Guest post by Stephen M.R. Covey and Greg Link
Almost daily, most of us have what we could call moments of trust, single instances in which our behavior enables us to build, extend, or restore trust or to diminish it. How we respond in those key moments, large or small, often has a disproportionate impact, sometimes beyond our wildest imagination.
One remarkable moment of trust occurred for Mark Zuckerberg right after his social networking service, Facebook (then called Thefacebook), was launched in 2004. Zuckerberg had entered into a verbal agreement for critically needed funding with Donald Graham, the chairman and CEO of the Washington Post Company.
Just a few weeks later, the Accel Partners venture capital firm bettered the offer by $4 million. At a dinner with one of Accel’s co–managing partners, who was trying to close the deal, Zuckerberg appeared to tune out of the conversation. He left to go to the bathroom and didn’t come back.
In The Facebook Effect, David Kirkpatrick wrote:
Cohler [one of the first executives hired by Zuckerberg] got up to see if everything was okay.
There, on the floor of the men’s room with his head down, was Zuckerberg. And he was crying. Through his tears he was saying, “This is wrong. I can’t do this. I gave my word!”
Cohler responded, “Why don’t you just call Don up and ask him what he thinks?”
Zuckerberg took awhile to compose himself and returned to the table. The next morning he did call Graham. “Don, I haven’t talked to you since we agreed on terms, and since then I’ve had a much higher offer from a venture capital firm out here. And I feel I have a moral dilemma,” Zuckerberg began.
Graham had already talked to Breyer, so he was disappointed but not surprised. But he was also impressed. “I just thought to myself, ‘Wow, for twenty years old that is impressive—he’s not calling to tell me he’s taking the other guy’s money. He’s calling me to talk it out.’”
Graham knew that even his first offer was very high for a company so tiny and so young.... “Mark, does the money matter to you?” Graham asked.
Zuckerberg said that it did. It could, he went on, be the one thing that could prevent Thefacebook from going into the red or having to borrow money....
“Mark, I’ll release you from your moral dilemma,” said Graham after a twenty-minute conversation. “Go ahead and take their money and develop the company, and all the best.”
For Zuckerberg, it was a huge relief. And it further increased his respect and admiration for Graham.
Obviously, Zuckerberg has many years still ahead of him, but what has happened following that moment of trust has been nothing short of astounding. Today Facebook has more than 800 million active users worldwide and is literally redefining our world in ways both small and great, from enabling youths to share everyday thoughts with friends to fueling massive social movements, such as the 2011democracy uprising in Egypt.
In 2010, Zuckerberg was named Time magazine’s Person of the Year, and today the company is valued at more than $80 billion and continues to rise.
About the Authors
Stephen M.R. Covey is the New York Times bestselling author of The Speed of Trust. Greg Link is co-founder of The Covey Leadership Center. The two orchestrated the strategy that led Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to be one of the bestselling business books of the 20th Century.
The above story is excerpted from their new book, Smart Trust: Creating Prosperity, Energy, and Joy in a Low-Trust World. Great book!
arranged access to Covey’s upcoming private 60-minute broadcast for
free if you buy the book at Amazon this week (January 9 to 13): http://goo.gl/AV2Gi.
And you can sign up for the live interactive telecast on January 12th here: http://goo.gl/HXLQr.
"John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Books was instrumental to our success in making The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People one of the two most influential business books of the 20th century." - Stephen M. R. Covey and Greg Link, authors of Smart Trust
"Thanks to you, Smart Trust is #1 in all books on Amazon
& B&N. What can we say?? Thanks seems so insufficient. How's
this: You rocked the free world, you extraordinary enlightened earthling
you. Well, you rocked our world anyway!
"Please, please keep advocating trust. Together we can trigger a global
renaissance of trust and shift the trajectory of life and leadership for
generations to come." - In gratitude, Greg Link and Stephen M. R.
Covey, co-authors of Smart Trust