On February 4th 2014, Satya Nadella was announced as the CEO of Microsoft – the 3rd CEO of a 45-year-old company that is Microsoft. And the image below features on the 1st page of Nadella’s first book, Hit Refresh, published by Harper Collins.
Nadella joined Microsoft in 1992 and it was his passion for “building things" because of the deep-rooted purpose that the organization had to change the world. Fast-forward to early 2000, Nadella felt that “something was changing.” He reflects in the book that innovation was replaced by bureaucracy and teamwork by internal politics. When Nadella took over the organization, he “was committed to ruthlessly removing barriers to innovation so we could get back to what we all joined the company to do – to make a difference to the world.”
In the Foreword to the book, Bill Gates describes Nadella as “humble, forward-looking, and pragmatic (…) always raising smart questions about our strategy.” Clearly a very different breed of leader was needed for Microsoft to outperform again — and this year, Microsoft's stock is up 18 percent — well ahead of the broader market. Since Nadella took over, Microsoft shares are up nearly 60 percent (more than double the gain of Nasdaq during the same period).
But Nadella reflects in the book that the journey is far from over.
In this blog series, we will cover Nadella’s transformation mantras and his view on technology.
Quotes we love from Hit Refresh
“Empathy grounds me and centers me”
Hit Refresh shares Nadella’s journey from India to Wisconsin for graduate school to the Silicon Valley to work for Sun. He provides details of his personal journey as a son of an IAS officer, and his own experiences of raising Zain (his first son who suffered from asphyxia in utero) and his wife’s approach to parenting that taught him the importance of empathy. Nadella writes: “My son’s condition requires that I draw daily upon the very same passion for ideas and empathy that I learned from my parents (…) I am always searching to understand people’s thoughts, feelings and ideas. Being an empathetic father, and bringing that desire to discover what is at the core, the soul makes me a better leader.”
“Cricket is like a wondrous Russian novel,” so is business
Hit Refresh is replete with Cricket analogies and metaphors and Nadella’s reflections on business and leadership. “(In Cricket) in the end, one brilliant knock, or three deftly bowled balls, can change the complexion of a game. First principle is to complete vigorously and with passion in the face of uncertainty and intimation. (…). A second principle is simply the importance of putting your team first, ahead of your personal statistics and recognition. (…) One brilliant character who does not put the team first can destroy the entire team. (…) Third is the central importance of leadership (…) Leadership is about bringing out the best in everyone.
“CEO is the Curator of an Organizational culture”
“A leader must see the external opportunities, the internal capabilities and the culture – and all of the connections among them – and respond to them before they become obvious parts of the conventional wisdom. It is an art and not a science. The batting average for how well the leader does will determine his longevity in business.” (…)
“The CEO is the Curator of an Organizational culture. Everything is possible for a company when its culture is about listening, learning, and harnessing individual passions and talents to the company mission”
“We need to be insatiable in our desire to learn”
“Meeting with customers and learning from their articulated and unarticulated needs is key to any product innovation agenda. (…) We need to be insatiable in our desire to learn from the outside and bring that learning into Microsoft, while still innovating to surprise and delight our users.”
“When I learn about a shortcoming, it is a thrilling moment”
“When I learn about a shortcoming, it is a thrilling moment. The person who points it out has given me a gift of insight. It’s about questioning ourselves each day: What all things did I have a fixed mindset for? Where did I have a growth mindset?”
A Leader’s job is to “find the rose petals in a field of shit”
“Once you become a vice-president, a partner in this endeavor, the whining is over. You can’t say the coffee around here is bad, or here aren’t enough good people, or I didn’t get the bonus. To be a leader in this company, your job is to find the rose petals in a field of shit.”
Hit Refresh is about an individual journey of transformation and that of a company driven to empower every individual and every organization in the planet to achieve more. Part II of this blog will focus on the trends in technology.
Title: Hit Refresh
Author: Satya Nadella
Publisher: Harper Collins