Every year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg picks a personal challenge, something hard, and works on it daily for a year.
The point of the challenge is to give himself perspective for building new products “by living in different worlds and really going deep on things. Doing something for a year, you have all these interesting unintended consequences,” he said on stage Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference.
“And the other theme for me is willpower. The other thing about building things is seeing things through. So I try to pick things that are hard for me,” he explained.
For instance, one year, he challenged himself to wear a tie every day. This year, he challenged himself to meet one new person, outside of Facebook, every day. That means having an honest-to-goodness, face-to-face conversation.
He was surprised that this challenge “turned out to be really easy” because he meets more new people than he realised. “I thought, because I’m so introverted, that I wasn’t talking to a lot of people externally,” he said. Not so.
Not all of these challenges have gone so well.
One year, he “tried to” learn Mandarin Chinese, he said, admitting that he’s “terrible” at learning languages. He set up regular meetings with Manderine-speaking Facebook employees and “it was great.” He learned some Manderine and met new people but the language was so hard, he did “table it” before he was fluent.