Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is Bill Gates really "soft"?

Funny!!!but this topic became our "dessert" last night (Jan.26) in our Marketing Managemet class in the graduate school.

After I presented my journal critique about Marketing Myopia (famous work of Harvard business professor, Theodore Levitt), my Korean classmate took over the floor to do the chapter highlight report and we were amazed with his awesome presentation.

He showed some videos related to "Product Development" topic including separate interviews of three world's most successful businessmen, Steve Jobs (Apple Incorporated founder),Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway) and Bill Gates (Microsoft). Interestingly, these three companies topped the list of Fortune magazine's World's Most Admired Companies.
Warren Buffet (called the world's most brilliant investor) and Bill Gates. Third and Second richest persons in the world. 2010 Forbes Magazine's richest man is Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico

Unlike the video interview of Steve Jobs, the one with Warren Buffet and Bill Gates was slightly different, it was held in a small theater-like venue with dim light and a little stage. The two billionaires wore simple shirts and pants and just seated on top of the table like high school buddies (these two are known for their frugality despite their immense wealth).

They gamely answered questions from students of the University of Washington. While answering questions, I noticed how natural Warren Buffet is, he is like a typical grandpa with no inhibitions and awkwardness, he injected so many humors, poking fun at Bill Gates most of the time which the latter acknowledged with chuckles.

Unlike Bill Gates who dropped out from Harvard, Buffet has a degree in Economics and went on to finish his Master of Economics degree at the prestigious Columbia University (he studied at Columbia after learning that Benjamin Graham, author of the book "Intelligent Investor" teaches there).

Though for the past 15 years, Fortune and Forbes magazines, made them compete on the number one spot of World's Richest Person, Gates and Buffet remained close friends through all these years and worked together to save many lives through out the world with their devotion to charitable works.

In 2007 and 2008 Buffet is world's richest man, Gates regained the honor in 2009 after Buffet donated $60 billion to Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but in 2010 the world was surprised when Mexican billionaire, Carlos Slim Helu made a sudden leap to the number one spot, sliding Gates and Buffet to number two and three spots respectively, nevertheless, judging through the interview, I could sense the amount of respect they had for each other. Gates clearly adored Buffet and even followed most of his life's principles
Best friends for life. Warren Buffet, Melinda and Bill Gates

But what disturbed me most (I thought I was the one who noticed it) is Bill Gates's actuations, the way his body moves and the way his hands bend and dance in the air..hehehe..so I wondered if he is "soft"!. At the end of the class, my professor naughtily shared one funny anecdote about Bill Gates.

The story goes like this---after spending their "first night" as a couple (Bill and Melinda married in 1994), it was rumored that his wife jokingly told him "now I know why your company called "Microsoft"hahahhahaa! to which my classmates responded: "he could have name his company "Macrohard" to avoid controversy"..lol!

But of course that's only a round-up joke, a silly anecdote about Bill Gates.

Nevertheless, the Microsoft founder continues to amaze the world, like the rest of world's billionares, particularly Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook), Gates maintained a very simple lifestyle, in a stark contrast to other globe-trotting billionaires, he and his wife began taking a different path, touring the world's slump and most depressed areas to discover what's life beyond their station, they call this "a learning tour".

During the interview with Warren Buffet, Gates shared so many things about his life's philosophy, about his passion, about his business, his devotion to philanthropy and how much he adored his parents. He also shared that when he started his Microsoft business, he never think about "risk" he only think about his passion--developing software. At first, he never think about expansion, so he just picked his closest friends to help him run the business. Today, we all know how Microsoft influenced and dominated the world.

Just this morning (Jan.27) while reading an article from TIME magazine (seriously studying the article because this is part of our midterm exam in Ignatian Leadership for Managers subject) "From Riches to Rags" featuring Bill Gates, I was even more shocked when Gates surprisingly revealed he did not considering leaving the entire wealth to his children to prevent them from being too dependent, he said: "The ones who were the wealthiest were not the most motivated", perhaps he lived with the principles he got from Warren Buffet, "Give your kids enough so that they don't have to worry, but not so much that they don't feel the need to work and contribute". Much of the Microsoft fortune go to the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation which his father, Bill Senior, a prominent lawyer, helped run.

Bill Gates said he and Melinda have not decided how much they will leave to their children. Warren Buffet on the other hand distributed 90% of his wealth to his own foundation. Buffet's children are working in the company to earn fortune for themselves. Now we know why these billionaires continue growing financially with tremendous blessings, their secret---share what you have to others who don't have anything!

Oh wow! that's amazing.

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