Friday, June 27, 2008

Well done and oh yes, thanks Bill!

Any cliché phrases you may read about Microsoft® Founder Bill Gates riding off into the sunset or cleaning out his desk are highly inappropriate. He's riding towards the sunrise and just getting a new desk.

Gates is one guy who is going to work full time and then some to make this world a better place to live. And he's backing it all up with billions of dollars of his own money.

Gates has really led an amazing life and company. Without him and Microsoft, I'm not sure if there ever would have been a Video Professor.

Bill Gates is one of those guys we all knew in college, but never saw out of class. While a lot of his classmates might have been enjoying life off-campus, Gates could be found in his dorm, writing line after line of computer code.

Ultimately what made Bill Gates an incredible success is that he was both an engineer and a marketer, a rare combination.

However, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Bill Gates enrolled at Harvard in 1973 and he only lasted about a year there. While many of his classmates were reading Playboy® magazine, he was reading Popular Science®. Gates was more of an entrepreneur than a student.

His first deal came with IBM. Then, he and fellow Harvard drop-out and business partner Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1976 in Albuquerque N.M. The rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Gates, like any successful person in any field has both supporters and detractors. He made mistakes. WebTV was certainly one of them, but simply because it was ahead of its time.

He was also the target of no-small number of anti-trust suits filed by federal and state authorities. Microsoft remains a target of similar suits filed by foreign countries as well. Governments sometimes get cranky when you're too successful.

Gates expected the best from his employees. Any good CEO does. But the list of Microsoft Millionaires and Billionaires is staggering. In the early days, there was more stock handed out than cash. Those who stayed, believed and worked incredible hours were handsomely rewarded.

Wouldn't it be cool if we could go back in time 20 years and buy the stock?

Ultimately look at the programs you use every day on your computer. Word, Outlook®, PowerPoint® and Windows®, to name just a few. Video Professor has been selling millions of lessons on how to use those programs for the past 21 years.

History will judge the true impact of Bill Gates and Microsoft. Yes, the world of computing would have continued on without him, but I doubt it would have progressed as quickly as it did. I think the progress is measured in decades. Bill Gates is one of those rare people that come along every generation or so. He's right up there with Henry Ford, someone else who had the vision no one else did, plus the business-savvy and marketing expertise to take ideas and make them a reality.

Both were doing something others were doing too. They were just better at it.

Vision. It seems to be in short supply these days.

Now Bill Gates' vision is about using his fortune to make the world a better place. He'll make even more mistakes along the way, but successes will far outweigh his failures. Bill and his wife Melinda, through their foundation, are helping to fight AIDS, provide real education to children around the world, and educate people about better ways to farm for the global community.

Gates will be visiting Microsoft's headquarters on a regular basis. I don't blame him. I am curious about how itchy his fingers will be during each visit!


John W. Scherer
John is CEO & founder of Video Professor, Inc.
Reach him at