“There is more to life than work,” said Bill Gates to the graduates of Northern Arizona University at the recent Commencement Ceremony. “Don’t wait as long as I did to learn this lesson.”

Was I surprised to hear this statement coming from one of the most successful businessmen in the world? No. Because I’ve heard it before. Almost daily. From our chairman and owner Steve Case. And from our more than 4,000+ highly successful Club Members and their families. Prolific men and women. Entrepreneurs. Artists. Athletes. Politicians. Young. Old. Married. Single. It doesn’t matter.

They chose to join Exclusive Resorts for one reason. Because life really is too short. 4,000 weeks short to be exact. A sobering statistic few dare to whisper out loud. But with the average life expectancy in the United States sitting at just 77.8 years — it can sometimes take a global pandemic or business magnate like Bill Gates to wake us up.

COVID-19 forever changed our perspective. It certainly gave us a greater sense of time and amplified the fragility of life, but it also forced us to re-evaluate our priorities and the importance of human connection. Amplifying that nagging feeling that life is flying by — and that we’re missing out on an important part of it. 

It’s no coincidence that during these last few years, we’ve seen a record number of new families join Exclusive Resorts. Eager to optimize, and invest in, the richness of their lives and the real value of their time. Because unlike those possessions we guard for our next of kin — a beloved timepiece, a family heirloom — the asset of experience — is far more precious and challenging to ensure for the generations that follow. 

Of course, whatever is good for your soul can also be good for your career. Don’t believe me? Just ask one of our members — 80% of whom own their own business or are in the C-suite. Enter Bill Gates for lesson #2.

“When I was your age, I didn’t believe in vacations. I didn’t believe in weekends. I pushed everyone around me to work very long hours. In the early days of Microsoft, my office overlooked the parking lot—and I would keep track of who was leaving early and staying late,” said Gates. But as he got older, he realized there is more. “Take time to nurture your relationships, to celebrate your successes, and to recover from your losses.”

Quality time off is critical to success. It is transformative and restorative. I believe it was Mark Twain that said, “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrowmindedness.” At Exclusive Resorts, we believe travel is about stretching your mind, body and spirit. It’s an opportunity to better engage with the world. So, you can come back changed — more relaxed, more enriched, more invigorated and more inspired. 

So, what’s the lesson in all of us? 

Life travels fast, with plenty of ‘should-haves’ along the way. And when it’s over, you’ll never wish you worked more and played less. So, spend more time with your family. Take better vacations. And do what is good for your soul. 

Thanks for the reminder Mr. Gates. 

The transcript of Bill Gates remarks at the May 13, 2023 NAU Commencement Ceremony can be found here.