Finding common ground between two industries that have been mostly separate for the past decade was the main message of the highly anticipated conversation between Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook, and Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Zetsche greeted Sandberg by saying: 'Your company is 13 years old, ours is 130 years old.' 'I'm here to learn from you', Sandberg replied. 'It should have been my line', said Zetsche.
Zetsche contemplated about his company’s attempt of taking on Silicon Valley's mantra of 'Failing Fast'. 'It's hard to build the S-Class, which has to be perfect, and embrace failure while working with startups at the same time. But I’m glad we’re seeing more of this coming together.' Both Zetsche and Sandberg stressed how Facebook and Mercedes are aiming for the same goal in the end: connecting people and bringing them together, virtually and in real life.
The two leaders also discussed mutual challenges such as the missing gender balance both industries experience. Sandberg encouraged young parents with daughters to teach them how to code. She also gave men some marriage advice and recommended to do the laundry instead of buying flowers – but ideally doing both.
Zetsche closed with a learning for all industry leaders facing disruption: “Even if we are more successful than ever before, we have to change faster than ever before.”