Community & Government

Meet Your Instructor

Melinda French Gates

Lesson time 10:11 min

Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Pivotal Ventures, Melinda is one of the world’s most prolific philanthropists. She tells the story of her success and lays out the framework for a class on using what you have to make the greatest impact for others.

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Topics include: Meet Your Instructor: Melinda French Gates


- Melinda Gates is a name to be reckoned with in the world of philanthropy. - Melinda has become driven by the belief that no one should be excluded, all lives have equal value. And when women and girls are lifted up everywhere, everyone benefits. - Empowering women and young girls has been a consistent priority for the Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company she launched in 2015. - For two decades, the Gates Foundation has worked to provide life saving medical care to millions, boosting clean water supplies, improving education for our children, rallying aggressive international action on climate change. - Please welcome Melinda Gates. - Melinda Gates. - Melinda Gates. [MUSIC PLAYING] - If you are successful, it's because somewhere sometime someone gave you a life or an idea that started in the right direction. Remember that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped. Those words have helped remind me at every step of the way that I was fortunate, whether it was my parents making sure I went through school, whether it was a fantastic teacher. People help guide my life and lift me up. And I thought, wow, that's something I'd like to do for others. I grew up in a very middle income family in Dallas, Texas. My parents put my siblings and I all the way through school, even though it wasn't going to be easy for them on my dad's middle income salary. My parents realized they needed to start a small real estate investment business to put us through school. And so they set up this business. They let, particularly my sister and I because we were the oldest, learn the business and learn how to keep the books. And I contributed to cleaning these rental properties, repainting, scrubbing ovens. I'm really good at mowing lawns it turns out. That's how I would get a bit of extra income myself. I studied computer science at Duke University, and economics. I was quite interested in business. And then when I graduated, Microsoft was, for the first time, recruiting at Duke University. And so I came straight to Microsoft. In 1987, the company was still very small, less than 1,700 employees, very few females that had a computer science degree. But it was also very rough and tumble. It was very much like a boys debating club. We were changing the world. And we knew it. And we were creating something new, types of software that didn't exist. So I loved the creativity. I loved the smarts of the people around me. But what I didn't love was the sort of debating your point tooth and nail in meetings to management. I just found that extraordinarily tiresome. And I figured out I knew how to play that game. I could do it. But I didn't really like myself when I did that, when I became more abrasive. And I started to realize it was rubbing off on me. And so I thought, at one point, well, maybe I'll just quit. And then I thought, no, I'm...

About the Instructor

One of the greatest philanthropists in history, Melinda French Gates has dedicated her life to giving back to the world. Now she’s teaching how you can identify your own unique assets—time, money, specific skills, or even your voice to discover a strategic path that can turn your power into progress.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Melinda French Gates

A philanthropist and advocate for women and girls, Melinda French Gates teaches you how to take what you’re good at and use it to create change.

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