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Who Says a Harvard Education Makes You Smart?

Original post made by Time to get serious, Charleston Meadows, on Aug 3, 2008

A perfect example of American intercultural ignorance. Anyone who argues against foreign language (and thus, foreign culture) instruction in our public or private schools helps to engender the same stunning ignorance exhibited here, by Facebook principals. This was a $1BILLION dollar missed opportunity. How did Facebooks many so0called "smart" executives miss this train? And these are "smart" people? I think we need to redefine what "smart" means.

Web Link

from the article:
"A perfect example of a cultural misconception: Mark Zuckerbergrecently said in Tokyo one of Facebook's unique selling points is the usage of real names and photos in profiles. This may be true but it's exactly what Japanese web users usually try to _avoid_."

You tell me, how does the CEO of a multimillion dollar corporation not figure this out? Welcome to America.

Comments (11)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 3, 2008 at 10:28 pm

As usual, Japan is simply ahead of us.
Unless you are a teenager, people generally enjoy anonymity and privacy.

Facebook is a fad.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 3, 2008 at 11:22 pm

I believe that Facebbook is also "a fad" which is aimed at students. There have been problems with identity theft, predators, privacy issues in dorms, and so forth. Many countries such as the U.K. and Australia did not like Facebook. This had nothing to do with cultural and language issues, it is simply reality.



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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 4, 2008 at 1:36 am

Hmmmm, how in America does a 23-year-old get to be CEO of a multi-million dollar company?

Yeah, Zuckerberg may not be a diplomat, but I wouldn't use him as an example of someone's who's dumb.

Insular maybe, solipsistic--dorky even (Harvard seems to graduate a high percentage of dorks for some reason)--but I wouldn't call Zuckerberg dumb.


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Posted by Time to get serious
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:15 am

"but I wouldn't call Zuckerberg dumb"

No, he's ignorant. There's a difference. And pathetically so, given that the article points out that the very _simple_ variables that any marketing MBA should know about a customer were ignored. Really, a one billion dollar mistake that could have been _easily_ avoided, had Zuckerberg and his senior execs (probably mostly from Ivy-League schools) taken the time to look into cultural differences. Seriously, a stunning oversight, and one that would get most down line marketing managers fired in three seconds.

The point was that Americans are generally poor at figuring out that other people are not like them. In a flatter world, this is almost unforgivable. One would think that Harvard could do a better job, given its reputation for excellence. One wonders.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:17 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Time to get serious
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:57 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Perspective:Real One
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:59 am

HI Time to Get Serious:

I wish I were so dumb to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar company at such a young age...

As for Americans being "poor" at figuring out other people are not like them, ..seriously, who cares? People all over the world are generally poor at not figuring out others aren't like them, but here in America we are the best at respecting individualism, ...live and let live...tolerance of uniqueness and of errors,...all of which I love.

So, seriously, who cares about your beef? If you want a "country" that is better at "figuring out other people are not like them", please go find it and live there.

In the meantime, do you seriously believe that FL education would have made one whit of difference to this guy? Honestly, how could his family have known at the age of 5 which immersion program to go into to help him know this cultural detail?

The smart thing to do is to hire whoever is local in a country to help out, not try to not it all yourself. There is no way one person can be completely bicultural and bilingual in all ways, even of just two countries, unless s/he literally spends alternating years IN each country throughout life.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Time to get serious
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:58 pm

"In the meantime, do you seriously believe that FL education would have made one whit of difference to this guy? Honestly, how could his family have known at the age of 5 which immersion program to go into to help him know this cultural detail?"

He's have at least been immersed in the idea that there are essential cultural differences that exist between "them, and us". A good foreign language program always addresses the finer points of cultural protocol, and difference.


"The smart thing to do is to hire whoever is local in a country to help out, not try to not it all yourself"

Yeah, but he didn't do the smart thing, did he? - nor did his associates. It cost him one BILLION dollars (for starters). [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:08 pm

I believe Zuckerberg is a Harvard undergraduate dropout like Bill Gates, not a Harvard MBA. With the issues that Facebook has in the US, it would be smart of him not to spend too much time dealing with Japan.


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Posted by too bad, the censor is back
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:26 pm

I think the censor is going a litte overboard again.

I was so delighted that for a few weeks people could actually read what someone had written, then read the full response!

Ridiculous.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Perspective: Real ONe
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Yeah, you just beat me to it.

What was wrong with saying that I recognize the MI poster by the style? But it was deleted..odd.


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