Former president George W. Bush continued the rounds of his book tour for his memoir Decision Points, traveling today to Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters, where he and Mark Zuckerberg engaged in some good-humored raillery. That is, Bush engaged in some good-humored raillery–at Zuck’s expense.
It was commander in chief meets chief executive officer, and Bush, who quickly sensed opportunity in ribbing Zuckerberg, spent the hour long talk chuckling at the hoodie-clad Facebook founder.
Zuck, who opened with a glowing introduction of Bush, was caught off guard when Bush immediately joked, “You’re not exactly Jay Leno!” Likely encouraged by the audience’s laughter, Bush then asked whether Zuck graduated from his alma mater Andover before correcting himself: “Oh, you went to [rival] Exeter!”
Next, Zuckerberg transitioned into his first question, asking Bush why he chose Facebook (and presumably not Google, Apple, or Twitter) to speak. Rather than offer a string of compliments for the service as Zuck might’ve expected, Bush quipped, “Because you got a lot of people paying attention to us, and I’m trying to sell books!”
The conversation turned to education, and the moderator suggested both Bush and Zuck have a “shared interest” in the field, especially given Facebook’s recent investment in the Newark school system. But Bush wasn’t finished:
“You didn’t even graduate from college,” Bush joked, turning to Zuck with a wide grin. “He didn’t write the book! I wrote the book!”
Later, when Bush’s nickname “The Decider” came up, the moderator cracked that Zuck often makes use of that moniker at Facebook. “The decider? No!” Bush cried. “I suggest not using it–it sounded cool when I said it!”
All in all, Bush read his audience–Facebook employees–well. They certainly found joy in making a little fun at the expense of their boss. By the talk’s end, Bush did find time to compliment Zuck, explaining that he wouldn’t be a good leader if he couldn’t take “this needling I’m giving you,” and praising the CEO’s vision and common sensical approach.
Was he now pandering, Bush asked aloud?
“You’ve made fun of me enough!” Zuckerberg joked. “Keep it coming!”