FORTUNE -- "People do play computer games at work, but they also doodle with pencils. Do you take away their pencils? That's not the way a modern workforce is managed. You've got to trust people."
So said Microsoft's (MSFT) chairman in 1996, according to Impatient Optimist: Bill Gates in His Own Words -- and, like most quotations in this pocket-sized book, it seems as timely an observation as it was back then. Editor Lisa Rogak, whose Barack Obama In His Own Words was a 2008 bestseller, has compiled sound bites from Chairman Bill by topic, from A (acquiring other companies) to W (working with his wife).
The result is like eating salted peanuts: Once you start reading, it's hard to stop. Here's Gates on bigness: "Size works against excellence. Even if we are a big company, we cannot think like a big company or we are dead." On risk: "A little blindness is necessary when you undertake a risk. You have to have a little suspension of disbelief." On creativity: "We tell people if no one laughs at at least one of their ideas, they're probably not being creative enough."
Some of Gates' remarks in these pages shed light on his second career as a major-league philanthropist, like this one, on why corporations should give away money: "Profits are not always possible when business tries to serve the very poor. In such cases, there needs to be another market-based incentive -- and that incentive is recognition. Recognition…attracts good people to the organization."
Want to know more about his personal life? Here's a nugget from a commencement address he gave at Harvard a few years ago, about his lack of success with women while he was a student there: "Radcliffe [the women's college that merged with Harvard in 1977] was a great place to live. There were more women up there, and most of the guys were math-science types. That combination gave me the best odds, if you know what I mean. That's where I learned the sad lesson that improving your odds doesn't guarantee success." More
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