"All of us want to belong, and all of us really want to make an impact, and some of us... we invent Facebook," Ekaterina Walter, social media strategist at Intel and author of Think Like Zuck, told me when I interviewed her for this week's episode of Marketing Smarts.
Unfortunately, she went on to point out, though we all want to make an impact, "It's a very, very small number of people who can actually invent something this impactful and amazing."
In many ways, the following stark fact is the crux of Ekaterina's Think Like Zuck, a book that focuses on the rise of Facebook and the lessons one might glean from its success: The "Zucks" of the world, as we all know, are few and far between. This means that most of us can have an impact only by belonging to something conceived and launched by someone else.
But, as it turns out, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Entrepreneur, Meet Intrapraneur: Amazing Together
Our culture has come to worship the entrepreneur, the person who builds something from nothing and creates a business where none before existed. And given the idolatry lavished on the entrepreneur, one may get the mistaken impression that the only path to success is the entrepreneurial path. But that is not the case.
In fact, Ekaterina told me, "A lot of people have the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit within them" but don't necessarily want to build something on their own from scratch. Instead, they find a way to make their mark by making a contribution to something started by someone else.
"I've seen a lot of people," Ekaterina said, "that really truly disrupted and innovated and led and changed the way big corporations think from within the walls of those companies."
The term that Ekaterina (and others) use to describe the kind of person who leads such positive, albeit disruptive, change from within a broader enterprise is "intrapreneur."
The beauty is that even as the intrapreneur relies on the entrepreneur to get something going—to lay a foundation for something amazing and provide inspiration for great work—the entrepreneur also needs the intrapreneur. No one can build a business, especially a billion-dollar business, by themselves. They need people to help and they especially need people who are motivated and empowered to innovate, solve problems, and bring new perspectives to the entrepreneur's vision.
From Passion to Partnership
Considering the symbiotic relationship between the entrepreneur and the intrapreneur, it's significant that Ekaterina called her book THINK Like Zuck, not BE Like Zuck, for the focus really falls more on how people can apply Zuckerberg's thinking and experience to their own work rather than how they might start something Facebook-like.
Indeed, when you consider the five Ps that she identifies with Zuck-like thinking—Passion, Purpose, Product, People, and Partnerships—it's worth noting that they all emphasize the importance of involving, including, and inspiring others in our work. Passion and purpose, for example, are what entrepreneurs like Zuckerberg use to recruit and motivate talented people.
Amazing products need to be built around the needs and interests of the people we call our customers, and, of course, you need a lot of amazing people if you actually want to create and sell said products.
Finally, you need to build partnerships to realize your vision. The interesting point here is that the "partnerships" that Ekaterina describes aren't solely or even primarily partnerships between businesses. Rather, she focuses on the importance of personal partnerships, such as that between Mark Zuckerberg and his chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, and the critical role that "builders" play in the making the dreams of visionary's come true.
In the end, although Ekaterina's book ostensibly focuses on Mark Zuckerberg and his approach to business, its main message seems to be this: Personal success can depend more on becoming the type of person that an innovative entrepreneur needs, then trying to make yourself into that entrepreneur.
If you would like to hear my entire conversation with Ekaterina, you may listen above or download the mp3 and listen at you leisure. You can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
Ekaterina Walter, Social Media Strategist at Intel and author of Think Like Zuck. Ekaterina was named among the 25 Women Who Rock Social Media in 2012.