The mentor who made possible Mark Zuckerberg become millionaire before 30

Becoming millionaire requires a lot of skills such as  creativity, motivation and a lot of other qualities. This is a fact all people know. But, what most of us ignore is the dramatical change a mentor could do to your idea. In fact, mentoring is a tool for individual self-improvement as well as mechanism to pass skills and knowledge down from generation to generation.

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Image courtesy of zsoolt at

What is Facebook?

Facebook is one of the most famous  social network. The website was launched on February 4, 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with his Harvard College roommates.  The website was initially limited to Harvard students, but later expanded it to colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University.

As students felt supported by the emergent social network, its popularity increased. Hence, Facebook was opened for 13 year-old and older public. It was and still remain as phenomenon. The name came from the face book directories often given to American university students.

Who is Mark Zuckerberg?

Mark Zuckerberg is a young American programmer and internet entrepreneur. He is the chairman, CEO and co-founder of Facebook. He made Facebook possible thanks to several mentors. Actually, he is connected with some of the biggest names in technology and media, and learned crucial lessons from each of them. When asked whether Facebook could earn more income from advertising as a result of its phenomenal growth, he explained:

“I guess we could….. If you look at how much of our page is taken up with ads compared to the average search query. The average for us is a little less than 10 percent of the pages and the average for search is about 20 percent taken up with ads….. That’s the simplest thing we could do. But we aren’t like that. We make enough money. Right, I mean, we are keeping things running; we are growing at the rate we want to.”

Despite the fact Zuckerberg received mentoring from one of the biggest informatic creators, Steve Jobs, there is another mentor who accompanied Zuckerberg before. This mentor was The Washington Post chief executive Donald Graham.   

Who is Don Graham?

Mr. Donald E. Graham,or Don Graham, served as the Chief Executive Officer of Graham Holdings Company (formerly The Washington Post Company) from May 1991 to November 12, 2015. He also has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the following corporations:

Kaplan, Inc
WP Company LLC
The Washington Post Co

Also, he has been the director of:

Kaplan, Inc
Graham Holdings Company
IBM Kenexa BrassRing Inc
Summit Fund of Washington
Facebook, Inc
WP Company LLC
Columbia College Access Program.
And,  president of Harvard Crimson.

How did Don Graham make Facebook expand in the way it did?

Surprisingly, they first met when Facebook was just a dorm-room business. Although Facebook was a local social network community,  Graham was so taken with the idea and  he wanted to invest immediately. Nevertheless, the investment never occurred but they both become very close. Then, when Facebook expanded in 2007, Zuckerberg emailed to say: “I’m a CEO now, and would like to shadow you and see what you do.” Graham accepted and invited Zuckerberg to spend a few days going to executive meetings, exploring the newsroom and attending an investor conference.

The young and neo CEO did not waste his time. He learnt everything need to adapt himself to a CEO’s life. After a some teachings and experiences, Zuckerberg and Graham continued the mutually beneficial relationship, gaining insight into each other’s very different worlds. A close person to the Graham family stated “Don will have ideas and questions that he’ll want to bounce off Mark and similarly Mark takes counsel from Don,” “They have a very close relationship that focuses on business issues and dilemmas.”

What can we learn from this?

Successful people often seek out the best mentors, and listen to advice from many different sources.

Mentors do not need to be necessary from your same industry. Some companies are base on different kind of product or services and it doesn’t mean what their CEO know could not be apply to other field.

Mentees should take advantage as much as possible to what their mentors say. Although they can modify or ignore some advices, it is important to keep listening them and ask their opinions when a new idea or trouble emerge.

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“I was lucky to become a Facebook board member in late 2008. Restricted stock units granted me at the time have increased many times in value.”

Donald E. Graham