BLG Leadership Insights Social Media

Fortune Favors The Bold: The Facebook Epic

In September Mark Zuckerberg, creator and founder of Facebook, was interviewed by The New Yorker contributor Jose Antonio Vargas. Zuckerberg said that he liked the Aeneid and later he texted Vargas a few of his favorite lines from the book.

“Fortune favors the bold.” was one of the lines Zuckerberg enjoyed.

A few weeks after the article was published the movie The Social Network was released. The movie depicted Mark Zukerberg’s life at Harvard and his rise to internet fame. Zuckerberg ultimately came off as a tragic hero–smart and deserving, but also socially stunted and brutally mean. On the screen it looked like fortune favored friendless, detached, types who would do anything to fit in.

But that’s the movies. For all of Zuckerberg’s flaws, tics, and documented use of profanity, he was nonetheless bold. He stole or adapted the idea for Facebook from fellow classmates, dropped out of Harvard to move to Palo Alto, and took loans out to keep everything moving.

He might not have made monumental sacrifices, but they were still bold moves for a college student.

Fortune favoring the bold is a good thing and the cornerstone to our idea of humanism. It means we can all have a say in shaping our own destinies–we can all work hard hard to gain favor. It’s not always easy and, as Zukerberg’s story illustrates, it’s not always a job that lets you have friends.  But that might not be the whole truth. “Fortune befriends the bold” says Emily Dickenson.

BLG Leadership Insights

Should Leaders Use Social Networking Websites?

Social networking used to be pretty easy: it started with a handshake and, if you were lucky, it ended with one.

Now social networking, thanks to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, has become a 24/7 personal marketing campaign that involves pictures, well trimmed personal statements, and a brand of status anxiety only the Internet can produce.

Acquiring and managing networks (a.k.a. friends) online has developed it’s own prickly set of rules and nuances. Apparently, it’s a faux pas to tell ex-girlfriends on Facebook what you had for breakfast but if you ‘tweeted’ it (meaning you posted it on Twitter) you’d generate many appreciative comments, responses, and recipe requests.

Still, I don’t know all the “laws” of online social networking. And if a book were to be published on the subject it would be out of date before it reached Barnes & Nobles.

During 2008’s election both Barack Obama and John McCain used Facebook and created their own social networking platforms to raise money and create a ‘dialogue’. It worked for both candidates–money was raised, “friends” were accepted, and everyone felt good knowing their candidate was a click away. It was good politics.

However, what about in the business realm? Should CEOs, team leaders, and retail managers use social networking sites to bond with employees?

The obvious benefits may include the creation of a team atmosphere, the implementation of a fun way to communicate with staff, and, speaking frankly, a way too spy check-up on your employees.

Yet, the apparent negatives seem hefty. As a leader if you ask to be someone’s ‘friend’ on a social networking site, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, you’re asking to see a sliver of their private side. That’s a big step and it’s akin to randomly knocking on an employees door unannounced. You might not be invited in–much to the embarrassment of both parties.

I’d say leaders can befriend their staff on social networking sites but only if their real world relationship is strong.

However, I don’t yet know the full story and am interested in hearing what everyone here has to say on the subject. Should leaders actively recruit their staff into their online networks? Do the benefits outweigh the negatives?