Bill Gates lists the 5 obsessives he found most inspiring in 2016

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Bill Gates will be the first person to admit he was a software fanatic. In fact, he credits his obsession for helping him rise to the top.

"When I was in my 20's and early 30's, I was fanatical about software," Gates writes on his blog.

"By 'fanatical,'" Gates writes, "I mean that I was so focused on my vision of putting a computer on every desk and in every home, that I gave up a normal existence."

Getting into work early, staying late and working hard impressed his colleagues. While many people his age were thinking about marriage or travel, he focused on innovating.

Now he spends time learning from other "fanatics," who are disrupting their respective fields. On his blog, he writes about his five favorite fanatics of 2016.

5. Ken Caldeira

Caldeira is a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who delves into on the impact of human activity on our climate. Gates first met Ken 10 years ago and they've gotten together several times since to discuss climate change and energy.

Gates calls him a "brilliant teacher."

"What I appreciate most about his teaching style is how he is able to explain complex ideas in ways that are accessible to anyone," Gates says.

4. Ana Mari Cauce

The president of the University of Washington and a champion of solving global health issues, Cauce leads the university's Population Health Initiative, which brings together doctors, professors, environmental scientists and other experts to conduct important research.

In October, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the program $210 million. According to Gates, Cauce's initiative has "incredible potential to unlock the power of health research and data for the benefit of all."

3. Nandan Nilekani

Gates has known Nilekani, one of India's most prominent entrepreneurs and philanthropists, for more than twenty years, and for just as long, Gates has admired the entrepreneur's dedication to applying technology to alleviate poverty. Nilekani and his wife, Rohini, run a nonprofit that uses apps to help children with early learning.

"Nandan and I share a common optimism about the potential of the digital revolution in India to improve lives through access to savings accounts, health records, and education," Gates says.

Nilekani currently serves as the chairman of India's new identity card system, which provides biometric IDs to more than one billion people.

2. Nate Bowling

Bowling, a Washington State Teacher of the Year, helped transform a low-income, low-performing high school into a fun and thriving place to learn.

Gates, an advocate for improving access to education, calls Bowling's teaching style "pretty amazing."

"Nate is a great example of what it takes to be an effective teacher," Gates says. "He works hard at his craft, always searching for ways to make a subject relevant for his students."

1. Jimmy Carter

Earlier this year, Bill and Melinda spent an evening with President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn.

Gates says he admires Carter's lifelong dedication to human rights as well as his inspiring leadership and writing. The 92-year-old still shares his knowledge by lecturing at Emory University. Oh, and he paints in his spare time.

"His life should be an inspiration to all of us," Gates writes.

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Check out the books Gates says were his 2016 favorites.