How One Entrepreneur With an Idea Can Change the World

Bill Gates appeared yesterday on the Today Show, primarily to talk about how the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is changing the world. What really struck us about this interview is the role that a company that didn't even exist until 1975 has had in eradicating a devastating disease. Because of his success at Microsoft, Bill Gates has given away more than $26 billion through his Foundation over the past eighteen years.

He notes during the interview that the Foundation has "improved health for the poorest children in the world." And that's not just a warm and fuzzy statement - he had the facts to back it up:

  • "In 1990, over 12 million children a year died and now that's down to about 6.9 million. A lot of that is the vaccine effort that our Foundation and governments got behind."
  • In India in 2012, there was not one new case of polio reported for the first time ever and this was based on the work of the Foundation.
  • "We are down to 3 countries with polio ... we want to make this the second disease ever eradicated."

The operational processes and technical knowledge that has made Microsoft what it is today have been applied to the work of the Foundation as well. He talks about satellite mapping, equipping volunteers with GPS trackers, and working with government leaders to set up effective systems so the money being spent is really spent in a way where it can make a difference.

Bill Gates started out as an entrepreneur with an idea nearly 40 years ago. Today, he is someone who is truly making the world a better place. Our take-away from this interview? Anything is possible.

We also enjoyed the look back at twenty years ago when he predicted that we would all be connected by something called "electronic mail."

What do you think of his prediction of what technology will look like 20 years from now? How do you feel about "smart walls" that will see what you are doing?