near Facebook’s headquarters, told him, “Thank you for upping the price of my house.”
Mr. Zuckerberg replied, “That’s the first time anyone has ever thanked me for having Facebook raise housing prices,” a reference to community concerns in San Francisco and elsewhere in the Bay Area about tech millionaires driving out longtime residents.
He discussed the importance of software programming skills. “If you can code, you have the power to sit down and make something and no one can stop you,” he said. He predicted that schools would eventually require everyone to learn a little coding because it sharpens analytical skills that are useful in a wide variety of professions.
Discussing Facebook’s role in public conversations, such as racial discrimination by police, he said, “We want to give everyone a voice.” He cited Facebook’s role in opening up discussions in places like the Middle East, but he avoided mention of the company’s recent censorship of some anti-government posts in Turkey or his courtship this week of Chinese Internet regulators, who insist on tight control over online discussion.
Addressing a question about children’s use of Facebook, Mr. Zuckerberg, who has no children, said that banning technology use by children wasn’t a solution. But “I would not allow my child under the age of 13 to use Facebook.” (Officially, the company bans the use of the service by anyone under 13, in part because of restrictive American privacy laws that apply to younger children, but many parents allow their underage kids to use the service anyway.)
Mr. Zuckerberg also admitted that he was having a lot of trouble fulfilling his 2014 New Year’s resolution of writing a thank-you note to someone every day.
“There are people who see the beauty of things,” he said. “And then there are people who see things and want to make them better, and I tend to be the latter,” he said, drawing laughs from his executive team sitting nearby.


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