Jewish Journal


January 30, 2011

Lessons from “The Social Network”


“The Social Network” is mostly a commentary on the life and personality of Facebook creator, Mark Zuckerberg. I finally watched it last night. Based on reports and reviews, I was prepared to despise the man. Instead, I felt nothing but admiration, and in all honesty a little bit of envy. Portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, Zuckerberg comes across as a young genius, focused, passionate and not inclined to betray himself. He has an idea and he relentlessly pursues its realization, staying true to his vision, while adapting to the needs of the marketplace as they emerge. When he’s sued by various parties, including his best friend and co-founder, Eduardo Saverin (Andrew Garfield), Zuckerberg effectively defends himself and his actions, and his authenticity comes through. As one of his attorneys, Marylin Delpy (Rashida Jones) says in the closing line of the movie, “You’re not an asshole, Mark. You’re just trying really hard to be one.”

The film has received critical acclaim from a wide range of sources. And while I agree that Eisenberg deserves his Oscar nomination, and the directing is first rate, I was not that impressed with the overall product. Maybe Aaron Sorkin’s focus on Zuckerberg’s social ineptitude and not on the real “bad guys” – the greedy, entitled Winklevoss twins, makes the storyline too narrow. I am no movie critic but I am very confident that “The Social Network” is not the best film of the past year, and I doubt it will take any of the key categories on Oscar night.

The movie’s worth lies much more in the window it opens onto Mark Zuckerberg himself. As much as we may want to dislike him, truth is, the real estate of today and the future belongs to those who are willing to be focused, innovative, and dedicated, those who have a vision and who go out and get it done. Unlike many of us who may have a great idea and then get in our own way, and shut ourselves down, Zuckerberg never doubts himself. He simply, relentlessly pursues his objective. Nothing halfway!

Most of us are far too scared to commit completely to anything. But that is what it takes to create something new and relevant, a product or service that meets people’s needs. And this is the way we must think in today’s very different world.

Here are the steps:

1. Look around and uncover a real need people have, that is not being met, or not being adequately met. It doesn’t have to be something huge. Could be something simple, community-based. Something you have the skill-set to meet.

2. Map out a vision to meet that need.

3. Pull together a small team.

4. Implement with total focus, commitment, and belief in yourself!

5. Don’t be afraid to adapt as needed.

I am doing a series of posts on the films nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Up next: Lessons from “Inception.”

Misha Henckel guides individuals to live their ideal lives. Follow her on Twitter @mishahenckel. Email misha@mishahenckel.com

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