You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

'There Is More To Life Than Work': Bill Gates Delivers Emotional Message To Graduates About Learning To Take A Break The billionaire spoke at Northern Arizona University as the 2023 commencement speaker over the weekend.

By Emily Rella

entrepreneur daily
Getty Images
Microsoft founder Bill Gates visits Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on February 15, 2023 in London, England.

Bill Gates spoke at the commencement ceremony for Northern Arizona University last weekend, where he doled out life advice to soon-to-be graduates about preparing for work-life balance in the "real world."

The May 13th speech was creatively crafted as the advice he wished he had been given had he not dropped out of college, aptly titled, "5 Things I Wish I Heard at the Graduation I Never Had."

The billionaire, who enrolled in Harvard in 1973 and dropped out in 1975, delivered a hard-hitting life lesson to college seniors about work ethic: Take a break!

Related: Bill Gates Gets Emotional About Divorce, Empty Nesting: 'It's Been a Year of Great Personal Sadness For Me'

"When I was your age, I didn't believe in vacations. I didn't believe in weekends. I pushed everyone around me to work very long hours," Gates told the crowd, noting that in the earliest days of founding Microsoft, he would take note of which employees were working the longest hours daily. "But as I got older—and especially once I became a father—I realized there is more to life than work. Don't wait as long as I did to learn this lesson. Take time to nurture your relationships, to celebrate your successes, and to recover from your losses."

Gates's net worth was valued at an estimated $125 billion as of Wednesday afternoon.

The Microsoft founder has faced personal challenges recently amid a divorce from his wife of 27 years, Melinda French Gates, and coming to terms with empty nesting, something he mused about in an essay on his blog in December 2021.

"The house is a lot quieter without a bunch of teenagers hanging around all the time," he wrote at the time. "I miss having them at home, even if it is easier to focus on reading a book or getting work done these days."

In the commencement speech, Gates urged grads to "have fun" and to "take it easy on the people around you when they need it, too."

Related: 'The Age of AI Has Begun': Bill Gates Says This 'Revolutionary' Tech Is the Biggest Innovation Since the User-Friendly Computer

The message was similar in ideology to a 2007 commencement speech he gave at Harvard University, where he explained how his greatest accomplishment during his time at school wasn't the final product or the amount of hard work he put in, but rather the environment that fostered him to succeed.

"I worked day and night on this little extra credit project that marked the end of my college education and the beginning of a remarkable journey with Microsoft. What I remember above all about Harvard was being in the midst of so much energy and intelligence," he said. "It could be exhilarating, intimidating, sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging. It was an amazing privilege – and though I left early, I was transformed by my years at Harvard, the friendships I made, and the ideas I worked on."

You can read the full transcript of Gates' speech to graduates here.

Emily Rella

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior News Writer

Emily Rella is a Senior News Writer at Previously, she was an editor at Verizon Media. Her coverage spans features, business, lifestyle, tech, entertainment, and lifestyle. She is a 2015 graduate of Boston College and a Ridgefield, CT native. Find her on Twitter at @EmilyKRella.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

This Fan-Favorite Masters 2024 Item Is Still $1.50 as Tournament Menu Appears Unscathed by Inflation

The pimento cheese sandwich is a tradition almost as big as the tournament itself.

Business Solutions

Visualize Data for Better Business: MS Visio is $23.99 Through April 16

Set your team up for success with a reliable tool for creating organizational charts, diagrams, and more.

Business News

I Designed My Dream Home For Free With an AI Architect — Here's How It Works

The AI architect, Vitruvius, created three designs in minutes, complete with floor plans and pictures of the inside and outside of the house.

Business Solutions

Scan Easier and More Affordably with This 20% Discount

iScanner is a mobile app that makes document management, editing, and sharing easier.

Side Hustle

This Dad Started a Side Hustle to Save for His Daughter's College Fund — Then It Earned $1 Million and Caught Apple's Attention

In 2015, Greg Kerr, now owner of Alchemy Merch, was working as musician when he noticed a lucrative opportunity.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.