Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bill Gates quote from Charlie Rose interview (or, how the world's best companies are built by fanatics)

My shortened transcription of a part of their conversation as I watched the interview. Any errors are mine.

Charlie Rose: Did you have what you now have (this fascination and love for science)...for a while? Was this something that was in you? As a kid, were you interested in science?

Bill Gates: Absolutely....In my 20's and 30's, during the creation and my hyper-focus on Microsoft, I read a little bit of science...but I had to know one thing super, super well. And so I've been able to broaden my being up-to-date on science and meet with great scientists as part of this foundation work, and that's a real pleasure.

Charlie Rose: Now that's an interesting idea, let's just stay with that for a second. You said that in order to do what you did with Microsoft, you had to what? As you once said to me, you just had to focus on that at all times and other things suffered. Is that simply the price of building a company like Microsoft?

Bill Gates: I think the world's best companies are built by fanatics. And when you're in your 20's and 30's, being fanatical comes...at least it came pretty natural to me....I wanted to let everybody have cool software. And so I didn't feel bad that that's what I was doing. [He went to say that now in his 50's, backing great scientists in different areas and not being fanatical about one thing is what now comes naturally to him.]
Charlie Rose: Help me understand what it takes to build a Microsoft, or to build an Apple, or to build a Facebook...in terms of what it is that you and Mark and Steve had?

Bill Gates: Well, in each of those cases, you had people who were quite fanatical about...

Charlie Rose: Now what does fanatical mean?

Bill Gates: Work day and night. Sort of don't worry about the possibility of failure. Every setback is just something to work a little bit harder at doing. And you really know what you're trying to achieve. And you're going to hire the best people. And you're going to change your strategy until you can get that to happen.