How a young Bill Gates avoided burnout

Few things inspire people quiet like prophetic footage of young future billionaires. It’s that old maxim about intuition and delusion.

An interview Ladders recently dissected of a young Elon Musk, taking pleasure in reveling in risks and plunging a significant portion of his recent wealth into a bold new company, would have lost a lot of its charm if the starry eyed South African hadn’t ended up becoming theTesla titan he is today.


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This can be applied to any established success story. Interviews of a young Bill Gates for instance, a precocious innovator, who’s name has been shorthand for inexhaustible wealth, disclose a mind of intellectual prudence.

Two in particular, demonstrate this virtue in no uncertain terms. The first, conducted with an accomplished Gates at the age of 28, occurs just before he would be named the youngest billionaire in the world.

Jane Pauley, of NBC, in consideration of the precocity that defined his success (he had already co-founded Microsoft at the age of 19), asks Gates if he worries about burning out by the time he’s 30. Without hesitation, Gates says, “No.” When asked to elaborate, he said, “The work we’re doing. it’s not like, you know we’re doing the same thing all day long. We go into our offices and think up new programs, we get together in meetings,….we talk to customers, there’s so much variety and there’s always new things going on. And I don’t think they will ever come a time when that will be boring.”

The key to avoiding burnout is simple, according to Gates

This response does a lot to unveil the passion that has driven Microsoft in the ensuing decades.  Variety, the enemy of monotony, is born out of a genuine desire to better the work you’re doing.  Gates reiterated this sentiment in an interview conducted almost a decade later.

This time, Susannah Simmons takes a crack at understanding his business acumen She does so by recalling the early years. She smartly challenges the answer Gates told Pauley back in 1984 (indirectly); the notion that the drive and enthusiasm that infected Paul Allen and Gates and their team back when Microsoft was still a fledgling company was energized by the awareness of the fact that they were transversing unmapped terrain. Watch the video below:

“A company you can count on, yet that individuals can do their best work”

It’s exciting to be a part of new, potentially game changing growth companies. But once success has been achieved, how does one sustain the feeling of satisfaction and passion?

Gates’ responds in a similar vein with some practical amendments. He illustrates the importance of constantly establishing new goals and relying on teams with specific allocations. He first mentions the Microsoft excel unit of the company:

“A group of 200 people who wake up everyday thinking, we wanna get this new version out, we wanna increase our market share.. ..Word Processing,  there’s a group the same size,  that wakes up everyday and thinks here’s how we’re gonna go even further than word perfect.”

More importantly, to point out the magnetically prophetic nature of these kinds of interviews, Gates goes on to stress the importance of using advancements in technology to fortify communication within his company. “Electronic mail,” Gates explains, is where you can sit down at your desk and type in a message and send it to lots of people all at once. “It allows us on a worldwide bases to keep things coordinated.”

Gates renounces  Simmons’s definition of Email. being a sort of “electronic bureaucracy”, clarifying it as an “opportunity to give quick feedback, without a billion cumbersome meetings. “The best form of communication we’ve got.”

Passion, team management, and research. A peek into the values of a young Bill Gates, goes a long way to make our aspirations seem that much more attainable.


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