What the Early Life of Bill Gates Can Teach Us About Success

He created Windows and made billions of dollars. But that wouldn't have happened if it weren't for a few small things in his early life. 


At 31 Bill Gates became the youngest billionaire ever. At 39 he was the richest man on earth. What have some of the milestones along his path been? 

As with other outliers, Gates has had an unusual confluence of circumstances, family, luck, personal qualities, and perfect timing that have shaped his path. From age 8 Gates had access to a computer at his school, where he could learn to program - a luxury very few people at all had at that point in history - which just so happened to be the dawn of personal computing. This opportunity for an early start and his own ambition and perseverance (which got him banned from school for a while for hacking), helped him clock in the (Malcolm Gladwell approved) 10,000 hours of practice before even finishing high school.

Similar to other mavericks like Elon Musk, Gates proceeded to hustle, work 16-hour days, and never stop learning and improving himself. He is known for reading one book a week and believes he can improve the way he thinks by following the advice outlined in John Medina’s book Brain Rules which summarizes what scientists know about the brain and then offers practical ideas for our daily lives. 

Luck, of course, has also played a part in his story. Like meeting Paul Allen while he was still a teenager, or working with Steve Jobs and being inspired to create Windows. Still, as Gates himself points out, while luck, circumstances and timing play a part in one's life and are not something one can control, there are many who have them but don't make use of them. Ultimately, it is about how prepared you are and how you apply yourself to take advantage of the factors in your life that are outside of your control.

This infographic created by Anna Vital and published in Funders and Founders, outlines some of the key moments of Bill Gates’ early life. 

Infographic by Anna Vital / fundersandfounders.com

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