Neil deGrasse Tyson: Astrophysicist & communicator extraordinaire
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Bill Gates at TED 09: How do you make a teacher great?

The theme at TED this year is "The Great Unveiling," and it was an unveiling of a sorts for Bill Gates when he gave an impassioned, upbeat talk to a packed hall in Long Beach Tuesday morning. But Bill was not at TED to talk about technology or Microsoft. The rebooted version of Bill Gates is all about changing the world through his own style of philanthropy. Bill is presenting with visuals much better than in years past (I elaborate on that briefly with photos here), but that's not why I point to this talk. I point to this talk below for the content. Bill talked first about eradicating Malaria in developing countries and then spent the second half of his talk on education in America.

WorkhardIn his talk Bill recommends a new book called Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America. He likes the book so much he said he's sending one to every TED member. Later in an on-stage interview with Chris Anderson (that's what the sofa was for), Bill stated again how he thought the need to transform education was really America's greatest challenge. I wish you could see the interview with Chris, it really was the best part of his talk (TED will post the interview separately later). Bill was funny but also very serious about his commitment to spend the rest of life — Bill Gates 2.0 if you will — trying to change the world through his foundation.

Above: An engaging interview with Chris Anderson followed the presentation (Chris was getting email questions off the computer). TED will post a video of this interview in future.

There have been some amazing presentations this week. I can't wait for them to be posted so all can see them. (And a big H/T to TED for getting this talk up in about 24 hours.) I'm trying to send comments when I can during the day on Twitter. Here (and here on TED's blog) you can follow updates almost live.



It was a very important point made by Bill during the talk - it's great to see someone with so much energy and passion looking to improve education.

It's a problem in every country, not just America - but actually the overriding goal and what we owe to our kids - is to make sure that every child reaches their full potential.

Matt Hern has some interesting points to make on the subject too.


Quite different from the earlier presentations by Bill Gates yu have posted.

Jan Schultink

Bill (2.0) has found his mission. I am impressed.

Patrick Ng

I, too, was impressed by Bill Gates. I think he did a very good presentation. I also like the fact that he kept saying that he's an optimistist. When faced with difficult situations, most of the time, the optimists will succeed whereas the pessimists will fail. This is because the optimists will more likely try hard to find solutions to the problems.


What this talk reveals is the importance of passion with meaning. It is one thing to speak passionately about new software that will earn you billions of dollars, and that has its place. But, it does not compare to someone speaking from their heart about topics i.e. malaria and teachers, that don't really benefit the speaker directly. It just comes across more credible, and that helps Bill a lot.

Lisa Fields


The minute I saw this presentation I thought "I bet Garr has done some consulting work with Mr. Gates."

The simple graphics worked but what simply amazed me was his passion. I had to chuckle because several times he almost seemed a little like Steve Jobs.

If you have seen 2.0 on YouTube you know how much our education system must change so I'm thrilled he will continue his efforts. Thanks for this post.

Lisa Fields

Nick Morgan

Hi, Garr --

Thanks for the thoughtful post on the Bill Gates talk. I blogged on the speech for its qualities as a speech, and I took Mr. Gates to task for releasing mosquitoes into the audience because it shows a lack of respect for that audience. But I agree that the two topics he covered -- malaria and education -- are both incredibly important and I am glad he's doing something about them. His slides were not quite up to your standards, but not bad, either.:-)

Mike Heard

Ironic that Chris Anderson is holding his Apple laptop prominently as he discusses issues of the day with Bill

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