Want to Raise the Next Mark Zuckerberg? His Dad Tells You How.

In a radio interview with Dr. Edward Zuckerberg, Mark Zuckerberg's father, he retraces the steps he took as a parent that may have lead the Facebook founder to where he is today.   

By Henry Adeleye on January 15, 2015 


If you're reading this it's too late.  Most likely you didn't win the Powerball.  Because I'm pretty sure you'd be hiding under a rock until all the fanfare died off if you did win it.  But just because you didn't win the lottery, that doesn't mean all your easy money hopes are lost.  In fact, there's actually an easier way to get to that lifestyle.  Just raise the next Mark Zuckerberg and use your influence as their parent to guilt trip them into giving you a sizeable portion of their fortune.  Sounds simple enough, but there's one problem.  How in the heck do you raise the next Zuck?  Well, I'm glad you asked because in a radio interview I stumbled upon, his dad tells you how to do just that.  Of course, results may vary and you may do some things differently that end up working better.  And also all the cliches about every child is important and an individual and you shouldn't put the idea in their heads that they have to reach unreachable goals.  Ok, now that that's out, back to the good stuff.  Here are a couple of takeaways from the interview that can be helpful in raising your own child up to climb to incredible heights: 


Have a hustle mentality 

Dr. Zuckerberg ran his own dental practice out of his house (kind of creepy when you think about it), but you don't even have to take it that far.  Just showing them the grit of going after something you believe in, whether it be volunteering at the local shelter or selling your artwork on the side, can do wonders to a kid's psyche and implant in them the desire to push life to the limits.     


Balance work and play 

During the interivew, Dr. Zuckerberg was asked about a book, “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” which suggests that parents should push their children to succeed academically by limiting extracurricular activities.  His response to that was, "I think that extremes in any form in parenting are not good. Children need to be well-rounded. There’s a place for work and a place for play.”  Some of the best ideas originate from being able to mess around and experience the world on your own terms.  Let them do that.     


Nurture an environment where they're exposed to different interests 

On how Mark came to take a liking to technology, Dr. Zuckerberg said that his dental office had “always been technologically oriented,” and that he “always had the latest high-tech toys,” including an early Atari which “came with a disk for programming...I thought Mark might be interested and I imparted that knowledge to him.  From there it took off.”  The importance of letting kids experience different things so they can find out what they're good at can be super important when they're nearing adulthood and want to look back to the past to figure out what problem in the world they want to solve.  That's how a lot of people figure out what it is they really want to do.     


Provide security for them 

While we always hear the glory stories of kids starting from nothing and making it big, it's more likely that your kids will be willing to take a calculated risk if they have a safety net to fall back on.  It's also easier for them to get startup capital from their parents than it is to get it from Mr. Wonderful.  In the case of Dr. Zuckerberg, he worked diligently to provide a secure life long before he even thought of having kids.  "Growing up Jewish in New York City," he said, "if you had half a brain, your parents wanted you to be a doctor or a dentist."  And so he set out to become the latter.    


Discover and support your kids' passions 

“Probably the best thing I can say is something that my wife and I have always believed in,” he said. “Rather than impose upon your kids or try and steer their lives in a certain direction, to recognize what their strengths are and support their strengths and support the development of the things they’re passionate about.”  In other words, don't be the helicopter parent who tries to plan out your kids' entire lives.  Instead, provide guidance on the things they're already leaning towards.   


Give praise 

In the interview, Dr. Zuckerberg showered praise on all of his kids.  At a time when people are saying you shouldn't tell your kids they're smart, a little praise can go a long way in building confidence.  (Will have to go more into this in another segment.)   


But also be sure to set boundaries 

Finally, Dr. Zuckerberg said he “didn’t believe in physical discipline” but said that certain behaviors warrant you telling your child “right there on the spot, this is a behavior that will not be tolerated.  If you impart your dislikes about certain negative behaviors early in their lives, they will learn to understand what your feelings on certain matters are.”  It's easier to raise strong children than to fix broken men, or women.  So, take everything here and set your kids (and yourself) up for success.