Passion, Purpose and Leadership

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Ekaterina WalterToday’s contributing writer is my friend, Ekaterina Walter. Ekaterina is a social media innovator at Intel, a speaker, and an author of the book “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg”. 

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All great achievements start with passion. Passion is what fuels everything. Passion is what motivates you, whether your motivations are spiritual, artistic, political, economic, social, or personal. You know that you are passionate about something when you become restless, when you wake up every morning knowing that you cannot not create whatever it is that you are passionate about.

Passion is what shapes your purpose, in life and in business. When the idea for a venture starts taking shape, purpose is what ultimately helps define it. If you rally around the purpose and build a culture around it, you will meet success; if you lose your way, you will meet failure.

The success of your mission will depend on a lot of factors, one of the most critical of them is people – employees you hire and those you partner with. Whether you are a growing business or an established one, if you don’t have a team that shares your vision, your dream, and your goals, the business will not be able to reach its potential. No matter how you look at it, no matter which field you are in, no matter how brilliant your ideas are, success is a team sport. You can imagine the most amazing products or services in the world, but it requires people to make your dream a reality. That’s where culture and leadership become important.

You need to become a leader who follows her passion, leads with purpose, builds great teams, and strives for continued excellence in her product (or services). It is a mentality that drives great leaders to building successful business and the approach they use to doing so. Facebook and its visionary Mark Zuckerberg is an interesting example of a leader who has a clear purpose in front of him and for whom that purpose drives all of his major personal and business decisions.

Zuckerberg believes that the world is moving toward radical transparency. To him, the information flow online shouldn’t be encumbered by, well, anything. He believes there should be no borders, no restrictions, no limitations on not only the way people connect and communicate online but in the way information is created, consumed, and shared.

In building Facebook, Zuckerberg was extremely focused on ensuring that the social graph he helped create online would be transparent and authentic. Authenticity is everything to him. Facebook was created on a principle of real-life identity and is intended to enhance your relationships with people you know in real life. One is not able to build trust inside online communities if one’s identity isn’t consistent and known to others.

Hence, Facebook’s restriction of allowing only one profile per person. Believe it or not, people have been banned for creating multiple profiles. Facebook was the first social network to introduce this rule and demand compliance with it. “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity,” says Facebook’s CEO.  “The level of transparency the world has now won’t support having two identities for a person.”  He believes that such transparency will also help build a healthier society.

Throughout the existence of the social network, Zuck stuck to his passion and to the purpose of Facebook’s creation. He always ensured that users came first and revenue second. Over the past eight years, he has been criticized for sacrificing revenue for users’ interests. But he always sailed his course. “I never wanted to run a company,” Zuckerberg said. “To me a business is a good vehicle for getting stuff done.” His belief in his company and its purpose was so strong, he declined to sell it over and over, even when Yahoo executives offered him $1 billion.

Money isn’t a priority to him; he is more interested in building something genuinely amazing than selling out. For the longest time, he rented a small apartment and slept on a mattress on the floor. He drove an Acura TSX. He doesn’t have fancy clothes, preferring T-shirts and hoodies. In the letter that accompanied the IPO, Zuck wrote: “Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.” In that he reminds me of Steve Jobs and his quote from a 1993 Wall Street Journal interview: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.”

“The question I ask myself like almost every day is –

‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’ Click to tweet

. . . Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with, then I’m not going to feel good about how I’m spending my time. And that’s what this company is.” says Zuckerberg.

Zuck’s business interests always aligned closely with his personal philosophy. He even encourages his employees to work on the projects they are passionate about, not the ones that are forcefully assigned to them. What an incredible way to take advantage of not only human competence, but full human potential. And what a great reminder to lead with purpose.

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Ekaterina Walter is a social media innovator at Intel, a speaker, and an author of the book “Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg”. Walter was named among 25 Women Who Rock Social Media in 2012. She sits on a Board of Directors of Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA). You can find her on Twitter: @Ekaterina and her blog www.ekaterinawalter.com

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12 responses

12 responses to “Passion, Purpose and Leadership”

  1. […] that’s what drives passion. )If you want a great read on passion, there’s a great post over on Jonathan Fields’ blog today on the […]

  2. Owen Marcus says:

    I agree passion and purpose is the key to personal and professional success. Yet I suspect in many cases purpose precedes passion. Having a clear vision of what you want to create and why ignites the passion. Without something to catalyze and focus passion you have isolated emotional experiences.

    As Cal Newport in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love point out – passion is not a panacea for a happy life or success. It’s the trials and tribulations that one goes through that forge sustainable passion.

    When we stumble on to our purpose, then all that lingering passion ignites. As with Mark Zuckerberg illustrates, you then have a clear mission that drives you and continues to fuel your passion. Without that purpose passion burns out. Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t burned out or compromised not because of his passion, but because of his purpose.

  3. Eva Papp says:

    “Unless I feel like I’m working on the most important problem that I can help with…” This is a great question to ask oneself. Every one of us has something special to offer, and figuring out the most important problem in that scope of work is clarifying. Thanks for the angle.

  4. I love this quote, “Simply put: we don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.”

    Nice post, thanks for sharing the inspiration and encouraging us to follow our passion. I agree, work without passion is meaningless and unfulfilling. It’s a shame that as a society we don’t encourage people to follow their passion more. But that’s my own soap box!

    I think the other important thing to note is that passion and purpose are deeply connected. It is hard to find your passion without a sense of deeper purpose in life.

    Thanks,
    Ariana

  5. Just for the sake of discussion, here’s a nice post that takes issue with the word Passion. Something I think is worth considering. Can passion truly drive our work? Or are we driven by purpose? Might be splitting hairs a bit, but I think it’s an interesting distinction.

    http://learntoduck.net/your-passion-is-fake

  6. Ted says:

    You (he) had me at “Radical Transparency.” I don’t know how you can be more clear about a passionate vision! Personally, I’d like to see the world accelerate to “Infinite Wisdom.”

  7. […] interesting perspective on Facebook, passion, and integrity popped up as a guest post on Jonathan Fields’ blog that I […]

  8. Ben says:

    I agree passion is definately important, as well as a leader with purpose who is working towards something.

    Places i’ve worked with bosses who hate the place and are just there to be grumpy and abuse their staff because they are ‘the boss’ are the worst places to work.

    I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore. I’m doing some work online for a company and I enjoy it because they have a path and a vision and are passionate. I actually feel like i’m part of something this time.

    -Ben

  9. […] back to the interview.  As I sat there listening, I was reminded of a passion that I carried with me in my own interview almost exactly four years prior; a spark, that while […]

  10. […] back to the interview.  As I sat there listening, I was reminded of a passion that I carried with me in my own interview almost exactly four years prior; a spark, that while […]

  11. You’re absolutely right! Passion is essential for engaged effective work. Without passion we can’t keep calling on our greatest potential. In everything, we either keep expanding. Or we contract and start dying. Here’s to being crazy, passionate and “leading the human race forward.”