Gates has done a lot of public speaking over the course of his career, including many speeches at schools. One well-known myth is that Gates appeared in front of a high-school audience and pontificated on a list of rules that kids would never learn in school.
The rule list circulating on the Internet includes some succinct bits of wisdom such as, "Life is not fair, get used to it." Another supposed Gates imperative is, "Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had another word for burger flipping -- they called it opportunity."
Gates certainly has a history of passing down terse directives at those he thinks need guidance. However, he never created this list of rules. And he never read them in front of a group of students, either.
The real author of the list is Charles Sykes, a teacher who wrote books such as "Dumbing Down Our Kids" and "50 Rules Kids Won't Learn in School." If you review the rest of the supposed Gates list, you'll see another rule that may explain why the list wound up widely attributed to Gates. That rule is, "Be nice to nerds. You may end up working for them."
For more on myths and famous people, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- About.com. "Bill Gates' 11 Rules Of Life." (Aug. 5, 2009)http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/bl_bill_gates_speech.htm
- Andrews, Paul. "Apple-Microsoft Lawsuit Fizzles To A Close -- 'Nothing Left' To Fight About." The Seattle Times. June 2, 1993. (Aug. 5, 2009)http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19930602&slug=1704430
- Brandon, John. "Famous Tech Myths That Just Won't Die." Computerworld.com. Sept. 26, 2008. (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9115045/Opinion_Famous_tech_myths_that_just_won_t_die
- Emery, David. "Further Adventures In Email Tracking." About.com. Aug. 12, 1998. (Aug. 5, 2009)http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/weekly/aa081298.htm
- Entrepreneur.com. "Bill Gates." (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.entrepreneur.com/growyourbusiness/radicalsandvisionaries/article197526.html
- Katz, John. "Did Gates Really Say 640K Is Enough For Anyone?" Wired. Jan. 16, 1997. (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/1997/01/1484
- Lai, Eric. "The 640K Quote Won't Go Away -- But Did Gates Really Say It?" ComputerWorld.com. June 23, 2008. (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9101699/The_640K_quote_won_t_go_away_but_did_Gates_really_say_it_
- Shwiff, Kathy. "Bill Gates Reclaims Title As Richest Man In World." The Wall Street Journal. March 11, 2009. (Aug. 5, 2009)http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123680532287700123.html
- Snopes.com. "Microsoft/AOL Giveaway." (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/nothing/microsoft-aol.asp
- Snopes.com. "Some Rules Kids Won't Learn In School." (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.snopes.com/language/document/liferule.asp
- Truthorfiction.com. "Bill Gates' High School Speech On The Eleven Rules Of Life." (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.truthorfiction.com/rumors/b/billgatesspeech.htm
- U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. "Large Denominations." 2009. (Aug. 21, 2009) http://www.bep.treas.gov/section.cfm/5/42
- U.S. News & World Reports. "Gates Talks." Aug. 20, 2001. (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/gatesivu.htm
- Weil, Nancy. "The Quotable Bill Gates: In His Own Words." ComputerWorld.com. June 23, 2008. (Aug. 5, 2009)http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9101838/The_quotable_Bill_Gates_In_his_own_words
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