Bill Gates: IQ isn't everything—here's what you need to succeed

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In a conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda in New York City on Tuesday, following the launch of their Annual Letter, Bill and Melinda Gates fielded questions from audience members, fans watching live and even Mark Zuckerberg, who sent in a question via Facebook: "If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be? Asking for a friend."

Gates, who built his career on strong mathematical skills, said he wishes he'd known that intelligence isn't one-size-fits-all: "I was so naive about different skill sets. I thought if somebody had a high IQ, they could be good at everything. The idea that you needed to blend these different types of skills together, that always continued to surprise me."

The self-made billionaire learned that there are different types of intelligence, and the key to success is to find yours.

"Intelligence takes many different forms," he tweeted in 2017. "It is not one-dimensional. And not as important as I used to think."


In the 1980s, psychologist Howard Gardener identified nine types of intelligence. Funders and Founders designer Mark Vital highlighted what each type of intelligence can offer in this infographic.

  • Spatial: Visualizing the world in 3D
  • Naturalist: Understanding living things and reading nature
  • Musical: Discerning sounds, their pitch, tone, rhythm and timbre
  • Logical-Mathematical: Quantifying things, making hypotheses and proving them
  • Existential: Tackling the questions of why we live and why we die
  • Interpersonal: Sensing people's feelings and motives
  • Bodily-Kinesthetic: Coordinating your mind with your body
  • Linguistic: Finding the right words to express what you mean
  • Intra-personal: Understanding yourself, what you feel and what you want

By figuring out and embracing your type of intelligence, you can stop comparing yourself to others and find your best work environment. Plus, you'll be more aware of the skills you may need to develop.

As for Melinda's answer to Zuckerberg's question, she said she would tell her younger self, "Trust yourself. You probably know more than you think you do."

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