Turns out Mark Zuckerberg is fluent in a language other than emoji. The Facebook founder appeared in a live forum at a university in Beijing this week and surprised the students by answering all their questions in Mandarin. He even managed to crack a few jokes. Zuckerberg began learning his wife's second language in 2010, just one of the types of personal challenges he sets for himself each year. The move could pay dividends for his company by enhancing his reputation in the eyes of the Chinese business community--and provides a good lesson about goal-setting for other entrepreneurs.
"I think a lot of building something is just about kind of seeing things through. And so I try to pick things that are going to be hard for me to do," he told CNN last year. Below is a list of some of his most wild undertakings.
The Year of the Tie
It all began innocently enough in 2009 when Zuckerberg vowed to wear a tie to work every day. Hey, when your boss is about a decade younger than you and prefers the comfort of the well-worn hoodie, casual Fridays take on a whole new meaning. That's why Zuckerberg decided to step up his work attire. By doing so, the young founder made a gesture clearly showing how serious he is about Facebook's development as a company. Dressing for success is still relevant, and can be accomplished even by incorporating small changes, like adding a tie, wearing a sport coat, or investing in a nice pair of shoes.
Only Eat Animals He's Killed
In his most controversial challenge, Zuckerberg in 2011 only ate animals he killed himself. In turn, the entrepreneur adopted a diet with less meat. "Doing something for a year, I think you have all these interesting unintended consequences," he said. The challenge was intended to bring awareness to sustainable farming. But after Zuckerberg shared on his personal Facebook profile that he had cut the throat of a goat, animal rights activists were not at all pleased. Not all goals have to be this extreme to be effective. The point is to make small, everyday changes that you can sustain over a long period of time.
Meet a New Person Every Day
In 2013, Zuckerberg opted for a more people-friendly personal challenge and decided to go outside his social network. The Facebook founder has set out to meet at least one new person every day--someone not working at Facebook. Not so much of a challenge when you are the face of a global social network and your calendar is chock-full of trips to universities in Beijing. For everyone else, making a new connection at least once a week can still have a dramatic effect on business. Attending networking events, alumni happy hours, and conferences is an efficient way to build your collection of business cards.