Microsoft founder and uber-billionaire Bill Gates may not be everyone’s idea of a role model. In an era where success and achievement are typically glamorized by Hollywood interpretation and where all stories need to have a a happy ending, Gates’ journey through our lives has not always been viewed through rose-colored glasses. For many years, Gates was ridiculed by the bloggers and critics of his company’s position of dominance, but since he stepped away from that Seattle Empire to focus on his work in the Gates Foundation, he has traveled the world and is in the process of making a significant difference through his philanthropy.
Much of his work is devoted to healthcare and to improving the lot of that significant portion of the world’s population that cannot necessarily look forward to longevity or to the pure joy of living that good health brings. His significant resources allow him to channel funds toward the provision of medicine and equipment to stop the spread of today’s most vile diseases such as AIDS and malaria. His involvement inevitably provides a significant spotlight, which in itself is a major achievement toward those goals and this exposure also provides education within the developed world about these modern-day scourges.
The Gates Foundation provides funding to significant scientific endeavors, worldwide. As the boundary pushing entrepreneur he was used to making investments in the future and has since then carried through this philosophy to his support of science and exploration. Gates is very hands-on and fully wants to understand what the scientists are working on before he commits his funds and that of his foundation. He knows that not all of his funding will net a “result,” but is certain that all of it will make an ultimate difference in the future.
As part of his well-rounded approach to problem-solving, Bill Gates understands that while his resources are substantial, they are a relatively small investment in what needs to be done. He reasons that education is probably equally or more powerful and that he should devote much of his resources to encouraging others, both individual and corporate, to also get involved. Interestingly, he sees much growth in online educational initiatives and would like to see more virtual university tuition available. He sees the Internet as a way of breaking down some of those financial and capacity barriers standing in front of would be graduates.
For someone with a complete understanding of marketing, technology and communications, Gates is keen to devote much of his time to developing these platforms as part of his quest to help others. He believes that we need to encourage philanthropy through these channels, both within the more established countries and traditional charitable sources such as the US and within the emerging, new worlds of India and China.
Gates certainly does what he preaches. He tells people that they must engage with something they are passionate about and that this is the only way to find success. He achieved this goal at Microsoft and is well on his way to making a huge difference in the world of philanthropy and in the care of his fellow man.
Do you think Bill Gates is making a difference?