• Motto

Melinda Gates Shares the Essential Quality She Inherited From Her Father

2 minute read
Gates with her father and siblings at Lake Tahoe, 1976 (Gates Archive)

Some of my most treasured memories of Dad are of the nights he let us stay up to watch the Apollo launches on TV in the late 1960s. Those were exciting nights for a lot of families — but they were especially exciting when your father was an engineer who contracted with NASA. I still remember the mix of pride and amazement at seeing a rocket shoot into the sky, knowing that he helped make it happen.

As I got older, the two of us bonded over science projects — both ones assigned by school and ones inspired by whatever questions I was asking at the time. I still think about the day he dismantled the fireplace so we could test how long it took various metals to conduct heat. In hindsight, maybe it wasn’t the safest experiment. But his need to uncover the world’s mysteries was infectious.

The best advice Dad ever gave me was to keep asking bold questions and looking for their answers. He knew that curiosity transforms everyday obstacles into exciting challenges to be solved — and that once you have that perspective, possibilities become limitless. You can, quite literally, aim for the stars.

Melinda Gates is a businesswoman and philanthropist. She is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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