2 books that changed the way Mark Zuckerberg thinks about innovation

Marguerite Ward

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg may have built his fortune around new technologies and social media, but he still knows the value a good, old-fashioned book can provide.

“I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling,” he wrote on Facebook in 2015, as he embarked on a challenge of reading two books per month for a year. He says they provide an “immersive” experience.

Some of the titles included in the challenge were science reads like “Genome,” by Matt Ridley, which explores the evolution of genetics. Others focus on history and politics, like former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s book, “World Order.”

A few focus on how companies can fuel innovation and encourage their employees to be as creative as possible. Consider taking inspiration from these titles Zuckerberg read and loved:

  1. “Creativity, Inc.” by Alice Wallace and Edwin Catmull

Edwin Catmull, president of Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Animation Studios, and writer Alice Wallace give readers an inside look at how Pixar became the creative powerhouse it is today.

The book details steps the company took to make innovation a key priority. Catmull argues, for example, that companies should encourage employees to share new ideas.

“Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you share them with others,” he writes. “Show early and show often. It’ll be pretty when we get there, but it won’t be pretty along the way.”

Zuckerberg so enjoyed the book that painted on the walls of Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, is a line that showcases a similar idea: “Better done than perfect.”

“I love reading first-hand accounts about how people build great companies like Pixar and nurture innovation and creativity,” Zuckerberg writes.

  1. “The Idea Factory” by Jon Gertner

“The Idea Factory” by journalist and author Jon Gertner follows the history of Bell Labs, the famed research operation founded by Alexander Graham Bell which functioned, for many years, as part of AT&T and is now owned by Nokia. Several researchers earned Nobel Prizes for the work produced at Bell Labs.

The story begins soon after a few AT&T executives decided to tackle the seemingly impossible task of creating a transcontinental phone line that could connect a call between New York and San Francisco.

It demonstrates how the unique collaboration between business and science has led to the creation of some of the world’s most powerful companies.

Zuckerberg says he chose to read this book because he’s “very interested in what causes innovation — what kinds of people, questions and environments.”



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