How Can I Change the World?

Often, when you’re young, idealistic and ambitious, you ask yourself this question: “How can I change the world?” Or sometimes it happens when you’re older and wiser. But the truth is, we all have that capacity, whether we know it or not. I’m not sure if Mary Gates asked herself that question, but change the world she did.

From Malcolm Gladwell’s great book “Outliers” we get the inviting story of a precocious youngster who was easily bored by his studies. His mother Mary was part of the Mother’s Club at school and each year they had a tradition of hosting a rummage sale. Some of it went to help less advantaged kids and some went to help the teachers.

One particular year, 1968 to be exact, they decided to try something crazy, to take a chance, to do an experiment (to innovate). They plunked down three thousand dollars (that’s $22,000+ in 2020 dollars) to buy a computer terminal and install it in the school. But this was no ordinary computer with punch cards that were a laborious chore to program like virtually everyone else did in the 1960’s. This was a time-sharing terminal with a direct link to a mainframe computer.

And a couple of youngsters named Bill and Paul began learning how to program. And that's how Mary Gates changed the world. You can too! 

Related: Why You Need to Hire the Future