Bill Gates used to keep track of every employee's license plates by memorizing the numbers

By: April Carson



Bill Gates didn't prioritize work-life balance until Microsoft's early years, when it was all the rage among employers.


In a 2016 BBC Radio 4 interview, Gates revealed how work-obsessed he used to be. “I was really devoted to my job,” he noted. “I worked weekends and didn't believe in holidays.”


Employees naturally absorbed this attitude. “I had to be a little cautious not to impose my expectations on how hard they worked,” he observed.


That didn't prevent him from keeping track of which employees worked the most hours. “I knew every license plate so I could look out in the parking lot and see when people came in and when they left,” Gates said to the BBC.


In a 2011 first-person essay for Vanity Fair, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said the same thing. “Bill was developing into the taskmaster who would prowl the parking lot on weekends to see who had made it in,” wrote Allen.


Microsoft has enjoyed tremendous growth, with some experts projecting a $1 trillion market capitalization by next year. Most experts agree that micromanaging workers is an ineffective leadership technique, despite the fact that Microsoft has become quite successful.


“Being a micromanager can be a suffocating experience,” says TopResume career expert Amanda Augustine.


According to a recent Comparably survey of over 2,000 employees at tech firms like Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Uber, being a micromanager is the most despised job trait among staff.


Microsoft employees felt the same way back then. “People were already busting their tails,” Allen wrote in his Vanity Fair essay, “and it irritated them when Bill chided them into doing more.”


Bob Greenberg, a former Microsoft employee, worked 81 hours in four days to finish a project, according to Bill Gates. Toward the end of the work week, Gates inquired about what Greenberg would be working on the next day. “Why would you want to do that?” Gates asked when Greenberg informed him he planned to take the following day off.


“He didn't understand it,” Allen added. “He never appeared to have a need for recharging.”


While the impact of work-life balance on one's career has been disputed, most highly productive individuals, such as former First Lady Michelle Obama and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, concur that carving out time for yourself is critical to one's professional and personal well-being.


Gates acknowledged in his BBC Radio 4 interview that he had to moderate himself as Microsoft grew. “Eventually, I had to loosen up as the organization got to a certain size,” he remarked.


However, if you have a supervisor who operates in the same way as the billionaire in his early days, there is one technique to reduce it, according to career strategist Amanda Augustine: Send regular reports.


“When you overshare and keep your manager in the loop,” she points out, “they're more likely to have faith that you have everything under control and back off.”





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About the Blogger:


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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