Back at the turn of the millennium… let’s stop there. I am what you would call a millennial, or something later. By most standards, I’m relatively young, because I was born when things started to go topsy turvy, which is ‘maybe’ young.
I wasn’t born during the Oil boom which led to Nigeria’s complete deviation from an agro-dependent economy in the early 1970s, so knowledge of the time the Naira was equivalent or stronger than the Dollar is only mere hearsay to me. What I have witnessed is the continuous downward spiral in the standard of living which coincides with the Naira being continually devalued and the opposite upward movement in the cost of living.
A corollary to this is that instant gratification became the norm. Young people found it cooler to make the luxurious life by half paying for it rather than working for it with blood and sweat and tears. Parents became more paranoid and indirectly stifled creativity by imposing ‘executive schooling,’ because studying one of the Big 3 (A la Law, Medicine or Engineering) sounded more lucrative.
The result; money became the standard measurement for success and impending success. It is little wonder why a million bucks is infinitely more attractive than a period of learning, in fact… At the turn of the millennium; a million dollars was about 120 million, then it grew to about 150 million, at some point, it became 200 million, but now its pegged at well over 350 million. That’s a lot of money and for the financially intelligent, that’s a gold mine waiting to be explored.
The investment possibilities are endless when you consider you can invest a considerable sum of it into bonds, stocks, mutual funds, debts, treasury bills, you can even decide to be a venture capitalist and still have enough money to fund your startup, buy a house, buy a car, and live life while your money works for you, and you work for more. This is even taking into perspective the volatile nature of the market.
However, we live in a knowledge driven age and while the picture of Bill Gates in his designer shoes, chinos, pink shirt, cashmere silk sweater, reclining in a leather chair and reading yet another book might not appeal to many of us, mostly because he now sits atop his philanthropic organization and has left the world of business. We might be hard pressed to believe, he has much to offer in terms of mentoring a 20–35 year old hustler.
Times change, and seasons change, but principles remain timeless as the passage of time.
Winston Churchill wrote in 1932, “We know enough to be sure that the scientific achievements of the next fifty years will be far greater, more rapid and more surprising, than those we have already experienced,”
and the unfortunate truth is while we celebrate change, we are generally very averse to it especially the type that seems like a rolling train.
While Churchill’s remarks aren’t entirely off the track, Bill Gates lived in a time when people were skeptical about the advancement of technology, not because it was harmful, but because they believed it couldn’t be done.
It was in an era where getting venture capital is second nature to any tech startup, yet Microsoft was able to thrive without ‘necessarily’ getting a venture capital.
This begs the question
‘How did a software company manage to get by in a time when tech startups always sought seed funding?’
Bill Gates stated that they were cash positive already and explained how to scale on profits.
“We eventually gave away, or sold, 5% of the company for a million dollars at a 20 million dollar valuation, just to get a venture capital company to join our board and give us some adult advice about various things, which was quite helpful.”
Watch full interview here;
By contrast, Apple which was established a year after Microsoft, consciously raised $250,000 in venture capital.
This further begs many questions needed to weigh both nuances on a scale.
How Microsoft make 3 billionaires when it went public in 1986?
How has Microsoft managed to stay relevant 43 years down the line and is now the 3rd most valuable company in the world?
What drove the smart acquisitions that further entrenched Microsoft into the tech market?
How is Microsoft able to thrive and drive sustainable change in every continent they operate in?
How is Microsoft disrupting existing markets?
Why did Bill Gates extend his interest to other sectors such as energy and investment and how is he driving change through these endeavors?
How is Bill Gates able to evolve?
How is he able to remain ‘wealthy’ even after donating well over $30bn to philanthropic endeavors?
How is he able to sustain the support of the shareholders?
What qualities did he look out for when he recruited for Microsoft’s top management staff and how has he been able to sustain their drive?
There is so much you can learn from books and observations, but real knowledge isn’t taken. It is handed down from the custodian.
Being mentored by the world’s second richest man (this sounds really weird) means many things. It means having access to his resources, his support system and his network.
If I may, this is worth far more than $1m, and while his field may not necessarily tally with everyone’s aspirations, I am hard pressed to believe his knowledge doesn’t transcend being successful in all endeavors.
But hey, I’m just a 22 year old, so what do I know?