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November 13th, 2013

I Believe That Every Life Is Valuable; That We Can Make Things Better; That Innovation…

By Ron Nakamoto

I Believe That Every Life Is Valuable; That We Can Make Things Better; That Innovation Is The Key to a Bright Future; That We're Just Getting Started – Bill Gates

As you read the first paragraph of the essay below written by Bill Gates, you'll see that curiously it begins with a brief focus on fertilizer.  I resisted the temptation to title my post "Bill Gates is Full of Fertilizer" out of respect for the thoughtful, serious concept that he introduces later in the essay "catalytic philanthropy".  According to Gates:

"The goal in much of what we do is to provide seed funding for various ideas. Some will fail. We fill a function that government cannot—making a lot of risky bets with the expectation that at least a few of them will succeed. At that point, governments and other backers can help scale up the successful ones, a much more comfortable role for them."

To me this sounds like "venture" philanthropy – high risk, many failures, but potentially high returns.  But one thing is clear about Gates:  he's focused primarily on elevating the poor:

"Catalytic philanthropy doesn’t replace businesses. It helps more of their innovations benefit the poor."

Gates reveals that he was strongly influenced by his experiences in Africa in the 1990's.  In fact, the article has a sort of "TimeMap" for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the right of the main text.  He also admits that he has no method for setting priorities:

"I don’t have a magic formula for prioritizing the world’s problems. You could make a good case for poverty, disease, hunger, war, poor education, bad governance, political instability, weak trade, or mistreatment of women. Melinda and I have focused on poverty and disease globally, and on education in the US. We picked those issues by starting with an idea we learned from our parents: Everyone’s life has equal value."

What I see in this essay is Bill Gates' narrative – he and his wife share a common family value.  They went to Africa and were transformed by their experiences.  That narrative and the cumulative insight that Gates has gained over time and summarizes in this essay now informs his "Contribution" in the form of thought leadership and catalytic philanthropy.

"Technology is unlocking the innate compassion we have for our fellow human beings. In the end, that combination—the advances of science together with our emerging global conscience—may be the most powerful tool we have for improving the world."

But will technology drive compassion, as Gates suggests?  Perhaps.  But I would maintain that thought leadership, particularly the concepts and tools of Empowered Wealth and the Empowered Wealth Mindset, would drive compassion and therefore positive change in a powerful way that technology alone cannot.

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Bill Gates: Here’s My Plan to Improve Our World — And How You Can Help | Wired Business | Wired.com
Bill Gates on how innovation is the key to a brighter future, and how we’re only just getting started.

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