Episode 53: Swing for the Fences

Why Bill Gates wants to give away 99% of his money
Episode 53: Swing for the Fences


This episode, I look at how The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation got started, what projects they give their money to, and why Bill Gates wants to give the majority of his wealth away.


Bill Gates is trying to help every person have the chance to live a healthy and happy life. He’s given away billions of dollars for no personal gain, and really wants to make a difference. 


This “Money With Mak and G” podcast episode, I look at how The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation got started, what projects they donate their money to, and why Bill Gates wants to give the majority of his wealth away…


“A big part of what being an entrepreneur is all about, there’s an unfilled need that needs to be solved, and collaborating with others to solve it is very important.” Ben Jones


“If you can’t come to an agreement on something with all the people you’re working with then how do you work together on it as a team to solve it.” – Ben Jones

Time Stamps:

00:05 – The amazing things Bill Gates has done with his life.

00:35 – How The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation got started.

01:02 – Why Bill Gates wants to give the majority of his wealth away.

02:35 – How much money The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given away.

03:10 – Bill Gates focus on poor sanitation.

03:50 – The challenge of US education.

04:25 – The importance of clean, affordable energy.



The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

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#1 Who is Mary Gates, and why is she important to the story?

A) Mary Gates wasn’t mentioned in the podcast
B) Mary Gates is a female programmer who happens to have Bill’s last name
C) Mary Gates is Bill’s mom who said “Much is expected of those with money”
D) Mary Gates was Bill’s Great Grandmother who was the first to go to college

#2 Who is Melinda, and why is she part of the story?

A) Melinda is Bill’s dog, which made him realize donating to animal causes is important
B) Melinda is Bill’s wife, who has been running the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation
for years
C) Melinda is Bill’s 5th grade teacher who made him read about computers
D) Melinda is Bill’s sister who helped him start and build Microsoft

#3 What was the first name for the company that later became “Microsoft”?

A) Computers and Software
B) Processors “R” Us
C) We love computers
D) Micro-Soft

#4 What pledge did Bill Gates create?

A) The Giving Pledge for the extremely wealthy to give a majority of their wealth to
B) Computer Pledge to make computers faster every year through software
C) The Pledge of allegiance to the flag
D) The Harry Potter Pledge to practice magic safely

#5 What did Bill bring on stage during an expo in Beijing in 2018 that was memorable?

A) A snake to highlight global warming
B) An electric car that could drive a 1,000 miles
C) A beaker of poop to highlight poor sanitation
D) A deck of cards to show the audience how to play “bridge”


Nobody can deny that Bill Gates did some amazing things in his life. Not only was he obsessed with computers and built Micro”-”Soft, which was later changed to just Microsoft, he now appears to be obsessed with helping other people. Can I relate to some of the issues in his business, sure, but the magnitude of his success in a brand new industry is quite honestly difficult to comprehend.


I would imagine most aren’t intimately aware of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. I’ve read it’s the first or second largest foundation in the world. And, it’s been cranking for over 20 years, since its inception in the year 2000. Melinda ran by herself until Bill joined in 2006. It started in a small office above a pizzeria and Melinda has said she would’ve never imagined how far it has come.  But, why would a billionaire even want to give it all away? Sounds like only $30million will be left or inherited by his family of the over $100 billion of his current wealth.  


First, Bill’s mom Mary wrote a letter to his then fiance Melinda which had one very interesting line that stuck with the couple: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected”.

Bill was very close to his mother, and she passed away 6 months following the wedding. A few months after that, $100 million was allocated to philanthropy that would become the foundation.


It wasn’t a letter from Bill’s mom that MADE him do it. But, it appears that it was built into his DNA from his mom, what he read over the years, the gratitude from all that he was giving, and as he explains the joy he gets from helping others. Plus, Bill and Melinda were on the same page, and have said they discussed philanthropy would be a big part of their life after marriage.  

They were clearly on the same page. So, where do they focus their efforts? Bill and Melinda are very smart people, and with their friend Warren Buffet, who kicked in billions, they are a force to be reckoned with. Bill talks about the foundation as being similar to running Microsoft. How fun! He said he gets to collaborate with brilliant people and solve complex problems.  That’s a big part of what being an entrepreneur is all about.  There is an unfilled need that needs to be solved, and collaborating with others to solve it is very important. 


The foundation has granted over $50 billion to projects including health initiatives, clean energy and education. To me, it’s absolutely fascinating how they use an analytical approach and swing for the fences. These aren’t small changes they’re looking to make, but projects that hurt 100’s of thousands or millions of people yearly. And, many have never even touched Bill or Melinda’s lives directly, EVER.

Take for instance his speech at the “Reinvented Toilet Expo” in Beijing in 2018, where he shared the stage with a beaker of poop.  Yes, I said poop. It was to draw attention to a world problem that kills more than 500,000 people every year… Poor sanitation. That never affected him, come on.


Think about his work on Ebola or even Polio. Polio was eradicated in the US about 40 years ago. These are terrible diseases that still exist in the world today that he’s given enormous amounts of money to solve. Can you imagine that the infant mortality rate has dropped from 9% to 5%.


You would think his work on disease, poor sanitation and other global issues are the most complex. However, the foundation has discovered that education in the US has been one of the most challenging projects they’ve had to address. When you speak of vaccinations, there is a general consensus of what needs to be done, but it’s not the same with education. Think about that.  If you can’t come to an agreement on something, then how do you work together on it as a team to solve it.


However, he still gives away 100’s of millions of dollars to education in the form of scholarships, funding initiatives and looking at things in a new light. But, if Bill had one wish to reduce poverty, he would pick energy. 


Bill argues that investing in breakthroughs to make energy clean and affordable could do more good to those in poverty than anything else. I never realized how this would affect your life if you didn’t have clean energy. There are about 860 million people with “energy poverty”. Think about it.  You spend more time cleaning, cooking and doing just about every activity. You don’t have light at night unless you burn something, and many times it’s low grade oil that causes health issues.


Hey, you have to applaud someone who is truly trying to help and live by the mission that “every person deserves a chance to live a healthy and productive life”.  


In 2010, he created the “Giving Pledge” which was a commitment by the world’s wealthiest people to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy. There are now over 200 billionaires who have joined the pledge ranging from the 30’s to the 90’s in 24 countries.  


That’s a lot to think about. Thanks for being here, and we’ll see you next time for more Money with Mak & G.

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