7 Awesome Lessons from Bill Gates – Love Him or Hate Him, He is a Genius

Bill Gates

Love or hate Bill Gates, it’s up to you, but no one can deny the impact he has had on business. Microsoft was setting the standards of working happy before most of Silicon Valley got on board. They have a career development compensation program as well as health care investment programs. They also do little things like free drinks (anything you like), on-site services (dry-cleaning/laundry service and grocery deliveries), professional counseling, office ergonomic consultations, and paid health-club membership.


Bill Gates understood the value in paying well, giving great perks, and investing in his employee’s future. He has probably made more people wealthy than any other CEO alive. He also understands what it takes to motivate his employees so they were engaged and excited about their work. Bill Gates is a leader that we can all learn from. Here are 7 quotes from Bill Gates that will help you understand his ability to work so successfully.


1.      Failure Teaches Resiliency


It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”


The employee deserves recognition for great work, but mistakes should be recognized. and when an employee or co-worker makes a mistake. It may be a small failure, but it must also be acknowledged, not swept under the rug, so it can be turned into a gain. Microsoft has made countless mistakes. They’ve put out software that wasn’t ready or that was fragile against hackers, but they learn from their mistakes and do their best to make the software better.


I own Vista and it’s not a great operating system, but it hasn’t crashed or been attacked by a virus. I’m a huge fan of the Microsoft Office products. They are still the best office based programs available to companies, and they constantly being improved.


Microsoft understands what a person needs and then they try to over deliver. They don’t always hit the mark, but neither will you, so try to use each mistake to improve your company.


2.      Understand Your Ego


Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”


If I don’t keep delivering value, all of you will stop reading this blog. I can’t just push out a bunch of recycled material from someone else’s blog and expect my readership to grow.


Take a look at how you might be coasting. Some bands make a whole career out of just one hit. One hit wonders. They think that they can just ride out the wave and not come up with anything else new. If you want to separate from the pack and become the success that your mother had hoped for, then stop believing your own hype and keep those ideas coming.


3.      Unhappy Customers Help You Improve


Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”


The customers that don’t complain are ones that don’t care enough about the company to come back and buy again. They will just take their money to someone else that listens.


I’ve dealt with this when I ran my own wild mushroom mongering business when I was in college. I didn’t take enough care to throw away the mushrooms that were riddled with tiny worms. I thought that I didn’t have enough time to worry about it. I got up at 6am and picked wild mushrooms until 1pm, just as the lunch rush ended. I took a quick shower and was at the first restaurant by 1:45, then I rushed until 6pm trying to peddle my mushrooms to the various chefs at each restaurant. I thought that the sous chefs could deal with the mushrooms that weren’t good enough to serve their customers.


Well…I learned quickly. The chefs stopped dealing with me. I learned this because one chef told me that I was giving him crap. He told me to come back when I had better mushrooms. I made sure that the next batch that I picked was of higher quality, which meant less money since I was paid by the weight. It worked. The head chefs started buying from me again.


Make sure you listen to your customers at every stage of the process. If you ignore what they have to say, they will soon ignore you.


4.      Leadership isn’t about Control; It’s about Trusting Others


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


I love companies that empower their employees to make the company better. Toyota is the company that has almost perfected this technique. They give rewards to any suggestion that is implemented into the company’s processes. Even if it’s a small suggestion such as a new type of cleaner for the oily floor, they will give the employee a monetary reward.


Toyota understands that every employee must be involved in improving the company, otherwise you’ll have managers making all the decisions. Managers are sometimes so far out of the loop that they can’t make informed decisions that help with day to day operations.


Being empowered makes an employee feel proud. A proud employee feels appreciated. That’s what most employees want more than anything else: to contribute to a company that appreciates them.


5.      Treat Everyone with Respect


Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”


Be nice to nerds, your secretary, the supervisor in the next building, and the co-worker that just doesn’t know when to shut-up. Whoever you are dealing with, they could one day become your superior. If you were a jerk to them, they won’t do you any favors when you need them the most.


I worked with someone that treated me like crap. When I moved up he suddenly wanted to be my best friend. I knew that he was only out for himself. I was nice, but never bent over backwards to help him. My boss could see this and one day we had a discussion about this employee. I vented my frustrations. He was gone by the end of the month.


I’m not proud of this and didn’t expect him to be fired, but if you don’t give more than you get you won’t be successful at your job.


6.      Action Creates Results


We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”


Listen to everyone because they just might have a great idea that might bring in a lot of revenue. Howard Shultz, the CEO of Starbucks, didn’t like the idea of the Frappuccino. He was a coffee purist. He finally relented when he saw how his partner (Starbucks likes to call their employees partners) was so adamant in wanting to serve a drink to her customers that was cold, creamy and sweet. After telling her to stop trying to make her anti-pure coffee drink, she ignored him and made it anyway. He finally listened and took action, letting her come up with a concoction that her customers would like. Through this process they saw the potential. They eventually perfected the idea and it was an instant hit.


Starbucks now bottles Frappuccino and sells it in grocery stores and convenience stores throughout the world. They are pushing the Starbucks brand to new people every day.


What if Howard stuck to his guns and stayed the course with what he thought was best? If he didn’t listen to his coffee partner that wanted to give her customers what they really wanted, they might not be the strongest coffee powerhouse in the world.


7.      Step Back and Look at the Bigger Picture


Until we’re educating every kid in a fantastic way, until every inner city is cleaned up, there is no shortage of things to do.”


Work is great, especially when we have a good year and the boss loves our production, but work in itself shouldn’t be our whole lives. Bill Gates understands that he may be the richest man in the world, but if he doesn’t help others lift themselves out of tough circumstances, he hasn’t lived to his full potential.


We need to give back to the people that are less fortunate than us. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of the largest donators to underprivileged people in the world.


Because there is no shortage of people who need help, Bill was able to help Microsoft become stronger and he will continue to work happy because he is isn’t afraid to set new goals.


Bill Gates is a controversial figure, but he is making history. No one can deny his influence on business and charity. He is working to his full potential. Bill is not perfect, but he does care about the choices he makes. When I think of Bill Gates I think of many descriptions, but lazy is not one of them.


When you use the resources that you have to take action, you are creating a work happy mindset. Whether you are a marketing assistant or the CEO of a fortune 500 company, make sure you are engaged in every decision you make. The work happiness will come when you allow yourself to be involved.


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Image courtesy of Esparta



  1. Honestly, his quote about unhappy customers made the most immediate impact on me. I try to rush through interactions with unhappy patrons because I don’t care to dwell on the negative, but Gates has a point. They’re worth listening to, provided they’re offering genuine feedback and not just ranting.

    Sara’s last blog post..It’s Okay to Just Shut Up: Understanding Introversion

  2. Hi Karl,

    What a fabulous, value loaded post. All of the points you made, plus the examples you provided are so beneficial. For anyone who has a business, much could be learned from Bill Gates.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Blog Posts – Are We Our Worst Critic?

  3. Those were some great quotes, thanks for the boost of motivation!

    By the way, this was my favorite:
    “Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.”

    Rajaie AlKorani’s last blog post..Search Engine Friendly Titles In Less Than 60 Seconds

  4. Hey Sara, as long as customers are providing genuine feedback they are worth listening to. If they are just getting angry, raising their voice and not listening to you then it’s best to end the interaction.

    Hey Barbara, Bill Gates is a very smart man. From all the research that I sifted through I found that he brought balance to Microsoft. Hopefully they can bring someone else in who can keep all the egos in check.

    Hey Rajaie, it’s the nerds that have a ton of knowledge. We all know that knowledge in this day and age is King. So I guess that the nerds are the new Kings of this modern world.

  5. Karl –

    You’re the man when it comes to career related articles. I’m a big fan of Mr. Gates not because he is the richest man in the world but because of his simplicity and humbleness. He refused to travel in the first class long after he was a billionaire.


    Shilpan | successsoul.com’s last blog post..An Interview with Tina Su of Think Simple Now

  6. Great points on Mr. Bill Gates. But let’s not forget this one:

    Don’t reinvent the wheel, improve upon it.

    Gates wasn’t the first to create a GUI based OS, but he was the first to make it a mainstream item.

    Marc and Angel Hack Life’s last blog post..How To Save Your Health and Wealth at the Same Time

  7. Tom Volkar / Delightful Work says:

    Karl thanks for this. You presented a side of Gates I wasn’t aware of. Building trust increases revenue in every aspect of business. I’m glad that our country’s wealthiest entrepreneur understand the value of trust.

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Work’s last blog post..Cash in on the Hidden Gold Beneath Your Fears

  8. Hey Shilpan, I never new that he refused to travel first class after becoming a billionaire. That’s awesome.

    Hey Marc and Angel, great quote. More people need to try to improve on great things instead of coming up with something completly new.

    Hey Tom, Bill was a great leader. I hope that Microsoft will continue to value trust over control.

  9. Hey Karl,

    7 great points. Let’s also not foget Gates’ unspoken lesson: Success will make you wildly unpopular, specially among people who don’t actually understand what is involved in running a business, bringing groundbreaking ideas to market, etc.


    Vitor – The Fractal Forest’s last blog post..Burst of Life

  10. What a great post! I am currently working for a new Web 2.0 company and all these tips are so beneficial to me at this point! Thank you!

  11. He is a great entrepreneur and businessman. I can’t believe he has stepped down from day to day at microsoft.

    Tom – StandOutBlogger.com’s last blog post..What To Expect From StandOutBlogger In July

  12. I know this has been up for a while and I loved this article. I was looking at referencing a few points for a presentation I’m preparing on Leadership so I was revisiting it. I just noticed (and I’m not sure if anyone else has) but you listed Charles Schultz as the CEO of Starbucks. Charles Schultz is the cartoonist who drew Charlie Brown & Snoopy. I think you mean Howard?

  13. Hey Allie, thanks for catching that mistake. I fixed it. I’m always grateful for readers like you.


  1. […] 7 Awesome Lessons from Bill Gates – Love Him or Hate Him, He is a Genius […]

  2. […] Karl (of Work Happy Now) wrote the post 7 Awesome Lessons From Bill Gates – Love Him or Hate Him, He Is A Genious, it reiterated how we can learn from someone who has “been there” and […]