It’s like swimming in cold water. At first when you jump in you just aren’t able to think. It’s a foreign environment. Then, after doing it for a while, your system gets used to it and, indeed, starts having fun with it.
I believe the real turning point came when he had a bad appearance at the D8 Conference. MSNBC report on that here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3749… After that, I hear he came back and had a deep look at himself. His sister, Randi, went over his house that evening and gave support, but he has lots of other professionals around him too. I said he should quit the CEO job, because he wasn’t having fun. I think that instead he found a way to have fun with it. Ever since then he’s been relaxed, happy, and prepared on stage and, when a group of us interviewed him he just was very candid and came across the way we’d seen him in previous private encounters: http://www.cinchcast.com/scoblei… — ever since that interview people have been impressed with how he’s handled the public pressures of his life.
One thing: I was able to study him close up at the World Economic Forum in 2007 and 2008 (we walked around for hours) and he’s an extremely quick study. He also didn’t have a huge amount of self-confidence back then (that’s now changed). My wife and I had to beg him to come to a Time party at WEF two years ago, he told us he didn’t have an invite and didn’t think he’d get in. Funny enough, two years later, Time named him man of the year. He didn’t have anything to worry about, the publisher waved both of us into the private party.
Here he meets Jet Li at that Time party:
Photo: Robert Scoble
Every year I’ve seen his confidence rise, both behind the scenes and in public. I think it’s just very apparent now.
One other thing, he has some very good personal guides helping him. Study Sheryl Sandberg and Elliot Schrage. They usually are by his side and give him advice. Both are very confident and good on stage (Sheryl gave an awesome TED talk last year and this year I watched as she interviewed Bill Gates and Bono and seemed better to me than old pros at that game).
I think the movie gave him the confidence that even when his critics throw the entire kitchen sink at him (in this case Hollywood’s best) it doesn’t really hurt him.
One other factor? His girlfriend, Priscilla Chan, seen here at the Y Combinator Startup School. I watched her as she confidently helped him behind the scenes. I predict she’s going to play as big a role in Mark’s life as Melinda Gates has in Bill’s life.
Photo: Robert Scoble
That said, Mark still isn’t a Steve Jobs in personal speaking style. He has a geeky demeanor about him and his ideas of social software are just way beyond what most other people are thinking about. Listen to the way he talks in http://www.cinchcast.com/scoblei… and you’ll hear he is way ahead of the way anyone at Google, Microsoft, or Apple are talking about the topic of social software. Which you’d expect.
Speaking of which, is it just that we are catching up to Mark so he seems more approachable now, or is Mark changing? I think a bit of both!