How social media may be hurting your career, according to this TED Talks success expert

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Want to achieve your professional goals? Log out of your Facebook, says success expert Richard St. John.

The bestselling author, who has interviewed over 1,000 successful people including Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Martha Stewart, says that millennials spend too much time on social media. That time, he tells CNBC Make It, could be better spent advancing their career.

“Every minute you spend on social media is a minute lost on your career,” says St. John. “One will make you money, the other won’t.”

He says that young people aren’t working that hard on their careers. “It’s become ridiculous the ratio of social media time to career time,” says St. John.

He points to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as an example. He describes how the tech mogul had very few people he was close with growing up. “He kept to himself and worked in a basement,” says St. John. “Now he has a lot of friends.”

Facebook and Google logos

Peter Foley/Bloomberg | Getty Images
Facebook and Google logos

St. John says that today’s version of being sociable and outgoing has shifted to the digital space via social media. However, he says that most successful people weren’t doing the “social thing” when they were younger. Instead, they kept to themselves and focused on their end-goal.

St. John advises millennials to look ahead in life. He points to Googleco-founder Larry Page as someone who is shy and not very social. “That’s why he was able to create Google,” says St. John.

However, he notes that there is a difference between using social media as a business tool and using it for pleasure. St. John says that young people see the Zuckerbergs of the world making so much money and don’t realize how much time they spend focusing solely on their career.

In 2005, he gave a TED Talk on the eight traits successful people have in common. St. John says that out the eight traits mentioned in the speech, titled “8 Secrets of Success,” the number one trait that millennials must cultivate is focus.

“Focus is the big one,” he says. “With young people, there’s no such thing as focus and it’s spent on things like social media.”

“The internet can help you if you want to find something,” he adds. “But it’s the number one thing holding young people back from success.”

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