Log out
My profile and settings
My bookmarks
Comment history
Please complete your account verification. Resend verification email.
today
This verification token has expired.
today
Your email address has been verified. Update my profile.
today
Your account has been deactivated. Sign in to re-activate your account.
today
View all newsletters in the newsletter archive
today
You are now unsubscribed from receiving emails.
today
Sorry, we were unable to unsubscribe you at this time.
today
0
0
Back to profile
Comment Items
You have not left any comments yet.
title
in reply to
name
description
Saved Posts
You haven’t bookmarked any posts yet.
“ARPA-E might be my favorite obscure government agency.”
read post
Become a Gates Notes Insider
Sign up
Personal Information
Title
Mr
Mrs
Ms
Miss
Mx
Dr
Cancel
Save
This email is already registered
Cancel
Save
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Cancel
Save
Address
Cancel
Save
Email and Notification Settings
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
On
Off
Send me Gates Notes survey emails
On
Off
Send me the weekly Top of Mind newsletter
On
Off
Email me comment notifications
On
Off
On-screen comment notifications
On
Off
Interests
Select interests to personalize your profile and experience on Gates Notes.
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Alzheimer's
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Account Deactivation
Click the link below to begin the account deactivation process.
If you would like to permanently delete your Gates Notes account and remove it’s content, please send us a request here.
On the Road
Backstage With Fallon, and Other Scenes from My Annual Letter Tour
I want to share a few highlights of my trip to talk about my Annual Letter.
|
0

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re aware that Melinda and I recently released our Annual Letter, which discusses myths that hold back progress for the poor. Our hope is to get it in front of as many people interested in health and development as possible. So that meant hitting the road for some interviews. (Melinda spent the week on a long-planned trip to Tanzania, learning about agriculture there.)

My travels took me to New York, London, and then Davos, where I joined the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.

The letter makes a case that the world is getting better. Probably the most common question about the letter was some variation on, “Look at the war in Syria, climate change, and economic inequality. You don’t really think the world is getting better, do you?”

Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg Interview with Betty Liu, January 2014

Michael Bloomberg and I talking with Bloomberg Television's "In the Loop" host, Betty Liu, about philanthropy and the progress the world is making against poverty and disease.

Each time, I would argue that while those are certainly tough challenges, the overall arc of history is quite positive. Look at broad measures of human welfare: Child mortality has dropped by half since 1990. The percentage of people in extreme poverty has fallen by more than half since 1990. And so on. These measures are better today than at any time in the past, thanks to innovation, expanding international trade, and a global push to improve the lives of the poorest through aid and philanthropy. It’s true that more than 1 billion people are still living in extreme poverty—but if you understand the progress we’ve made, you feel a lot more optimistic about the opportunity to help them. 

A few more thoughts from last week’s trip:

Behind the scenes with Jimmy Fallon

One of the more entertaining stops (at least for me) was an appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to talk about the letter. I actually went to the studio twice. Early in the day, I shot a video where I put on a bunch of goofy outfits—a chicken costume, a beatnik beard and glasses, etc.—and gave the URL of the Annual Letter. I had to say "GatesLetter.com" about 50 times, and I had to say it in the same rhythm each time so the sound would sync up. If you watch the video, you’ll see what I mean.

Later, I went back to tape the interview. Jimmy came backstage before the taping to say hi. He’s just as nice and energetic as he seems on TV. He had read the letter and was ready with a lot of thoughtful questions. Poverty and disease aren’t obvious topics for a show like Late Night, but he did a great job.

The most surprising question

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by how many people in New York wanted to talk about the Super Bowl and my hometown Seahawks. But that wasn’t the question that threw me.

One talk show picked up on the myth theme from the Annual Letter and asked about the biggest myth about me personally. At first, I wasn't sure what to say—it’s just not something I spend time thinking about. 

Eventually I said it’s a myth that I’m the biggest philanthropist in the world. The truth is, getting involved in philanthropy hasn’t required me to give up a single thing that I want. I still get to take vacations with my family, go to the movies, and eat cheeseburgers. Yet I’ve met many people out in the field—health workers, teachers, and more—who have changed their careers and sacrificed enormously to fight disease or improve education. They’re giving up much more than I have. And no one knows their names. So I would say these people are bigger philanthropists than I am.

What’s next

Writing the letter—and reading some of the reactions to it—made me realize I have some more research to do in one area. The public debate over aid has become a bit simplistic and polarized: Depending on whom you ask, aid is either completely magical or a huge waste. I’d like to see a more nuanced discussion over what forms of aid are most effective, so we can focus more money and effort on them. 

Unfortunately, there’s no consistent way to classify and evaluate different types of aid. For example there’s disaster relief, aid for education, aid for health systems, aid that funds research on global public goods like vaccines or new seeds, aid in war zones like Afghanistan, and so on. Much aid goes to poor countries that really need it, while some still goes to the richer middle-income countries. But the ways experts categorize aid today don’t really help us understand which approaches have the biggest impact for the poor. So I’ll be learning more about this in the coming months and will write more about it in a future post.

How you can help

Finally, I heard from some people who had read the letter and wanted to know how they could help. If you want to give money, organizations like Save the Children and Heifer International are a great place to start. Bono’s organization, ONE, is a great way to lend your voice. Or you can set out to learn more about health and poverty, so you can help fight some of the cynicism about the possibility of progress. We really can help people save and improve lives, and make the world a more fair and equitable place.

Read this next
NEXT
Comments
posting ...
Please verify your email in order to make comments. Click here to resend verification email
Sorry, duplicate comments are not allowed. 
Sorry, that HTML is not allowed. 
Sorry, something went wrong. 
In order to comment you must be a Gates Notes Insider. Please sign up or log in to continue. 
Be the first to leave a comment.
Comment Locked
Comments more than 2 months old are locked. For more information, contact us.
Report
Delete Comment?
Deleting this comment will remove replies to this comment by you and others as well. This action cannot be undone.
Delete Comment
Why do you want to report this comment?
It's annoying or not interesting
It's abusive and/or vulgar
It's spam
Report Comment
Your report has been submitted.
Close
Save
Cancel
Thanks for visiting the Gates Notes. We'd like your feedback.
Become a Gates Notes Insider
Join the Gates Notes community to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.
SIGN UP
Already joined?
Log in
Logout:


Become a Gates Notes Insider
Become a Gates Notes Insider
Join the Gates Notes community to get regular updates from Bill on key topics like global health and climate change, to access exclusive content, comment on stories, participate in giveaways, and more.
Already joined? Log in
LOG IN
SIGN UP
Use your social account:
Or sign up with email:
Title
Mr
Mrs
Ms
Miss
Mx
Dr
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Why are we collecting this information? Gates Notes may send a welcome note or other exclusive Insider mail from time to time. Additionally, some campaigns and content may only be available to users in certain areas. Gates Notes will never share and distribute your information with external parties.
Bill may send you a welcome note or other exclusive Insider mail from time to time. We will never share your information.
Sign up
We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign Up FAQ. By clicking "Sign Up" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
Street address
City
postal_town
State Zip code
administrative_area_level_2
Country
Data
Gates Notes Insider Sign Up FAQ

Q. How do I create a Gates Notes account?

A. There are three ways you can create a Gates Notes account:

  • Sign up with Facebook. We’ll never post to your Facebook account without your permission.
  • Sign up with Twitter. We’ll never post to your Twitter account without your permission.
  • Sign up with your email. Enter your email address during sign up. We’ll email you a link for verification.

Q. Will you ever post to my Facebook or Twitter accounts without my permission?

A. No, never.

Q. How do I sign up to receive email communications from my Gates Notes account?

A. In Account Settings, click the toggle switch next to “Send me updates from Bill Gates.”

Q. How will you use the Interests I select in Account Settings?

A. We will use them to choose the Suggested Reads that appear on your profile page.

BACK
Forgot your password?
Enter the email you used to sign up and a reset password link will be sent to you.
This email is already registered. Enter a new email, try signing in or retrieve your password
Reset Password
Reset your password.
Set New Password
Your password has been reset. Please continue to the log in page.
Log in
Get emails from Bill Gates
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
On
Off
Email me comment notifications
On
Off
On-screen comment notifications
On
Off
This email is already registered
Finish
We will never share or spam your email address. For more information see our Sign up FAQ. By clicking "Continue" you agree to the Gates Notes Terms of Use / Privacy Policy.
You're in!
You're in!
Please check your email and click the link provided to verify your account.
Didn't get an email from us? Resend verification email
Upload a profile picture
Choose image to upload
Uploading...
Uh Oh!
The image you are trying to upload is either too big or is an unacceptable format. Please upload a .jpg or .png image that is under 25MB.
Ok
Title
Mr
Mrs
Ms
Miss
Mx
Dr
Cancel
Save
This email is already registered
Cancel
Save
Please verify email address. Click verification link sent to this email address or resend verification email.
Email and notification settings
Send me updates from Bill Gates
You must provide an email
On
Off
Email me comment notifications
On
Off
On-screen comment notifications
On
Off
Select your interests
Saving Lives
Energy Innovation
Improving Education
Alzheimer's
Philanthropy
Book Reviews
About Bill Gates
Finish
Confirm Account Deactivation
Are you sure you want to deactivate your account?
Deactivating your account will unsubscribe you from Gates Notes emails, and will remove your profile and account information from public view on the Gates Notes. Please allow for 24 hours for the deactivation to fully process. You can sign back in at any time to reactivate your account and restore its content.
Deactivate My Acccount
Go Back
Your Gates Notes account has been deactivated.
Come back anytime.
Welcome back
In order to unsubscribe you will need to sign-in to your Gates Notes Insider account
Once signed in just go to your Account Settings page and set your subscription options as desired.
Sign In
Request account deletion
We’re sorry to see you go. Your request may take a few days to process; we want to double check things before hitting the big red button. Requesting an account deletion will permanently remove all of your profile content. If you’ve changed your mind about deleting your account, you can always hit cancel and deactivate instead.
Submit
Cancel
Thank You! Your request has been sent