Visionary: Bill Gates
As defined by Encarta Online, an individual with vision is one that can be characterized by an unusually acute amount of foresight and imagination (www.encarta.com). In other words, a visionary is someone with big ideas, ideas that may not even yet be in the scope of reality or practicality, but knows that someday they will be. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the world’s wealthiest individual, is a prime example of a business leader with vision, not only in the business world, but also in the realm of giving back to the world community. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation focuses its vision on education and health on a global scale for the benefit to those that need it most. This vision serves as an example to Microsoft’s peers, employees, customers, and competitors alike that leadership is not only the ability to make a buck, but also the vision to give back to those in need.
Microsoft, and Bill Gates himself are well known to the world and are many times synonymous with the revolutionary personal computers that many of us need to perform everything from our daily job functions to searching for our daily horoscopes. In fact, almost everything we are exposed to, in some way, shape, or form, has something to do with or is made possible by the existence of the personal computer. Bill himself did not invent the PC, in fact the MITS was first with their Altair model (Microsoft Timeline). Bill Allen, Microsoft’s co-founder, brought the MITS Altair to Gate’s attention when it was displayed on the cover of Popular Mechanics magazine stating excitedly, “It’s about to begin” (Microsoft Timeline)! In short, Gate’s and Allen developed software that made the MITS Altair the first functional personal computer using Microsoft’s “BASIC” programming language (Microsoft Timeline). Later, through many business relationships, and further development of the PC from competitors like Apple, Tandy, and Commodore, Microsoft developed their “Windows” platform, introduced the “mouse” and programs such as MS Works that increased functionality to business users and students alike (Microsoft Timeline). All the while Microsoft had the foresight to license their software to PC makers like IBM leading to the wide growth in its market share, leaving Apple, its most widely known competitor, behind the curve of the explosion in the PC market. Only recently has Apple’s Macintosh computers experienced a resurgence as an alternative to the Microsoft driven personal computers. Gates, and Allen used their vision and strategic competitive partnerships as a competitive advantage, allowing them to become the overwhelming leaders in the technology world today.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: Vaccines Save Lives
Bill Gate’s vision, entrepreneurial ability, and business savvy not only developed an industry that changed the business and technology world as we knew it, it has also provided a springboard for him to give back to the global community. The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation was founded in the year 2000 to “…help reduce inequities in the United States and around the world” (Bill & Melinda). The foundation sets out to improve health and reduce poverty in the developing nations of the world (Bill & Melinda). Bill and his wife travel at lengths in developing nations in an effort to do more to distribute therapies and practices that are affective in abolishing diseases like HIV, Malaria, and Tuberculosis (Schultz, For a Healthier World). The Gateses foundation has teamed up with the pharmaceutical company Merck to put $100 million towards to funding of the research for treatment of and abolishment of HIV in the African country Botswana (Schultz, For a Healthier World). They focus on this country because a shocking 36 percent of its citizens are currently suffering from the disease (Schultz, For a Healthier World). Gates stresses that a strategic approach to educated and treat the sick is far greater than simply providing them with cheap medication (Schultz, For a Healthier World). The Bill and Melinda gates foundation, through their dedication, attention to detail, and focusing on the long-term solution for poverty and illness, is an example of how long term vision and execution is what makes a difference in the world, not just a blank check and a band-aid.
Bill Gates, and the Microsoft Corporation set the bar in the late 1970’s and 1980’s of what it takes to become the most powerful and influential company on the planet. Gate’s and company went a long way towards changing how business is approached and has inspired many young visionaries to attempt to follow suit and gain some of the success Microsoft has enjoyed. Hopefully, those who have modeled themselves after Bill Gates and the Microsoft organization will follow suit and use their success to help the less fortunate in the global community as the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has set out to do. A true measure of a visionary is how he or she inspires others to think outside the box and take a new approach to solving problems in the business world as well as the global community.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Online. Internet. 20
October 2007. http://www.gatesfoundation.org/default.htm
“History of Microsoft” Thocp.net. Online. Internet. 20 Oct 2007. http://www.thocp.net/companies/microsoft/microsoft_company.htm
Schultz, Stacy. “For a Healthier Globe.” 31 Oct. 2005. US News and World Report. Online. Internet. 20 October 2007. http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/051031/31gates.htm