Be Nice to Nerds


You probably already know of this ‘wisdom’ of Bill Gates, but it popped into my awareness for the first time today.

It’s got something of the feel of a man pulling the ladder up after him.

My rules would be a little different:

Rule 1: Life is not fair. Don’t take it lying down. Fight injustice.

Rule 2: The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about others’. Be honest, with kindness, and acknowledge your own and other people’s accomplishments, even if they’re not of the type that the world currently puts a price-tag on.

Rule 3: People no smarter than you, (and often a lot less smart) but whose parents have power and status, WILL walk into a $60,000 job right out of High School. This is evidence of Rule 1. Learn to know the difference between hard work, good luck and privilege. Recognise the role they play in your life, and don’t assume someone else works less hard than you when really they are just less lucky.

Rule 4: Be your own toughest teacher, and your own most demanding boss and you will be able to distinguish fair challenge from spite and respond accordingly.

Rule 5: No task is beneath your dignity. But plenty of people make their living by dressing up exploitation of others as opportunity. Learn how to tell the difference. Resist so-called ‘opportunities’ that exploit you.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s no one else’s fault, it’s a learning opportunity. Make the most of it. And remind others of that when they try to use you as a human shield for their mistakes.

Rule 7: No one is boring, if you take a real interest in them. And everyone is interesting for different reasons. As with Rule 5, there’s a time and a place for every task, but resist lectures about the virtues of housework from people who don’t do their own. And from people who do.

Rule 8: People who like to think of themselves as ‘winners’ need to characterise other people as ‘losers’ to maintain their own status. As long as you are still alive, there’s another chance to learn and try again. There’s only one true finish line and no winners or losers on the other side.

Rule 9: Your time is your time. Your employer may buy some of your time but they don’t buy your soul. If your employer tries to take more of your time than they have paid for, resist.

Rule 10: Television isn’t real life. Er…you knew that anyway, didn’t you?

Rule 11: Be nice to everyone. It makes the world a better place.


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