Do you salivate over the Forbes rich list wishing to one day make it to the billionaires club? The tech gurus are not only the richest men in the world, but they also appear to be today’s rock stars, demigods that we, mere mortals, should aspire to be like.
But what steps should we take if we wish to one day walk in their shoes? Is it possible to catch those lucky breaks and ride the wave of technological entrepreneurship? Do we need to dropout of college to become successful, like they did? That’s what we’ll explore today, in this episode of The Infographics Show – How likely are you to become the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg?
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are both hard-working and gifted individuals who were in the right place at the right time with the right skills to become among the richest of the rich in the billionaires boys club. Their wealth fluctuates up and down (depending on the economics of the day) but they have both been in the Forbes rich list top ten for the last two years. Of course these two tech gods both share some of the same values and work ethics.
But which of these attributes could you emulate in an effort to become the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg? How did their early life play out? Well, Bill Gates went to a private preparatory school and started playing around with computer programs from a very early age. Zuckerberg also went to a private school and won prizes for his accomplishments in science. They both began basic programming while still at school and were both obsessive about finding out how stuff works.
By the time Zuckerberg was at Harvard, he was already known among his peers as a code writing prodigy. Gates, who also went to Harvard, was deeply into programs, too. Both students famously dropped out of college to pursue their tech dreams. So should you follow in their footsteps? Could dropping out of college be the answer? Well, of course not. According to the rich list, less than 28% of the billionaires who are under 40 years of age are college dropouts.
Yes, Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of college after working on facebook in his second year, and yes Steve Jobs famously dropped out of college, and yes, Bill Gates also dropped out to work on Microsoft, but there is actually no evidence to suggest that NOT graduating college could in any way be an advantage to acquiring success. These three individuals simply showed so much promise at an early age that the industry needed them to commit full time. And in committing full time, they benefited financially. So don’t drop out of college if you want to be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg unless you have a tech company offering you a fortune to do so, and even then, think twice.
Now this brings us to the question of luck. Both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were in the right place at the right time, in Harvard, to catch their right wave. But how lucky were they to have been born to the right parents, have had the right elementary schooling, to have been encouraged to take part in extracurricular computer based activities up until this point? How much luck or nurture was at play with them both being part of the 5.9% of applicants who are accepted at Harvard? How much luck is involved in them both being from families who could even consider Harvard as option for their kids?
Life is a journey full of twists and turns, and hardly much goes according to plan. Opportunities arise without taking into consideration your own personal trajectory. These opportunities can be missed or they can be taken and the real trick is to recognize an opportunity that might improve your overall standard of life. People have a tendency to feel at ease in their comfort zone and are averse to risk. Both Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg had developed an ability to push the boundaries of their capabilities while at school and had by the time they were at college developed the notion that fortune does in fact favor the bold. They saw a chance, they took it – and it paid off.
But what tools would I need to become the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg? Well, you will need a unique worldview. You will need to develop a way to look at a problem and create a solution that nobody else has thought about. Once you have that idea, you need the skills in your toolkit to realize that idea. To express the idea, and to make others see it. Programming and design skills will help you here. So if sitting down for a few years and learning to write code is going to be a problem, you may well be on the wrong train.
You will need to be fluent in either code or English, or you will need to be great at public speaking. Expression is the key here. You will be able to articulate yourself creatively and coherently in a language that can reach a mass audience. Find out what you enjoy doing and become expert at it and find an information gap or problem in that area. Offer a solution using your expert skills. Once you become an expert, others will recognize your skill, have trust in you, and will want to invest in you. Find out what you love. Be yourself. Or better still, be the best version of yourself that you can possibly be.
And in our quest to become the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg, we must remember two things. 1) Bill Gates didn’t accomplish what he did by trying to become anyone else. And 2) Mark Zuckerberg didn’t accomplish the things he accomplished by trying to become anyone else. No sir. They both spent the majority of their time doing the things they liked doing. Their obsessions led them to their successes. It just turned out that their obsessions were also valuable to a huge chunk of the world population – people invested and the industry grew and that’s how they became the mega rich tech-gods that they are today.
So what do you think? Could you make it to that sweet spot on the Forbes rich list? What’s stopping you from getting there? Let us know in the comments. Also, be sure to watch our other video called – What Would Happen if You Drank Coffee and Nothing Else. Thanks for watching, and as always, don’t forget to like, share and subscribe. See you next time!