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This month, I share yet another inspiring fable I read from Bill Gates.

One I particularly found interesting!


This story will potentially change your life and expose to you the intestines of strategy, capacity of exponential growth and possibly of compound interest at a different front altogether.


King Shirham of India was so pleased when one of his ministers invented the game of chess that he asked the man to name any reward.

‘Your majesty,’ said the minister, ‘I ask that you give me one grain of wheat for the first square of the chessboard, two grains for the second square, four for the third, and so on, doubling the number of grains each time until all sixty-four squares are accounted for.

‘The king was moved by the modesty of the request and called for a bag of wheat.

The king asked that the promised grains be counted out onto the chessboard.


On the first square of the first grain was placed one small grain. On the second square were two specks of wheat.

On the third square there were four – then on successive squares 8, 16, 32, 64, 128. By square eight at the end of the first row, King Shirham’s supply master had counted out a total of 255 grains.

He king probably registered no concern. Maybe a little more wheat was on the board than he had expected, but nothing surprising had happened.

If we assume that it took one second to count each grain, the counting so far had taken only four minutes. If one row’s grain could be counted out in four minutes, try to guess how long it would take to count out the wheat for all sixty-four squares of the board. Four hours? Four days? Four years?

By the time the second row was complete, the supply master had worked for about eighteen hours counting out just the sixteenth square’s 65,535 grains. By the end of the third of the eight rows, it took ninety seven days to count the 8.4 million grains for that twenty-fourth square. And there we’re still forty empty squares to go.

It’s safe to assume that the king broke his promise to the minister. Completing the board would have required 18,446,744,073,709,551,615 grains of wheat and 584 billion years of counting. Current estimates of the age of the earth are around 4.5 billion years. According to most versions of the legend, King Shirham realised at some point in the counting that he had been tricked and had his clever minister beheaded.

Exponential growth, even when it’s explained, seems like a trick.

Once again, I wish you a prosperous month. As you go through this message, may it go through you to make your June 2017 your best yet!

Till next month,

I remain truly yours,

Tonny Rutakirwa,


Tonniez Group Holdings,

Serving since 28th December 2008

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