Bill Gates, Co-Chair and Trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation— also known for co-founding Microsoft and other initiatives— has built an empire. The mogul nabbed the top spot on The World’s Billionaires 2017 by Forbes, with a listed net worth of $86 billion. (On the morning of July 27, however, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos overtook him.)
But certain things have contributed to the success of the richest man in the world— here are just a few.
Never stop learning and exploring
Gates told The New York Times in 2016 about what reading does for him, and he said he reads around 50 books yearly.
“It is one of the chief ways that I learn, and has been since I was a kid. These days, I also get to visit interesting places, meet with scientists and watch a lot of lectures online. But reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding,” he told the publication.
The New York Times Magazine reported in 2014 that just after Gates left his executive position at Microsoft in 2008, he enjoyed watching “Big History” DVDs, a college course taught by Australian professor David Christian, while running on the treadmill. This later led him to bring the material to high schools through The Big History Project.
Bill Gates talks about what he thinks the future holds in a Big History Project video posted on the initiative’s YouTube channel in 2013.
Keep high standards
Gates kept high standards for his own work and his team’s as well. He strongly voiced concern about Microsoft’s products when he thought they weren’t good enough.
In 2008, Seattle PI featured the text of a lengthy email he sent in 2003 about a challenging time when he tried download Moviemaker and purchase the Digital Plus Package from Microsoft’s website. He minces no words:
“.So after more than an hour of craziness and making my programs list garbage and being scared and seeing that Microsoft.com is a terrible website I haven’t run Moviemaker and I haven’t got the plus package.
The lack of attention to usability represented by these experiences blows my mind. I thought we had reached a low with Windows Network places or the messages I get when I try to use 802.11. (don’t you just love that root certificate message?)
When I really get to use the stuff I am sure I will have more feedback,” Gates wrote.
But Gates reportedly didn’t play coy while discussing the email at a Microsoft farewell event in 2008.
“One of the newspapers had some e-mail that I sent about how maybe Windows could have been better at something, and they said, ‘This is a shocking e-mail. Shocking!’ And I said, ‘What do you think I do all day? Sending an e-mail like that, that is my job. That’s what it’s all about. We’re here to make things better,'” he said.
Be a resource and champion causes you care about
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation actively works to combat malaria—a devastating sickness that is easily preventable with enough funds and focus, but which drew little effective concern before the foundation poured attention into it.
The “strategy overview” page goes into detail about their approach.
“Malaria is a top priority of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our new multi-year Malaria strategy, Accelerate to Zero, adopted in late 2013, addresses the areas in which we believe the foundation is best positioned, among a broad spectrum of partners, to develop groundbreaking approaches to reducing the burden of malaria and accelerating progress toward eradication of the disease…” the page says, before listing “foundational principles” and more.
The foundation also pledged $258.3 million worth of research grants, “the largest amount going to Seattle-based PATH to develop what could be the world’s first malaria vaccine,” according to The Seattle Times in 2005.
Meet the scientist who’s fighting malaria by sharing open data: http://t.co/vj1Gyp4oRH
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) October 30, 2013
Gates told users about what he likes to do during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session years ago.
“I love playing tennis. I am an avid bridge player (a card game if you have not heard of it – it was more popular in the past!). I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos (Arizona),… I read a lot and watch courses (online or the Learning Company)..” Gates wrote.
Business Insider even put together a slideshow on books about science that Gates has suggested people read.