Word from the C-suite: Mark Zuckerberg says 'purpose creates true happiness'

During his commencement speech at Boston-based Harvard University, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, commented on the importance of instilling a higher sense of purpose within each member of an organization.

Mr. Zuckerberg, who was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, told graduates that his failure to explicitly state his vision for the company and to gain support for that shared vision led to confusion about what the goal of Facebook was, eventually causing a number of executives to depart from the company.

"Purpose is that feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself, that you are needed, that you have something better ahead to work for … But it's not enough to have that purpose yourself, you also have to create a sense of purpose for others … I found that out the hard way … As all these people started joining us, I just assumed [their vision for the company would be the same] … I never took the time to explain what I hoped we'd build. A couple of years in, some big companies said they wanted to buy us. I never wanted to sell … [But] nearly everyone else [employed at Facebook] wanted to sell. Without a sense of higher purpose, this was their startup dream come true, and it tore our company apart. After one particularly tense argument, one advisor told me if I didn't agree to sell, I would regret the decision for the rest of my life. Relationships were so frayed that within a year or so every single person on our management team was gone. That was my hardest time leading Facebook. I believed in what we were doing, but I felt alone. And worse, it was my fault … Now, years, later, I understand … that it's up all of us to create [that sense of higher purpose] so that we can keep moving forward together."

To view Mr. Zuckerberg's full commencement address, click here.

If you would like to contribute a quote for this series, please email Alyssa Rege at arege@beckershealthcare.com to be featured in "Word from the C-suite."

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