Melinda Gates is often credited for helping her husband develop his kinder, gentler side.
During his formative years Bill Gates was notoriously hard-nosed. There are many stories of his tantrums when he and Microsoft were young, such as this one: Microsoft employed a person to count of how many times F-bombs he would drop during a meeting, according to a former Microsoft employee. The lower the count, the happier Gates was with the meeting.
After marrying Melinda and having a family, Gates mellowed. While he’s still opinionated, he’s clearly a happier, more cordial person. His philanthropic work to end poverty and disease makes him a role model for other leaders to follow.
But the woman who helped tame Bill Gates had to learn how to be a good friend herself, she said in a Fortune article where CEOs have offered their best advice.
And the person who taught her how to do that was fellow billionaire Warren Buffett. (Buffett and the Gates are famously good friends.)
Here’s how that happened, Melinda says:
One of the things I was most impressed about when Bill and I met Warren Buffett very early on was he introduced us to his friends. And Warren has the most high quality set of friends you could meet, and these are friends that he has had over his lifetime. And it really got me thinking, “wow, I better cultivate my friends.”
Warren does little things with his friends, like he will send you an article of something he is thinking about, reading about. That was a way to help me think about my friends.
Melinda also says that another friend helped her learn how to balance work and home when her kids were young and she was feeling stressed out about it.
The man told her, “Melinda, you don’t get a do-over with your kids.” and she says, “I always have to remember that, at the end of the day, my kids come first.”
She feels so strongly about this that it trumps all of her charity work.
“On the day I die, I want people to think that I was a great mum and a great family member and a great friend. I care about that more than I care about anything else,” she said.
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