Famous brother aside, Randi Zuckerberg has life lessons too

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Randi Zuckerberg now authors books, produces TV shows, invests in start-ups and raises two kids at the same time.
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You have no doubt heard the name Zuckerberg. But what you may not know is that the family has more than one media mogul around the holiday dinner table.

Mark's sister Randi, 36, was formerly at Facebook but left more than a decade ago. She now authors books, produces TV shows, invests in start-ups and raises two kids at the same time.

Her busy to-do list is the subject of her new book, “Pick Three," about how she does all that without pulling her hair out. Randi spoke with Reuters for the latest in our “Life Lessons” series.

What was an early job that you took a lesson from?

I was a hostess and waitress in a restaurant, the Central Square Café in Scarsdale, New York. To this day, it completely changed the way I view anyone in a service role. I always treat waiters and waitresses with respect, because I have been in those shoes. Everyone should have a job like that at some point in their life, because it gives you a lot of empathy.

What was the best career advice you got?

I was told, ‘Randi, be careful what you get good at.’ I didn’t understand what that meant at the time. I was an eager beaver right out of college, and if I was told to fax something I wanted to be the best faxer in the world. But the point of that advice was, if people just see you as one thing, then it becomes very hard to think of you as something else.

As a woman, have you found the start-up world particularly difficult?

We definitely still live in a world where it is harder for women to raise money. That is our unfortunate reality, which I would like to see change. I think a lot of people would have taken my ideas more seriously if I was not a woman, which was one reason why I brought on a male business partner. Now I do a lot of investing in other women.

A lot of your efforts have focused on entertainment - Why?

Entertainment is definitely the Wild West when it comes to media. There’s so much content out there, in so many different forms, that it is hard for people to discover something that’s really good. My most recent show is called Dot, an animated cartoon about a techie girl, in collaboration with the Jim Henson Company.

For your investment portfolio, what are you looking for in budding start-ups?

For me it is all about the person. I get pitched five or 10 things every single week. But all businesses change, and nothing ever looks the same in five years. One thing that doesn’t change is the person I’m backing, so that is almost 100 per cent of what I’m looking for.

What is the philosophy behind your new book?

I am always asked how I balance it all, being a mom and an entrepreneur. And honestly, I really don’t. Life is a game of ruthless prioritization, and you can’t have it all every single day. So if there are five categories – work, sleep, friends, family, fitness – pick three for any given day, and you can do those well. Don’t waste your time feeling guilty about the other two. And then tomorrow, pick a different three.

How do you focus your charity efforts?

I am passionate about the arts – I have always been into singing, theatre, musicals. I even got to perform on Broadway a few years ago, which was a bucket-list item.

What lessons do you pass along to your two boys?

They are seven and three, so basically we are just in survival mode right now. One of the reasons I love living in New York City is that you can walk out the door and see every kind of person, of every socio-economic status, speaking every language. So I want my boys to feel empathy and kindness for everyone, to see the world’s problems and try to make it a better place. I would consider that a success.

Read: Women Business News | Meet the first woman managing director of a bank in Kerala

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