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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (WJW) — When billionaires speak, people listen.
And when Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates took to the podium earlier this month to speak to forestry and engineering graduates of the University of Northern Arizona, he admitted something that a younger version of himself probably would have balked at: “There is more to life than work.”
Gates — who at 67 is worth about $114.7 billion, according to Forbes, and who famously dropped out of Harvard after three semesters to start a software company with his friend Paul Allen — formatted his commencement address by offering the five things he wished “he was told at the graduation never attended.”
One of those things was giving yourself some grace and not believe yourself a slacker for doing so.
“When I was your age, I didn’t believe in vacations,” Gates said. “I didn’t believe in weekends. I pushed everyone around me to work very long hours.”
The now-philanthropist admitted in the early days of the company he used to look out in the parking lot to see which employees’ cars were still there late at night. But as he matured and became a father, Gates said he began to understand the importance of a work-life balance.
“Don’t wait as long as I did to learn this lesson,” Gates, who recently divorced his wife of 27 years, said. “Take time to nurture your relationships, to celebrate your successes, and to recover from your losses. Take a break when you need to. Take it easy on the people around you when they need it, too.”
Gates also said the future belongs to the next generation, those who already went through so much during the pandemic, and he’s hopeful they’ll be the ones to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
The commencement speech, which can be read in full right here, was the third Gates has ever given. The other two were at Harvard University and Stanford University.