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Bill Gates shares 5 pieces of graduation advice he never heard but wishes he was told

Bill Gates shares 5 pieces of graduation advice he never heard but wishes he was told

The Microsoft co-founder never graduated college, but if he did, he wishes he'd been told these five things.

As you may know, Bill Gates never finished his undergraduate degree - he dropped out of Harvard University after three semesters to start Microsoft.

The tech billionaire recently gave a speech to graduates at Northern Arizona University (NAU) from the College of Engineering, Informatics, and Applied Sciences and the College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences.

In his speech, the Microsoft co-founder shared 'the five things I wish I was told at the graduation I never had.'

‘Your life isn’t a one-act play’

Gates emphasised that you don't have to decide the rest of your life immediately after graduation.

Reflecting on his own journey, Gates recalled thinking he would work at Microsoft forever when he co-founded the company in 1975 - and 'glad' when he figured out how wrong he was.

Gates moved from decades in software to being a full-time philanthropist, proving that it's okay to re-evaluate your goals and paths. Nothing is permanent.

Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty
Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty

‘You are never too smart to be confused’

Gates admitted that when he dropped out of college, he thought he knew everything.

Over time, he realised that 'the first step to learning something new is leaning into what you don’t know, instead of focusing on what you do know,' he said.

He advised students to face problems by taking a breath, thinking things through and learning from smart people around them.

‘Gravitate towards work that solves a problem’

In 2022, Gates donated $5 billion of his own money to the Gates Foundation to back its work.

Unsurprisingly, on Saturday, he encouraged students to seek opportunities that help others.

'You are graduating at a time of immense opportunity to help people,' he said.

'New industries and companies are emerging every day that will allow you to make a living by making a difference. And advances in science and technology have made it easier than ever to make a big impact.'

Spending your days doing something that solves a problem 'energises you to do your best work.'

He added: 'It forces you to be more creative, and it gives your life a stronger sense of purpose.'

RUT MIIT / Unsplash
RUT MIIT / Unsplash

‘Don’t underestimate the power of friendship’

Spending most of his time studying, Gates left little room for building friendships during his time at college - making it one of his biggest regrets.

On Saturday, Gates advised recent graduates to value the connections they made throughout college.

'The people you’ve [socialised] with and sat next to in lectures are not just your classmates. They are your network. Your future co-founders and colleagues. Your best sources of support, information, and advice,' Gates explained.

'The only thing more valuable than what you walk offstage with today is who you walk onstage with.'

‘You are not a slacker if you cut yourself some slack’

At one point in time, Gates shared that he didn't believe in vacations or weekends, and expected the same from his employees.

It wasn't until he became a father that he realised 'there's more to life than work.'

Gates continued: 'Don’t wait as long as I did to learn this lesson. 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.'

Featured Image Credit: Sean Gallup / Staff / Justin Sullivan / Staff / Getty