I will cover in this article the 11 most popular quotes attributed to Bill Gates, i will try to confirm their origin and then state my opinion.
1 – “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose“
Quote origin : The Road Ahead , A book by Bill Gates.
My opinion: It might apply to some tech people, who got lucky winning when they were still young, but not to the typical entrepreneur that would have failed few times before actually succeeding.
2- “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.“
Full quote in context :
“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning”. Unhappy customers should be valued within your business. Many unhappy customers will simply take their business elsewhere without giving you a second chance.
My opinion: Again, might apply to the software sector, where customers dissatisfaction contributes to improvement of product, and where customers are more about specific requirements. This for sure can not be applied to more than 90% of types of businesses, where the unhappy customer is usually a waste of time, energy and often headache. Consider a client that did not like the paint job because the color does not go well with her vision of the room (what can you learn from that ?), or a customer not liking a graphic design work, or … usually unhappy customers often mean refund and bad reputation … the only thing you can learn is to avoid servicing them.
3- “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it“
Quote origin : It is highly possible that the quote is wrongly attributed to Gates, and that he actually did not say that.
My opinion: Logically in software the shortest solution is often the most optimal because it requires less processing and often less resources, thus it is unlikely that software developers finding the easiest way to execute a task be labeled lazy. But in general, this is absolutely a wrong approach, because in this context, the ‘lazy’ person could lead to sloppy solutions or unsafe products, or even a bad service.
4- “Life is not fair; get used to it.”
Quote origin : It is highly possible that the quote is also falsely attributed to Bill Gates, and that the quote was written by Charles J. Sykes, in the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids.
My opinion: Nothing to say here, luck have a huge rule in success and failure, which makes it unfair. So better get used to it, i guess.
5- “If you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.”
Quote origin : It is highly possible that the quote is also falsely attributed to Bill Gates. Simply, this quote is out of character of Bill Gates, and more likely a meme that got started due to frustration with windows vista or other.
My opinion: If you can’t make it good, just don’t. Outsource it, find a contractor who can make it good!
6- “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
Quote origin : I am not sure about the source, but looks legit.
My opinion: Good business leaders are in general those who can delegate, empower the employees and makes them do their best. However, i am not sure in the general context it is a good thing to have leaders empowering the masses or some fractions of society, this leads to activism, and it is often radical activism. #NoThankyou
7- “The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow.”
Quote origin : Microsoft founder Gates addressed a session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
My opinion: This indeed is happening nothing to add, ecommerce and online communication have rendered the entire world as a single village, and at the center of all this is the internet.
8- “It’s fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”
Quote origin : Can not verify this quote origin.
My opinion: Absolutely, over celebrating success is kind of vanity, as success never lasts forever, and success is partially due to luck!
9- “Often you have to rely on intuition.”
Quote origin : One of the primary reasons top leaders are able to make tough decisions is because they have learned to trust their intuitive instincts. Bill Gates says, “Often you have to rely on intuition.” ~ bizjournals
My opinion: Intuition is a great skill, it allows to better delegate, avoid unfit team leaders and often bad business deals. I have based my decisions on intuition many times, i especially used it in a protective way to avoid giving power to people who do not deserve. Intuition is based on noticing the little things, some behavior pattern, understanding the personality or guessing the end game of people.
10- “Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana”
Quote origin : Attributed to Bill Gates. The full quote is : Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana.” If one of them doesn’t work out or is outdated by the time it comes to market, there is always another bunch of bananas that haven’t spoiled yet
My opinion: I am not really experiences in I.P., thus my opinion have no real weight. But maybe, the reason intellectual property is often abused of, stolen, maybe it is because the pricing is inconsiderate of the purchase power in poorer countries. For example: Selling the Office suite for 30$ in a country where the monthly salary is 20$, is an invitation to abuse of your intellectual property.
11- “Television is not real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs”
Quote origin : Another quote falsely attributed to Bill Gates, this one was written by Charles J. Sykes, in the 1996 book Dumbing Down Our Kids. Full quote: Television is not real life. Your life is not a sitcom. Your problems will not all be solved in 30 minutes, minus time for commercials. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop to go to jobs. Your friends will not be as perky or pliable as Jennifer Aniston.
My opinion: This quote is obviously in reference to the ‘Friends’ sitcom. Not much to say, except that these days a lot of people do work from home and coffee shops.