Before Microsoft became a success in the 1980s, co-founder Bill Gates struggled with self-confidence and actually feared that his business would be a bust, he told students during a Q&A at Harvard last month. "Even the idea that Microsoft would be a big company, I never would admit that to myself," Gates said.
Gates was an introvert, even, he has said, antisocial, and his original plan was to teach math. "When I was in high school I thought, 'Hey, I'm a good student and therefore I should go be like a professor of mathematics,'" Gates said. The academic discipline, Gates thought, also had "a certain purity to it," which he found alluring: Math problems, he said, "are the hardest problems to solve, and you know I like hard problems."
Until his old friend and future business partner Paul Allen convinced him to seriously pursue computer programming, Gates wasn't planning for a career in tech or business. Instead, Allen challenged him to leave his comfort zone — in more ways than one.