Power Players

This is how Bill Gates' brain works

Bill Gates
Chesnot/Getty Images

Bill Gates' biggest fear is that his brain will "stop working." That's what Gates says in the upcoming three-part Netflix documentary "Inside Bill's Brain: Decoding Bill Gates."

With the documentary, which drops Sept. 20, director and executive producer Davis Guggenheim aims to find out what goes on inside the mind of the second richest man in the world. But some things about how Gates' brain works can be gleaned from the series short trailer, released Thursday.

Gates is a "multiprocessor" says his wife Melinda Gates in the trailer. "He will be reading something else but then processing at the same time. It's chaos!" Melinda says.

Gates "thrives on complexity," Melinda says. "He makes a framework in his mind, then he starts slotting in the information. If something doesn't line up, he gets really frustrated."

"It's scary," says Melinda. "But when Bill stills himself, he can pull ideas together that other people can't see."

The idea of having a "framework" is something Gates has talked about himself.

When explaining how he remembers what he reads, Gates told Quartz: "If you read enough, there's a similarity between things that make it easy, because this thing is like this other thing. If you have a broad framework, then you have a place to put everything."

"At first it is very daunting," Gates told Quartz, "but then as you get the kind of scope, then all these pieces fit in.

"It's fun to say, okay, this is where this belongs and does this contradict something I knew before? And I better look that up, I better figure it out."

According to the documentary trailer, Gates looks at problems from usual angles, which allows him to innovate, and "he's at his best when the deck is stacked against him" — skills that come in handy as he tries to tackle some of the world's most difficult problems like disease and poverty.

In addition to giving a small glimpse into Gates' thinking, the trailer for the documentary also gives away some fun facts: Gates' favorite food is a hamburger, he doesn't eat breakfast and dogs are his favorite animal.

Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!

See also: This is the simple trick Bill Gates uses to remember what he reads

How internships helped Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk plan out their careers
How internships helped Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk plan out their careers