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Digital Billionaire: Bill Gates’ Success Secrets

Last Update: Feb 19, 2024 @ 1:26 pm

Before founding Microsoft and becoming one of the richest men alive, Bill Gates once had to make a decision whether to continue studying at Harvard or just dropped out. Luckily, he did the latter. 

Bill Gates

William Henry Gates III or known as Bill Gates was born in Seattle, Washington on October 28, 1955. He was the middle child of William H. Gates II, a prominent lawyer, and Mary Maxwell Gates, a former school teacher and a chairwoman of United Way International.

Together with his sisters, Kristianne and Libby, they grew up in Seattle. They were always encouraged to be competitive on what they do. This is why Bill always strives for excellence even as a child. His parents even made him join Boy Scouts and read science fiction books.

When he turned 13, his parents sent him to Lakeside Preparatory School where he took an interest in softwares and began programming computers. He even built his first computer program on a General Electric machine which is an implementation of tic-tac-toe that allows users to play against the computer. However, when he, Kent Evans, Paul Allen, and Ric Weiland are caught exploiting bugs on the operating system of their school’s second computer, they were banned from getting free computer time.

Still, at the end of their ban period, Computer Center Corporation (CCC), the owner of the computer that they abused offered them to look for bugs in their computer system in return for extra computer time. During those times before CCC went out of business, Gates went to their office and studied source code for a wide variety of programs that ran on their system.

After a year of CCC’s closure, a teacher enlisted both Gates and Evan’s to automate their school’s class-scheduling system. They were able to write the school’s student information system software  that scheduled the students in classes. In return, they are provided more computer time and royalties. However, at the end of their junior year, Evans was killed in a mountain climbing accident which Gates described as one of the saddest days of his life. Due to this, he turned to Allen to help him finish the system for their school. At 17, he wrote a payroll program for a company and then formed a business with Allen called “Traf-O-Data” to make traffic counters based on Intel 8008 processors. 

After graduating as a National Merit Scholar at Lakeside, he scored 1590 out of 16000 in the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and enrolled at Harvard College in 1973. He chose a pre-law major but took graduate level computer science courses and mathematics. However, Gates didn’t really have an exact study plan in Harvard as he spent most of his time using the school’s computers. In doing so, he devised an algorithm for pancake sorting to provide a solution on the series of questions that are presented on one of Harris Lewis’ combinatorics class. It was even recorded that his solution is the fastest for over 30 years and was formalized in a published paper in collaboration with Christos Papadimitrou, a Harvard computer scientist. 

During his years in Harvard, Gates was still in contact with Paul Allen and joined him in working for Honeywell during the summer of 1974. However, as the MITS Altair 8800 was released the next year based on the Intel 8080 CPU, they both saw this as an opportunity for them to build their own computer software company. Gates dropped out of Harvard and explained his decision to his parents that if everything didn’t work out, he could always go back to Harvard.

Bill Gates Journey on Becoming One of the World’s Wealthiest Men Alive

During the year of 1975, Bill Gates dropped out of college to build Microsoft with his friend, Paul Allen. He wanted to create the said company because of the belief that computers would be a valuable tool for every consumer.

In the same year, Gates contacted Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry System (MITS), the creators of the microcomputer Altair 8800, to inform them that they are working on a BASIC interpreter for the platform. Although they didn’t have a code yet, they wanted to estimate the interests of MITS so they decided to meet with the president of the company and demonstrate their minicomputer and BASIC interpreter. When the meeting was a success, this led to them working on MITS and became a partnership named Micro-Soft which a year later, became Microsoft. However, although Microsoft’s Altair BASIC became popular to computer hobbyists, Gate discovered that a pre-market copy leaked and was widely copied and distributed. He even persisted that software developers should be paid on the letter that he wrote entitled, “Open Letter to Hobbyists,” in the MITS newsletters.

In late 1976, Microsoft became independent from MITS and moved to Bellevue, Washington on the first day of January 1979. They still continued to develop a wide array of programming language softwares for various systems. However, it was the deal with International Business Machines (IBM) Corporation that changed everything for the company. They provided the MS-DOS operating system on the new PC of the said company for a one-time fee of $50,000. The turning point on this stage was that Gates didn’t give the copyright of the software to IBC and when IBM’s PC took off, Gates also sold his software to other PC manufacturers. Thus, this caused the popularity of the company which made Microsoft the widely-used operating system on a large percentage of computers across the globe. 

Apart from Microsoft becoming the widely-used operating system, Gates also took the risk by competing with Apple in 1985. The company released a similar system that Apple introduced a year beforehand which is the Microsoft Windows. Although a lot of users complained of how terrible the operating system was, Gates continued to improve Windows. He made it compatible with all PCs which is unlike Apple’s operating system that could only run on the company’s machines. Because of this, they were able to conquer Apple and became the operating system installed in nearly 90% of the world’s personal computers. The company even launched Windows Office programs such as Word and PowerPoint and continued to enhance Windows. 

When he made Microsoft public in 1986, the company’s stock was worth $520 million. As the company continued to grow, Gates net worth also grew as he owned 45% of Microsoft’s stocks. Due to this, when his stock reached over $100 billion, he was the richest man in the globe. Although, this year, he was surpassed by Jeff Bezons, the founder and CEO of Amazon, Bill Gates was still one of the richest men alive and even topped the list a couple of times.

But the reason why he became one of the world’s wealthiest men alive is the fact that he continued to take risks. Ever since a young lad, he needs to consider whether to focus on what his parents want him to pursue a law career. Fortunately, he made the unconventional but the greatest choice that he did. However, it is also best to note that Gates didn’t just take the risks that he did in the past without calculations. He had confidence in Microsoft, so he took a risk. He built it and more than once became the richest man alive. 

Also, this confidence combined with intelligence, hard work, business sense, timing, and a little bit of luck made Gates who he is today. During those years before he stepped down in 2006 and leaving Microsoft in 2014, Gates had the primary role in the company. He never resorts to defeat as he always finds a way to solve every problem. An Atari executive even recalled that Gates won or even tied every game after he was being defeated a months prior by 35 out of 37 times. He studied the game which made him the greatest competition Apple ever had. Also, he constantly challenges his employees to be innovative and continue to work harder. Gates regularly met with his managers and he was not afraid to berate them for the holes in their proposals and strategies that might place Microsoft’s interests at risk. Hence, with these attributes, he was able to run Microsoft for a long period before he stepped down. 

Currently, Gates is now more focused on his family and on philanthropy. Together with his wife, Melinda Gates, they built the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is now one of the largest charitable foundations in the globe. He also had three children which includes two daughters, Phoebe Adele and Jennifer Katharine, and a son named Rory John. Although he is not that hands-on anymore in the business field, he was still able to found businesses such as bgC3, Corbis, and TerraPower and executed external business ventures and investments in the Canadian National Railway, EarthNow, and others. 

Bill Gates Success Quotation

Up to this day, Bill Gates may not be the one who’s managing Microsoft but his ideals and statements stayed in the minds of the people. He is no man of few words as he has this attitude of being straightforward but although these words might hurt you, these speak the truth and it is for you to accept and learn from it. Without further ado, here are the lists of the quotations behind Bill Gates’ success secrets. 

“Life is not fair; get used to it.”

“The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something beforehand.”

“Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.”

“If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them. Change your attitude to failure.”

“Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades; they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.”

“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

“If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn’t have tenure.”

“Business is a money game with few rules and a lot of risk.”

“Don’t compare yourself with anyone in this world… if you do so, you are insulting yourself.”

“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

Bill Gates Success Lessons

Over the course of the year, Bill Gates became one of the richest men alive. However, he might most unlikely achieve this if he just gave and didn’t create Microsoft. Fortunately, he didn’t back out and continue to believe that the company’s products will be one of the most valuable tools that consumers will have in their household. With these, we have curated the lessons that became the key for Bill Gates’ success secrets. 

Accept yourself.

Many people want to become somebody else because they think that they are not enough. However, in order to achieve success, you must first recognize who you are and you must be proud of it. Don’t focus on things that you think are lacking, instead you should focus on your positive attributes. Don’t search for something that is not in you because all of the people across the globe are born differently. Besides, the key on becoming a success, is accepting your own unique abilities. Don’t be afraid if you are different, rather use it as a tool for your improvement. This way, you gain more confidence to achieve success. 

Be different.

In order to stand out and be ahead of the competition, you should not stick to the mainstream. Going your own direction won’t hurt yourself or your business. Rather, this will help you build confidence and success as you are learning on your own without minding what the public wants. This is also beneficial as to gain the attention of your target market as you will be able to create things that are different, as well as, effective. Besides, being unique is actually an advantage for you and your brand to be ahead. 

Start now. 

Bill Gates started developing his interests with computers at the age of 13. If he hadn’t been interested in it at a young age or had declined his interests, then we might not have Microsoft right now. You see, when you want to do something, you must not pursue it on a later date, rather focus on it today. Don’t let your age and any factor affect your interests in something. Develop your skills right now and become well-rounded with it. This way, regardless of your goals, you will become more effective in achieving it because you already have the necessary background and mindset.

Take risks.

Life is a gamble. Whether you know that you will win or not, you must take risks. Remember that this world is filled with uncertainties and there is no definite way in achieving success but to move forward. Don’t be afraid of the outcome and the things that will then be affected by it because in life, we need to make certain sacrifices. People will either applaud or reject you and there’s no other way for you to know this if you haven’t made a decision. Then, if you achieved nothing but failure, see it as an opportunity for you to improve yourself or your brand. This way, regardless of how many disappointments that will stand in your way, you are already strong enough to face it. 

Be committed and passionate.

Being passionate at something is worthless if you are not committed enough to do it. Also, if you have to do something but you don’t have the passion to do it, then you might have executed it but in a poor manner. You see, you need to have these two viewpoints in order to keep going. A lack of passion or commitment will result in failure because there is no balance in your process. Keep in mind that Bill Gates became one of the richest men alive because of these two characteristics. He has been passionate about computers ever since he was a teen. Then, he even stopped studying at Harvard just to focus his time and efforts in building Microsoft. Hence, it is key to remember that he won’t be able to manage the company for a very long time and achieve success, if he is not committed enough in following his passion.

Learn from your mistakes.

In everything that you do and the results that happened due to your decisions are your responsibilities. No one is responsible other than yourself so instead of whining and blaming others, you must be responsible and learn from it. Take into account that everything doesn’t happen without a reason. This also comes with mistakes. These are things that are made to be learnt from. Instead of finding others to blame, search for the reason why that mistake happened and carefully analyze how to negate this from happening again. This way, you will be able to avoid these events from happening. 

Always be humble. 

Success really does make any individual feel like they are on the top of the world. However, don’t let these things get into your head. Remember that life is unpredictable, once you are on the top but you might be on the bottom the day afterwards. With this, you must always stay humble and never forget the past and the people who helped you achieve success. This way, when things don’t go as you planned, there will still be people who will help you and you will still be able to move forward. 

Keep in mind that Bill Gates won’t become one of the world’s wealthiest men alive if not for his parents who didn’t hinder him from following his passion and the people behind Microsoft.

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