Gates: Businessman or Scientist?
Rensin: A true businessman.
Gates: I have to admit that business-type thoughts do sneak into my head: I hope our customers pay us, I hope this stuff is decent, I hope we get it done on time. The little additions and subtractions that one has to do. Take sales, take costs and try to get that big positive number at the bottom.
Rensin: Do you dislike being called a businessman?
Gates: Yeah. Of my mental cycles, I devote maybe ten percent to business thinking. Business isn't that complicated. I wouldn't want to put it on my business card.
Rensin: What, then?
Gates: Scientist. Unless I've been fooling myself. When I read about great scientists like, say, Crick and Watson and how they discovered DNA, I get a lot of pleasure. Stories of business success don't interest me in the same way.
Rensin: How come you're not in a lab coat somewhere?
Gates: Part of my skill is understanding technology and business. So lets just say I'm a technologist.
Rensin: If business is ten percent, how does the other 90 percent break down?
Gates: [Blows a big raspberry]
Rensin: Come on!!
Gates: This gets far too ephemeral and private. It is an interesting question, I will admit. But applying it to myself in a public way is probably.
Rensin: But you brought it up.
Gates: I did. OK. Ninety percent to all other.
Rensin: [Blows raspberry]
Gates: This percentage thing is too hard because you always forget something important. Whoops, I forgot about my family. I mean, come on, this is too difficult.
Rensin: Its hard to believe we found something too difficult for you.
Gates: There must be another metric to explain what I mean when I say that business is not the hard part. Let me put it this way: Say you added two years to my life and let me go to business school. I don't think I would have done a better job at Microsoft. [Stands] Let's look around these shelves and see if there are any business books. Oops. We didn't need any.
Source of Interview