Bill Gates outlines the skills you need to succeed… which includes listening to customers and partners

Thanks to sriram over on channel8 for a pointer to this article from Bill Gates on “The skills you need to succeed.”

This is an article written by Bill Gates himself for the BBC Service,

Related BBC Report may be found here:

“This article by Mr. Gates highlights the needs of the workplace. The power of software has made dramatic shift in the way we do business or just about anything else. Collaboration, team work and analytical skills need to be matched by IT Skills for success in your workplace. In today’s rapidly changing business environment, “lifelong learning is a key to success”.

Essentially it comes down to one’s ability to software effectively, including a “solid working knowledge of productivity software and other IT tools,” an understanding of math and science, communication skills, continued education and learning, reading lots of books… and working well with others. 

Says Bill…

“A lot of people assume that creating software is purely a solitary activity where you sit in an office with the door closed all day and write lots of code.

“This isn’t true at all.

“Software innovation, like almost every other kind of innovation, requires the ability to collaborate and share ideas with other people, and to sit down and talk with customers and get their feedback and understand their needs.”

Innovation is not invented in a vacuum.  It comes through a deep understanding of what customers really want and what they think of your products. 

As I’ve noted in previous posts, we dig into what customers want through semi annual customer surveys (we’re getting in new results now) as well as through continued discussions directly with our customers and partners. Our worldwide Customer and Partner Satisfaction Survey helps up glean what customers form all audiences and segments think about Microsoft.  (You can find more about the survey in this Computerworld article from last May.) Through this research, and combined with other “listening systems” at the company, we identify the top drivers of satisfaction amongst our customers and partners. 

If you are looking for more insight as to what it takes to succeed, there are many books and sites dedicated to the topic.  One of my favourite holiday gifts to give is a book of essays about life by Robert Fulghum, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”

“All I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned in kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but there in the sand pile at school.

“These are the things I learned:

  • Share everything.
  • Play fair.
  • Don’t hit people.
  • Put things back where you found them.
  • Clean up your own mess.
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Flush.
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
  • Take a nap every afternoon.
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together.
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die. So do we.
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK.

“Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation. Ecology and politics and equality and sane living.”

For more details, visit Fulghum’s website at

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