Interview with Melinda Gates – Global Leadership Summit, Session 2B

“You have to let your heart break and take that in.”
                     - Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates was previously the General Manager of Information Products at Microsoft, managing over 300 employees.  She attended Duke University, studying computer programming, and began working for IBM.  She interviewed with Microsoft when they were a company of only 1,700 people.  Year later, and after the birth of their first child, she left Microsoft, realizing the company couldn’t provide a great family and time with her kids while she was pursuing a hard-charging career. It was a values decision for their three kids.  She has worked to give her kids are normal upbringing (as much as possible), even using her maiden name to enroll them in school.

Question:  Do we keep our hearts guarded to avoid the mission God may be calling us to?

It is partly this passion and the idea that all parents want to be able to give every good thing to their child that sparked the Gates Foundation.  Bill and Melinda asked, “How do we give a kid a good start?”  The mission has exploded and now the Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the world with over 1,400 employees.  The Foundation focuses on poverty and disease globally and education domestically and is the embodiment of what the Gates’ believe about the world:  every life has equal value. They clearly put their money where their convictions are.  She and Bill (Gates) had pre-decided to give their excess, so it wasn’t a terribly hard decision.  Warren Buffett said, “If you have close to a billion dollars, it’s not going to hurt you to give away half of it.” Even the wealthy see and experience the joy of giving.

Question: Are you investing your intellectual horsepower outside of your business? A church? A non-profit?

Melina has experienced this first hand as she has sat with those receiving aid from the Foundation on mats in slums, humbling herself to their environment, asking questions and listening. She defines herself as an “Impatient Optimist,” determined the world IS getting better—poverty has been cut in half, childhood deaths have been reduced—but remains impatient about what can still be done.

Question: How does it affect you when you see people with great means that do nothing?