Entrepreneurs

This favorite saying of Mark Zuckerberg reveals the way the Facebook billionaire thinks about life

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Getty Images
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Mark Zuckerberg is the ultimate success story. He's built one of the most powerful technology platforms in the world and at 33 years old, he is worth more than $70 billion, according to Forbes.

Tuesday, speaking from New York at the Facebook Social Good Forum, the billionaire revealed one of his favorite sayings — and it shows a lot about the way the entrepreneur operates.

"One of my favorite sayings is that there are two kinds of people in the world: optimists and pessimists. And the saying goes that optimists tend to be successful and pessimists tend to be right," says Zuckerberg, dressed, of course, in a grey T-shirt and jeans, addressing a roomful of 300 community members and nonprofits.

"And the idea is that if you think something is going to be terrible and it is going to fail, then you are going to look for the data points that prove you right and you will find them. That is what pessimists do," says Zuckerberg, according to a live stream on Zuckerberg's Facebook page.

"But if you think that something is possible, then you are going to try to find a way to make it work. And even when you make mistakes along the way and even when people doubt you, you are going to keep pushing until you find a way to make it happen," he says.

Indeed, that dogged pursuit of the possible, against all odds, is what makes an entrepreneur.

And it is the pursuit of what is possible that fundamentally drives Zuckerberg, according to a conversation the Facebook founder had with LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman earlier in 2017.

"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 to 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."

"[O]ptimists tend to be successful and pessimists tend to be right." -Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

He's also voiced support for universal basic income, or cash handouts, professing an optimistic belief that if everyone were able to pay their bills, then more humans would be actively chasing their dreams.

"Right now, when there are all these people who don't have the opportunity to go pursue their dreams or go build a new business, we all lose," according to Zuckerberg on a Facebook live this summer. "If you who are watching this had more opportunity to go build something that would be a historic business or enterprise that could serve people all around the world, that would improve the economy and give services to all of us that we could all benefit from."

Showing even more optimism, the billionaire got into a public debate with Elon Musk about the potential impact of artificial intelligence.

Musk has repeatedly warned that artificial intelligence is a danger that needs to be feared and regulated. "I have exposure to the most cutting edge AI, and I think people should be really concerned by it," according to Musk. "AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization."

Zuckerberg, however, focuses on the potential benefit of artificial intelligence.

"I have pretty strong opinions on this. I am optimistic," says Zuckerberg. "I think you can build things and the world gets better. But with AI especially, I am really optimistic. And I think people who are naysayers and try to drum up these doomsday scenarios — I just, I don't understand it. It's really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible."

"In the next five to 10 years, AI is going to deliver so many improvements in the quality of our lives," adds Zuckerberg.