Rebounds are still worth 2 points

Deborah AndrewsDirector of People OperationsPosted February 5, 2020

Everyone knows Joe Green, right? Co-founder of Facebook? Groundbreaking entrepreneur? You know, him. He is among the 100 wealthiest and most influential people in the world. Joe Green is a household name.  

Except for he's not. Instead, he's known (or not) as the guy who turned down a meeting with Mark Zuckerberg about a website called LinkedInfluencers often share posts about this story, concluding that the men who did show up are now all billionaires.   

That's not exactly what happened, though.

Joe Green was Mark Zuckerberg's friend in college. The two actually worked together to create Facemash, Zuckerberg's first website that allowed students at Harvard to compare and rate students based on their attractiveness. It was pretty unsavory. So much so that they faced expulsion from the university. Because of the reputation this earned, Green's father urged against him collaborating further with Zuckerberg, and consequently, he turned down initial shares in Facebook. Shares that he still owned in 2010 would have earned him billions.   

What can we learn from this story? There are two lessons here: one from the fable and one from the facts. The lesson from the fable is that you have to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. When a student at Harvard that already has a reputation for being a computer science prodigy tells you that he has an idea and he wants you to be a part of it, you show up to that meeting. You get there on time, take notes, exchange contact information, and conclude with "What's next?"   

That's easier said than done, however. Hindsight is 2020. No one in that room could have known how big social media would be. Opportunities aren't always that easy to spot at the moment. Sometimes, being cautious can be as lucrative as taking a leap of faith. So, while there isn't a perfect science to how to invest your time and money in business, one thing that even my grandmother knows to be true is: Treat people with respect. Send that response. Write that thank you note. Return the call. Even if your answer is "not right now, but thank you," you'll be better off than the person who ghosted. 

Now, what can we learn from the facts? It turns out Joe Green ended up being pretty successful. He worked on John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign, has created several philanthropic fundraising sites, and works as an investor in Silicon Valley. He didn't feel comfortable working with Zuckerberg, so he made his own path. He worked with Sean Parker, who famously and ironically co-founded Facebook. So, while there are missed opportunities, there are also MORE opportunities in the future, so long as you're not closed-minded and unresponsive.    

Have you taken advantage of recent career or professional opportunities? Remember, you don't have to get a slam dunk every time. A rebound is still worth 2 points.

Deborah Andrews Deborah is our Director of People Operations at Agility Partners. Every day, she empowers our employees with the tools they need to "Find a Way to Win!"