"Don't wait as long as I did to learn this lesson."
"You are not a slacker if you cut yourself some slack," a wistful Gates told the forestry and engineering graduates of Northern Arizona University (NAU) over the weekend in a commencement speech, which he later published to his personal blog, Gates Notes. "When I was your age, I didn't believe in vacations. I didn't believe in weekends. I pushed everyone around me to work very long hours."
"In the early days of Microsoft, my office overlooked the parking lot — and I would keep track of who was leaving early and staying late."
Intense! But as Gates admitted shortly thereafter, his eyes-on-the-parking-lot level of intensity may not have been entirely healthy — not for him, and definitely not for the people around him.
"But as I got older — and especially once I became a father — I realized there is more to life than work," Gates added. "Don't wait as long as I did to learn this lesson. Take time to nurture your relationships, to celebrate your successes, and to recover from your losses."
"Take a break when you need to," the billionaire continued. "Take it easy on the people around you when they need it, too."
It's good advice from a man who made billions from, apparently, keeping notes on who was overworking themselves and who wasn't, while failing to nurture his interpersonal relationships. You heard the man: don't be like him. You might make a massive amount of money, but you'll ultimately stand up before a graduating class and speak longingly about the vacations you regret not taking.
Of course, Gates isn't the only billionaire known for an arguably-too-intense work ethic. Tesla, SpaceX, and Twitter CEO Elon Musk — who has watched his wealth plummet lately for reasons unrelated to taking holidays — is notorious for sleeping on Tesla factory floors or not getting very much sleep at all, while Silicon Valley across the board is known for its collective fascination with "biohacking" as a means of boosting productivity.
But according to an older Gates, that degree of workaholism is simply not the way. Take that vacation, kids. Maybe go to the ocean and have a glass of fecal sludge water on the beach. If not for you, for Bill.
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