Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are two of the richest men on the planet. No matter what business you are in, there is plenty to learn from theses titans of industry.
Money is a funny thing. Some people spend their entire lives chasing vast riches, believing that by having enough wealth they will somehow be happy and at peace. The problem for many of us is that true happiness can never be found in money or material possessions. One of the greatest joys that can be found in this life is through helping others.
Together, Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are worth close to $200 billion. They have dedicated the majority of their wealth to help others less fortunate. Here are three lessons anyone can learn about these two inspirational philanthropists:
1. You don’t need to be wealthy to help others
When Warren Buffett made his philanthropic pledge in 2006 he promised to give away more than 99 per cent of his wealth.
“Measured by dollars, this commitment is large. In a comparative sense, though, many individuals give more to others every day,” he said.
“Millions of people who regularly contribute to churches, schools, and other organizations thereby relinquish the use of funds that would otherwise benefit their own families. The dollars these people drop into a collection plate or give to United Way mean forgone movies, dinners out, or other personal pleasures. In contrast, my family and I will give up nothing we need or want by fulfilling this 99 per cent pledge.”
2. Don’t just give. Get involved.
In their 2018 Annual Letter, Bill and Melinda Gates explained why they are giving away so much of their wealth through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“There are two reasons to do something like this,” Bill Gates said. “One is that it’s meaningful work. Even before we got married, we talked about how we would eventually spend a lot of time on philanthropy. We think that’s a basic responsibility of anyone with a lot of money. Once you’ve taken care of yourself and your children, the best use of extra wealth is to give it back to society.
“The other reason is that we have fun doing it. Both of us love digging into the science behind our work. At Microsoft, I got deep into computer science. At the foundation, it’s computer science plus biology, chemistry, agronomy, and more. I’ll spend hours talking to a crop researcher or an HIV expert, and then I’ll go home, dying to tell Melinda what I’ve learned.”
“It’s rare to have a job where you get to have both a big impact and a lot of fun. I had it with Microsoft, and I have it with the foundation. I can’t imagine a better way to spend the bulk of my time.”
3. Their actions are built on solid family values
In the same letter, Melinda Gates explains that both she and Bill came from families who believed in leaving the world in a better place.
“My parents made sure my siblings and I took the social justice teachings of the Catholic Church to heart. Bill’s mom was known, and his dad still is known, for showing up to advocate for a dizzying number of important causes and support more local organizations than you can count,” she said.
“When we got to know Warren Buffett, we discovered that he was steeped in those same values, even though he grew up in a different place and at a different time. When Warren entrusted us with giving away a large portion of his wealth, we redoubled our efforts to live up to the values we share.”
However, Melinda knows that these values are not unique to the mega rich.
“Millions of people give back by volunteering their time and donating money to help others. We are, however, in the more unusual position of having a lot of money to donate. Our goal is to do what our parents taught us and do our part to make the world better.”