60 Minutes: What Motivates Bill Gates? Gates Notes & Gates Foundation


60 Minutes: Bill Gates 2.0

Bill Gates is a name known around the world. He is the man behind Microsoft and is partly responsible for putting personal computers into homes across America. The richest man in the world walked away from Microsoft in 2008 to devote himself full time to philanthropy. Charlie Rose had a chance to spend time with Gates for a 60 Minutes profile, which touched on his health aspirations and the Gates Notes website.

60 Minutes: Eradicating Polio

60 Minutes: What Motivates Bill Gates? Gates Notes & Gates Foundation

Bill Gates talked about his worldwide philanthropy and eternal curiosity in a 60 Minutes profile of his Gates Notes book reviews and charitable goals. (3777190317 / Shutterstock.com)


Gates is focused on improving the world around him with his $67 billion fortune. One of his plans is to eradicate polio by 2018. Tuberculosis could take six or seven years to rid the world of. Malaria may be farther out, but research is developing rapidly.

He wants to help about one third of the world’s population, sometimes called “the bottom two billion,” which struggles to get by without money, electricity, or water. A child dies about every 20 seconds due to preventable diseases.

Bill Gates said his health plans are doable, and he spends the bulk of his time at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, headquartered in Seattle. He, his father, and his wife head up the organization.


60 Minutes: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Melinda Gates was his driving force, and the company employs 1,100 people. Gates himself travels the world to learn more about the potential investments the charity could make, from nutrition to agriculture and health.

Bill said it’s easy to relate to the emotions of mothers with sick children. Agony is the same in any language, I guess, and Gates thinks we should be able to take care of basic human needs since we spend so much capital on frivolity.

He applies strict accounting processes and takes a hard business approach to the charity. That sounds similar to the Robin Hood Foundation’s approach.

60 Minutes: Intellectual Ventures Thermos

Keeping vaccines cold can be a challenge in rural Africa, where refrigerators and electricity are hard to come by. That’s why Gates teamed with Seattle’s Intellectual Ventures to develop a “super thermos” using space technology.

The resulting thermos product can keep hundreds of vaccines cool for up to 50 days with a minimal amount of ice. “It’s a replacement for all those refrigerators that have been so unreliable,” Gates explained.

He hopes to put technology to work solving other problems around the world, such as inadequate sanitation. Toilets could drastically change things, and that inspired Gates to hold a global competition to design a toilet that works without plumbing.

More than 20 people entered, and four were awarded prizes. A prototype processed the waste and was able to recycle water. More research is needed, but Gates is optimistic about this invention.

60 Minutes: What Motivates Bill Gates?

What motivates Bill Gates? He is inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci. In 1994, Gates purchased a 500-year-old notebook from the renaissance man. He even studied the flow of water and attempted to understand the concept of turbulence.

The man paid over $30 million for this priceless manuscript, and Gates told Rose that he was impressed by Da Vinci’s relentless pursuit of education and innovation.

Gates’s office features a bookshelf containing hundreds of college lectures on science and other subjects. “The more you learn, the more you have a framework that the knowledge fits into,” he said.

60 Minutes: The Gates Notes Review

On the road, Gates, who is a speed reader, takes a tote bag full of books with him. Then he reviews what he has read on his website, The Gates Notes. He explained that he takes notes as he reads. He loves to read, but it is also a source of knowledge for him.

All that knowledge can lead to high tech innovations, like a laser bug zapper that can kill mosquitoes infected with malaria. Gates also showed off a nuclear reactor that can run on depleted uranium. It can go for 60 years without needing to be serviced. But it could be another decade before a prototype is ready to be explored.

60 Minutes: Impatient Optimist

Gates is known as an “impatient optimist,” a characterization his wife agrees has been true as long as she has known him. The curiosity is something they have in common, though she said he has more time to read than she does.

He has even read about fertilizer, which he finds fascinating. Where does he find the time to pursue all his intellectual curiosities? “I don’t mow the lawn,” he joked.

For 40 years, Gates has evolved from a computer prodigy to the leader of the digital revolution. Was he more demanding in earlier days? Looking back, he said he has learned from his mistakes, admitting that he is hard on himself. Self-discipline and careful thinking are a great internal stimulator, but he said he is more circumspect about projecting those qualities onto others.

60 Minutes: Bill Gates & Warren Buffett

As far as Melinda is concerned, it’s all about the man’s heart. Then there was his relationship with the late Steve Jobs. The two came up at the same time, and their optimism even as rivals fostered respect.

Gates recalled chatting with Jobs during the man’s illness. His other famous friends include investor Warren Buffett, who has invested heavily in the Gates Foundation. But Gates said he was inspired by his father, Bill Sr., to give his money away.

Bill Gates Sr. agrees that his son is very determined to change the world. “There’s no way to be unimpressed about” his son’s aspirations.


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