Bill Gates, Toastmasters, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Bill Gates, Toastmasters, and the Pursuit of Happiness

by Ankur Bora

Imagine a world where possibilities are limitless. All that you need to pursue your dreams and follow your inner callings is available. Many years ago, I found such a place. What a privilege to work where I had all the freedom and liberty to pursue my dream. It was an organization founded by my teenage hero Bill Gates!

When I enrolled in Computer Science and Engineering, I dreamed of working for Bill Gates. My dream was fulfilled in 2008 when I joined Microsoft at the Las Colinas campus in Dallas. My primary responsibility was software. But I had the liberty to pursue my passions: volunteering for charitable organizations, joining Toastmasters International, and building my career with the Microsoft mentorship program.

My mentor was George Vanderburg. Over the course of five years at Microsoft, he became a friend, philosopher, and guide to me. I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from people like George who cared enough to tell me the things that I needed to hear at crucial junctures in my life.

I always wanted to give back to the community especially to my adopted home city of Irving. This country had given me so much, and I really wanted to reciprocate. To better the lives of my loved ones and people around me. When I discussed this with my mentor, George, he suggested I volunteer at the local MacArthur High School. Great idea!

In the spring of 2009, our Toastmasters club organized a Youth Leadership Program, a workshop consisting of eight one-hour sessions. Erik Leaseburg, Lupe Brieno, and Kevin Richard were some of the Toastmasters who attended this program. Every Thursday morning, we guided the students in preparing and giving speeches and impromptu talks; controlling their voice, vocabulary, and gestures; offering constructive feedback; and evaluating their speaking ability.

The school coordinator sent a letter expressing how the Microsoft Toastmasters program helped to build confidence in the students, teaching them how to better communicate with each other, and giving them an opportunity to showcase their hard work and talent. The workshop was a success!

I recently delivered a speech recalling my days at Microsoft Toastmasters. Bill Gates created an organization where possibilities are limitless, and employees have the freedom to pursue their dreams. My hero enabled me to obtain my pursuit of happiness.