What it’s like to work with a billionaire, according to ex-colleagues of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Sara Blakely

The personal lives of billionaires it is very interesting for all those who want to understand their success. Their eccentricities and the mantras that govern their lives make them write articles and record podcasts.

But it is those colleagues who have had the opportunity to work with them, who have been able to get to know them up close. Business Insider has interviewed several people who have worked alongside Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Sara Blakely to find out what they really are like.

Bill Gates.

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Bill Gates knew right away if someone tried to sell him the bike

Chris Williams will never forget the questioning he says Bill Gates gave him when they first met in 1992.

After buying his company, Gates questioned Williams and his team to argue why their product was better than Microsoft’s. As a Microsoft executive, Williams spent 8 years regularly meeting with Gates face to face.

In that time, he learned that the CEO of Microsoft asked these questions so insistently to identify people who pretend to be experts in something they don’t really know. he insisted until the person admitted not knowing what he was talking about or started making things up.

“It was hard to be in a room with him and not notice that he had that ability. Over time I was able to recognize those who weren’t willing to admit they didn’t know about something,” Williams tells Business Insider:

Williams also recalled Gates’s ability to absorb a lot of information and immediately identify what mattered and what needed to be done.

Jeff Bezos.
Jeff Bezos.

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Jeff Bezos insisted on the importance of bringing the entire team together

Colin Bryar, former vice president of Amazon and chief of staff to Bezos, listed 13 things she learned in the 12 years she worked closely with him.

Among them, the importance of reacting quickly to trends, redoubling efforts on initiatives that work to minimize risk, and accepting how difficult it is for a large team of people to work together.

On this last point, Bryar says that Jeff Bezos held a weekly 4-hour meeting with his direct reports instead of individual meetings with each of them. Everyone attended regardless of whether or not the agenda touched on their responsibilities.. Bezos wanted everyone to know how each other’s work worked to help them row in the same direction as a team when it came to solving a crisis.

“I’ve seen a lot of dysfunctional executive teams that just aren’t used to working together. A weekly meeting like the ones we had goes a long way,” Bryar says.

Sarah Blakely.
Sarah Blakely.

Reuters

Sara Blakely, the ‘girl next door’, is a creative genius

Lisa Magazine and Kenya Graham were personal and executive assistants, respectively, to Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Magazine describes Sara Blakely as “the girl next door” but also as “one of the most creative geniuses I’ve ever met.” As she told in the podcast reachShe was Spanx’s 13th employee, joining when the company was working out of a windowless basement in an Atlanta hotel.

She and Graham planned Blakely’s day, covering all aspects of her life. “Lisa and I would go home a lot, print out Sara’s calendar and sit with her husband’s assistants and the house staff,” Graham says. The two often collaborated on calendars, emailing and texting each other to make sure they were on the same page.

After Blakely gave the keynote address at the Nordic Business Forum in 2019, organizers they told him that his team was the most prepared group they had ever worked withaccording to Magazine.

Elon Musk.
Elon Musk.

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

Elon Musk can be funny, but he can also fire people quickly

During his early days at Tesla, Carl Medlock was in a meeting where someone disagreed with Musk. Medlock, who was then a territory manager at Tesla, he says he never saw that employee again. “Musk doesn’t like people talking back,” Medlock said on the podcast. The Iced Coffee Hour.

“When Elon stands up at the end of a meeting and says, ‘This is the direction we’re going to go,’ you get up out of your chair and you better go that way,” Medlock continued.

However, he says that despite this, Elon Musk can still be fun if you’re on his side, and not being from the auto industry, he asked Medlock some very interesting questions during his final interview for the job.

Medlock claims that never saw his boss socialize or joke with employees.

“He would talk to you if you needed him, but he didn’t mess around with people,” Medlock said. Even in meetings, Musk didn’t waste time chatting and went straight to the point.

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What it’s like to work with a billionaire, according to ex-colleagues of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Sara Blakely