25:01
TED2014

Bill and Melinda Gates: Why giving away our wealth has been the most satisfying thing we've done

Filmed:

In 1993, Bill and Melinda Gates took a walk on the beach and made a big decision: to give their Microsoft wealth back to society. In conversation with Chris Anderson, the couple talks about their work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as their marriage, their children, their failures and the satisfaction of giving most of their money away.

- Philanthropist
Melinda French Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she puts into practice the idea that every life has equal value. Full bio

- Philanthropist
A passionate techie and a shrewd businessman, Bill Gates changed the world while leading Microsoft to dizzying success. Now he's doing it again with his own style of philanthropy and passion for innovation. Full bio

Chris Anderson: So, this is an
interview with a difference.
00:13
On the basis that a picture
is worth a thousand words,
00:17
what I did was, I asked Bill and Melinda
00:21
to dig out from their archive
00:24
some images that would help explain
00:26
some of what they've done,
00:28
and do a few things that way.
00:29
So, we're going to start here.
00:32
Melinda, when and where was this,
00:36
and who is that handsome man next to you?
00:38
Melinda Gates: With those big glasses, huh?
00:40
This is in Africa, our very first trip,
00:42
the first time either of us had ever been to Africa,
00:44
in the fall of 1993.
00:46
We were already engaged to be married.
00:47
We married a few months later,
00:49
and this was the trip where we really went to see
00:51
the animals and to see the savanna.
00:53
It was incredible. Bill had never taken that much time
00:55
off from work.
00:57
But what really touched us, actually, were the people,
00:59
and the extreme poverty.
01:03
We started asking ourselves questions.
01:06
Does it have to be like this?
01:07
And at the end of the trip,
01:09
we went out to Zanzibar,
01:10
and took some time to walk on the beach,
01:11
which is something we had done a lot
01:13
while we were dating.
01:14
And we'd already been talking about during that time
01:16
that the wealth that had come from Microsoft
01:18
would be given back to society,
01:20
but it was really on that beach walk
01:22
that we started to talk about, well,
01:23
what might we do and how might we go about it?
01:25
CA: So, given that this vacation
01:28
led to the creation of
01:31
the world's biggest private foundation,
01:33
it's pretty expensive as vacations go. (Laughter)
01:36
MG: I guess so. We enjoyed it.
01:39
CA: Which of you was the key instigator here,
01:42
or was it symmetrical?
01:45
Bill Gates: Well, I think we were excited
01:47
that there'd be a phase of our life
01:50
where we'd get to work together
01:51
and figure out how to give this money back.
01:53
At this stage, we were talking about the poorest,
02:00
and could you have a big impact on them?
02:03
Were there things that weren't being done?
02:06
There was a lot we didn't know.
02:08
Our naïveté is pretty incredible,
02:09
when we look back on it.
02:11
But we had a certain enthusiasm
02:13
that that would be the phase,
02:14
the post-Microsoft phase
02:17
would be our philanthropy.
02:20
MG: Which Bill always thought was going to come
02:22
after he was 60,
02:24
so he hasn't quite hit 60 yet,
02:25
so some things change along the way.
02:27
CA: So it started there, but it got accelerated.
02:30
So that was '93, and it was '97, really,
02:33
before the foundation itself started.
02:35
MA: Yeah, in '97, we read an article
02:37
about diarrheal diseases killing
so many kids around the world,
02:39
and we kept saying to ourselves,
02:43
"Well that can't be.
02:44
In the U.S., you just go down to the drug store."
02:46
And so we started gathering scientists
02:47
and started learning about population,
02:49
learning about vaccines,
02:52
learning about what had worked and what had failed,
02:53
and that's really when we got going,
02:56
was in late 1998, 1999.
02:58
CA: So, you've got a big pot of money
03:02
and a world full of so many different issues.
03:05
How on Earth do you decide what to focus on?
03:07
BG: Well, we decided that we'd pick two causes,
03:11
whatever the biggest inequity was globally,
03:14
and there we looked at children dying,
03:17
children not having enough nutrition to ever develop,
03:19
and countries that were really stuck,
03:22
because with that level of death,
03:23
and parents would have so many kids
03:25
that they'd get huge population growth,
03:27
and that the kids were so sick
03:29
that they really couldn't be educated
03:32
and lift themselves up.
03:35
So that was our global thing,
03:37
and then in the U.S.,
03:38
both of us have had amazing educations,
03:40
and we saw that as the way that the U.S.
03:43
could live up to its promise of equal opportunity
03:46
is by having a phenomenal education system,
03:49
and the more we learned, the more we realized
03:52
we're not really fulfilling that promise.
03:54
And so we picked those two things,
03:57
and everything the foundation does
03:59
is focused there.
04:00
CA: So, I asked each of you to pick an image
04:03
that you like that illustrates your work,
04:06
and Melinda, this is what you picked.
04:08
What's this about?
04:11
MG: So I, one of the things I love to do when I travel
04:13
is to go out to the rural areas and talk to the women,
04:16
whether it's Bangladesh, India,
lots of countries in Africa,
04:19
and I go in as a Western woman without a name.
04:21
I don't tell them who I am. Pair of khakis.
04:24
And I kept hearing from women,
04:27
over and over and over, the more I traveled,
04:29
"I want to be able to use this shot."
04:32
I would be there to talk to them
about childhood vaccines,
04:34
and they would bring the conversation around to
04:37
"But what about the shot I get?"
04:39
which is an injection they were
getting called Depo-Provera,
04:41
which is a contraceptive.
04:43
And I would come back and
talk to global health experts,
04:45
and they'd say, "Oh no, contraceptives
04:48
are stocked in in the developing world."
04:49
Well, you had to dig deeper into the reports,
04:52
and this is what the team came to me with,
04:54
which is, to have the number one thing
04:55
that women tell you in Africa they want to use
04:58
stocked out more than 200 days a year
05:01
explains why women were saying to me,
05:03
"I walked 10 kilometers without
my husband knowing it,
05:05
and I got to the clinic, and there was nothing there."
05:09
And so condoms were stocked in in Africa
05:12
because of all the AIDS work that the U.S.
05:15
and others supported.
05:17
But women will tell you over and over again,
05:19
"I can't negotiate a condom with my husband.
05:20
I'm either suggesting he has AIDS or I have AIDS,
05:23
and I need that tool because then I can space
05:27
the births of my children, and I can feed them
05:30
and have a chance of educating them."
05:32
CA: Melinda, you're Roman Catholic,
05:35
and you've often been embroiled
05:37
in controversy over this issue,
05:40
and on the abortion question,
05:42
on both sides, really.
05:45
How do you navigate that?
05:46
MG: Yeah, so I think that's a really important point,
05:48
which is, we had backed away from contraceptives
05:51
as a global community.
05:54
We knew that 210 million women
05:55
were saying they wanted access to contraceptives,
05:58
even the contraceptives we have
here in the United States,
06:01
and we weren't providing them
06:03
because of the political controversy in our country,
06:06
and to me that was just a crime,
06:09
and I kept looking around trying to find the person
06:12
that would get this back on the global stage,
06:14
and I finally realized I just had to do it.
06:17
And even though I'm Catholic,
06:19
I believe in contraceptives
06:20
just like most of the Catholic
women in the United States
06:22
who report using contraceptives,
06:24
and I shouldn't let that controversy
06:26
be the thing that holds us back.
06:28
We used to have consensus in the United States
06:30
around contraceptives,
06:32
and so we got back to that global consensus,
06:33
and actually raised 2.6 billion dollars
06:36
around exactly this issue for women.
06:38
(Applause)
06:41
CA: Bill, this is your graph. What's this about?
06:49
BG: Well, my graph has numbers on it.
06:53
(Laughter)
06:55
I really like this graph.
06:57
This is the number of children
06:59
who die before the age of five every year.
07:02
And what you find is really
07:04
a phenomenal success story
07:06
which is not widely known,
07:08
that we are making incredible progress.
07:10
We go from 20 million
07:13
not long after I was born
07:15
to now we're down to about six million.
07:17
So this is a story
07:21
largely of vaccines.
07:23
Smallpox was killing a couple million kids a year.
07:24
That was eradicated, so that got down to zero.
07:28
Measles was killing a couple million a year.
07:30
That's down to a few hundred thousand.
07:32
Anyway, this is a chart
07:33
where you want to get that number to continue,
07:35
and it's going to be possible,
07:39
using the science of new vaccines,
07:41
getting the vaccines out to kids.
07:43
We can actually accelerate the progress.
07:45
The last decade,
07:46
that number has dropped faster
07:48
than ever in history,
07:50
and so I just love the fact that
07:52
you can say, okay, if we can invent new vaccines,
07:55
we can get them out there,
07:57
use the very latest understanding of these things,
07:59
and get the delivery right, that
we can perform a miracle.
08:01
CA: I mean, you do the math on this,
08:06
and it works out, I think, literally
08:07
to thousands of kids' lives saved every day
08:09
compared to the prior year.
08:11
It's not reported.
08:13
An airliner with 200-plus deaths
08:15
is a far, far bigger story than that.
08:18
Does that drive you crazy?
08:20
BG: Yeah, because it's a silent thing going on.
08:22
It's a kid, one kid at a time.
08:25
Ninety-eight percent of this
08:27
has nothing to do with natural disasters,
08:29
and yet, people's charity,
08:31
when they see a natural disaster, are wonderful.
08:32
It's incredible how people think, okay,
08:34
that could be me, and the money flows.
08:36
These causes have been a bit invisible.
08:39
Now that the Millennium Development Goals
08:42
and various things are getting out there,
08:44
we are seeing some increased generosity,
08:46
so the goal is to get this well below a million,
08:49
which should be possible in our lifetime.
08:52
CA: Maybe it needed someone
08:54
who is turned on by numbers and graphs
08:56
rather than just the big, sad face
08:58
to get engaged.
09:00
I mean, you've used it in your letter this year,
09:02
you used basically this argument to say that aid,
09:04
contrary to the current meme
09:07
that aid is kind of worthless and broken,
09:09
that actually it has been effective.
09:12
BG: Yeah, well people can take,
09:14
there is some aid that was well-meaning
09:16
and didn't go well.
09:19
There's some venture capital investments
09:21
that were well-meaning and didn't go well.
09:23
You shouldn't just say, okay, because of that,
09:26
because we don't have a perfect record,
09:28
this is a bad endeavor.
09:32
You should look at, what was your goal?
09:33
How are you trying to uplift nutrition
09:35
and survival and literacy
09:38
so these countries can take care of themselves,
09:41
and say wow, this is going well,
09:43
and be smarter.
09:45
We can spend aid smarter.
09:46
It is not all a panacea.
09:48
We can do better than venture capital, I think,
09:51
including big hits like this.
09:54
CA: Traditional wisdom is that
09:57
it's pretty hard for married couples to work together.
10:00
How have you guys managed it?
10:04
MG: Yeah, I've had a lot of women say to me,
10:05
"I really don't think I could work with my husband.
10:07
That just wouldn't work out."
10:09
You know, we enjoy it, and we don't --
10:11
this foundation has been a coming to for both of us
10:15
in its continuous learning journey,
10:17
and we don't travel together as much
10:20
for the foundation, actually, as we used to
10:23
when Bill was working at Microsoft.
10:25
We have more trips where
we're traveling separately,
10:26
but I always know when I come home,
10:28
Bill's going to be interested in what I learned,
10:30
whether it's about women or girls
10:32
or something new about the vaccine delivery chain,
10:34
or this person that is a great leader.
10:37
He's going to listen and be really interested.
10:39
And he knows when he comes home,
10:42
even if it's to talk about the speech he did
10:43
or the data or what he's learned,
10:45
I'm really interested,
10:47
and I think we have a really
collaborative relationship.
10:48
But we don't every minute together, that's for sure.
10:51
(Laughter)
10:54
CA: But now you are, and we're very happy that you are.
10:58
Melinda, early on, you were basically
11:00
largely running the show.
11:04
Six years ago, I guess,
11:06
Bill came on full time, so moved from Microsoft
11:07
and became full time.
11:10
That must have been hard,
11:11
adjusting to that. No?
11:12
MG: Yeah. I think actually,
11:14
for the foundation employees,
11:17
there was way more angst for them
11:19
than there was for me about Bill coming.
11:21
I was actually really excited.
11:23
I mean, Bill made this decision
11:24
even obviously before it got announced in 2006,
11:26
and it was really his decision,
11:28
but again, it was a beach vacation
11:30
where we were walking on the beach
11:32
and he was starting to think of this idea.
11:33
And for me, the excitement of Bill
11:35
putting his brain and his heart
11:38
against these huge global problems,
11:41
these inequities, to me that was exciting.
11:43
Yes, the foundation employees had angst about that.
11:45
(Applause)
11:49
CA: That's cool.
11:51
MG: But that went away within three months,
11:53
once he was there.
11:55
BG: Including some of the employees.
11:56
MG: That's what I said, the employees,
11:57
it went away for them three
months after you were there.
11:58
BG: No, I'm kidding.
MG: Oh, you mean, the employees didn't go away.
12:01
BG: A few of them did, but —
12:03
(Laughter)
12:05
CA: So what do you guys argue about?
12:07
Sunday, 11 o'clock,
12:09
you're away from work,
12:11
what comes up? What's the argument?
12:13
BG: Because we built this thing
12:15
together from the beginning,
12:17
it's this great partnership.
12:20
I had that with Paul Allen
12:22
in the early days of Microsoft.
12:23
I had it with Steve Ballmer as Microsoft got bigger,
12:25
and now Melinda, and in even stronger,
12:28
equal ways, is the partner,
12:31
so we talk a lot about
12:33
which things should we give more to,
12:35
which groups are working well?
12:37
She's got a lot of insight.
12:40
She'll sit down with the employees a lot.
12:41
We'll take the different trips she described.
12:42
So there's a lot of collaboration.
12:45
I can't think of anything where one of us
12:48
had a super strong opinion
12:50
about one thing or another?
12:53
CA: How about you, Melinda,
though? Can you? (Laughter)
12:55
You never know.
12:58
MG: Well, here's the thing.
12:59
We come at things from different angles,
13:01
and I actually think that's really good.
13:02
So Bill can look at the big data
13:04
and say, "I want to act based
on these global statistics."
13:06
For me, I come at it from intuition.
13:09
I meet with lots of people on the ground
13:11
and Bill's taught me to take that
13:13
and read up to the global data and see if they match,
13:15
and I think what I've taught him
13:18
is to take that data
13:19
and meet with people on the ground to understand,
13:20
can you actually deliver that vaccine?
13:22
Can you get a woman to accept those polio drops
13:24
in her child's mouth?
13:28
Because the delivery piece
13:29
is every bit as important as the science.
13:30
So I think it's been more a coming to over time
13:33
towards each other's point of view,
13:35
and quite frankly, the work is better because of it.
13:36
CA: So, in vaccines and polio and so forth,
13:40
you've had some amazing successes.
13:42
What about failure, though?
13:46
Can you talk about a failure
13:47
and maybe what you've learned from it?
13:49
BG: Yeah. Fortunately, we can afford a few failures,
13:51
because we've certainly had them.
13:53
We do a lot of drug work or vaccine work
13:56
that you know you're going to have different failures.
14:00
Like, we put out, one that got a lot of publicity
14:03
was asking for a better condom.
14:05
Well, we got hundreds of ideas.
14:07
Maybe a few of those will work out.
14:08
We were very naïve, certainly I was, about a drug
14:11
for a disease in India, visceral leishmaniasis,
14:15
that I thought, once I got this drug,
14:17
we can just go wipe out the disease.
14:19
Well, turns out it took an injection
14:20
every day for 10 days.
14:23
It took three more years to get it than we expected,
14:25
and then there was no way
14:27
it was going to get out there.
14:28
Fortunately, we found out
14:31
that if you go kill the sand flies,
14:32
you probably can have success there,
14:35
but we spent five years,
14:37
you could say wasted five years,
14:39
and about 60 million,
14:41
on a path that turned out to have
14:43
very modest benefit when we got there.
14:44
CA: You're spending, like, a billion dollars a year
14:48
in education, I think, something like that.
14:52
Is anything, the story of what's gone right there
14:53
is quite a long and complex one.
14:57
Are there any failures that you can talk about?
15:00
MG: Well, I would say a huge lesson for us
15:04
out of the early work is we thought
15:06
that these small schools were the answer,
15:07
and small schools definitely help.
15:09
They bring down the dropout rate.
15:11
They have less violence and crime in those schools.
15:12
But the thing that we learned from that work,
15:15
and what turned out to be the fundamental key,
15:17
is a great teacher in front of the classroom.
15:20
If you don't have an effective teacher
15:22
in the front of the classroom,
15:23
I don't care how big or small the building is,
15:24
you're not going to change the trajectory
15:27
of whether that student will be ready for college.
15:28
(Applause)
15:30
CA: So Melinda, this is you and
15:35
your eldest daughter, Jenn.
15:37
And just taken about three weeks ago, I think,
15:41
three or four weeks ago. Where was this?
15:43
MG: So we went to Tanzania.
15:44
Jenn's been to Tanzania.
15:46
All our kids have been to Africa quite a bit, actually.
15:47
And we did something very different,
15:49
which is, we decided to go spend
15:52
two nights and three days with a family.
15:53
Anna and Sanare are the parents.
15:56
They invited us to come and stay in their boma.
15:59
Actually, the goats had been there, I think,
16:02
living in that particular little hut
16:04
on their little compound before we got there.
16:05
And we stayed with their family,
16:08
and we really, really learned
16:09
what life is like in rural Tanzania.
16:11
And the difference between just going
16:13
and visiting for half a day
16:15
or three quarters of a day
16:16
versus staying overnight was profound,
16:18
and so let me just give you one explanation of that.
16:20
They had six children, and as I talked to Anna
16:24
in the kitchen, we cooked for about five hours
16:26
in the cooking hut that day,
16:27
and as I talked to her, she had absolutely planned
16:29
and spaced with her husband
16:31
the births of their children.
16:32
It was a very loving relationship.
16:34
This was a Maasai warrior and his wife,
16:36
but they had decided to get married,
16:38
they clearly had respect and love in the relationship.
16:40
Their children, their six children,
16:43
the two in the middle were twins, 13,
16:45
a boy, and a girl named Grace.
16:47
And when we'd go out to chop wood
16:49
and do all the things that Grace
and her mother would do,
16:51
Grace was not a child, she was an adolescent,
16:53
but she wasn't an adult.
16:56
She was very, very shy.
16:58
So she kept wanting to talk to me and Jenn.
16:59
We kept trying to engage her, but she was shy.
17:01
And at night, though,
17:04
when all the lights went out in rural Tanzania,
17:05
and there was no moon that night,
17:08
the first night, and no stars,
17:10
and Jenn came out of our hut
17:12
with her REI little headlamp on,
17:13
Grace went immediately,
17:16
and got the translator,
17:18
came straight up to my Jenn and said,
17:20
"When you go home,
17:22
can I have your headlamp
17:23
so I can study at night?"
17:24
CA: Oh, wow.
17:26
MG: And her dad had told me
17:27
how afraid he was that unlike the son,
17:28
who had passed his secondary exams,
17:31
because of her chores,
17:32
she'd not done so well
17:34
and wasn't in the government school yet.
17:35
He said, "I don't know how I'm
going to pay for her education.
17:37
I can't pay for private school,
17:39
and she may end up on this farm like my wife."
17:41
So they know the difference
17:44
that an education can make
17:45
in a huge, profound way.
17:46
CA: I mean, this is another pic
17:49
of your other two kids, Rory and Phoebe,
17:50
along with Paul Farmer.
17:54
Bringing up three children
17:58
when you're the world's richest family
18:00
seems like a social experiment
18:03
without much prior art.
18:05
How have you managed it?
18:08
What's been your approach?
18:10
BG: Well, I'd say overall
18:12
the kids get a great education,
18:15
but you've got to make sure
18:17
they have a sense of their own ability
18:18
and what they're going to go and do,
18:19
and our philosophy has been
18:21
to be very clear with them --
18:24
most of the money's going to the foundation --
18:25
and help them find something they're excited about.
18:26
We want to strike a balance where they have
18:31
the freedom to do anything
18:32
but not a lot of money showered on them
18:34
so they could go out and do nothing.
18:37
And so far, they're fairly diligent,
18:40
excited to pick their own direction.
18:43
CA: You've obviously guarded their
privacy carefully for obvious reasons.
18:47
I'm curious why you've given me permission
18:52
to show this picture now here at TED.
18:54
MG: Well, it's interesting.
18:56
As they get older, they so know
18:57
that our family belief is about responsibility,
18:59
that we are in an unbelievable situation
19:02
just to live in the United States
19:04
and have a great education,
19:06
and we have a responsibility
to give back to the world.
19:07
And so as they get older
19:09
and we are teaching them --
19:10
they have been to so many
countries around the world —
19:11
they're saying,
19:14
we do want people to know that we believe
19:15
in what you're doing, Mom and Dad,
19:17
and it is okay to show us more.
19:18
So we have their permission to show this picture,
19:20
and I think Paul Farmer is probably going to put it
19:23
eventually in some of his work.
19:25
But they really care deeply
19:27
about the mission of the foundation, too.
19:29
CA: You've easily got enough money
19:31
despite your vast contributions to the foundation
19:33
to make them all billionaires.
19:36
Is that your plan for them?
19:37
BG: Nope. No. They won't have anything like that.
19:39
They need to have a sense
19:41
that their own work is meaningful and important.
19:43
We read an article long, actually,
before we got married,
19:49
where Warren Buffett talked about that,
19:53
and we're quite convinced that it wasn't a favor
19:56
either to society or to the kids.
19:58
CA: Well, speaking of Warren Buffett,
20:01
something really amazing happened in 2006,
20:03
when somehow your only real rival
20:06
for richest person in America
20:09
suddenly turned around and agreed to give
20:10
80 percent of his fortune
20:12
to your foundation.
20:14
How on Earth did that happen?
20:16
I guess there's a long version
and a short version of that.
20:18
We've got time for the short version.
20:20
BG: All right. Well, Warren was a close friend,
20:21
and he was going to have his wife Suzie
20:25
give it all away.
20:30
Tragically, she passed away before he did,
20:31
and he's big on delegation, and
20:35
— (Laughter) —
20:38
he said —
20:40
CA: Tweet that.
20:42
BG: If he's got somebody
who is doing something well,
20:43
and is willing to do it at no charge,
20:46
maybe that's okay. But we were stunned.
20:50
MG: Totally stunned.
BG: We had never expected it,
20:53
and it has been unbelievable.
20:55
It's allowed us to increase our ambition
20:56
in what the foundation can do quite dramatically.
20:59
Half the resources we have
21:03
come from Warren's mind-blowing generosity.
21:04
CA: And I think you've pledged that
21:07
by the time you're done,
21:08
more than, or 95 percent of your wealth,
21:10
will be given to the foundation.
21:12
BG: Yes.
21:14
CA: And since this relationship, it's amazing—
21:15
(Applause)
21:19
And recently, you and Warren
21:22
have been going around trying to persuade
21:25
other billionaires and successful people
21:27
to pledge to give, what,
21:29
more than half of their assets for philanthropy.
21:30
How is that going?
21:36
BG: Well, we've got about 120 people
21:38
who have now taken this giving pledge.
21:41
The thing that's great is that we get together
21:44
yearly and talk about, okay,
21:46
do you hire staff, what do you give to them?
21:49
We're not trying to homogenize it.
21:51
I mean, the beauty of philanthropy
21:52
is this mind-blowing diversity.
21:53
People give to some things.
21:55
We look and go, "Wow."
21:56
But that's great.
21:59
That's the role of philanthropy
22:00
is to pick different approaches,
22:01
including even in one space, like education.
22:03
We need more experimentation.
22:05
But it's been wonderful, meeting those people,
22:08
sharing their journey to philanthropy,
22:11
how they involve their kids,
22:13
where they're doing it differently,
22:14
and it's been way more successful than we expected.
22:16
Now it looks like it'll just keep growing in size
22:19
in the years ahead.
22:21
MG: And having people see that other people
22:24
are making change with philanthropy,
22:27
I mean, these are people who have
22:29
created their own businesses,
22:31
put their own ingenuity behind incredible ideas.
22:32
If they put their ideas and their brain
22:35
behind philanthropy, they can change the world.
22:37
And they start to see others doing it, and saying,
22:40
"Wow, I want to do that with my own money."
22:42
To me, that's the piece that's incredible.
22:44
CA: It seems to me, it's actually really hard
22:46
for some people to figure out
22:49
even how to remotely spend that much money
22:50
on something else.
22:53
There are probably some billionaires in the room
22:55
and certainly some successful people.
22:57
I'm curious, can you make the pitch?
22:59
What's the pitch?
23:01
BG: Well, it's the most fulfilling thing
23:03
we've ever done,
23:04
and you can't take it with you,
23:06
and if it's not good for your kids,
23:09
let's get together and brainstorm
23:12
about what we can be done.
23:13
The world is a far better place
23:16
because of the philanthropists of the past,
23:18
and the U.S. tradition here, which is the strongest,
23:21
is the envy of the world.
23:24
And part of the reason I'm so optimistic
23:25
is because I do think philanthropy
23:27
is going to grow
23:29
and take some of these things
23:30
government's not just good at
working on and discovering
23:32
and shine some light in the right direction.
23:34
CA: The world's got this terrible inequality,
23:38
growing inequality problem
23:41
that seems structural.
23:42
It does seem to me that if more of your peers
23:43
took the approach that you two have made,
23:46
it would make a dent
23:49
both in that problem and certainly
23:50
in the perception of that problem.
23:52
Is that a fair comment?
23:53
BG: Oh yeah. If you take from the most wealthy
23:55
and give to the least wealthy, it's good.
23:56
It tries to balance out, and that's just.
24:00
MG: But you change systems.
24:02
In the U.S., we're trying to
change the education system
24:03
so it's just for everybody
24:06
and it works for all students.
24:08
That, to me, really changes
24:10
the inequality balance.
24:12
BG: That's the most important.
24:13
(Applause)
24:14
CA: Well, I really think that most people here
24:18
and many millions around the world
24:21
are just in awe of the trajectory
24:23
your lives have taken
24:26
and the spectacular degree to which
24:27
you have shaped the future.
24:31
Thank you so much for coming to TED
24:33
and for sharing with us and for all you do.
24:34
BG: Thank you.
MG: Thank you.
24:36
(Applause)
24:37
BG: Thank you.
MG: Thank you very much.
24:46
BG: All right, good job. (Applause)
24:51

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About the Speakers:

Melinda Gates - Philanthropist
Melinda French Gates is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she puts into practice the idea that every life has equal value.

Why you should listen

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. As co-chair, Melinda French Gates helps shape and approve strategies, review results, advocate for foundation issues and set the overall direction. In developing countries, the foundation focuses on improving people's health with vaccines and other life-saving tools and giving them a chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to dramatically improve education so that all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

In recent years, Melinda French Gates has become a vocal advocate for access to contraception, advancing the idea that empowering women to decide whether and when to have children can have transformational effects on societies. In 2012, Gates spearheaded the London Summit on Family Planning, with the goal of delivering contraceptives to 120 million women in developing countries by 2020. When asked why she got involved in this issue, Gates said, "We knew that 210 million women were saying they wanted access to the contraceptives we have here in the United States and we weren't providing them because of political controversy in our country. To me, that was just a crime. I kept looking around trying to find the person to get this back on the global stage. I realized I just had to do it."

 

More profile about the speaker
Melinda Gates | Speaker | TED.com
Bill Gates - Philanthropist
A passionate techie and a shrewd businessman, Bill Gates changed the world while leading Microsoft to dizzying success. Now he's doing it again with his own style of philanthropy and passion for innovation.

Why you should listen

Bill Gates is the founder and former CEO of Microsoft. A geek icon, tech visionary and business trailblazer, Gates' leadership -- fueled by his long-held dream that millions might realize their potential through great software -- made Microsoft a personal computing powerhouse and a trendsetter in the Internet dawn. Whether you're a suit, chef, quant, artist, media maven, nurse or gamer, you've probably used a Microsoft product today.

In summer of 2008, Gates left his day-to-day role with Microsoft to focus on philanthropy. Holding that all lives have equal value (no matter where they're being lived), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has now donated staggering sums to HIV/AIDS programs, libraries, agriculture research and disaster relief -- and offered vital guidance and creative funding to programs in global health and education. Gates believes his tech-centric strategy for giving will prove the killer app of planet Earth's next big upgrade.

Read a collection of Bill and Melinda Gates' annual letters, where they take stock of the Gates Foundation and the world. And follow his ongoing thinking on his personal website, The Gates Notes. His new paper, "The Next Epidemic," is published by the New England Journal of Medicine.

More profile about the speaker
Bill Gates | Speaker | TED.com