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5 pieces of advice Bill Gates wishes he’d received in college

August 1, 2023

In May, Microsoft founder Bill Gates spoke to recent graduates of the College of  Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences and the College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences at Northern Arizona University in the United States.

He began his speech by saying that the class of 2023 is no ordinary group of graduates. After all, before most of them complete their first year of college, a pandemic – “that occurs once in a generation” – changed their lives and learning as we knew it up until then.

The executive’s talk walked into how new graduates can have the greatest impact on the world with the education they received, and so he shared the five things he wishes he had heard at graduation that he never attended. Check them out:

1. Your life isn’t a one-act play

“You probably feel a lot of pressure right now to make the right decisions about your career. It might feel like those decisions are permanent. They’re not. What you do tomorrow—or for the next ten years—does not have to be what you do forever.”

2. You are never too smart to be confused

“I thought I knew everything I needed to know when I left college. But the first step to learning something new is embracing what you don’t know, instead of focusing on what you do know. At some point in your career, you will find yourself facing a problem you cannot solve on your own. When that happens, don’t panic. Take a breath. Force yourself to think things through. And then find smart people to learn from.”

3. Gravitate toward work that solves an important problem

“The good news is, you are graduating at a time when there are many important problems to solve. New industries and companies are emerging every day that will allow you to make a living and make a difference, and advances in science and technology have made it easier than ever to make a big impact.”

4. Don’t underestimate the power of friendship

“When I was in school, I became friends with another student who shared a lot of my interests, like science fiction novels and computer magazines. Little did I know how important that friendship would be. My friend’s name was Paul Allen—and we started Microsoft together.”

5. You are not a slacker if you cut yourself some slack

“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. In the early days of Microsoft, my office overlooked the parking lot—and I would keep track of who was leaving early and staying late.”

Source: Bill Gates | Valor Econômico