Did Bill Gates Really Offer a TV Reporter a Blank Check?

Some say yes, but it doesn’t really matter.

4 min read

The opinions of the employees of You are personal.

Did Bill Gates Really Offer a TV Reporter a Blank Check?
Did Bill Gates Really Offer a TV Reporter a Blank Check?

A rumor about Bill Gates and an offer he made to a television interviewer has been around for several years. After this report by Sylvain Saurel on Medium, the conversation went as follows:

The journalist asked, “Mr. Gates, what is the secret of your success? “”

Instead of answering the question, Gates gave the interviewer a blank check and asked him to write the desired amount on it. The journalist refused and repeated the question. According to legend, Gates gave him the same blank check and again asked him to write the desired amount. Again she refused. And he even broke the check.

Gates looked at her and finally answered the question. “The secret of my success is that I never miss an opportunity like you just did,” he reportedly said. “If you had that philosophy, you could have become the richest journalist in the world today.”

Saurel, a self-proclaimed Bitcoin entrepreneur, came to the correct conclusion. As an entrepreneur, you have to seize every opportunity, right? “You will only be successful if you can take the immediate and massive action required when golden opportunities arise,” he writes. “If one day a billionaire hands you a blank check and asks you to write the amount of your choice on it, don’t waste time asking unnecessary questions and act immediately.”

You are certainly not alone with this opinion. In a Reddit conversation a few years ago, most of the people discussing the alleged incident agreed with what they would have done. “I’ll write $ 40 million and cash the check,” wrote one. “I would invest 25 billion, deposit it and decide how to spend it,” wrote another.

But again, you could take this Redditor’s point of view: “Ask him what’s the catch,” he (or she) wrote. “I don’t want to find out all of a sudden that I signed up to murder Steve Wozniak or something!”

Well, the reference to the Apple co-founder is a bit extreme. But this user (who has since been removed for some reason and I hope it has nothing to do with Steve Wozniak) has a valid point for any small business owner offered a hefty deal. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The customer who promises to “pay twice” likely won’t. The seller who promises to close this big deal next month is unlikely to either. The equipment that is for sale at half price is very likely not to work. Bill Gates is not going to give you a blank check. Nobody is going to offer you a blank check. Life and business don’t work that way.

If you’ve been running a business like me for more than two decades, you learn that sometimes people break the rules, inflate the truth and nothing, I mean nothing, it’s as good as it sounds. Sure, you should take advantage of opportunities when they arise. But don’t make it blind. Requests. Examine. Trust but check. And I hope that the promises made will not be kept. If you are looking for quick wins and money to fall from the sky, head to Las Vegas or buy a lottery ticket. Otherwise, understand the reality that something that sounds too good to be true usually is.

What would you do if Bill Gates offered you a blank check?

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