In the spring of 1990, I traveled to Redmond to spend time alone with Bill Gates on the Microsoft campus. To give you an idea of how fast the world changes, when I told people who I was visiting , the near unanimous response was “Who’s that?”
When I arrived, the scene was surreal and paradoxical. The campus was throbbing with the pulse of 3,000 young geniuses tossing frisbees in the air and sketching equations on small workbooks. There were no suits, ties or even leather shoes. I could see that the conventions of corporate America had been tossed in the waste basket in a single revolutionary act of change.
Gates, on the other hand, was a traditional businessman but with a 16-year old face. He was intense,arrogant, wildly intelligent, philosophical and most important, laser-focused on a vision: to place a computer on every desk in every home and office in the world.
Seems routine now, but in 1990, it was an outsized dream but one Gates was determined to achieve. I can’t say I liked him but what does that matter. He wasn’t trying to be popular and he blew me away with his sense of leadership.
What did I see in Gates that day that should be important to us all?
No one has ever done Gates like Gates.