Bill Gates has accomplished more wealth and success than anyone of our generation. But even more importantly he has worked tirelessly to improve lives and prevent deaths through his generous charitable contributions. He consistently ranks in the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people. He’s one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer revolution. He’s retired from his role as Microsoft’s CEO and instead devotes himself full-time to philanthropy through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

No one will forget Steve Ballmer’s tenure at Microsoft. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s exuberant former CEO, is applying his energies to the Los Angeles Clippers, the basketball team he acquired for a record $2 billion in 2014. Most of his wealth remains tied to his stake in the software company. “I’d like to own Microsoft shares until I either give something to charity or I die,” Ballmer told FORBES in 2014.


Here are the 10 Success lessons from Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer – “Microsoft Billionaires” for entrepreneurs,

1. Aim high – Bill Gates

Very little people are aware that Microsoft’s big break came from Bill Gates telling a lie. In 1975, Gates contacted computer company MITS, and told them that he had developed a basic interpreter for their microcomputer. MITS was interested in seeing the software, however Gates and his programming friend Paul Allen were yet to actually develop it. This prompted Gates and Allen to develop it in quite a hurry, presenting it to MITS in a matter of weeks, and making their very first sale. Microsoft was founded only one month later, pushing Gates to deliver more than he’d ever proven he was capable of.

2. Never compare himself to others – Steve Ballmer

Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Microsoft once asked Ballmer, “How do I compare to the people who had my role before me?” And Steve said: “Who cares? The context is so different. The only thing that matters to me is what you do with the cards you’ve been dealt now. … The lesson was that you have to stay grounded, and to be brutally honest with yourself on where you stand.”

3. Always think ahead – Bill Gates

Throughout all of his endeavours, Bill Gates has always been known to maintain a vision of the future, and how it can be bigger and better. Microsoft was known to beat competitors throughout the years as they were always one step ahead, looking for the next big thing. Even when retiring from Microsoft in 2008, Bill Gates was still thinking ahead. He was focusing on his philanthropic efforts, with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation now making a huge positive impact on the world.

4. Numbers matter – Steve Ballmer

Ballmer was exceptionally good at math–in a page of thousands of numbers used for a business unit’s sales forecasts, he could quickly spot the one that was wrong.

In a world increasingly run by analytics, this will become an asset far greater than it was while he ran Microsoft. Numbers forces you to look at the measurable facts, to ask for solid information and to constantly challenge what’s important.

5. Don’t let success distract you – Bill Gates

One of the greatest lessons we can learn from Bill Gates is his ability to look past success. He once famously stated “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose”. While we should reflect on our successes, you must ensure that they don’t cloud your judgement, and that you don’t become overconfident. Gates believed that we shouldn’t ignore the initial patterns of our success, but focusing all of our efforts into why this success occurred can leave you unprepared for future challenges.

6. Select people for loyalty, not competence – Steve Ballmer

This is one mistake Ballmer made. You should value those who can demonstrate loyalty and team-playing over those who are more competent but possess massive egos and don’t play well with others. The silos that crippled the company and created many of Microsoft’s biggest mistakes stemmed from the inability of really bright people to work with their peers.

You can blame some of this on forced ranking, which pits employees against each other, but a lot of it happened because being smart seemed to trump playing well with others. The end result: A lot of smart backstabbers.

7. Value your time – Bill Gates

Gates once said, “No matter how much money you have, you can’t buy more time”. Bill Gates understands the importance of using the time in your day wisely, and prioritises tasks which matter most to him. If he doesn’t believe he needs to be at a meeting, he won’t attend. On the other hand, he takes the time to communicate with the people closest to him, and ensures that he makes time for important commitments.

8. Don’t isolate yourself – Steve Ballmer

Before becoming CEO, Ballmer talked to people both inside and outside Microsoft to gain perspective. After becoming, CEO he allowed himself to be isolated by those who apparently wanted to better control the outcome of his engagements.

There are always those who want to either protect or control people in power by limiting their access. If that’s allowed to happen, bad things go unnoticed for too long. At best, the executive is ineffective; at worst, he or she fails and takes the company down, too.

9. Revolutionary ideas are shown, not told – Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer

In the early 80’s, Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer would travel around the country delivering seminars about how graphic interfaces were the operating systems of the future – but nobody believed them. Attitudes changed quickly in 1984, when Apple launched the Macintosh. It became the first commercially successful computer with a graphical user interface (GUI).

Microsoft was able to release Windows 1.0 in 1985, just a year after the Mac’s success. If you’ve got a revolutionary idea, don’t worry if other people don’t get it. Start developing it now so that you’ll be prepared when the time is right.

10. Use your position to give back – Bill Gates

Strong leaders understand the importance of taking their success and using it to call attention to those who need it most, setting an example for others in their position. With the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with an impressive endowment of more than $42 billion, the Gates have dedicated their time to bringing aid around the world, and are especially passionate about sustainability, bolstering education, public health and providing access to affordable technology.

About Author

Biplab Ghosh

Biplab lives his life around technology and is particularly keen to explore the intersection of technology and human behaviour. Always looking for new ideas, and ways that can make things simpler. He is a geek with the flair for travel and has great passion for music and theatres.

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