This whole experience was very surreal.
I still remember the very moment when I was sitting at my desk- roommates huddled over me, watching me sign-up for a Facebook account in college. Ever since then I’ve been fascinated with its impact and the power of connecting people. For over 10 years, I’ve been in the digital marketing space. Naturally, following the story of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg has been something I’ve observed very closely. It’s part of my job. Facebook is in part, how I have a job.
Fast-forward to last Friday.
If you follow Mark Zuckerberg online, you may notice he has recently started a series called Q&A With Mark. It’s a way for the public to ask Mark any question about Facebook. The way it works is anyone can submit a question on his Timeline or Q&A Facebook page. Questions come in from all around the world. His team picks the most popular questions and most interesting questions that are asked.
I posted this question…
It wasn’t an overly complex question. But it was something I genuinely wanted to know the answer to. Messenger as a platform could have incredibly impacts on how we communicate. If adoption is strong, our email inbox may never look the same. I posted the question with no expectations. In fact, I’ve posted a few questions before- and never received a response.
The next day I received this message…
WHAAAATTTTT!? I was so excited. Now, I know the message carefully said “could potentially.” Either way I thought this was awesome. Even the chance of my question being asked to Mark was something I thought was cool. I recorded a video and sent it to Facebook.
And then I got this message…
WHAAAAT THE WHATTTTT!?!
Holy moly. Is this really happening? I was beyond excited. This was a geeky dream come true.
But after about 5-minutes I did have a moment of realization that this could be fake. What if someone was making this up? I told myself that until I spoke with Facebook on the phone and had the confirmation emails, there is a likelihood this could be something Dateline NBC would chronicle.
But it was real.
And the trip was booked! My wife and I agreed- with her busy work schedule, it would be hard for her to come with me as my guest. Instead I took one of my business partners at Edgehill Capital, Eric Hazen. Facebook had everything planned out and coordinated. Car service transportation, travel, food. Even after checking-in they had a swag bag full of goodies in my hotel room.
When I arrived at Facebook, they gave me a name badge.
We got there a few hours before the event so we could eat lunch and get a tour of the offices. Turns out, Facebook flew in 3 other people as well just for the event (from New York and Texas). We had lunch with the PR/Communication teams and shared our stories and get to know each other.
This is one of the cafeterias at Facebook. Pretty normal to have the Nyan Cat scrolling back and forth in LED right?! Annnnd all the food and drink at Facebook for employees is free.
What is dangerous is they have a bakery that’s also unlimited + free that serves fresh cookies, ice cream, cakes, etc. If this was at my office it would not work. This would just be trouble for me! They say that when people start working at Facebook, you have to be careful not to get the “Facebook 15.”
We then went on a tour of the complex. It’s huge. So big many employees use bikes to get from building to building.
The Facebook main campus has almost everything you need. They intentionally put many things on campus because their offices are located in a very remote area. It takes 10-20 minutes to get to any food options or restaurants. Their offices have multiple food options (all of which are unlimited and free), dentist, doctors, bike shop, wood shop, bakery/ice cream and more.
Their offices are so big- you can take a shuttle from building to building…
This is the very first Instagram ever taken:
It was Mark’s birthday, so they had cupcakes out for everyone:
After the tour was over they took us to the room where the Q&A session was being held. This was fun- they reserved a seat for me!
This is what the room looked like:
And this is what it looked like from my seat:
And then the time came for the event. Was I nervous? Hell yes! It was a very weird set of emotions watching him walk into the room and being literally feet away from me. I thought to myself about what this meant. Facebook is a platform that has literally changed my life. I wouldn’t have my career without it. And so many amazing opportunities, connections, people I’ve met, incredible stories I’ve shared …all have been possible because of Facebook. And it’s been incredible to watch closely and follow Mark Zuckerberg in his maturation. I’ve always admired his dedication and ability to stay on-vision with the platform.
I took many deep breaths in those first few minutes. I rarely get nervous. And I’ve given presentations in front of thousands of people before on stages/conferences. But my heart was beating out of my chest. This was a totally different experience.
It was his birthday- and this was special to see. Mainly because I was able to see in person a more personal side to him as he described what it meant to him. He is 31 now. And Facebook after their IPO has evolved to a very sophisticated company. Here is a short clip of what I recorded him saying after we sang him Happy Birthday:
The event started and I was one of the last people to ask a question. Everything went well- I didn’t trip over my words that much (i was really worried!). In fact, when I got up to ask my question- I was more excited than nervous to have this opportunity. Here is a recording of the entire Q&A Session. If you jump to the 0:48 min mark, you can see me asking my question (P.S. that’s me in the blue shirt, far right corner)
After the Q&A session, Mark hurried out of the room (even though a ton of people tried to corner him and take a picture with him). Facebook had not mentioned that we would get to meet Mark. So it was at this point I thought if that is the end of this experience, that’s ok- this was incredible! However that wasn’t the case. Facebook PR took us over to the new offices they just built and gave us a tour of the space. They surprised us at the end telling us that we were going to have the opportunity to meet Mark and take a photo with him. He came by and we briefly chatted about where we were from and what we thought of the new office. And that was that. Such an incredible experience. I can’t say enough for how well thought out the entire trip front-to-back was.
Thank you Facebook for a day I’ll never forget! I came home impressed + inspired + motivated.