TWO REASONS WHY the wisdom of Bill Gates is worth noting:
- More than any other entrepreneur, Bill Gates is the reason you’re using a personal computing device to look at this story right now. For that, he became the world’s richest man.
- Now, Gates is no longer the world’s richest man because he’s busy spending his money trying to save the world from disease and poor education.
When someone who has done, and is doing, such an incredible things – and has something to say – it’s worth listening.
On being a ‘businessman’
Of my mental cycles, I devote maybe ten per cent to business thinking. Business isn’t that complicated. I wouldn’t want to put it on my business card.
On how he defines ‘smart’
It’s an elusive concept. There’s a certain sharpness, an ability to absorb new facts. To walk into a situation, have something explained to you and immediately say, “Well, what about this?” To ask an insightful question. To absorb it in real time. A capacity to remember. To relate to domains that may not seem connected at first. A certain creativity that allows people to be effective.
On telling employees the truth, quickly
If I think something’s a waste of time or inappropriate I don’t wait to point it out. I say it right away. It’s real time. So you might hear me say ‘That’s the dumbest idea I have ever heard’ many times during a meeting.
On using fear as a motivator
In this business, by the time you realise you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself. Unless you’re running scared all the time, you’re gone.
On Steve Jobs
The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honour. I will miss Steve immensely.
On unhappy customers
Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.
On youthful entitlement and self-esteem
The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
On boring parents
Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
On comparing yourself to others
Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world… if you do so, you are insulting yourself.
Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.
Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.
Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
Life’s not fair, get over it.
It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.
On the short-term versus the medium-term
We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate in the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.
Capitalism is this wonderful thing that motivates people, it causes wonderful inventions to be done. But in this area of disease of the world at large, it’s really let us down.
Creative capitalism takes this interest in the fortunes of others and ties it to our interest in our own fortunes in ways that help advance both. This hybrid engine of self-interest and concern for others can serve a much wider circle of people than can be reached by self-interest or caring alone.
On intellectual property
Intellectual property has the shelf-life of a banana.
On using technology to make a business more efficient
The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.
On education and poverty
Until we’re educating every kid in a fantastic way, until every inner city is cleaned up, there is no shortage of things to do.
On getting good grades
I failed in some subjects, but my friend passed in all. Now he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft.