Bill Gates is the richest man in the world. At 58, he's worth close to $80 billion. He's an innovator, a philanthropist and an inspiration to people across the globe.
In 1975, Gates dropped out of Harvard to co-found Microsoft Corp. with Paul Allen. Twelve years later, when he was just 31 years old, he became the youngest billionaire in the world. Microsoft is now the largest software company on the planet.
A completely self-made man, Gates is a testament to the fact that unabashed optimism and improbable dreams can lead to exponential success. It also doesn't hurt to have a touch of genius, so don't go dropping out of school just yet.
Gates is also one of the most giving people in the world, and has donated $28 billion to philanthropic causes via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
These quotes from Gates provide a glimpse into the mind of the mad genius who simultaneously holds the title of the wealthiest and most generous person on earth:
1. "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."
No matter how successful you might be, it's important to stay humble. Don't get too ahead of yourself.
Success is as fleeting as life itself, it can all be taken away at a moment's notice. Nothing is permanent. The only constant in life is change.
Remember that success might change your life, but it should never change who you are inside. Be respectful to everyone you encounter, and give back to the world around you.
We learn more from our failures than from our triumphs. Don't let success blind you from the fact that failure was always your greatest teacher and inspiration.
2. "Don't compare yourself with anyone in this world... if you do so, you are insulting yourself."
You are beautifully unique. Remain cognizant of that at all times. Perceptions of success are ultimately subjective. Measure your own success by how well you live up to your values, not by comparing yourself to others.
We all move at a different pace, and each of us has to take our own paths in life. Sometimes we have to take the wrong path multiple times before we stumble through the woods to find the right one. Or as J.R.R. Tolkien once said, "Not all those who wander are lost."
Embrace the randomness of your journey through this world. No one else will live the exact same life, that's what makes all of this such a gift.
3. "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."
A business can learn a great deal from unsatisfied customers. If a lot of customers are unhappy about the same thing, it's a definite sign that a specific change is necessary.
The same is true in one's personal life. We can learn a lot from the people who are unhappy with us, particularly those who are close to us.
You'll hear a lot of people tell you that you should never care what other people think. That's typically good advice when it comes to strangers or acquaintances. Yet, when the people we love are upset with us, it's probably a sign that we haven't afforded them the proper respect.
Life is about cultivating relationships and building connections. If someone is unhappy with you, address the problem by engaging and communicating. This is good advice in business and in your personal endeavors.
4. "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one."
Popularity is a fickle notion that changes as we age. The biggest loser in elementary school can end up becoming prom queen or the stud of the century in high school.
Likewise, the biggest nerd at your university might end up dropping out to eventually become the most prominent man or woman in the world.
All people deserve respect because you never know where they might end up. Life is long and convoluted, with many twists and turns. Plant the seeds of kindness early on, build relationships from a young age and you will never walk alone.
5. "Life is not fair — get used to it!"
Life is not all sunshine and roses. You will fail constantly. There will be struggles. Much of what happens to you will be completely out of your control. It will be frustrating, enraging and chaotic at times.
All you can do is accept it. Take the good with the bad. Find balance in the universe. Remember that there is no light without darkness.
The greatest moments of your life only feel that way because they are the counterparts of your most painful experiences. Don't actively seek out pain or failure, but recognize them as natural parts of life. We evolve through struggle.
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