A decade ago, we started a new annual tradition: sitting down to write a letter about our work in philanthropy. We got the idea from our friend Warren Buffett, who’s been writing brilliant reports to the shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway for more than half a century.

This year we’re marking our 10th letter by answering 10 tough questions about our work that people often ask us. Here is one of them. You can read the rest at gatesletter.com.

Why are you really giving your money away—what’s in it for you?

Bill: It’s not because we think about how we’ll be remembered. We would be delighted if someday diseases like polio and malaria are a distant memory, and the fact that we worked on them is too.

There are two reasons to do something like this. 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.

Melinda: We both come from families that believed in leaving the world better than you found it. 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.

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.

Of course, these values are not unique to the three of us. 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.

Bill and I have been doing this work, more or less full-time, for 17 years. That’s the majority of our marriage. It’s almost the entirety of our children’s lives. By now the foundation’s work has become inseparable from who we are. We do the work because it’s our life.

We’ve tried to pass on values to our children by talking with them about the foundation’s work, and, as they’ve gotten older, taking them with us on trips so they can see it for themselves. We’ve connected to each other through thousands of daily debriefs on learning sessions, site visits, and strategy meetings. Where we go, who we spend our time with, what we read and watch and listen to—these decisions are made through the prism of our work at the foundation (when we’re not watching The Crown).

Maybe 20 years ago, we could have made a different choice about what to do with our wealth. But now it’s impossible to imagine. If we’d decided to live a different life then, we wouldn’t be us now. This is who we chose to be.

Read the rest of our Annual Letter and ask us your toughest question at gatesletter.com.

Written by

Bill Gates
Co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Originally at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-were-really-giving-our-money-away-bill-gates


Let your actions not beg for happiness. When you beg for happiness, you position happiness in the future. Life happens in the present. Treat the present as a present and then you will be total in what you do. When you are total in what you do, then the “totality” brings “fullness” in what you are doing.

I consider the work situation as a field for learning and hence it is a school. One has to be alert that the school is not a nursery. In a nursery, the child is not fully expected to take care of him or herself but in a school one has to take care of oneself. In a school the child is expected to have more responsibility, the teacher gives information, but the learning has to happen by the student. That is not the case in a nursery. So, are you in a nursery or a school? Live like an adult, take charge of your life and be responsible for your physical health, emotional, mental, financial and spiritual health.

We don’t learn from a problem because we don’t want to grow up. A child cries when it wants anything and expects others to fulfill what it wants. Emotionally, an adult cries for this or that at home or office and such emotional crying expresses itself in the form of complaints. Learn to grow up and take responsibility. The art of growing up is living in the school of life, where learning is focused, and taking responsibility for all dimensions of wellness.

By Swami Sukhabodhananda

Originally at https://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/the-speaking-tree/grow-up-be-responsible-2/

A carpenter and his apprentice were walking through a large forest. They came across an old oak tree. The carpenter asked his apprentice, “Do you know why this tree is so tall, so huge, so gnarled and beautiful?” The apprentice looked at his master and said, “No… Why?” “Because it is useless,” answered the carpenter. “If it had been useful, it would have been cut long ago and made into tables and chairs. But because it is useless, it could grow so tall and beautiful and you can sit in its shade and relax.”

We constantly confuse worth with usefulness. Witness the way we treat the old and the economically unproductive. No longer do we seek to benefit from their wisdom and experience. I wondered about the number of harried, “useful” people who had identified their worth with the numbers, statistics and concrete results they could deliver, the societal praise and adulation, and I realised how much wisdom there was in the elderly.

We talk about a society with a “human face”. Yet, most of the underlying premises of our society, our jobs, environment, our social groups is based on equating worth with “usefulness”.

What we have is the fellowship of the strong and the able. What we need also to develop is the fellowship of the weak and the disabled, who are often more transparent and open and from whom we can learn. Most people defend their “usefulness” for as long as they can.

Instead, if they learnt to share their “uselessness”, they would, like the beautiful oak tree that —though gnarled and old — is beautiful, providing shade and sustenance to others.

by Janina Gomes

Originally at https://blogs.economictimes.indiatimes.com/the-speaking-tree/know-your-true-worth/

%d bloggers like this: