Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My hero, Bill Gates

Bill Gates announced that he will be transitioning out of his job as chief architect at Microsoft so he can spend more time with his philanthropic work. Wow.

Bill Gates has always impressed me. He had all the traits of the super-successful CEO -- he works like a maniac, is passionate about his field, and is ruthlessly competitive. But what suprised me more was what is lacking in him. Even though he is the more powerful man in software, and off and on the richest man alive, he lacks the blatant ego and arrogence that one finds in Larry Ellison or Scott McNealy. It doesn't surprise me that he hangs out with Warren Buffett -- the other just-folks billionaire genius. Bill Gates is not the necessarily the nicest guy in the world -- did I mention he was ruthlessly competitive? -- but he has always been comfortable in his own skin and not particularly worried about what people thought about him. He also seemed to have a firm grasp of impermanence -- as much as his competitors pillory him for holding a monopoly, he always insists that Microsoft is only a few years away from being undone by the next smart, ambitious company.

It was that un-selfconsciousness that allowed him to let go of the reins of his company when the time was right. It's not often that someone as successful as he is able to bow out while at the top of his game. The fact that he ceded primary control of the business so he could work more with the technology was also heartening -- it showed that he cared more about what his company did (make great software) than how much money it made. What geek can't respect that?

And now Bill is doing it again. This time he is recognizing something even more startling -- that his charitable work has the potential to have a greater impact on mankind than even his business work. If Larry Ellison said he was stepping down to devote more time to charity, I would think that he was slacking off. But Bill? No. He doesn't have a slack bone in his body. He is really, truly making plans to Save the World. Rather than devoting his money to chi-chi high-tech science and rich-people's diseases (like Ellison . . . can you tell I don't like that guy?), Gates has focused on wiping out the Third World diseases that can actually be wiped out.

What a guy.


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