Bill Gates Reveals His Ultimate Measure of Success -- And How Warren Buffett Helped Him Realize It

It's not about net worth or name recognition.
Bill Gates Reveals His Ultimate Measure of Success -- And How Warren Buffett Helped Him Realize It
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Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.
3 min read

Perhaps it’s unsurprising, but Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates -- who was unseated from his top spot on the world’s richest billionaires list by Jeff Bezos in part because he has given much of his fortune to others through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation -- doesn’t measure success by the amount of money he has.

Reflecting on what he learned in the last year, Gates wrote on his Gates Notes blog about how the questions he is asking himself now that he is in his 60s are quite different than the benchmarks he set for himself when he was a twenty-something entrepreneur just starting out.

In the early days of Microsoft, Gates writes that his main question would be, “Is Microsoft software making the personal-computing dream come true?” But since then, while he continues to look at the whether his work is making an impact, he takes a broader view.

“I also ask myself a whole other set of questions about my life,” Gates writes. “Did I devote enough time to my family? Did I learn enough new things? Did I develop new friendships and deepen old ones? These would have been laughable to me when I was 25, but as I get older, they are much more meaningful.”

Related: In Leadership, Introversion Is Underrated -- and Warren Buffett and Bill Gates Share How They Use It to Their Advantage.

Gates also shares how his wife Melinda Gates and close friend Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett influenced his thinking on the matter.

“Melinda has helped broaden my thinking on this point. So has Warren Buffett, who says his measure of success is, ‘Do the people you care about love you back?’ I think that is about as good a metric as you will find.”

Gates goes on to explain what he hopes for the year ahead regarding causes that are close to his heart, like Alzheimer's research, the eradication of polio and renewable energy.

He also writes that while he isn’t the biggest fan of New Year’s resolutions, “I have always been committed to setting clear goals and making plans to achieve them. As I get older, these two things look more and more like the same exercise. So I am making a resolution for 2019. I am committing to learn and think about two key areas where technology has the potential to make an enormous impact on the quality of our lives, but also raises complex ethical and social considerations. One is the balance between privacy and innovation. … The other is the use of technology in education.”

What are you committing to invest in and learn about this year? How do you measure success? Let us know in the comments.

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