Bill Gates’ 11 Rules of Life

Here is an excerpt from Bill Gates’ Speech to MT. Whitney High School situated in Visalia, California.  

To anyone with kids of any age, or anyone who has ever been a kid, here’s some advice Bill Gates recently dished out at a high school speech about 11 things they did not and will not learn in school. He talks about how feel-good, politically correct teaching has created a generation of kids with no concept of reality and how this has set them up for failure in the real world.   

ELEVEN RULES OF LIFE : 

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it.

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.  

Rule 3: You will NOT make $40,000 a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both. 

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.  

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping — they called it OPPORTUNITY. 

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.  

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So, before you save the rainforest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.  

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.  

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.  

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.  

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.  

–Bill Gates —

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  1. How true… As a teacher, I can only approve of this, as I am fighting against this “feel-good, politically correct” new “method” of teaching. There are other words for that in English I think, it’s “dumbing down” or “court popularity”. The surest path to a disaster.
    I hate to admit it, but Bill Gates scores a point here.

    A.D.

    A French teacher (English)

  2. Well, after doing some research, it appears that this was *not* written nor delivered to high school students by Bill Gates. It was written by Charles J. Sykes in the San-Diego Union Tribune on Sept. 19, 1996. He is the author of “Dumbing Down Our Kids: Why American Children Feel Good about Themselves, but Can’t Read, Write, or Add.” Now that seems more plausible and/or realistic, no? ;-))

  3. Ah, I see…Thanks very much for the information A.D.! My source stated that it was delivered by Bill Gates, but perhaps Gates himself has taken the article from Sykes’ newspaper.

    I myself was a former teacher and have experienced this dumbing down phenomenon encouraged by other teachers and parents. It is indeed scary to think of what these children will one day grow up to be. In Malaysia, the education system here is pretty much a spoon-feeding culture and the exams are merely regurgitation of facts already memorised. Practical application and how things students have learnt relate to real-life have never been explored.

    Not very good. Hopefully, our education system will improve so that our students, our children may become better people than we are today.

  4. PERSONAL RESPONSE TO BILL GATES’ 11 RULES OF LIFE

    This response is not intended to attack Bill Gates’ moral policies, nor deem them wrong. I’m sure Mr. Gates had very good reasons to share these with everyone, mainly high school kids in the US. Mr. Gates recently gave out a speech to kids at Whitney High School in Visalia, CA. These 11 rules he shared were things Mr. Gates stressed that were not taught in high school. Although he intended to help people by giving them these rules for success, I’m sure not all minds agreed, and I am one of them. For autistic kids, who perceive differently, they get the 11 rules in another way. For me, one of the rules seemed like a personal attack. (No, I’m not thinking Bill Gates was out to make me or anyone else feel bad). That would be Rule # 2 which I’ll get to. In this response, I’ll lay out all the rules, each one followed by my reaction and response. I don’t disagree with all of them, but some I wanted to address, especially when people preach this crap to me.

    #1: Life’s not fair- get used to it.
    R: I have no denial or disagreement to this rule. Life hasn’t been fair to me at times, but I work to adjust to whatever the situation is. And NO, I don’t go thinking that Life is fair either.

    #2: The World won’t care about your self esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.
    R: THIS is the big one that I have issues with. I have a bunch of personal issues of my own to work out, and in the last year, I began to figure out that “the world won’t care about your self esteem” To me that means don’t talk about your problems to everyone you meet, and I just figured that out recently, and I’m trying to exercise that. No argument there.
    But isn’t that what counsellors are for? Or am I just a strain on the counsellor (or parent) for wanting somebody to talk to? Im the kind of person to get really depressed if I keep everything bottled up. So am I supposed to just shut down and paint a happy smile on my face? I hate faking happiness when I don’t feel it, and that doesn’t work for me.
    The second part of Rule # 2 was especially disturbing to me and I’m still struggling to comprehend the message that Gates (or should I say Charles J. Sykes, the guy who wrote this), Mr. Big Time Success is spewing out to the rest of America. (and eventually Canada).
    The world will expect you to “ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING.” What the hell is that ‘something’ supposed to be? Everyone has their own personal successes, like graduating from high school, building something artistic (like a chair in Wood Shop or a portrait in fine Arts, volunteering, sports goals, that type of thing, and people who preached this feel-good-about-yourself, politically correct manipulation of students, said to me “Yes, you do have a right to feel good about your own personal achievements, like graduating Grade 12, riding your bike from Coquitlam to Victoria, going to school and upgrading,”

    Im sure Mr. Sykes was just trying to keep students from developing big egos and false pride, and preventing them from setting themselves up for a downfall when he wrote this, but the message I got from Rule #2, [‘ the world expects you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself’] is plain and simple:
    I do not have a right to have any self esteem? I do not have a right to feel good about the things I’ve done already? I can’t have personal pride for achieving my own past goals?
    THAT’s the basic raw message I am getting from this. And it is depressing, really depressing to me. And it hurts me further the responses I read actually say this guy is correct/ “Bill Gates scores a point here” or “He is bang on about this stuff,”

    To me, there are two categories of goals: Personal goals, and goals that impress people.
    Personal goals, such as losing 10 pounds, are for you, but the other category is things like having an impressive job that you can talk about to your date, or extraordinary talent people can watch you display (ex. Guitar, skateboarding, artistic talents, being a sports pro. These examples are for young people. Older people: Being an executive, or owning a company, etc).

    I hate to admit it, but I am not one of those people who easily developed a talent to show off. So I had hardly anything to share, and when I had to listen to conversations on the bus or in school where mr. hotshot talks about surfing, or whatever, it makes me feel inferior, and I get depressed. When meeting new people, it seems like personal goals are not important, only the impressive goals.

    To me, in Rule # 2, Gates, or Sykes, whoever wrote this, made me feel that my own personal goals- reasons to feel somewhat good about myself- are completely void and invalid, and that I had to have an impressive achievement or talent first. I spent years trying to do that, and it never worked!

    Sports, I was the worst. Well running I got good at, until I messed up my ankle before an important race (sun run 2005, only chance to get into top 3 of age group), and I just hated running ever since. Wrestling, I WORKED MY ASS OFF!!! I went to every practice, I tried as hard as I could to learn the moves the coaches showed us, and that was like math. The things I did learn, I never got to use because everyone else was stronger by far! I was the only kid on normal food while the rest of these people were being fed barely-legal steroids and protein powder!
    Music Dept at school, I didn’t get far, because everyone hated my guts, I don’t know why. Its not like I provoked anybody. So I left that area.
    I tried guitar, it was really difficult, and it just wasn’t for me. I really want to say ‘FUCK YOU’ to whoever thinks of me as less of a person for not playing guitar.
    I would like to draw pictures, like anime scenes, but that was really difficult. I’m afraid to draw because I thought it would look ugly, and people who can draw would judge it right away.
    I grew up as one of the people afraid of failure, because when I did do things or tried to do things when I was little, people got mad, or said this and that, causing me to shut down, thanks a lot, you assholes!
    And anyone telling me to ‘get over it’, you are just as full of shit, because whatever challenges you overcame, you obviously never had that experience.

    So yeah. Here I am, autistic with a bad self critic and im always holding back, and people like my mom have to keep telling me that the things I did achieve are things worth being proud about, or else I’ll forget and think I did nothing at all.

    But this rule infuriated me because it invalidates (or goes against) everything I’ve been trying to believe in or whatever.

    [‘ the world expects you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself’]. What is that something supposed to be anyway? What do I have to do? Who do I have to impress? How many people do I have to impress in order to gain the right to feel good about myself?!! ! Give me examples please!

    Okay, now Im going to move on, because I’m just rambling.

    Rule #3: You will not make $40K a year right out of high school. You won’t be a vice president with a car phone until you earn both.
    R: I never expected to make $40K a year as a young adult anyway, nor did I want to be vice president or have a car phone. I agree with this rule, and I understand it.
    Get a job, earn some money, go to college, get a degree, and then get a better entry level job at [insert company/occupation name here], and earn the way up. That’s what the working life means to me.

    Rule # 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.
    I only thought my teachers were tough when I wasn’t doing good in class, and I worked to keep up. I had teachers I didn’t like, but did what I could do to get along. Same thing at work. I just followed orders, and worked hard just so the boss wouldn’t yell at me.
    The worst boss I’ve had so far was my stepdad, he was yelling and screaming at me all the time at work, trying to condition me for a life on construction sites or wherever. Now I’m afraid if I don’t work like hell I’ll incur a boss’ firey wrath (than just be told to pick up the pace). Wherever I worked, I was always afraid I wasn’t working hard enough.
    He said that he’s the nicest boss I’ll have and there’s way worse, but I’ll work to avoid their anger, and If a job has an unreasonably angry boss, fuck it, I’m going to find another job.

    Rule#5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for it- they called it opportunity.
    Wow. Such basic jobs were actually impressive back in the old days? And now even at early 20’s you got to be way higher up than general work in order to be as impressive and be achieving that ‘something’?
    I never thought working in a restaurant or labor was beneath my dignity. Working with drug addicts, crack heads and people who can’t speak English as my supervisors is beneath my dignity. Working around angry people (bad anxiety = excessively buzzing danger alarm) who Im afraid are gonna come after me and kick the shit out of me for whatever is beneath my dignity. I don’t want to work like a scared little bitch! Have I no fucking right to that?!!!!

    Rule # 6: If you mess up, It’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes. Learn from them.
    I don’t blame the parents for when I screw up. And when I do, even though I have an excessive guilt trip, I review the events and try to learn something.

    Rule # 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you are. So, before you save the rainforest from the parasites of your parents’ generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
    Okay, so my mom covers my cellphone bill, but it’s a service she didn’t want so she passed it to me. I asked if she was okay with that and she insisted. Woot free phone, I’m grateful. But I don’t add to her bill and If I do I pay for it. Every month I pay for my food and rent. $550, so yeah. And the closet in my room doesn’t have any bugs. Spiders are okay, they’ll keep away the mosquitoes. And no I don’t brag about how cool I am. How can I do that after reading rule # 2?

    Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.
    What country is this? Japan? Is everything THAT standardized? If life has winners and losers, this is a depressing fact. To me, the losers are people who go and do drugs and crime and shit. Not people who failed the SAT or dropped out of Katimavik. The winner-loser thing only gives people who are doing well in life to look down and shit on those who have it rough. The whole one-shot deal- I just cant agree with it. When I was in Katimavik, that was one of the morals all the participants held: If you quit the program, you were a failure, and that contributed to my big depression last year after I left, and I am still dealing with the mental damage from that bullshit. Bill gates can only say this because unlike most of us, he made it to the top.

    Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
    Why the hell would I want counselling from a boss? He’s a boss! And I did work in the summers.
    Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.
    TV shows like that are boring anyway. In fact I hardly watch TV anyway.

    Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.
    I always found nerds to be more decent people than punks, goths, thug gansters, emoes, talented egomaniacs, jocks, and the big group people. I would be happy to work for one. I’m sure they won’t get pissed and think life has to be hardcore and everything else.

    So, yeah. This is my response to the 11 Rules to Life. I hope to give this reply to everyone who preaches this crap to me. It was generated by a narrow minded successful person who thinks following his morals is the only good road. I followed other people’s roads in life before and I always ended up at the same place: Nowhere.

    https://theeternalwanderer.wordpress.com/2006/07/30/bill-gates-11-rules-of-life/

  5. DREAMS

    Hi wolfboy183, regarding what you mention here..
    i understand what you mean. Esp Rule2. But i find it true.The world wont care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. do you know why? You might be feeling low-esteem, easily depressed when u feel that you have not achieve any great things in life jus bcos u do not have talent or nothing u are great at… in fact, the person u are describing is the same as me. And always, u listen and heard consoling words like mayb it is jus tt u haven found ur potential. So u try to make yourself positive and feel better.

    However, at times, u realise that u will tend to compare with the ppl around you….. But but, today i learn something. We care too much on how ppl look at us, we care too much on how ppl say abt us… we let this affect us. We should not. Today, u nv know tt the slighest thing u achieve, when u cherish it, and tell urself u are great. You do not know that this willl bring u to a somewhre wher u nv believe u can achieve it. everything starts from there.

    Also, today i realise…and i understand the meaning… in this world, there is no one who is the most stupid, but only a lazy person,there is no one family background worse than other ppl, but only no ambition to stand up, there is no one who do not know hw to study,but not putting effort, there is no one who has lesser luck than anyone, but ppl who give up, no one who is a failure but ppl who ppl who dare not try, there is no one who is ot successful but pl who do not dare to dream.

    This is important and crucial. I will make the necessary changes to become who i want to be, and i will be. It may be tough, it may be hard and seems crazy for those others who is reading it, but when u listen to this song from i not stupid… bu yao yi wei zi ji mei you yong.. i believe this song is what both of us need to listen. If you dont even help youself, who will be able to help us? Why the world will expect us to accomplish something before u feel good about urself? I ask you, when u set the goals, and when u accomplish it, do u feel happy and self-satisfied? don lie to yourself, onli u noe the best.

    However, if one day u set it to achieve a goal within a time frame, be it small or big, tell urself u will do and u believe. When u did it and look back how much effort and time u put in, it is a small success. It is every little change and success that leads to the big success. THat is through the process thatu will feel good and great abt urself. and slowly, perhas ppl will be amazed by u or us. U may be thinkig im typin craps, but i do not care. cos this is what i want to tell myself. cos in ur words esp todae when i came across ur comment, i finally understand why there is this hold back in me, and what the ppl arun me trying to remind me. I will be thinking of how i can be improved and not thinking of why im in this way.

    I hope tt u will be able to read this.

    • bella

      It would have been easier to understand if the spelling of half the words typed, were correct. If you wanted to look professional or like you had some actual insight, you would have spelled the words out/correctly. Seriously?

  6. John W. Seager

    Charles J. Sykes, the author of Dumbing Down Our
    Kids, not Bill Gates, gave the Speech to high school and college graduates listing eleven things they did NOT learn in school. It’s an excerpt from the above book.

  7. Krishnan

    THIS MESSAGE IS FOR PEOPLE GIVING COMMENTS OR OPINIONS WHICH IS OPPOSITE TO MR. GATES 11RULES

    THERE IS A TRUE SAYING
    “RESULTS ARE REWARDED…….. EFFORTS ARE NOT.!!!”

    SO THERE ARE TWO GOLDEN RULES
    RULE#1: BOSS IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
    RULE#2: IF THE BOSS IS WRONG, (REFER RULE#1).

  8. Krishnan

    STOP ANALYZING AND START ACCEPTING…. AT LEAST YOU CAN BECOME .1% OF MR. GATES SUCCESS.!!!
    SO NEVER RUN BEHIND ARGUMENTS….RUN BEHIND THE RULES……YOU WILL SUCCEED IN THIS LIFE.!!!!!

  9. My husband and brother-in-law both put this up on their fridges……my sister and i both tore them down. TOOOO black and white. What ever happened to shades of gray? Such a MAN thing!

  10. Hey I’m the superb Fan of bill gates and i try my self to apply his quotes in real life… You’re Appreciated

  11. I wrote a couple articles about the same subject but you seem to know a bit more about it than I do.

  12. Edmund

    THE FIRST RULE STATED ABOVE GIVES THE WHOLE EXPERIENCE OF WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO SEE IN THIS WORLD AND FACE.




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