Bill Gates: Swinging for the fences

I am a huge fan of Bill Gates – especially his post Microsoft avatar focused on philanthropy. Melinda and he have posted their Annual Letter. Longish read – but entirely worth it.

Gates Foundation: Annual Letter 2020

And for me, 3 key takeaways that should hold good in business (and life in general):

  1. Go after the hard problems: The Foundation is going after some of the toughest problems facing us as a society. It is a matter of choice – either play safe and make incremental improvements in many areas or focus on a few, really hard problems and go after them. The Foundation has clearly made a choice to go after the latter. And so : it is not just about showing up. It is about going all-in after the toughest problems. There is no point in a play-it-safe approach.
  2. Go all in: The Foundation is betting big on the problems it has chosen to focus on. And Bill Gates is well and truly all-in: far more than just a funder. He gets into the minutiae: doing in-depth research, asking the difficult questions and most importantly, working on the ground. After all, this is the engineering approach: execution mindset and working in the trenches. And so: it is about giving all you have. It is about bringing the best version of ourselves. Turns out that this is the only way to work on the hard problems.
  3. Be objective during Execution: This seems redundant, but we all know how hard this can be. The Foundation borders on the ruthless when it comes to evaluating the progress of its projects: define the right set of tracking metrics, and abide by them. And so: Even while you are all in, make sure that you have an objective measure of progress – and be ready to make the hard choices. By far, the most difficult one of the three.

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