NAU Grads Get Gates’ Insight

Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, was the speaker at the recent Northern Arizona University graduation in Flagstaff.

It was only Gates’ third commencement address.  The other two were at Harvard and Stanford several years ago.

Gates’ blog, GatesNotes, calls out the five things he wished he had heard at the graduation he never attended:

  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 10 years—does not have to be what you do forever.

  1. 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.

You may be done with school. But you can—and should—see the rest of your life as an education.

  1. Gravitate toward work that solves an important problem.

When you spend your days doing something that solves a big problem, it energizes you to do your best work. It forces you to be more creative, and it gives your life a strong sense of purpose.

  1. 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.

The only thing more valuable than what you walk offstage with today is who you walk onstage with.

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

Take a break when you need to. Take it easy on the people around you when they need it, too.

Gates said he accepted NAU’s offer to speak because “something remarkable and all too rare is happening in Flagstaff: The school is redefining the value of a college degree.”

Photo: Bill Gates (NAU TV)

Written by
at May 25, 2023

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