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Bill Gates Advises Young People to Have More Fun. Science Agrees Play Helps You Be More Successful

Jessica Stillman
4 min readFeb 1, 2024

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As my Inc.com readers will know, I am not the biggest fan of commencement speeches in general. With the exception of a few notable gems, many are just bland collections of platitudes and cliches.

Which is how you could describe some of Bill Gates’s address to Northern Arizona University. His advice to keep learning and to value friendship is solid, but less than scintillating. But one part of his speech stuck out to me, especially given Gates’s reputation for workaholism: his plea for young people to make more time for fun in their lives.

The regret of the ex-workaholic

This is Gates’s closing piece of advice to his young audience, and he explains that his thinking around the value of relaxation and leisure is hard-won.

“When I was your age, I didn’t believe in vacations. I didn’t believe in weekends. I pushed everyone around me to work very long hours. In the early days of Microsoft, my office overlooked the parking lot — and I would keep track of who was leaving early and staying late,” he confesses of an earlier, presumably less fun, version of Bill Gates.

“But as I got older — and especially once I became a father — I realized there is more to life than…

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Jessica Stillman

Top Inc.com columnist/ Editor/ Ghostwriter. Book lover. Travel fiend. Nap enthusiast. https://jessicastillman.com/