Careers

Why Bill Gates says he sees himself in comedian Eddie Izzard

91284830
Chesnot | Getty Images

As billionaires go, Bill Gates seems remarkably normal. He does not seem to have expensive obsessions or dramatic tastes and despite being one of the richest people on earth, he attempts to lead an average life.

Yet in a blog post, Gates writes that he sees himself in one of the most flamboyant and colorful comedians working today: Eddie Izzard.

"I've recently discovered that I have a lot in common with a funny, dyslexic, transgender actor, comedian, escape artist, unicyclist, ultra-marathoner and pilot from Great Britain," he writes. "Except all of the above."

At first glance, it may not seem like the tech mogul would have much in common with the critically acclaimed comedian, who has been known to wear bright lipstick, painted fingernails and high heels. But after reading Izzard's autobiography "Believe Me," Gates found that he and Izzard are two of a kind.

"As a child, Eddie was nerdy, awkward and incompetent at flirting with girls. He had terrible handwriting. He was good at math. He was highly motivated to learn everything he could about subjects that interested him. He left college at age 19 to pursue his professional dreams. He had a loving mom who died of cancer way too young," lists Gates. "I can relate to every one of these things."

Even though Izzard spent most of the 1980s working as a street performer and Gates spent the 1980s building Microsoft, they both used the same mindset to find success.

Gates argues that the unrelenting determination and constant improvement that Izzard demonstrates in his autobiography is a perfect example of what Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck describes as "growth mindset."

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Eddie Izzard
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS | Getty Images
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Eddie Izzard

"The growth mindset is one in which you believe that your capabilities derive from practice and perseverance rather than DNA and destiny," explains Gates. "Eddie has the growth mindset in spades. Being lousy at something doesn't stop him from doing it. In fact, it often has the opposite effect, driving him to work at it until he is no longer terrified of it."

Despite his own setbacks, Gates has also used the growth mindset to persevere through hard times. This strength might be why both Gates and Izzard have found such great success.

Gates says they are more similar than they are different: "Izzard and I share a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses."

Like this story? Like CNBC Make It on Facebook

Don't miss: