Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg: How to Succeed with Silicon Valley's Top Boss

Working with Zuckerberg
After the release of the film The Social Network, founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg has received a bad rap. But as we've come to find, through a series of posts made by Facebook engineers, working with Zuckerberg is not all that bad -- so long as you're confident. Reuters

After the release of the Oscar-nominated film The Social Network, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg got a bad rap. In the film, Zuck is portrayed as a disconnected, passive-aggressive thief that very few people, if any, can relate to.

But is life with Zuckerberg really all that bad?

Former Facebook engineer Yishan Wong, who worked directly with the famous founder of the largest social network on the planet, said Zuckerberg, 27, is far from autocratic and is not a pain to work with.

In a long entry posted on Quora in which someone asked the question Is Mark Zuckerberg an autocratic CEO with whom no one wants to work? Is he a pain to work with? Wong wrote a detailed entry on why Zuckerberg can actually be a pleasure to work with:

He is not some sort of ideally charismatic person whose primary quality is that he's easy to get along with. Rather, he's a demanding CEO with a monomaniacal focus on making Facebook succeed in its mission. This is not to say that he's mean - he's a perfectly nice guy on a personal level; it's just that professionally, he is focused on getting it done, and has a limited tolerance for emotional fragility in the people he needs to help him execute on that mission.

Wong's submission to Quora didn't come without criticisms.

He does have a touch of Asperger's, said Wong. I have had multiple experiences where he will ask for my opinion on something and even when we're the only two people in the room, I wasn't sure if he had really comprehended or cared about what I was saying (he doesn't do the usual oh, all right! or hmm, I see! that most people do; he just listens, sometimes while looking away from you), until later when some strategy change was announced that integrated some or all of my opinions.

This isn't the first time Facebook employees have spoken out about their work experience with Zuckerberg. In a long note, Andrew Bosworth, another Facebook engineer, went into detail about how to work alongside him:

1. Zuck expects debate, wrote Bosworth. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make when first working with Zuck is feeling that they can't push back. As long as I have been at Facebook, I have been impressed with how much he prefers to be part of an ongoing discussion about the product as opposed to being its dictator.

2. Zuck isn't sentimental, says Bosworth. Every time Zuck looks at a product, it is as if he does so with fresh eyes. He isn't burdened by what other products are like or what the existing product is like. He doesn't care what he said yesterday, even if he was presented with the same product. He approaches everything from first principles every time.

3. Zuck experiences things contextually, says Bosworth. He rarely makes decisions by talking about products in the abstract and strongly prefers to play with them, often withholding judgment until he does. The things happening around him in his life and in our industry have a big impact on how he perceives products. In cases where debate doesn't change his mind, I believe the best way to convince Zuck that something is a bad idea is to build it and let him use it; but don't be surprised if you find in the process that it isn't such a bad idea after all.

4. Zuck pushes people, says Bosworth. Depending on who he is dealing with, Zuck will challenge people to get more done in less time than we may consider reasonable. We may not be able to deliver what he demands, but we often surprise ourselves and deliver more than we had thought possible. Try to set expectations with him honestly, but don't be afraid to take on a challenge.

Despite the rave reviews from co-workers and the plethora of employment perks, Facebook failed to rank in the top 100 of CNN Money's 100 Best Companies to Work For 2012. Several other tech companies did make the list including Google (which ranked #1), NetApp (#6), Quicken Loans (#10), Zappos (#11), Intuit (#19), Adobe (#41), and several others.

Crain's New York Best Places To Work 2011 also passed on Facebook in the 2011 Best Places to Work; however, Facebook did rank on in the top three of the rankings from GlassDoor, a jobs and career community. 

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