They don't hide from quantitative weakness or run from past mistakes, whether their own or somebody else's.
Zuckerberg acknowledged not getting ahead of the curve on mobile. Mayer admitted that there's no need for wholesale changes with the Yahoo! brand; the company just needs "improved execution."
These wunderkinds don't run on the numbers, they run on their visions. They run on their grasp of the broad social/new media, consumer and advertising spaces, but also their understanding of nuance and the particulars of a user's daily routine.
They understand that if they execute and articulate their visions, numbers will follow. This new generation of leaders realizes they'll make mistakes. They'll hit roadblocks. And they'll be treated unfairly. But, even as they smile for the camera and accept it as part of the job, they recognize all of the scrutiny for what it is - noise.
That's tough for the media and investors to swallow. But, like I said, more people are coming around to long-term, mission-based thinking not old school put-up or shut-up machismo.
That's why Mayer gets a pass. Because she didn't just throw out words and phrases like "personalization" and "daily habit." She displayed a command of their relevance to Yahoo!'s business in the short and long term.
You don't wonder, as you have for the last five years on Yahoo! conference calls, if the CEO has any idea how to weave together a coherent strategy involving search, sports, finance and the company's other massive brands.
The same goes for Zuckerberg with relation to mobile. The kid, if I may, created Facebook. It's a hobby that morphed into a multi-billion dollar, worldwide powerhouse that has impacted upon almost every life, in some way, in North America and in other places around the world.
On Facebook's Tuesday afternoon earnings report, don't look to see that it's ahead of one of the biggest revolutions in the history of society -- the rapid shift from desktop to mobile. It's absurd to expect results to pace wildly ahead of the evolution of such an extraordinary phenomenon.