What exactly was going on in their heads?
Life has no guarantees.
In a game of chess, two things are emphasized to give the players the best chance (guarantee if you want to call it that way) of winning;
development of your pieces and positioning.
In real life, proper development of your mental and physical faculties as well as positioning (being at the right place at the right time or networking) will get anyone closest to a “guaranteed” life of success if there ever was one.
Harvard university happens to be one of the very few places on earth where anyone fortunate enough to become a part of the institution is almost guaranteed the best in development and positioning.
Who then in their right mind walks away from the one thing that is closest to a guaranteed life of success?
Walks out of Harvard after two years into a world which was a lot more uncertain.
What is wrong with this twenty year old kid?
Then he does it again!
Yahoo! Makes an offer to buy his fledgling business for one billion dollars and again this now twenty two year old kid, maverick, crazy, whatever you want to call him flatly refuses.
Mike Hoefflinger captures that moment very beautifully in his book “becoming Facebook”.
Both Breyer and myself on balance thought we probably should take the money and run. But, Zuckerberg started the meeting like, “This is kind of a formality, just a quick board meeting, it shouldn’t take more than ten minutes. We’re obviously not going to sell here.”
Zuckerberg’s argument was that there were all these things we were going to build at Facebook, and he wanted to have a chance to build those products [Facebook was about to open beyond colleges and launch the News Feed]. [Yahoo] had no definite idea about the future. They did not properly value things that did not yet exist.
They were, therefore, undervaluing the business.
With over a decade of Facebook success behind us, we can recognize Zuckerberg’s decision as prescient (judging by 2016 levels, Yahoo undervalued Facebook by more than 300 times).
At the time, however, the young CEO and his board were widely questioned and publicly derided for the decision not to sell the company to Yahoo!
Many years before Zuckerberg,
a certain young man by the name of Bill Gates had forged a similar path of abandoning the comfortable and “guaranteed life” of a Harvard graduate for the uncertain life of fulfillment?
Changing the world?
Only they knew for sure what they had in mind.
One thing I know is all of us, if not most of us are beneficiaries of the long term impact of those unorthodox decisions these people made and many of us enjoy a better quality of life as a result of their actions.
Hardly three years out of state politics and coming out of near obscurity, a young man decides to take on the establishment of his own party and eventually an entire nation.
At the back of his mind he understood what was at stake by the decision he had just made; he was trading the comforts that come with “doing it the right way” for what could potentially be certain death and obliteration.
The well spoken, beloved young man who by doing it the “right way” will get to serve on some committees in the senate, if lucky, even chair some of these committees had just turned himself into a target that had to be eliminated by firing squad.
He knew what was at stake.
He had to.
He was the son of a man who was highly educated and yet became unemployable in his own country because he challenged the president.
How could he not know the potential consequences when his own sister had told him what happened when their father took on the establishment?
In her own words, “Word got back to Kenyatta that the Old Man was a troublemaker, and he was called in to see the president. According to the stories, Kenyatta said to the Old Man that because he could not keep his mouth shut, he would not work again until he had no shoes on his feet.”
Was the Junior Obama on the same journey of self destruction as the senior Obama by taking on the status quo?
Self sabotage has never been good strategy, so what makes people like Mark Zuckerbeg, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and countless others wake up one fine day and embark on a journey that smells, feels and tastes like “self sabotage”?