Randi Zuckerberg, founder of media production company Zuckerberg Mediaand sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, stood center stage at the 25th Bakersfield Women's Business Conference Thursday.
A panel of women sat both to the left and right of the CEO, and flat screens hung above the heads of her audience — a mix of female educators, and technology and business leaders.
Her message to the sold-out audience in her keynote address was to take risks and use technology’s possibilities to shape their futures.
She said her introduction to the digital arena came after her 2003 graduation from Harvard University: the New York offices of worldwide advertising agency Ogilvy & Mather. Her peers joined what she described as “glamorous” television ad campaigns.
“I got staffed on a new team called interactive and digital marketing, and I was pissed off,” she said.
The audience of about 1,400 at Rabobank Arena Theater & Convention Center chuckled.
“I called my mom,” Zuckerberg said. “I cried. I thought I was in a dead-end career. I wanted to be on television sets with celebrities.”
There was a silver lining.
Two years later everyone was still pouring coffee on television sets, and interactive was the fastest growing part of Ogilvy & Mather,” Zuckerberg said.
With much persuasion from her younger brother, Mark, and a JetBlue plane ticket, in 2005 she visited a fledgling operation of his in Silicon Valley then called The Facebook.
“I was blown away by what I saw,” she said.
Zuckerberg described around-the-clock coding, a seemingly endless stream of Twinkies and Red Bull, and unforgettable passion.
“I never ever could have imagined in my life how exciting it was to be surrounded by people with such intense dreams of entrepreneurship,” she said.
The then-24-year-old would help turn Facebook into a multi-billion dollar social media giant.
Thursday, she wove examples of the risks taken and innovation pursued into a narrative of her career and family life that the audience accented with laughter.
She listed top 10 social media trends — using social media connections as a currency to access special offers, for example, and “lifelogging,” or using social media to document daily life — promoted her two books “Dot” and “Dot Complicated,” and sprinkled references to her dedication to supporting women in entrepreneurial and technological roles.
In an earlier press conference, she pointed to an increase in female business leaders in Silicon Valley since she first joined her brother at the technological hub in 2005 to create Facebook’s social media marketing programs.
“When I first arrived in Silicon Valley, you could virtually count the number of women executives, founders of companies, on your hands,” Zuckerberg said. “Now there’s an entire investment firm dedicated to funding women startups.”
“There are incubator programs that require women on founding teams of startups,” she added. “It’s really an exciting new world out there.”
Her aim at the women’s conference was to encourage women to overcome the crippling fear of failure.
“All of us are going to fall on our face at some point,” she said. “And failure is not fatal. It’s not permanent.”