Entrepreneur, investor, best-selling author and media personality Randi Zuckerberg offered her take on negotiating the digital world at the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business’s 10th Annual Business Symposium March 30.
Zuckerberg, who travels the world speaking about technology and entrepreneurship, is the founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, which develops technology, content and live events, all with the mission of putting intelligent, tech-savvy, entrepreneurial women and girls at the center of pop culture and media.
We can tell stories. We can talk to thousands of people with the press of a button, and 99.9 percent of young people don’t even realize the power they have. They’re going to have fun with it, talking with their friends, but the .1 percent of individuals who realize the power they have can start at a young age to be a leading influencer in that topic, if they are just willing to use these tools. And that is very inspiring.” —Randi Zuckerberg
The daylong symposium featured multiple breakout sessions focused on core business basics and future-focused topics to help participants navigate the rapidly changing digital landscape.
Zuckerberg shared her story, sprinkled with lessons she has learned through unexpected adversity, hard work and creative innovation. She spoke of her earliest aspirations to perform on Broadway and how her first “entrepreneurial pivot” occurred when, as a freshman at Harvard University, she failed to get into the music program. “I had to figure out an entirely new direction,” she said. “That was really my first lesson in life, that it’s possible to be passionate about multiple things. We don’t all just have one calling. If you’re a smart, resourceful and passionate person, you can find other things to be excited about.”
Zuckerberg’s marketing and psychology background led to a job at Ogilvy & Mather, an advertising agency in New York City, where she joined the digital marketing team. Later, she received an invitation from her younger brother, Mark, to move to Silicon Valley and lend her marketing expertise to his fledgling social
media startup — Facebook.
As the company’s first nonengineering executive and its only female, Zuckerberg learned to work, and later thrive, in an industry dominated by men. Those early experiences later fueled her passion to reach back to lend a hand and provide a
voice for young female entrepreneurs.
Insights from Randi Zuckerberg
Creativity Sparks Innovation
Zuckerberg’s experience at Facebook taught her lessons about innovation, creativity and the value of working in an atmosphere where ideas are welcomed and given time to germinate. She encouraged individuals and businesses to use the many tools available to spark creative collaboration and innovation.
Finding Work-Life Balance
Zuckerberg’s experience after leaving Facebook inspired her to try and find balance, personally and professionally, in an electronically saturated world. She acknowledges, however, that the relationship between people and technology is complicated because, while technology has its benefits, the connectivity it provides can be addictive. “It does start with putting your devices down,” she said. “It’s very difficult to be creative and think of the big picture when you’re constantly getting emails, text messages and distractions from other people.” Her personal motto? “‘Work, sleep, family, friends … pick three.’ We all have to learn how to prioritize,” she said.
“I think creativity is one of the most important skills we can have in business.”
I think we’re in a really amazing time in our history, where we’ve built all of these tools and where everyone has a voice. One thing I want to do is to encourage people to never stop learning and to view some of this technology as a new opportunity for everyone to learn together.” —Randi Zuckerberg
No Substitute for Hard Work Zuckerberg believes there is no such thing as quick success and that rumors about startup tech companies that seemingly appear overnight and sell within a week, or celebrities who are discovered out of obscurity, are not realistic expectations for business. “Nothing in life is an overnight success,” she said. “There’s no substitute for hard work. That’s the only thing that differentiates you in business.”
With all the twists and exciting turns in her life, Zuckerberg remains a creative and pragmatic optimist whose personal story continues to evolve. And while her dream to study music may have taken a few unexpected turns, she also retained the passion for her first love, eventually achieving a personal goal of performing on Broadway in the Tony Award-nominated musical “Rock of Ages” in 2014. “For me, what gave me success was building my personal brand, focusing on being a leader and an expert, so that I could come back into the music industry in a different way.”
My mission, my passion, is to show people that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, ages and ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. This country is built on the backs of entrepreneurs and small-business owners everywhere around the country. It’s never been a better time to take a risk and become an entrepreneur.” —Randi Zuckerberg