Select Page

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook: A Persuasive Robot?

Andrew: “Was Mark Zuckerberg persuasive when he got in front of a bunch of senators why is it important? Because we can learn things from his performance which we can transfer into our pitch; so let’s get on and analyze Mark Zuckerberg’s persuasiveness in front of his senators.

“Today I have helping me to analySe Zuckerberg’s performance Matt Smith. He happens to have had a career in finance, he is a Sloan Fellow of London Business School and he is now a strategy and finance advisor to scaling up startups. Matt, question for you then, was Mark Zuckerberg overall a success, was he persuasive when he was in front of those sensors?

Matt: “Okay, I think Mark was persuasive but I think he had a number of challenges that when we pitches that we don’t actually have. When we go into a room by-and-large we are generally unknown so it’s a clean slate, when he goes in every single person that was in the Senate room had a perception of Mark already.

Andrew: “Right, so he had to overcome that preconception?

Matt: “You know most of the preconception, preconceived ideas about Mark are negative, he’s unlikable right. Being unlikable certainly effects your ability to persuade and there’s a number of reasons for that. A lot of people focus on the fact that he’s quite robotic in his delivery, without showing any real passion. But, that doesn’t hold true when you actually compare it to a number the other contemporaries that work in tech, they also have a fairly stilted delivery. The difference with Mark is that there’s no congruence between the words that come out of his mouth, body language and his delivery.

Andrew: “Okay, but there is one question which I think is pretty telling and it’s a good question, about him staying in a hotel.

Senator: “Thank you very much Mr Chairman, Mr Zuckerberg would you be comfortable sharing with us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night? 

Zuckerberg: “No.

Senator: :If you messaged anybody this week would you share with us the names of the people you’ve messaged?

Zuckerberg: “Senator no I would probably not choose to do that publicly here.

Senator: “I think that maybe what this is all about.


Andrew: “Often to make yourself likeable you can crack a joke. If you’re humorous what it shows is you’re in command then you’re in control and I don’t think any time did Mark comes across as particularly a man with a sense of humour.

Matt: “Sure. I think it’s a it’s a lever that he can’t pull because if he shows some humour it diminishes the rest of what he has to say and it belittles the seriousness of the situation. He really does need to impress on them the seriousness that he takes that and what he’s actually going to do about it.

Senator: “Well if so how do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service? S

Zuckerberg: “Senator we run ads…


Andrew: “Matt, credibility is important. We need credibility for the pitch, doesn’t matter what we say if people don’t believe us they will ignore or discount what we say. Just like with the boy that cried wolf he says the same thing so many times that actually when there is a wolf people do not believe him and he gets eaten by a big wolf. So question is: was Mark Zuckerberg a credible person and before you answer that question I’ll tell you what I think are his problems. His problems are this:

  • Mark Zuckerberg happens to be a pretty young guy. As a founder at 18 years of age that’s cool. If you’re 32 years of age and you’re now the CEO of one of the largest and most influential organisations in the world people get a bit scared because there aren’t many ,32 year old leaders like that in fact they’re probably none. So he has that not going for him.
  • He also happens to have been pretty irresponsible to have let millions of people’s data go missing.
  • He appears to be somewhat detached because his pure demeanour doesn’t appear to be particularly empathetic or human.
  • Finally he’s got a big problem. The other problem, it’s a problem that I would personally like, the problem is he’s a billionaire. As a billionaire people think that you’re pretty much removed from reality. In other words you live in your own bubble.

Here he is a man in charge of a hugely influential organisation, is he in touch with reality or has he lost the plot? Did he come across as credible Matt?

Matt: “I think there’s two parts of this question. Credibility for him coming from being a billionaire and being a founder and establishing sort of a massive company gives it an awful lot of credibility.

The challenge that he has is that he’s renowned for being a disrupter and for breaking things. Now what he has to actually do here is he actually persuade the Senators that he is a responsible custodian of people’s data.

Andrew: “Previously you comply or die, so now he is a comply or die guy, previously maker and breaker.

Matt: “And you can see in the in the clip where he talks about the changing in the motto from being one of ‘look we break things’ to ‘we are now compliant’.

Senator: “I know up until the mantra or motto of Facebook was ‘move fast and break things’ is that correct?

Zuckerberg: “I don’t know when we changed it but the mantra is currently ‘move fast with stable infrastructure’. Which is a much less sexy mantra…

Andrew: “So one of the other things you to do about your credibility is your appearance. I was talking earlier all about the age what does he do to try and show that in actual fact he is a man of authority a credible individual?

T-Shirt or Suit?

Matt: “I have never seen Mark Zuckerberg in a suit before. He is somebody that wears t-shirt and jeans and whilst Facebook has grown and all the stories are positive the market and the government are embracing of that. Here is a change, it’s all over once things start to come into crisis mode. They’re now looking for somebody with all authority that can come in and actually demonstrate that he can actually affect change.

Andrew: “Okay so he wears this suit so that’s a positive thing.

Matt: “Yeah, sure. A suit in this environment is like a uniform, it gives the authority and also it actually makes him more akin to who he’s addressing, people in their sixties. Yeah, wear the suit absolutely and it makes them conform to their expectations as to what they expect from a CEO.

Andrew: “Yeah, okay. He’s wearing a suit, on that point he wears a good suit in the sense that he’s wearing block colours: no different patterns, no flakes, all just one colour. Each item one colour, one colour tie, one colour shirt, one colour jacket which I like. And he wears a white shirt. A white shirt particularly is a clever move because it suggests that you’re fresh, new and innocent and telling the truth.


Andrew: “So what else is there about his appearance?

Matt: “One of my favourite parts of the Senate hearing is this cushion that he sits on.


Andrew: “Matt, finally overall was Mark Zuckerberg a persuasive speaker when he was in front of these Senators yay or nay, do we like or not him?

Matt: “I think I think he did an awesome job. With the skills that he’s been given.

Andrew: “So do we like or dislike?

Matt: “I give it a like.

Andrew: “It’s a like Mark.


Mark Zuckerberg Facebook: A Persuasive Robot? #Podcast #AndrewTollinton