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Bill Gates ‘didn’t take vacations’ and even worked on weekends. Then this changed

When Bill Gates founded Microsoft with Paul Allen, he rarely took any breaks at all and had no hope that the company would be a success. Talking at Northern Arizona University, the billionaire said, “When I was your age, I didn’t believe in vacations. I didn’t even believe in weekends. I pushed everyone around me to work very long hours.”

Bill Gates, co-chairman of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, speaks during the 2024 CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston, Texas.(Bloomberg)

I looked at Microsoft’s parking lot each day to “keep track of who is leaving early and who is staying late,” he said, adding, “As I got older—and especially once I became a father—I realized that both in terms of doing your best work and having a great life, that that intensity was not always appropriate. Don’t wait as long as I did to learn this lesson.”

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Emphasizing that there is value in being easy on yourself, Bill Gates said, “You are not a slacker if you’ve cut yourself some slack. It took me a long time to learn that.”

Here are three top advices from Bill Gates about life and success:

Always ask these two questions when you are solving problems

Bill Gates believes that when you are starting to solve problems you must ask yourself two questions: Who has dealt with this problem well? And what can we learn from them?

“Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve tackled every big new problem the same way: by starting off with two questions,” Gates wrote in a 2020 blog post. I used this technique at Microsoft, and I still use it today. They seem like obvious questions. But sometimes it’s surprisingly hard to find the answers,” he said.

You need to learn to manage your time

Bill Gates said that Warren Buffett taught him how to manage time effectively. He said, “I…remember Warren showing me his calendar. There’s nothing on it. I used to have every minute packed on my calendar, and thought that was the only way you could do things. But you can control your time. Sitting and thinking may be a much higher priority than a normal CEO, where there [are] all these demands and you feel like you need to go and see all these people.”

“It’s not a proxy of your seriousness that you fill every minute in your schedule,” he added.

Patience is very important

As a business leader, Bill Gates said, “Patience is a key element of success” owing to the fact that people around you need you to be kinder and calm in cases of difficult decisions.

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