There's a lot at stake when Zuckerberg shows up to work every day. But there's one thing he is more afraid of than screwing up his enormous business: missing out on the opportunity he has to change the world.
"I am much more motivated by making sure we have the biggest impact on the world than by building a business or making sure we don't fail," Zuckerberg says in a conversation with LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman.
"I have more fear in my life that we aren't going to maximize the opportunity that we have than that we mess something up and the business goes badly," Zuckerberg says.
The lesson is apt: Chasing opportunity will get you further in life and in business than trying to avoid mistakes. That perspective is part of what makes Zuckerberg so successful.
"He has no qualms about rushing out an imperfect product. In fact, his famous mantra is 'move fast and break things,'" says Hoffman of Zuckerberg's hacker mentality. "If you are Steve Jobs, you can wait for your product to be perfect, but there are almost no Steve Jobs in the world."
As a CEO, Zuckerberg sees his role as managing risk. "On a day-to-day basis, a lot of the decisions I am making are like, 'OK is this going to destroy the company?' Because if not, then let them test it," says Zuckerberg.
"If the cost of the test isn't going to be super high, then in general, we are going to learn a lot more by experimenting and by letting the teams go and explore the things that are worth exploring than by having a heavy hand in that," he says.
It's not all talk — Zuckerberg has proved he really means it.
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg tells a story that's become famous in the halls of the company, about a young summer intern, Ben, who in 2008 accidentally took down the entire site. He was trying to debug a problem and triggered a failure operation that completely shut down the platform.
Ben was hired full time.
That's because he had a good idea and he tried it, according to Sandberg. It was poorly executed, but mistakes happen, and that's part of Zuckerberg's Facebook ethos.