Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates tweeted a virtual commencement speech this week, including advice about the careers he'd pick if he were starting college today.
The tweets were an abbreviated version of a letter to the class of 2017 that Gates posted Monday on his blog. Together, the messages contained five pieces of advice for new grads—and everyone else:
1. Find a career where you can make real change
In both his tweets and his letter, Gates wrote that if he were starting over today, he would study artificial intelligence, energy, or biosciences. "They're promising fields where you can make a huge impact," he wrote.
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2. Today is the day to fight injustice
Gates shares that what he regrets most is that he took so long to learn about "the world's worst inequities." He encourages today's young people to use technology to learn about and fight injustice faster than he did.
3. Intelligence isn't everything
Gates says that when he was first starting out, he thought that if you were great at coding, you would be great at everything else. "I was wrong about that," he writes, adding that he needed to learn that different people have different talents.
4. The world is already getting better
Gates recommends The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker, which he calls "the most inspiring book I have ever read." In the book, Pinker argues that the world is getting better—more peaceful. Once you understand this, Gates writes, your attitude changes. You begin looking for ways to nurture and expand the progress that's already happening. After Gates recommended the book, it skyrocketed to the top of Amazon's bestseller list.
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5. True happiness is found in friendships
Gates writes that, like his longtime friend Warren Buffett, he measures his happiness by whether he's made a positive difference in the lives of those closest to him and others. He encourages grads to surround themselves with "people who challenge you, teach you, and push you to be your best self." He adds that Melinda Gates, his wife, is one of these people (Schaub, Los Angeles Times, 5/16; Ward, CNBC, 5/15; Gates, GatesNotes blog post, 5/15).
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