Bill Gates… Critical Lessons Learned

A recent issue of Fortune Magazine included an interview with Bill Gates.  The interviewer, Andy Serwer, questioned Gates regarding some of the best advice and critical lessons learned in his personal life and as Co-founder and CEO of Microsoft and Co-founder and Co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  You can read the entire article in Fortune Magazine.  My summary and some of Bill’s quotes are below.

Exposure to many things, many of which Bill was not good at… diversity of exposure and experience:

  • “My mom and dad were great at encouraging me as a kid to do things that I wasn’t good at, to go out for a lot of different sports.  At the time, I thought it was kind of pointless, but it ended up really exposing me to leadership opportunities and showing me that I wasn’t good at a lot of things, instead of sticking to things that I was comfortable with.  It was fantastic, and now some of those activities I cherish.  They had to stick to it, because I pushed back a lot, but it was fantastic advice.

Appreciation and gratitude for the wisdom of his parents:

  • “I’m kind of a driving… Why haven’t we gotten all these things done… kind of person. Dad is the voice of wisdom.  He’ll make a comment that will get everybody to stop and think.  His being there at the foundation full-time really has shaped the values.”

Warren Buffett’s ability to keep things simple:

  • “I’ve gotten a lot of great advice from Warren.  I’d say one of the most interesting is how he keeps things simple.  You talk to him about a case where he thinks a business is attractive, and he knows a few basic numbers and facts about it.  And so his ability to boil things down, to just work on the things that really count, to think through the basics – it’s so amazing that he can do that.  It’s a special form of genius.

Warren Buffett’s kindness:

  • “I think Warren is so nice to everybody – how does he say no in a nice way?  He turns down an unbelievable number of things, and yet everybody feels great about it.  His grace in talking to people… I do find myself thinking, hmm, how would Warren say this in a friendly fashion?

Quality control from IBM Japan:

  • “Our Japanese customers on the whole were so tough about quality and precision – that was fantastic, because we did a lot of business there early in our existence.”

Think about things in new ways… Andy Grove, retired CEO of Intel was tough and brilliant:

  • “It was all very helpful.  I mean, he’s brilliant.  And he helped us think about things in new ways.”

Fanaticism at appropriate times… Steve Jobs:

  • I think fanaticism is underrated.  I’m a fanatic about running the engineering groups and the quality of them.  Steve is a fanatic about the user experience and the design, and it clearly has made a huge difference for Apple.”

Diversity of exposure and experience, appreciation and gratitude, keep things simple, kindness, quality control, think about things in new ways, fanaticism at appropriate times… not a bad list of Tips for Success on which to focus for additional personal and professional success.  Each of these critical lessons worked for Bill Gates.  Who knows, maybe they are good enough… and as applicable to you and me?

And now, of course, it’s up to you!

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I am a leader, speaker, and author who is passionate about Leadership Excellence and Achieiving Greater Success. I am the author of the books Be An Inspirational Leader(2016) and Presidential Leadership (2013), and deliver keynote presentations on those topics and several others.

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