Leadership

Why Bill Gates says you need confidence at a young age to achieve success

Bill Gates
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Bill Gates

Self-confidence is a vital trait because it gives you the courage to overcome obstacles. This quality is also necessary for helping you find your passion, according to billionaire Bill Gates.

In fact, his passion for computers and confidence in his abilities while young eventually led him to create Microsoft.

In a Q&A with ABC.net, Gates touches on the importance of having self-confidence. As a child, Gates said his passion revolved around computers and software. However, he wouldn't have realized this had he not been confident in himself.

"From a young age, ideally you will have adults in your life...who like you and they're behind you and they will back you, no matter what goes on," said Gates. "That gives you enough confidence to go off on a quest and during that quest, you try different things out."

The billionaire says that he was lucky enough to have that as a child and so was able to find his passion at age 13. However, Gates admits that many don't find their passion until later in life.

In your quest to find this passion, says Gates, you must tap into this self-confidence. Doing so allows you to "try out new things," he says, and also gives you room for failure — a necessary precursor to success.

"Self-confidence is primary and then finding your passion is an adventure, a quest that may take time. It may switch over the time of your life," Gates explains, "but those deep relationships will let you pursue it with vigor."

Having self-confidence doesn't come easy, though. Sometimes, you have to "fake it till you make it," which is what Gates did while studying at Harvard. For example, In 1975, news broke about the world's first commercial computer Altair.

Gates and his college friend Paul Allen reached out to Altair's makers and told them that they had created a programming language that could run on their computer. The two offered to demonstrate their work to the company's directors. This wasn't true, however, and they actually did not have a programming language available.

Paul Allen, left, and Bill Gates in 1987
Anne E. Yow-Dyson | Getty Images
Paul Allen, left, and Bill Gates in 1987

Yet their promise peaked the interest of the president of Altair's manufacturer who wanted to see the what they had to offer, Allen tells 60 Minutes in an interview. "We had nothing," he says.

The duo spent weeks creating the programming language, although they didn't have an Altair to test on, he explains. Two months later, Allen flew to Albuquerque to pitch their software. Unsure if it would be successful, he typed the code into the computer system and their programming worked.

"A wave of relief surged over me. I almost couldn't believe it had worked the first time," Allen tells 60 Minutes. However, their product did work and this self-confidence in their abilities allowed them to create the programming language.

In fact, Altair's manufacturers were so wowed by the pair they offered both Gates and Allen jobs within the company. This was the start of a business partnership and they would go on to create Microsoft.

The company is now valued at $573.5 billion, according to Forbes, while Gates has a net worth of $89.3 billion.

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