Speak to any graduate, and chances are, some of the most prominent names in tech and entrepreneurship rank high up their list of inspirational figures, and one of them will undoubtedly be Mr. Bill Gates.
Microsoft’s co-founder has consistently been ranked the richest man on Earth for as long as those in their 20s and 30s today can remember, so it’s no surprise that graduates tend to seek career advice from him whenever they get the chance.
Bill Gates To The Class of 2017
Recently, Mr Gates published an essay via online publication Mic where he addressed this year’s graduates. If you didn’t know, Bill Gates is part of a long list of successful people who lack a college degree.
For his case, he along with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen felt that if they were to have stayed in school, the digital revolution which was in its infancy when they were in their early 20s wouldn’t even happen.
Still, he is happy to give advice as each graduation year comes around.
The Three Important Fields
He starts of by earmarking three specific industries which he feels will shape the world in the near future – artificial intelligence, energy, and biosciences.
He then details why these three areas are important footholds.
“One is artificial intelligence. We have only begun to tap into all the ways it will make people’s lives more productive and creative. The second is energy, because making it clean, affordable and reliable will be essential for fighting poverty and climate change. The third is biosciences, which are ripe with opportunities to help people live longer, healthier lives.”
Everyone Has Something That They’re Good At
Bill Gates was clearly someone gifted with the ability to code, and he built the foundations of Microsoft with it. In the early days of the company he believed that because he could “write great code” he could do everything else like managing people or run a marketing team equally well.
That’s where he found that he was wrong.
“I had to learn to recognise and appreciate people’s different talents. The sooner you can do this, if you don’t already, the richer your life will be.”
Especially in the current startup-driven world of today, this advice is the most apt, as a great number of graduates would have likely have started something while in school and planned to make it their career.
Be Around People Who Challenge You
You will not progress by being comfortable with the status quo.
For Bill Gates, it was important that he surrounded himself with people who could challenge, teach, and push him to be the best version of himself.
He is lucky to have found that person in his wife Melinda, and outside of his family, it is his good friend and fellow philanthropist, Warren Buffett.
“I measure my happiness by whether people close to me are happy and love me, and by the difference I make in other people’s lives.”
One Thing That He Would Like To Give Graduates? This Book
One book which Bill Gates absolutely recommends any graduate to at least consider putting into their reading list is The Better Angels Of Our Nature by Steve Pinker, which he describes as “the most inspiring book I have ever read.”
In it, the author argues that the world we live in is getting better, and that in human history, we are living in one of the most peaceful times in history.
Mr Gates, though, is offering graduates another perspective via this book – if we don’t believe that things are getting better, then who will? It is only through progress that you can work to accelerate it, and then take it to more people and places.
“It doesn’t mean you ignore the serious problems we face. It just means you believe they can be solved, and you’re moved to act on that belief.”
“This is an amazing time to be alive. I hope you make the most of it.”