Make It New Grads

Billionaire Bill Gates shares his 'one big regret'

Bill Gates
Kelvin Ma | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Even the most successful people have regrets, including self-made billionaire and co-founder of Microsoft Bill Gates.

In a series of posts on Twitter offering his best advice for today's 20-somethings, Gates also revealed his biggest regret: Not learning more about the world's problems. "When I left school, I knew little about the world's worst inequities. Took me decades to learn," he writes.

This isn't the first time Gates has opened up about that issue. In his commencement speech at Harvard University ten years ago, Gates said, "Taking a serious look back … I do have one big regret. I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world, the appalling disparities of health, and wealth and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair."

It wasn't until decades after dropping out of Harvard that Gates became seriously involved in philanthropy. The "turning point," as he calls it, happened in 1993 when he encountered deep poverty for the first time during a trip to Africa.

"You graduates came to Harvard at a different time," he told the class of 2007. "You know more about the world's inequities than the classes that came before. In your years here, I hope you've had a chance to think about how, in this age of accelerating technology, we can finally take on these inequities, and we can solve them."

A decade later, he's giving the same advice to the class of 2017: "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."

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Look for more exclusive pieces of advice from icons like Melinda Gates, Dave Ramsey and others over the next few weeks. Follow along on social media using the hashtag #MakeItNewGrads. And don't miss: Bill Gates says this is the book every college grad needs to read

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