Book Review - Think Like Zuck: the five business secrets of Facebook's improbably brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Ekaterina Walter “likes” Facebook and it is easy to like this short, 200 page, book with its engaging, almost conversational style.

Although it looks like a business self help book: ”Think like Zuck examines the five principles behind Facebook's meteoric rise, presented in actionable lessons anyone can apply – in any organisation or industry”, it is worth getting past the overwrought jacket blurb and recommendations because this is an accessible window into an organisation that has changed personal and professional communication.

Insights into Mark Zukerberg’s strengths and weakness (and how he has addressed these, including his conscious transition into a leadership role) are illuminating. Examples from sometimes unexpected businesses, many of which have a strategic online presence but some of which are more “traditional”, to illustrate a point drawn from Facebook are also valuable.

This is Ekaterina Walter's first book but she is a social innovation strategist at Intel and a regular online contributor, respected within the social media community. Her enthusiasm for Facebook is reflected in the slightly breathless introduction and summary and her uncritical description of Mark Zuckerberg's success. Each of the five key principles identified by Ekaterina Walter form a chapter: Passion, Purpose, People, Product and Partnership. While the headings indicate each section’s focus, discussion of these interrelated topics spills across chapters.

The many quotations allow Mark Zuckerberg and others to speak in their own words, but are not reflected on. I found the inclusion of both the full text and key passages from Mark Zuckerberg's letter in Facebook's prospectus and the repetition of Sheryl Sandberg's statement “Zuckerberg really cares about the people who work here “somewhat jarring and raised questions about the depth and variety of source material. References are predominantly to David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect and online sources.

The keys to Mark Zuckerberg’s success are perhaps unsurprising. Ekaterina Walter’s insights are consistent with mainstream business advice such as the importance of leaders communicating key messages in an authentic way. They also echoe others’ work on flourishing organisations and employees first. Think Like Zuck does demonstrate the success of entrepreneurs who have taken such advice or, and perhaps this is what sets entrepreneurs apart, done it instinctively.

For less experienced professionals the principles and enthusiasm of this book will be encouraging. For those with more experience, although this book is unlikely to reveal any real secrets, it is timely to pay attention to Facebook and other companies that are already succeeding in an increasingly interconnected world.

first published in HR Monthly, June 2013

Published on Friday, May 31 2013 by RS5059-GANDI