I recently read about a documentary that intrigued me, so I watched it. I love learning about visionaries and their journeys. Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates went beyond the usual biopic. It chronicled the life stages of Bill Gates and provided insights into how Bill’s mind works. Microsoft has had a huge impact on society, so I was curious to learn more about the founder’s mind. Here are some takeaways:
- Early start – Bill began writing computer code in middle school. He wrote code for schools, a local utility company, and others at an early age. By his early twenties, he’d been working with software for a decade. He was hugely successful at an early age, but he’d already put in a decade of work. That’s why he mastered his space earlier than others do.
- Mother – He had an interesting relationship with his mother. They didn’t see eye to eye in his early years and it took therapy for them to improve their relationship. His mother set an example of excellence early on and helped Bill understand the importance of community in the early years of Microsoft. The day his mother passed was the worst day of his life.
- Intensity – His work ethic and personality are intense. He worked crazy long hours, including weekends and holidays, for years. Having a family changed that somewhat. He outworked everyone to keep Microsoft ahead and expected the same from his team, which didn’t always go over well. He memorized license plate numbers so he’d know who was at work.
- Paul Allen – The Microsoft co-founder and Bill met as kids. At Microsoft they were aligned on software but not on other things. Paul had other hobbies and interests, while Bill intensely focused solely on Microsoft. They made a good team in the company’s early days. Their relationship had its ups and downs over the years, but they spoke and patched things up when Bill learned of Paul’s illness. Sadly, they didn’t see each other before Paul died.
- Books – Bill carries around a sack of books everywhere he goes. He’s a voracious reader and processes information rapidly. He reads everything he can that’s about certain subjects or written by certain authors. He’s highly curious.
- Think week – Bill began this habit in the ’90s. He spends a week alone in a small cabin, reading and thinking. He realized that he does his best thinking when he’s in a quiet place. This is when he can distill things and work through complex problems.
- Melinda – Bill and Melinda’s marriage is a partnership. Each brings different perspectives to solving problems. Melinda understands the human element of a problem better than Bill does. Their partnership is powerful and helps drive their foundation.
- Biggest fear – Bill’s biggest fear is that the day will come when his mind stops working.
These are just a few things I picked up on. I learned a lot more. This three-part series goes into detail about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, their work on behalf of causes around the world, and the perspectives of people who know Bill best. I enjoyed this series and see Bill and his wife differently now.