The philosophy of epic entrepreneurs: Bill Gates

"We all have the chance to create a world where extreme poverty is the exception rather than the rule, and where all children have the same chance to thrive, no matter where they’re born."

Seattle, USA, 1955. 

Out of the dorms of Harvard and into the secluded world of digital-technology geeks and the magic of coding. Genius tech architect, influential global leader and crusader of the greatest revolution in philanthropy.... The 'impatient optimist', Bill Gates.

"I can do anything I put my mind into." Those were the prophetic words of a young boy, aged 11 - William Henry Gates III. A non-conformist, intellectual introvert and deep thinker. In childhood dreams it was not Never Land he inhabited, but the burning battlefields of the legendary French emperor Napoleon, one of his heroes. His brain was wired for games of strategy and thrived out of the intense thrill of risk. Young Bill was famed for his strong persistence, fiery ambition and fierce spirit of competition. And, keeping the goal to win always in sight.

"I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot."

The world of visionary imagination stems from the expansion of perception outside the limits of conventional knowledge. One of the most pronounced qualities of Gates is his discerning passion for lifelong learning. From the adventures of Tarzan and Martian stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs to futuristic and science-fiction books of Isaac Asimov, biographies of famous men that left their mark in the history, along with Freud's masterpieces of psychoanalytic theories. These were among the first intriguing readings that shaped the beautifully complex mind of Bill Gates.

"Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one." A self-confessed math geek with a passion for coding, at the age of 13, Gates wrote his first computer program - a point in his life that he always proudly treasures. The sparkle of high achievement was vivid, even back then. Years later, remembering his best childhood friend, he would reveal one small thread of the beginnings of his epic career: "We read Fortune together. We were going to conquer the world."

High on the energy of big dreams, he placed a challenging bet - one day, he would indeed conquer the whole world! Life loves the daring ones, and so Gates went ahead to win with vengeance. After a few rebel days and sleepless nights at Harvard, he left it all behind to free his mind into what he truly loved, becoming the most famous and wildly successful Harvard dropout in the history of the entrepreneurial world.

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Somewhere near the dessert of New Mexico, a great adventure begun. In 1975, Bill Gates and Paul Allen co-founded a start-up that was set to boom into explosive growth and climb to the top of the business world. It was there, in the heart of Albuquerque, where a legend was born and the vision started to take shape in the mind of Gates: "A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software." In the years to come, Microsoft evolved to a tech giant ranking among the most valuable brands, currently valued at $340.8 billion, and has turned Gates into the richest man on the planet.

No doubt, one can only wonder who the enigmatic and intriguingly charismatic Bill Gates really is? What were the energies that shaped his actions and set him on his path to success? In essence, what is the operating system that spins his mind?

The life of Gates progressed like a harmonized sequence of Darwinian evolution, played in three distinct acts – the development of the genius child, the rise of the most influential tech entrepreneur and the awakening of a determined and optimistic hero of philanthropy.

From the renaissance era and the creative intelligence of Leonardo Da Vinci to the elaborate strategies of Napoleon Bonaparte. 

The unique genius and scientific contributions of Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein and physicist Richard Feynman. The high achievements and grand generosity in philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford. The powerful legacy of Nelson Mandela. And all the way up to the present, and his dear friend and mentor, the legendary Warren Buffett. This is the intellectual labyrinth and a few of the symbols that capture the identity and deep aspirations of Bill Gates.

Once upon a time in Florence, in an era bursting with the creativity of discerning scientists and the upheaval of arts, lived one of the most talented polymaths ever witnessed in the course of humanity. Throughout the centuries, intellectuals have praised the universal genius of Leonardo Da Vinci, a multi-talented innovator, futurist and artist that delved into a quest to decipher the divinity of life, beauty and the workings of the universe.

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The Codex Leicester is the most precious manuscript of Da Vinci, dating back to the 16th century, written in his famous mirror-image style, and offers a rare glimpse into his genius. At $30.8 million, it is the most expensive book ever sold, and Bill Gates is the proud owner of it - drawing a significant parallelism with his own intense curiosity, insatiable thirst to acquire a multi-dimensional perception of the world, and boldly pushing the boundaries beyond anything ordinary. Its preciousness holds a great symbolism to him: "It's an inspiration that one person - off on their own, with no feedback, without being told what was right or wrong - that he kept pushing himself, that he found knowledge itself to be the most beautiful thing."

The first big bet 'to conquer the world' has been triumphantly won, and Bill Gates has swiftly moved on a different plane – the 'bet' to save the world. This is the turning point of his personal transcendence; the metamorphosis of a hardcore technologist and high-flying entrepreneur of the digital era to a modern hero of philanthropy, aspiring to higher ideals and the quest to close the inequality gap that has been the eternal plague of the human race on earth.

"From those to whom much is given, much is expected." Those were the sacred words from a mother to her son. Mary Gates passed away six months later, but the torch of hope was lighted.

That was the pivotal moment that shifted his mind.

A trip to Africa touched his heart and taught him the lesson that poverty is not just mere statistics, but a real struggle of human beings around the world. "I went to Soweto - the poor township southwest of Johannesburg that had been a center of the anti-apartheid movement. It was a short distance from the city into the township, but the entry was sudden, jarring, and harsh. I passed into a world completely unlike the one I came from. I thought I understood the world's problems, but I was blind to the most important ones."

"All lives have equal value." The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 2000 under the vision of raising awareness, disseminating innovative approaches and resolving extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries, as well as advancing the education system in the U.S. and around the globe. It is the largest privately operated philanthropic organization, with a trust of $41.3 billion, constitutes a powerful catalyst of change, equipped with a wealth of resources and multiple initiatives targeting the world's greatest humanitarian problems and sources of inequity.

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"The man who dies rich, dies disgraced," wrote the wise Andrew Carnegie, the father of modern philanthropy, in the radical Gospel Of Wealth. Among our global society, lives a microcosm of charismatic, high achievers that have surpassed the limits of common wealth and abundance. The Giving Pledge, initiated by Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates, unites the new generation of most powerful business leaders to a collective movement of radical impact philanthropy. As torch-bearers of the most important light, the light of love, they are driven by a single ultimate goal – to devote collectively all of their resources to change our world once and for all.

This is a moment in the course of humanity where hope and change are re-born. There is a powerful revolution brewing, Bill Gates in his unstoppable crusade to turn upside down the game of life has rocked the foundations of the system in its entity. "This is how I see the world, and it should make one thing clear: I am an optimist. But, I am an impatient optimist!"

​​This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Thumbnail from gettyimages.

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