Was Bill Gates the smartest person at Microsoft?

If you are the world’s richest man and have held the top spot on the list of The World’s Billionaires for 18 out of the past 23 years, there has to be something extraordinary about you. This is true in the case of Bill Gates who was talented, and visionary and knew what he wanted to do with his life since childhood.

He scored high marks on the SAT exam, an achievement personally. Gates used to code for hours (18-20 hrs), forgetting that he had to eat when he was growing up in the 70s, he was a sheer coding wizard.

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People who have worked at Microsoft claim Gates had an exceptionally high IQ. Some say his IQ was as high as 160. 

Brad Silverberg was a senior vice president at Microsoft for almost a decade. He worked with Microsoft from 90 to 99. According to Brad, Bill liked to hire for IQ and surround himself with high-IQ people.

Bill Gates liked to have lengthy, detailed-oriented tech conversations with really smart people at Microsoft. In a board meeting, Gates was clearly the smartest man in the room. He knew the numbers, he followed a vision, and most of the time, surprisingly, he had more knowledge about things than most of us even though we’d spent months preparing our data and presentations.

Brad says Gates was a voracious reader and an incredibly fast learner. He always had a great marketing plan and could see the future as he had a great vision.

He could dig deep into the deepest depths of the most difficult and arcane technical areas, where only a handful of others in the company had the same depth and that was their particular area of specialty. He knew the product details, inside and out. He knew the marketing plan as well as anyone but the person in charge. He knew the business side, etc. says Brad in a Quora response.

Gates was a quick decision-maker. He would ask you for answers and seek your knowledge about something as an employee, you could not afford to see him unprepared. If you don’t know an answer to his question, you better say ‘i don’t know’ or you would pay a huge price. A price you would pay by leaving the company. He wanted ‘only the best’ people to surround him in the company.

It was thrilling and humbling to work with Bill. For example, I’d have a meeting with him to discuss some strategic issue I’d been grappling with for a couple of months, and took me that long to penetrate and come up with a recommendation (and be able to defend it). Bill would start with the same initial data, and within a couple minutes he’d typically get the same insights that it took me months to get. Says Brad.

Bill was the smartest at Microsoft and he liked to be surrounded by smart people and did not mind if there are people smarter than him. He respected talent and honesty but above all, he was a true admirer of hard work.

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