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‘Read quite a bit’ and ‘discover a skill you enjoy’

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Bill Gates’ advice to young people trying to change the world for the higher may be very easy: Pick up a book.

Participating in his tenth Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session on Thursday, the billionaire Microsoft co-founder was asked what advice he’d offer to an adolescent trying to “make a positive impact” on the world. “The best thing is to read quite a bit and hopefully discover a skill you enjoy that may have [an] impact,” the world’s fourth-wealthiest person replied.

Gates, who often releases lists of his favorite books, added that reading is important to discovering a wide range of recent interests and potential skills, which you’ll be able to then use to place your stamp on the world.

“For some which means being great at science or engineering,” Gates wrote. “For some it means being an awesome communicator or politician. For some it means being a nurse or a health care provider. The chance to learn is healthier today than ever before.”

It’s no surprise that when asked about how young people can best have a positive impact on the world, the billionaire turned to reading, considered one of his favorite pastimes. Gates reads 50 books every year, and sometimes takes a tote bag of books with him on vacation.

“On vacation I get to examine 3 hours a day so I get through loads of books,” Gates wrote during a 2021 Reddit AMA.

That 12 months, Gates discussed how he takes notes while reading, sometimes writing within the margins of his books, to assist him higher remember and have interaction with what he’s reading. “For loads of books that is vital to my learning,” he wrote.

Gates also claims that when he starts a book, he at all times finishes it. “I refuse to stop reading a book in the center, even when I do not like it,” Gates told Time in 2017, explaining that his voracious reading habits have “absolutely” been essential to his success.

“You do not really start getting old until you stop learning,” Gates said. “Every book teaches me something recent or helps me see things otherwise. I used to be lucky to have parents who encouraged me to read. Reading fuels a way of curiosity concerning the world, which I believe helped drive me forward in my profession and within the work that I do now with my foundation.”

As of late, the nonprofit Gates Foundation focuses on tackling global issues like poverty, climate change and pandemic preparedness. Gates has also recently hung out writing his own books on a few of those topics, and like in previous Reddit AMA’s, he fielded multiple questions on Thursday related to global health and fighting climate change.

His advice on how the common person can fight climate change, for instance, included intentionally buying climate-friendly products which might be costlier than their conventional counterparts — because as demand for those products rises, production can scale up and drive prices down for everybody else.

“As green products come out like electric cars or synthetic meat or heat pumps for home heating/cooling they’ll cost a bit extra. By buying these products you drive scaling up which can result in lower prices so ‘green premiums’ are reduced,” Gates wrote.

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