Craig Newmark – Founder, Craigslist.org

Craig Newmark is a self-described nerd, pioneer of the web, speaker, philanthropist, and a strong advocate of the use of technology for the public good. He is the founder of craigslist.org, which he started in 1995 and is now one of the world’s most-visited websites. He continues to work with craigslist as a customer service representative (CSR).

Today, Craig’s primary focus is craigconnects.org, which he launched in 2011. The mission of craigconnects, in the short-term, is to promote, expedite, and enhance the use of technology and social media for the benefit of philanthropy and public service. He uses the craigconnects platform to support the efforts of those “getting stuff done” in areas such as veterans and military families, open government, public diplomacy, back-to-basics journalism, fact-checking, consumer protection, election protection and voter registration, and technology for the public good. Craig’s long-term mission for craigconnects is to ultimately extend the reach of technology worldwide, to “give a voice to the voiceless and real power to the powerless.”

Craig currently serves on the board of directors of the Center for Public Integrity, Sunlight Foundation, Consumers Union/Consumer Reports, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. He also serves as an advisor on the use of technology for more than a dozen other non-profit organizations and government agencies.

Craig was born in Morristown, New Jersey and now lives in San Francisco, California, which has been his home for more than 20 years. He enjoys birdwatching, squirrel-watching, and science fiction. He communicates regularly through his own blog on craigconnects, The Huffington Post, Facebook, and Twitter. He also travels the country speaking about issues, appearing on behalf of the organizations he supports, and delivering his craigconnects message to audiences nationwide.

1. How do you define success?
It’s a matter of what makes you happy. For me, it’s a matter of social impact, by my own actions, and more importantly, by finding ways to get everyone the means to work together for greater social impact.

2. What is the key to success?
Treat people like you want to be treated.

3. Did you always know you would be successful?
I’m not successful, yet.

4. When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Over time, people of good will prevail.

5. What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
If it wasn’t for comedy, I’d have no personality at all.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
What is “spare time”?

7. What makes a great leader?
“Greatness” in leadership involves the ability to inspire and motivate large numbers of people. It includes charisma, which I don’t even begin to understand.

8. What advice would you give to college students about entering the workforce?
Read Dilbert. Take responsibility for how people perceive you, which is to say, you own your own brand. That includes your use of social media.


This interview is an excerpt from Success: 30 Interviews with Entrepreneurs & Executives by Jason Navallo.

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