Zuckerberg's bizarre new challenge


Zuckerberg's bizarre new challenge

Mark Zuckerberg speaks Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, where he presumably met someone new.

Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to speak to one non-Facebook employee a day during 2013
The Facebook CEO sets annual challenges for himself
Previously he has worn a tie every day, killed all the animals he ate and learned Mandarin
Zuckerberg spoke Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference

San Francisco (CNN) -- Mark Zuckerberg approaches self-improvement like a software engineer.
Every year, the Facebook CEO sets some sort of challenge for himself. In 2010, he tried to learn Mandarin. In 2009, he vowed to wear a tie to work every day to show he was serious about Facebook's growth (and possibly get a break from the signature T-shirt and hoodie he wears to every public event).
The annual challenges sometimes make headlines, most famously in 2011 when Zuck vowed to eat animals only if he had killed them himself. That pronouncement led to a mixture of backlash and praise from animal-rights activists.
This year, the famously introverted Zuckerberg is seeking out more conversations with actual humans.
"This year, my challenge is to meet a new person outside of Facebook every day," he said Wednesday at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. According to Zuckerberg's own rules, he needs to have a face-to-face conversation with the person, not just shake hands or chat online.
Oh, this could be awkward.
"Hi! I'm Mark. I'm a Taurus. What do you love most about Facebook?"

It's probably hard for Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to top 2012, when he took his company public and married his longtime girlfriend. But this year has been an equally eventful one for the 29-year-old, hoodie-wearing CEO. Here are some highlights.

Zuckerberg spoke in January at the unveiling of Facebook Graph Search, a tool that lets users search the massive social network for everything from dates to restaurant recommendations. It rolled out to all users in the U.S. later in the year.

Strange bedfellows? Maybe not. In February, Zuckerberg hosted a fundraiser for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at his California home. Guests included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In April news broke that hackers had dug up this primitive website from 1999. Many clues led some to believe it was created by a 15-year-old Mark Zuckerberg. The Facebook CEO declined to comment.

Zuckerberg, in his trademark hoodie, spoke to reporters during an April media event at Facebook's headquarters. The occasion: The launch of Facebook Home, a family of apps for Android that places Facebook activity front and center on mobile devices.

Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan at the Allen & Co. annual conference for movers and shakers in July in Sun Valley, Idaho. Among others attending were media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, journalist Tom Brokaw and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

An immigration-reform group led by Zuckerberg and other tech titans pumped millions of dollars in 2013 into efforts such as a TV ad urging Congress to "fix our broken immigration system."

Zuckerberg made headlines indirectly in August when a researcher discovered what he said was a security flaw in Facebook's system that could allow users to post updates to anyone's page, regardless of whether they were friends. When Facebook wouldn't listen to the man's claims, he posted a message on Zuckerberg's wall.

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But Zuckerberg said the challenges are a way to open himself up to new perspectives.
"Doing something for a year, I think you have all these interesting unintended consequences," said Zuckeberg.
The year of killing animals led Zuckerberg to become more vegetarian.
While learning Mandarin, he had Mandarin-speaking Facebook employees come to his office for conversation practice. He ended up learning about parts of the company he normally wouldn't have had interactions with and even had some realizations about himself.
"I was complaining to my wife one day that I was never that good at listening in Mandarin and she goes, 'Mark, you're not good at listening in English, either.' "
This year's challenge has already led to one very noticeable outcome: the founding of Fwd.us, a lobbying group started by Zuckerberg to advocate for immigration reform in the United States.
When planning his year of face-to-face chats, Zuckerberg said he joined community organizations and started teaching a class at a local middle school to have more opportunities to meet non-Facebookers. While teaching the class, he asked about his students' college plans and was shocked when one boy said he didn't know if he could go to college because he was undocumented.
Zuckerberg believes immigration reform could also have a positive impact on tech companies hungry for talented programmers from other countries.
The tech wunderkind said the annual challenges are also meant to test his willpower.
"I think a lot of building something is just about kind of seeing things through. And so I try to pick things that are going to be hard for me to do," he said.
His goal for 2013 has been less challenging than he expected. As it turns out, the globetrotting head of a huge technology company meets a number of new people almost every day in the course of his job.
"It's actually turned out to be really easy," Zuckerberg said. "I sandbagged this one."
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