If you're looking to someone to use as a model for success, you could do a lot worse than Bill Gates. Becoming the world's richest man is a pretty high bar to clear for young people, but you might as well aim high before adulthood strips your dreams and ambitions away like paint thinner.
In a Twitter thread he shared Monday, Gates expanded on a question he tends to get from people just starting out in their professional careers: what would you do if you were just starting out today? Microsoft's co-founder said he would choose to study artificial intelligence, energy, or bioscience, and then launched into a discussion of what he wished he knew back in the day.
1/ New college grads often ask me for career advice. At the risk of sounding like this guy…https://t.co/C68mjJ5g44— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 15, 2017
2/ AI, energy, and biosciences are promising fields where you can make a huge impact. It's what I would do if starting out today.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 15, 2017
3/ Looking back on when I left college, there are some things I wish I had known.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 15, 2017
4/ E.g. Intelligence takes many different forms. It is not one-dimensional. And not as important as I used to think.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 15, 2017
5/ I also have one big regret: When I left school, I knew little about the world’s worst inequities. Took me decades to learn.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 15, 2017
6/ You know more than I did when I was your age. You can start fighting inequity, whether down the street or around the world, sooner.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 15, 2017
7/ Meanwhile, surround yourself with people who challenge you, teach you, and push you to be your best self. As @MelindaGates does for me.— Bill Gates (@BillGates) May 15, 2017
Even if you don't plan on studying artificial intelligence or pursuing a career in bioscience—and the average person reading this probably isn't—the overarching advice is something anyone can take to heart, young or old. If someone of Gates' stature can recognize systemic barriers holding back people all over the world, so can the average person living alongside those fighting uphill battles.
Gates' point about intelligence is also a worthwhile distinction. Lots of people carry themselves with an air of superiority either because they go to college at all or find themselves in a "prestigious major," but what you study and the way you process the world around you is not a true measure of your intelligence. There are artists and mechanics and professionals of all sorts who might not grade out the highest on a traditional intelligence test, but are capable of a different sort of mastery in their fields.
At the end of it all, Gates closed with a fitting note.
That's a sentiment anyone can get behind.