How Steve Jobs Helped Mark Zuckerberg Find Meaning Again


By Jatinder Singh, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

We may think of a mentor’s support and help as something revelatory - a massive piece of structured business advice such as going over their mentee's business plan or access to a contact that opens a doorway into the “big time”.

Yet, often it can be an informal suggestion from the mentor, based on their own experience that can have massive knock-on effects and be invaluable to keep one going when things are getting tough.

This powerful article from UK Business Insider discusses how Steve Jobs (one of Mark Zuckerberg’s mentors) advised him to visit a particular temple in India to reconnect with his company’s mission when he was facing a challenging time during Facebook’s start-up phase.

The advice was based upon Jobs' own experience of having gone to India to reconnect with his meaning and purpose which had played a pivotal part in how he developed Apple.

As Zuckerberg says,

“I went and I met with Steve Jobs, and he said that to reconnect with what I believed was the mission of the company, I should go visit this temple in India that he had gone to early in the evolution of Apple, when he was thinking about what he wanted his vision of the future to be"

Legends Get to The Root of Challenges

While this story can be seen as anecdotal - it contains a far bigger lesson. How many people would take this advice as lip-service and play it down - wanting something more tangible and 'practical' to get them out of their challenging situation? After all, with things piling up, how would a trip to India make a difference to them apart from giving them a warm fuzzy feeling??! Wouldn't an injection of capital or some great business idea be better? No, those things were secondary...

Jobs understood that helping Mark become inspired again through his bigger vision would enable him to find meaning and purpose through the challenging times he was facing and keep going, especially when it would have been easier to sell up! As Zuckerberg says,

“That [going to India] reinforced to me the importance of what we were doing, and that is something I will always remember"

Often this is how a mentor helps his or her mentee - through drawing upon their own experiences and continually guiding their mentee to keep them on the right road, one step at a time.

On a scale of 1-10 how surprised are you that Steve Jobs would give this type of informal advice to Mark Zuckerberg and it had the impact that it did?

Share in the comments below...

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 Image courtesy of Wikimedia