No one can predict the future. Not even Bill Gates.
But the billionaire founder of Microsoft and philanthropist can tell you which skills he thinks will give you a competitive edge in the future.
Gates recently touched on this topic when he delivered a lecture at his high school alma mater, Lakeside School in Seattle. Fun fact: Another famous alumni is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The two met when they were students there.
The first question the school's head Bernie Noe posed to Bill Gates was this: "What do today's students need to know to thrive in 2030 and 2040?"
You're never to old to keep learning.
Gates encouraged the high school students to cultivate their curiosity. The more knowledge they seek out, the better they'll be prepared for what's ahead.
"For the curious learner, these are the best of times because your ability to constantly refresh your knowledge with either podcasts or lectures that are online is better than ever," Gates said.
To do that, Gates said students must build your sense of curiosity and basic framework of knowledge. History, science, and economics are the subject areas he sees as being particularly useful to be successful in the future.
What Bill Gates predicts for the decades ahead.
During the decades ahead, the digital revolution will surprise us," Gates said.
This is where that foundational knowledge and drive to keep learning will come into play. He thinks having the self confidence and willingness to keep learning will help prepare students for that revolution.
For example, he says changes that will take place in healthcare and climate change will require an understanding of the sciences.
He also believes teeangers must be more informed than ever on current affairs and past events. "Democracy is going to more and more require participants," he said. He says understanding history -- both of the United States and the entire world -- will prepare students to understand why the world is in the situation it's in.
Bill Gates is his own case study.
When Gates graduated from Lakeside in 1973, he didn't know what the future would hold. There was one thing he took with him though that prepared him for his future success: "I had the ability to learn."
He never expected that he would drop out of Harvard. In fact, Gates was so hungry for knowledge that he took extra classes in college just because they sounded fun and interesting. He admits that he wasn't very sociable because his heavy course load was all-consuming. "I managed to get two and a half years there, and I loved every minute of it," he said.
Gates dropped out of Harvard and started Microsoft with his former Lakeside buddy Paul Allen in 1975. The rest is history.