Showing Up for Life

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 5/11/2010
  • Publisher: Crown Business

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Showing Up for Life shines a bright light on the values and principles that Bill Gates Sr. has learned over a lifetime of showing up-from his childhood experiences during the Great Depression to his roles as a father and a husband, from his philanthropic and community work in the Seattle area to his ongoing efforts to make a difference around the globe as the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In a series of revealing snapshots from his life, and that of his famous son and two daughters, Bill Sr. reflects on the importance of hard work, getting along speaking out, family traditions, and other lessons from over fourscore years of living. Book jacket.

Author Biography

WILLIAM GATES Sr., a prominent lawyer, civil activist, and philanthropist, is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

MARY ANN MACKIN provides speechwriting services to CEOs of foundations and corporations in a number of industries.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition: Aftermathp. xi
Forewordp. xv
Some Second Thoughts About Thinkingp. 1
Showing Up for Lifep. 5
Hard Workp. 11
Radical Generosityp. 15
Open-Mindednessp. 17
Getting Alongp. 21
Speaking Outp. 24
Learning How to Losep. 28
Honoring a Confidencep. 29
Finding Meaning in Your Workp. 31
Thinking Tallp. 37
Showing Up for Your Familyp. 40
Sharing Your Gifts with Othersp. 42
Connecting Peoplep. 44
Creating the Change You'd Like to See Happenp. 46
A Habit Passed Downp. 47
Celebrating Lifep. 48
Mary's Wedding Toastp. 50
Making Your Life Your Messagep. 53
Never Forget to Ask: "Is it right?"p. 57
The Power of Onep. 60
Things I Learned from My Childrenp. 64
The Enduring Campfires of Cheeriop. 86
The Rites and Riches of Lasting Friendshipsp. 93
Learning Begins at Birthp. 96
Marrying Well (Again)p. 101
Grandparentsp. 106
A Lesson on Leadershipp. 109
America at Riskp. 112
Four-Letter Wordsp. 118
Getting off the Sidelinesp. 120
Government of the People, by the People, for the Peoplep. 123
The Older You Grow the Taller You Getp. 127
An Expression of Gratitudep. 131
Traditions-Making Memoriesp. 134
Getting Everybody Dancingp. 138
Empowering Womenp. 141
When the Benefits of Neighboring Come Full Circlep. 146
Portraits of Couragep. 149
Africa, We See Youp. 153
Walking with Giantsp. 157
The People You Meet Showing Upp. 162
A Master Citizenp. 166
There's No Problem Bigger Than We Arep. 170
These Numbers Are Our Neighborsp. 173
Public Willp. 175
How a Hole in the Fence Led a Boy from Poverty to Poetryp. 181
A Place to Startp. 183
Acknowledgmentsp. 187
Indexp. 189
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.


Some Second Thoughts About Thinking

In the early days of Microsoft's success, when my son's name was starting to become known to the world at large, everybody from reporters at Fortune magazine to the checkout person at the local grocery store would ask me, "How do you raise a kid like that? What's the secret?"

At those moments I was generally thinking to myself, "Oh, it's a secret all right... because I don't get it either!"

My son, Bill, has always been known in our family as Trey.

When we were awaiting his arrival, knowing that if the baby was a boy he would be named "Bill Gates III," his maternal grandmother and great-grandmother thought of the confusion that would result from having two Bills in the same household. Inveterate card players, they suggested we call him "Trey," which, as any card player knows, refers to the number three card.

As a young boy, Trey probably read more than many other kids and he often surprised us with his ideas about how he thought the world worked. Or imagined it could work.

Like other kids his age, he was interested in science fiction. He was curious and thoughtful about things adults had learned to take for granted or were just too busy to think about.

His mother, Mary, and I often joked about the fact that Trey sometimes moved slowly and was often late.

It seemed like every time we were getting ready to go somewhere everybody else in the family would be out in the car--or at least have their coats on. And then someone would ask, "Where's Trey?"

Someone else would reply, "In his room."

Trey's room was in our daylight basement, a partially above-ground area with a door and windows looking out on the yard. So his mother would call down to him, "Trey, what are you doing down there?"

Once Trey shot back, "I'm thinking, mother. Don't you ever think?"

Imagine yourself in our place. I was in the most demanding years of my law practice. I was a dad, a husband, doing all the things parents in families do. My wife, Mary, was raising three kids, volunteering for the United Way, and doing a million other things. And your child asks you if you ever take time to think.

Mary and I paused and looked at each other. And then we answered in unison, "No!"

However, now that I've had nearly half a century to reflect on my son's question, I'd like to change my answer to it.

Yes I think. I think about many things.

For example, reflecting on my own experience raising a family, I think about how as parents most of us try to feel our way through the challenges that come with being married and raising children. We have very little formal training for those roles, and they are two of the most difficult and important things we'll ever undertake.

I think about the inequities that exist in our world and about the opportunities we have to correct them, opportunities that have never existed before in all of human history.

I also think about less critical concerns, such as when the University of Washington Huskies might make it to the Rose Bowl.

Lately, I've been wondering if any of that thinking is worth passing on to others.

I realize that I have been privileged to meet many remarkable people whose stories might be inspiring or helpful to other people.

Also, in reflecting on our family's life when our children were young, it has occurred to me that our experiences might be useful or at least interesting to other families.

There is one lesson I've learned over the years as a father, lawyer, activist, and citizen which stands above all the others that I hope to convey in these pages. It is simply this: We are all in this life together and we need each other.

Showing Up for Life

Eighty percent of success is showing up.
--Woody Allen, from Love & Death

Excerpted from Showing up for Life: Thoughts on the Gifts of a Lifetime by Bill Gates, Mary Ann Mackin
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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