Paul comes across as a candid, fair, and the next door person. His vision has been ahead of time. His company with Bill Gates helped immensely in execution of the vision. Bill comes across as a shrewd businessman, who is also a good friend who somehow manages to maintain this split personality of being cut throat on the business table, regardless of who you are, and then being caring for you as a person whom he calls his friend.
The book also highlights the importance of good schooling and its far reaching effect on one's life and career. Small things can and do have lasting effects. Curiosity and imagination come across as the founding stones for Paul's genius. His passion to read voraciously, to imagine a world that was not but could be served him well in creating a life he enjoyed. The story also brings home the profound insight, which eludes many, that money is a side effect of engaging in what one is truly passionate about. Moreover, even if one is not super-rich from one's pursuits but carries the passion (Nikola Tesla comes to mind) one would find contentment and fulfillment form one's life. On the other hand, having loads of money but being devoid of passion, is sheer misery.
Some points to ponder:
- Pay attention to your passions - what engagements make you come to alive? Where do you spend most of your time?
- Diversify your interests - do not let your life become a ground-hog day.
- Tap into your imagination! What can the world be? What can your life be? What can be different - not just on an individual level but on a grand scale? How? What is the human side of this problem?
- Keep a daily journal of your thoughts, findings, insights, challenges.
- Love what you do. Do not succumb to boredom or monotony.
- Be true to your values.
- Know that what seems easy in another is result of hard work. Do not shy away from tough diligence.
- Anything you build - no matter how great - can disappear overnight.
- No mater what you lose, know that great things will follow suit. What is often has to go so what needs to be can come about. Stay positive and open minded.
- Even when you are doing things that you love to do, it will have parts and periods that you would make you cringe. Stick to it.
- No good idea survives a flawed business plan; it is hard to compete with "free".
- Know and operate form your strengths.
- Develop stamina, conserve energy, enhance concentration.
- Be obstinate in adversity.
- "Once you are no longer a decision maker at work, people don't look at you the same way (your advice does not count for much)."
- To avoid mediocrity, you need to be rigorous about weeding out non-performers.
- Too many efforts can distract form the unwavering focus you need to for your core products and strategic initiatives.
- Don't go alone. Secure commitment from all sides, especially from people who are or claim to be stakeholders. Make sure they have a skin in the game (Paul did not give all the money for building the new stadium, even though he could, unless the city matched half the amount).
- Give your children the love for learning and imagination.
- "I am disinclined to invest in completely open ended research. I've learned that creativity needs tangible goals and hard choices to have a chance to flourish."
- Don't try to get too big, too fast, in too many markets all at once. Stay organic.
- Know the key financial variables for any Industry in which you operate or in which you invest.
- Talent is essential but seasoning and maturity are not to be underestimated.
- "I have learned the pitfalls of getting so locked up in looking ahead that you miss the pothole that makes you stumble, or the iceberg that sinks you. Still, any crusade requires optimism and the ambition to aim high."
- "I have come to realize that many things happen at their own pace, beyond your control"