Let me start with a clue.

You don’t have to be a billionaire to help people the way Melinda Gates does. Of course, it helps, but money is not the key to her success.

I learned about Ms. Gates from her fabulous new book, The Moment of Lift.

It is an incredible read. Well written (as you would expect), entertaining and so inspiring.

And, on every page, an uplifting tone of possibility and optimism. No hype–she is not trying to sell you anything. Just crystal clear thinking and an appreciation (based on experience and well-documented facts) of how very complicated and important things can be accomplished.

This tone also comes shining through in her long interview with David Letterman, on his new show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. 

In this heartfelt interview, Melinda Gates provides example after example of how her charity and development work in many poor countries, throughout the world, has resulted in dramatic effects.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been able to run large and expensive programs throughout the world, helping to combat medical problems that governments and other charities have not been able to help with. Interestingly, Ms. Gates also shows how some of the most helpful programs have come from simple interventions.

So what can we learn from such powerful leadership? How can we help people like Melinda Gates does?

I think there are a few key components to her approach.

Most important, is that Ms. Gates spends time to meet, listen and learn from the people she wants to serve. She listens to experts too, but not in isolation of the experiences of the people to be helped. Ms. Gates is also quick to give credit, for life-saving ideas, to those closest to the problems.

Melinda Gates also approaches all problems with clear data-driven scientific thinking, in combination with compassion and a true desire to help. This is a powerful mix that has lead to efficient and effective programs. These programs, and their results, are admired throughout the world, by charitable leaders as well as smart business people.

Ms. Gates has also shown a lot of courage. She has had to dig deep, in confronting her own beliefs and values. For example, she has been quite open about  promoting contraception, while still being true to her strong Catholic values.

And, lastly, Ms. Gates demonstrates an inspiring optimism. It would be easy to feel depressed and hopeless when learning about the reality of many of the world’s most difficult problems. And, she is quite open about how she has felt this way on many occasions.

Here is a short video of Melinda Gates discussing marriage, gender equality and solving tough problems.

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Listening, learning, data-based planning, courage and optimism are just a few of the leadership qualities shown by Ms. Gates in her book and interviews. We can all learn from her and feel some of her strength and determination.

I am feeling this right now as I edit this post, originally written for my other blog, Pain and Loss.

Until next time.


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