Lev Grossman just wrote a brilliant magazine article about Mark Zuckerberg and the future of Facebook, which is now 10 years old. Much of the article talks about Zuckerberg's commitment to Internet.org, a combined effort by Zuckerberg and multiple telecom companies to bring the internet to the two-thirds of the world who don't have access.

There are many public arguments accusing this approach of being a self-serving, imperialistic colonization of people's time and attention. Public criticism of the effort and resources has come, not surprisingly, both from Tim Cook and Bill Gates, as stated in the article. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg refutes the claims of conquest by pointing out there is not much financial benefit to advertising to people at the lowest end of the socioeconomic spectrum.

Regardless, what stands out in Grossman's profile is not Zuckerberg's arrogance but rather his conviction. Zuckerberg does not come across as maniacal, psychotic, or even cynical. As one who strongly believes that people should be able to freely choose how they spend their time and their money, even I can see merits in Zuckerberg's approach, whether or not I believe 100 percent penetration is realistic or desirable.

There is a lesson here for entrepreneurs, managers, and team leaders. You don't have to be right or popular to create a movement. Of course, money and power are required if you are trying to inspire the world, but absent of wealth, strong sound conviction based on logic and behavioral knowledge can inspire a team large or small.

Want to be steadfast and admirable when trying to inspire? Ask yourself these five questions so you can solidify your conviction.

1. How do I clearly and succinctly articulate my idea?

Ideas and thoughts are great, but you can't inspire with conviction if you can't get your message across in a simple way that most can understand. Spend some time thinking through your idea and how you can best communicate it to others that matter.

2. What opposing points are valid and why?

We all come up with ideas that are fantastic until they are actually tested. Once you form the idea, dig in and rip it apart. If it's worthy of belief, the idea will not only hold up to scrutiny, it will become stronger from it.

3. What are the implications of my idea being wrong?

How important is your idea? It's hard to get behind an idea that has little significance one way or another. Make sure your idea is worthy of your effort and that of others. Otherwise, save your breath for something that will have real impact.

4. What are the benefits of my idea to others besides me?

Why even bother with this idea? If it's totally self-serving, you may be on your own. Any new idea competes for time and attention from today's litany of ideas. You'll need to align your idea with the people who have the most to gain.

5. What variations on my idea might lead to greater benefit to broader society?

People like to believe in something bigger than themselves. Even if you connect with selfish motivations, altruism is more likely to attract, engage, and retain believers in the long run. Perhaps starting with the broader benefit will bring the desired conviction for everyone involved.

Published on: Dec 8, 2014
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