Everybody has a pretty good idea of how smart Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is, but his way of monitoring employee work hours early in the companies history is mind blowing. Apparently, instead of just looking at a time clock, Gates memorized every employee’s license plate.
Gates went on the BBC Radio 4 program, “Desert Island Discs,” and discussed his intense early on management style with the host of the show. Gates stated:
I had to be a little careful not to try and apply my standards to how hard [others at the company] worked. I knew everybody’s licence plate so I could look out the parking lot and see, you know, when people come in. Eventually I had to loosen up as the company got to a reasonable size.
Gates was only a teenager when he dropped out of Harvard and started Microsoft with Allen, but it has been a whirlwind of a ride. Gates dropped out of running the company in 2014 and now spends his time as the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Part of being one of the most influential people in history was being able to socialize with others of his caliber, including the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Gates talked about their relationship during the broadcast stating:
Steve really is a singular person in the history of personal computing in terms of what he built at Apple. For some periods, we were completely allies working together – I wrote software for the original Apple II. Sometimes he would be very tough on you, sometimes he’d be very encouraging. He got really great work out of people.
But Gates didn’t end it there. He continued by talking about the softer side of their relationship and how it had developed over the years. Gates said:
In the early years, the intensity had always been about the project, and so then [when] Steve got sick, it was far more mellow in terms of talking about our lives and our kids. Steve was an incredible genius, and I was more of an engineer than he was. But anyway, it was fun. It was more of a friendship that was reflective, although tragically then he couldn’t overcome the cancer and died.
Gates ended the interview by answering the question every guest has to answer: What eight discs would you take with you to a desert island?
Gates chose “Under Pressure” by David Bowie and Queen, Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced” and “How Can Love Survive” from “The Sound of Music.”