Bill and Melinda Gates: How Warren taught us optimism

(CNN)Warren Buffett is one of the best loved people in the world — and it’s easy to see why. He’s jovial and friendly. He’s funny and wise. He makes people feel good about themselves. But he has one quality that fuels all the others: Warren is the most upbeat, optimistic person we know.

He’s optimistic about the country, about the future and about you. No matter where things are right now, he knows in the long run they’re getting better. You doubt it? Don’t bet against it; he’s made billions investing in that belief. The great thing about Warren’s optimism is you can’t hear him share a story, tell a joke or say hello without picking up some of his optimism yourself.


    Because of the spread of vaccines, better nutrition, more breastfeeding and access to contraceptives, in every year since 1990, fewer children died than in the previous year. If we could show you only one number that proves how life has changed for the poorest, it would be 122 million, the number of children’s lives saved since 1990 when you add up the gains. These are children who would have died if mortality rates had stayed where they were in 1990.
    The best news is that these trends of saving lives and reducing poverty are connected and yield benefits for children, their parents and whole nations. Reducing childhood mortality is the heart of the work for us. When you chart them all, virtually all advances in society nutrition, education, access to contraceptives, gender equity, economic growth show up as gains in the childhood mortality chart, and every gain in this chart shows up in gains for society.
    When parents are confident their children will survive and they have access to contraceptives so they can time and space their pregnancies to improve outcomes for mothers and babies parents can choose how many children to have. The children are healthier, they’re better nourished, their mental capacities are higher, and parents have more time and money to spend on each child’s health and schooling. That’s how families and entire countries get out of poverty.

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    These are just two highlights from our letter to Warren; we hope you go to and find more. Maybe a little bit of Warren will rub off on you, and you’ll see that optimism is not just positive thinking — but the right outlook on how you, too, can transform the world. Together, over time, we can make things better.

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