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The Self-Made Man: Chris Hughes

chrishughes3I’d have to imagine that this week’s Self Made Man, Chris Hughes, is a familiar name among entrepreneurs; indeed, he should be where the bar is currently set. Hughes co-founded Facebook with Mark Zuckerberg, then went on to manage the online portions of President Obama’s landmark 2008 campaign, then founded a social networking/charity index website, and now he’s the
editor of The New Republic.

I imagine he sleeps at some point during the day, but I can’t figure out when.

Anyway, Hughes was born in Hickory, NC, which is mind-blowing to me because I’ve been there numerous times and it’s impossible to picture someone as dynamic and—let’s be real here—successful as Hughes coming from there. In a world run by the law of averages, the closest Hughes would have gotten to the online revolution would have been manufacturing fiber optic cable.

In any case, Hughes contributed to beta testing & product suggestions for Facebook while he was at Harvard, and it was his idea to open the network to other schools. So really, it’s thanks to him that you’ve heard of Facebook at all. Hughes became the de-facto Facebook spokesperson thanks to that decision, and unlike Zuckerberg, he actually graduated from Harvard.

Hughes remained with Facebook until 2007, when he left to coordinate online organizing for Obama’s 2008 campaign. Fast Company called him “The Kid Who Made Obama President” because he created My.BarackObama (or “MyBo”), an online community and social network that helped the Obama campaign’s 1.5 million volunteers form groups, organize meetings, and raise money with personalized fundraising pages that let users set their own outreach goals and credited them accordingly.

It was a masterwork for sure, and all the work was done by him and the team under him, who he credits for most of the network’s success. “The tech,” he told Pando Daily, “doesn’t matter if you don’t have the movement.”

Hughes was just being candid, but he was speaking to a greater truth about entrepreneurship, tech-related or otherwise. You can have all the right equipment and swanky offices with beanbag chairs instead of normal ones and whatever, but if there’s no energy—if you’re not willing to put the work in—then you’re not going to get anywhere. Chris Hughes was willing to back his big ideas with a lot of man-hours on Facebook, as opposed to just being a conceptual guy, and they’ve paid off handsomely.

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About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.

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