If you want to be successful in your career, you need to realize information is power. No one knows this better than Bill Gates. In 1980, IBM was building its first personal computer, the PC. Trying to keep costs down, IBM decided to outsource the operating system and contacted Microsoft.
Microsoft didn’t have an operating system, but Bill Gates knew of a company that did. Seattle Computers had a system named QDOS but had no idea IBM was looking for an operating system. Gates used this information to his advantage and purchased QDOS at a fairly cheap price.
He then turned around and renamed the operating system MS-DOS. In one of the shrewdest moves in the history of business, instead of selling MS-DOS to IBM, Gates held on to it and only licensed it. This allowed him to license it to other computer companies.
The IBM PC became a huge success. And because imitation is the greatest form of flattery, PCs from other companies started to flood the market, every one of them with MS-DOS as the operating system.
The computer had became a commodity. The value was in the software, or the operating system. Gates had a monopoly. It was this monopoly that made Microsoft a juggernaut and Gates the richest man in the world.
Getting information is not as hard as you think. This is why one of the most famous expressions during World War II was “lose lips sink ships.” In fact, information gave America its turning point victory in the Pacific.
In June 1942, only six months after the Japanese destroyed a big chunk of the American fleet at Pearl Harbor, the Japanese wanted to finally knock America out of the war in the Pacific with one more decisive victory. Their plan was to ambush what remained of the American fleet near the Midway Islands.
Fortunately for America, cryptographers were able to determine the date and location of the planned attack, allowing the U.S. Navy to prepare its own ambush. All four of Japan’s large aircraft carriers were destroyed in what is now known as the Battle of Midway.
If you want information, all you have to do is ask.
William Casey, the former head of the CIA, said: “People always say more than they should.”
Another master at getting information was 60 Minutes’ Mike Wallace, who once said: “I learned that if you ask an interesting question and then you just leave it there, the interviewee gets a little embarrassed by the silence and sometimes tells you more than you expect.”
In addition to getting information, you also need to protect your information. In a sense, you need to be like Brad Pitt’s character in the movie, “Fight Club.” Early in the movie, he said: “The first rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is, you do not talk about Fight Club!”
So in summary, if you want to be successful in your career, you need to realize information is power. You need to get other people’s information while at the same time protecting your own information.
Originally published at medium.com