Customer Reviews: Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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on May 4, 2013
I usually stop reading a book that is this horrible, but I had to read it for a class.

If you want to read about what a wonderful person Mark Zuckerberg is, then this is the book for you. However, if you want an honest discussion of entrepreneurship that doesn't rely on strained analogies to make its point you are better off looking elsewhere.

This reads like a love letter to Mark Zuckerberg, creating an almost fictional "Zuck" that is God's gift to humanity.

Simply put, it was awful!
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on January 16, 2013
Ekaterina Walter wants you to "Think Like Zuck." She has written a book of the same name, subtitled, "The Five Business Secrets of Facebook's Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg." I was provided a free copy of the book so that I could furnish you with a review.

"Think Like Zuck" is easy to recommend, popping with inside information about how Facebook became the force it is today, but the book benefits by considering more than just Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg (or Zuck, as he likes to be called). Included in the book are interesting insights and tales from companies as diverse as Zappos, XPLANE, TOMS Shoes, Southwest, Apple, Dyson, 3M and JESS3. This makes the book much more approachable by bringing the lessons of good leadership out of the world of dorm room startups and into the realm of retailers, airlines and manufacturers.

Walter's "Five Ps" that form the structure of "Think Like Zuck" are not that surprising. No one, I imagine, will see the list and think, "I never would have thought that was important!" Those Five Ps are Passion, Purpose, People, Product and Partnerships. The magic in the book is not that Walter has hit upon a secret recipe but that she so thoroughly explores why each of these are important to the success enjoyed by Facebook and other industry leaders.

This isn't to say that I completely agree with the five criteria Walter shares. For example, she goes into great detail about why passion is important, but I was left feeling this chapter would be better labeled with a different "P": Perseverance. In fact, Walter herself sounds a little unsure when she says, "What I noticed is this: the most successful entrepreneurs always have one trait in common: they never give up." One can have passion without perseverance--we all know people who have been wildly passionate about a hobby or issue one day while ignoring it the next--but it is difficult to have perseverance without passion.

One portion of the Passion chapter that I found interesting is about how Zuck and other successful leaders take inspiration from things that exist rather than wholly inventing something new. Says Walter, "We have this misconception that our entrepreneurial ideas or the products we want to create have to be one hundred percent original, never done before. The truth is that some of the most successful entrepreneurs (as well as marketers, I might add) steal with pride." Zuck, the book points out, got started a year after Friendster and MySpace were taking off, but he was able to bring significant innovations to the idea of social networking because of his passion for openness and transparency. (Maybe this is another missing "P": Piracy? Or, perhaps more kindly, Permutation?)

I would have liked to see "Think Like Zuck" spend more time on how great leaders have the ability to be patient and strive for long-term success rather than chasing after quarterly stock maximization. The book touches on this without diving deep. For instance, Zuck felt it was vital he retain majority ownership of Facebook even after its IPO, noting, "Companies are set up so that people judge each other on failure. I am not going to get fired if we have a bad year. Or a bad five years. I don't have to worry about making things look good if they're not. I can actually set up the company to create value." This commitment to long-term success is also seen in another quote from Zuck, "The companies that succeed and have the best impact and are able to outcompete everyone else are the ones that have the longest time horizon." The ability to put the long-term above immediate gratification of oneself or the market is an important attribute that deserves more than Walter gives the topic.

The Purpose chapter tells how Zuck passed on opportunities to become fabulously wealthy at an even younger age. He turned down a $1 billion offer because "for him, the journey wasn't complete yet; he knew he could take Facebook much further by not selling it, by staying the course and sticking to his purpose. He knew there was much more opportunity ahead to make an impact, to change the world."

As I read this chapter, I found myself wondering, just a little, if Zuckerberg was incrementally losing his Purpose. Walter notes how the Facebook leader decreed that "advertising should be useful for the user no matter what--it was wrong to make money off of advertising if it wasn't adding value." It is hard to square that statement with recent advertising "innovations" such as Page Post Ads that are served to people with no connection to the advertiser or charging people to send messages to others who are not friends. These ad features do not add value to the user experience, which reinforces the constant struggle between Purpose and Profit. (Yet another missing "P!")

The People chapter was another that struck me as mislabeled. It's a great chapter full of terrific ideas, but "Think Like Zuck" seems to be saying that what is vital is not people but leaders who create and commit to culture. Walter gives a nod to this when she quotes from the book "Good to Great," noting that "The old adage `People are your most important asset' turns out to be wrong. People are not your most important asset. The right people are." In addition, she ends this section of the book by noting "I cannot wrap up this chapter without talking about leadership." Maybe she didn't want to ruin the alliteration, but I thought Walter made a much stronger case for how Culture was important rather than that People are.

The Product chapter felt the weakest to me. In part, that is because Walter ends up relying so heavily on the Passion/Perseverance attribute from earlier in the book. She notes, for example, that "Zuck understands that to be successful, one needs to run a marathon, not a sprint." She quotes Thomas Edison, who said, "I failed my way to success." And she shares that James Dyson wasn't successful in developing his bagless vacuum cleaner until his 5,127th attempt.

If was a bit disappointed in the Product chapter, I was thrilled with Walter's exploration of the value of Partnerships. This is not a chapter on the importance of crowdsourcing or development partners; instead, "Think Like Zuck" explores how great companies are often led by two types of leaders who bring different skillsets: The Visionary and The Builder. The case is made quite convincingly as Walter examines leader partners such as Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Walt Disney and Roy Disney, Bill Hewlett and David Packard and others.

I may quibble with whether Walter selected the appropriate chapter labels or too quickly moved away from one or another important topic, but it should be clear from this review that "Think Like Zuck" got me thinking. The book is engaging, full of interesting stories and is an inspiring read. I hope you will consider purchasing a copy and considering how you can bring more Zuck-like thinking to your corner of the world.

Ironically (or not), the most inspirational words in this book do not come from Zuckerberg, Edison or Hseih; they come, instead, from Ekaterina's father: "Don't try to change the world. Find your purpose, live out your potential to the fullest, serve others kindly, and the world will change around you." His daughter learned well.
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on January 7, 2013
Ekaterina Walter has offered up five simple ways that anyone can implement to transform their professional aspirations. Her principles, passion, purpose, people, product, and partnerships, are explained in great detail using with eye-opening and often quirky examples from Facebook and other innovative and highly successful companies and start-ups. But I think it's Ekatrina's warm and enthusiastic writing style that makes her thesis so convincing. Think Like Zuck is a book I would recommend to anyone contemplating a start-up of any kind, whether in social media or a storefront retail or local service provider.
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on July 23, 2013
I got the book after a recommendation. Got to page 57 and couldn't take it anymore. There is more extracted from other books and other people than from "Zuck". There are better books to read. Rework comes to mind.
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on February 20, 2014
I don't write many Amazon reviews but I felt this book deserved at least 5 stars - can I give it 8 stars? It's an inspiring read, truly informative, seems balanced, and highlights how entrepreneurial vision drives success. After reading this book I'm in awe of Zuckerberg, and I now consider him a genius. Great writing by Ms. Walter, just want to re read it again.
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on June 27, 2015
More like YUCK. Walter kisses up to Zuckerberg the whole way through and is oblivious to the methods and people he used to get to where he is. Become a better leader- how by knocking off other's ideas and refusing to protect user privacy? Think like Zuckerberg? No thanks. This book is just another piece of FB propaganda used to promote Zuck's agenda: dumb down people, make them think they're connected, while you steal all of their information for marketing purposes.
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on January 18, 2013
Love him or hate him, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg redefined the way we communicate, build brands, and consumer information. No matter what we think of him, there is a ton to learn from his leadership and one of his leadership team (Sheryl Sandberg, for one). Besides, the book doesn't only focus on Facebook, there are examples of other worthy companies like Apple, Zappos, Threadless, and also less known companies like TOMS Shoes, Connected Ventures, XPLANE and Jess3.

No matter who you are and what your job is, you'll find lessons you can apply immediately. This book is a wonderful reminder to all of us about the most important things in life and business. Easy, quick... an engaging read, full of stories that will make you want to read it without putting it down.
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on December 30, 2012
As other reviewers have already so succinctly stated, this is a must-read book for marketers and business people.

1. Because the world is being turned upside down by social media, and at the heart of that change is Mark Zuckerberg. And we need to understand what he's up to.
2. Because Ekaterina Walter has some serious business-think mojo to share with us. I got to interview Ekaterina for my own book - and was the recipient of her wisdom then. She's one of the brightest people in the industry (she heads social media at Intel).

This is NOT a fluff book. There are a few of those out there - this book is refreshingly free of fluff.

Some of my favorite parts of the book aren't about Zuckerberg at all, but the culture and strategy bits from XPLANE. The philosophies holding that mission and purpose are the driving forces behind any enterprise entered into business philosophy in the late 19th century. They were then promulgated by organizations such as the Masons and later by the Rotary Club. Even later, after World War II, organization change thinkers advocated for the use of vision, mission, and values. With Facebook and the other companies discussed in Think Like Zuck, Walter shows that these are powerful forces that could be critical to business success.

The famous business writer and thinker Jim Collins was invoked many times both in the book (and in my imagination) - Walters mentions the "getting the right people on the bus" concept many times. I also thought about Collin's most recent book Great by Choice where he talks about the element of luck. No doubt, Zuckerberg had a great amount of luck in the timing of the creation of Facebook. But others had good luck, too - Zuckerberg had the foresight to use it.

Collins had a concept of Level Five Leader, someone who showed demonstrated a "paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will." Zuckerberg, with his famous "CEO, Bitch" business card could hardly have been said to show humility. But Walter's subject has, like the hero of The Truman Show, been in the public eye throughout his twenties, and seems to be becoming something closer to a Level Five leader with each passing year.

In contrast to the Level Five Leader, Walter introduces her model of what she calls the "Hummingbird Effect of Leadership."

The amazing qualities of the hummingbird can be seen in the beauty and complexity of its flight. Just like this flyer, effective leaders soar in their purpose of serving others and, in the process, achieve unprecedented heights of success.

See my review on Social Media Today at [...]
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on January 1, 2013
In his short life, Mark Zuckerberg has become both famous and infamous -- the symbol for a social media phenomenon that has revolutionized the way we live but also a lightning rod for an ongoing debate about individual privacy in the social age. Does Zuck have anything worthwhile to teach business leaders, or is his success a unique, unteachable combination of circumstance and individual talent? In "Think Like Zuck," Ekaterina Walter argues convincingly for the former. In a highly readable, warm discussion about Zuckerberg and Facebook, she asserts that Zuckerberg can teach us the value of passion, purpose, people, product, and partnerships. She demonstrates how the rise of Facebook reflected a deeply personal passion of Zuck's for connecting people in an open world -- one that gave him a single-minded focus that led to the launch of the world's largest social network. In my favorite chapter, on the value of partnerships, Walter shows how the symbiotic relationship between Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg has made Zuck a better leader. But since this is a book intended to help business people become more effective, Walter imparts lessons from the Zuck/Sandberg relationship, such as the importance of forming business partnerships that combine imagination and execution.

What makes the book more valuable are the lessons that Walter shares from brands that demonstrate the ethos of Zuck -- companies ranging from TOMS to Zappos. Her examination of businesses that demonstrate passion, purpose, people, product, and partnerships elevates the book from a read for Facebook watchers to a useful guide for anyone in business. I've not always been a fan of Facebook (as a brand) and have been quick to criticize Facebook when the company commits one of its periodic mis-steps. But you don't have to be a fan of Facebook to enjoy this book. Read "Think Like Zuck" with an open mind, and I can guarantee you will learn how to be a better leader.
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on December 25, 2012
The five keys in this book are: passion, purpose, people, product, and partnerships. Ekaterina begins by explaining the significant impact of Facebook on the world - which is fascinating. Did you realize that the Facebook "like" was introduced as recently as April 2010? It is so ubiquitous that it feels like it has always been there. Though Ekaterina leads with Facebook, she also brings in examples like Threadless, College Humor, TOMS, Dyson, XPLANE, JESS3 and Zappos to explain why some entrepreneurs are successful. I appreciated Ekaterina's checklist for partnership: clear expectations, shared values and vision, mutual trust, fair exchange of value, complementary strengths, commitment and mutual respect. Partnerships can so often go wrong. One of my most popular presentations in Japan and the USA is "The Pitfalls of Partnership" - I've given it a lot of thought.
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