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Microsoft’s CEO’s takeaways from his rise up to becoming one of the greatest leaders of our time

These are quotes from Hit Refresh-The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone by Satya Nadella who is one of the greatest leaders of the modern age.

These are some powerful quotes and takeaways from a fantastic biography with such powerful insights as one of the most important people in business today.

E + SV + SR = T/t Empathy + Shared values + Safety and Reliability = Trust over time

The ultimate formula to build trust with your consumers. Microsoft’s recipe for success.

“Building Bing taught us about scale, experimentation-led design, applied ML, and auction-based pricing. These skills are not only mission critical at our company, but highly sought after throughout today’s technology universe.”

Satya really explains that taking on large projects and creating powerful partnerships. Microsoft is a force to be reckoned with.

“I had all the relationships, inside and outside Microsoft, to drive the Dynamics business forward. But Steve’s offer was essentially pushing me out of my comfort zone. I’d never worked in a consumer-facing business and had not really tracked Microsoft’s search engine.” (Taking bold risks and having mentorship) He indeed attributed much of his success to Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates.

“that in a successful company it is as important to unlearn some old habits as it is to learn new skills. My learning during this time was greatly accelerated by the hiring of Dr. Qi Lu as head of all online services at Microsoft. Qi had been an executive at Yahoo and was intensely recruited throughout Silicon Valley. Steve, Harry Shum, today our head of AI and research, and I had gone down to the Bay Area to spend an afternoon talking to Qi. On the flight back Steve said to me, “We should get him, but if you don’t want to work for him, that will be a problem.” Having just met with Qi, I knew that he was someone from whom I could learn a lot and Microsoft could benefit. So, I did not hesitate in supporting the hiring of Qi to Microsoft, even though in some sense it was stalling my own promotion. I realized that my own professional growth would come from working for and learning from Qi during my time in our online business. Later Qi would become an important member of my senior leadership team during the first few years I was CEO. Qi eventually left the company, but he continues to be a trusted friend and advisor.”

“Any institution-building comes from having a clear vision and culture that works to motivate progress both top-down and bottom-up.”

It is so important as a leader to state your vision clearly and to enroll your team to work towards your powerful vision which in his case to use technology to empower the world to make the world a much more efficient, productive, and knowledge sharing place.

“Dogma at Microsoft had long held that the open-source software from Linux was the enemy. We couldn’t afford to cling to that attitude any longer. We had to meet the customers where they were and, more importantly, we needed to ensure that we viewed our opportunity not through a rearview mirror, but with a more future-oriented perspective. We changed the name of the product from Windows Azure to Microsoft Azure to make it clear that our cloud was not just about Windows.”

Changing your mindset so that you can create powerful partnerships with what most people would consider your competitors is a key to creating win-win.

“if we prioritized the organization’s culture and built confidence both inside and outside the company. It would be only too easy to continue to live off our past successes. We had been like kings, albeit now in a threatened kingdom. There were ways to cash-cow this business and drive short-term return, but I believed we could build long-term value by being true to our identity and innovating.”

You always have to innovate. The world is changing so rapidly that companies are growing and failing very quickly, so you really have to stay on top of trends.

“My approach is to lead with a sense of purpose and pride in what we do, not envy or combativeness.”

This really explains his success in a nutshell.

“cohesive team that shared a common worldview. For anything monumental to happen—great software, innovative hardware, or even a sustainable institution—there needs to be one great mind or a set of agreeing minds.” The importance of combining together and settling one’s differences to achieve a common goal.

“with each leader coming to the table with a unique superpower to contribute for the common good. Amy is our conscience, keeping us intellectually honest and accountable for doing what we committed to do.”

Every person plays their own unique role, being able to have diverse is extremely important in today’s age. They say the most varied organizations are the most successful because of the exchange of ideas and the ability to reach into globalization and impact many more.

“Over time I would realize that while the death of a parent is painful, my mom is always there in my consciousness. She will always be there. Her calm and mindfulness continue to shape my relationships with people and the world around me to this day. During that season, I reflected on her role in my life and her constant push to find a sense of contentment and meaning in all I did. This idea was sitting with me through the spring as I prepared to share our new mission and culture with employees globally.”

The impact of legacy and the meaning he gives it is so powerful because many of us can relate to just wanting to leave a powerful everlasting legacy.

“but I don’t like to rely very much on slides or notes. So I was free to just channel what I was thinking and feeling, to let it flow.”
Satya is all about being in the moment which I respect so much because, there is something to be said about authenticity and people can relate to you much more when it is less canned. Thinking of receiving a canned email vs an email from scratch. You can always tell which is which.

Too often we rely too much on presentations where people can on emotions. We are human beings after all. Nothing is more powerful than a story and the impact it can have on people.

“but collaboration is the new norm, so we build our tools to empower teams. We would aspire to help everyone be productive no matter where they are, regardless of the device they use. Data, apps, and settings—all content—needed to roam across computing experiences.”

“To be successful amid the explosion of data, people need analytics, services, and agents that use intelligence to help them manage their scarcest resource—time. Finally, trust is the foundation upon which everything we do is built. That’s why we’ve invested heavily in security and compliance that set the standard for enterprises.”

Welcome to the data-driven world and the rise of AI.

“We needed employees and partners on board for the transformation ahead, and we needed Wall Street to be with us as well. Amy Hood, our CFO, understood the culture change we needed to navigate. She also became the crucial partner I needed for precise attention to quantitative detail across the business. Her job is where the rubber meets the road. Ahead of my first financial analyst meeting, Amy helped to translate the mission and ambitions into language and goals investors needed to hear. She helped, for example, shape the goal to build a $20 billion cloud business, something investors grabbed on to and tracked quarter after quarter. It took us from a defensive frame amid falling PC and phone share to an offensive mindset. We went from deflection to ownership of our future.”

Many organizations and world-class leaders cannot stress the vital importance of hiring the right people is so crucial. That is one of the common themes I find amongst the most successful companies. The always put a huge emphasis on hiring the best of the best.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” As I concluded my talk that morning in Orlando, I focused on what would be our grandest endeavor, the highest hurdle—transforming.” All day every day.

“values, customs, beliefs, and symbolic practices that men and women live and breathe each day. Culture is made up of acts that become habitual and accrue to something coherent and meaningful.”

“think of culture as a complex system made up of individual mindsets—the mindsets of those in front of me. Culture is how an organization thinks and acts, but individuals shape.”

At the end of the day, it’s all about empowering the individual.

“It’s that diverse collection of classmates back in Hyderabad who shared a learning mindset that would propel them on to leadership in government, business, sports, and entertainment. In all of these experiences, I’d been encouraged to follow my curiosity and to push the limits of my own capabilities, and now I was beginning to see how this approach would be critical to Microsoft as it confronted the burden of its past success.” All of his experience while it didn’t always make sense at the time, came together to build such a solid foundation for who he is today.

“Dr. Dweck’s research is about overcoming failures by believing you can. “The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.”

“the core of our business must be the curiosity and desire to meet a customer’s unarticulated and unmet needs with great technology.” Customer service 101- really being able to understand what the client sometimes needs by reading between the lines. That is one of the essential attributes of a successful salesman.

“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.”

“improve, and we need to include a wide range of opinions and perspectives in our thinking and decision making. In every meeting, don’t just listen—make”

“It’s about questioning ourselves each day: Where are all the places today that I had a fixed mindset? Where did I have a growth mindset?”

Are there areas of my life that I resist changing the most?

“Teachers love the way it encourages building, collaboration, and exploration. It’s a 3D sandbox of sorts. If the classroom curriculum calls for building a river ecosystem with marshes, Minecraft can do that. If the river needs to flow, the Minecraft logic function can make that happen. It teaches digital citizenship because it’s multiplayer. Twelve students in a classroom can be told to go build a house, and within minutes they form teams and get to work—a model of the workplace of the future.” Power acquisitions and contributing to creating environments where you can combine technology with learning, growth, and spatial reasoning skills.

“The key to the culture change was individual empowerment.”

“make things happen, and overestimate what others need to do for us. We had to get out of the mode of thinking in which we assume that others have more power over us than we do.” It’s all about taking the initiative and really practicing going outside your comfort zone on a daily basis.

“innovate in the face of fear and inertia. We need to be willing to lean into uncertainty, to take risks, and to move quickly when we make mistakes, recognizing failure happens along the way to mastery. Sometimes it feels like a bird learning to fly. You flap around for a while, and then you run around. Learning to fly is not pretty but flying is.” This is really one of my favorite quotes. It’s so beautiful and true.

People never see the progress and only see the end result. You really start to get to appreciate the journey much more when you can understand how much work it takes.

“During this time, I also found myself reflecting on the sacrifices my mother made for me and the challenging decision Anu had made to leave her promising career as an architect to care for Zain and our two girls full-time for more than two decades. She made it possible for my career to advance at Microsoft.” The power of the American dream, what it stands for it so powerful which is why we are still the best country in the world.

“He told me that I must internalize for myself the belief that the sky is the limit. I must work hard—not to climb the ladder, but to do important work.” The purpose and the why is much more important than the social recognition.

“A manager can be demanding, but must also have the empathy to figure out what will motivate employees.”

Tough luck is excellent but also being able to adjust and treat his employee different depending on how well they receive feedback, etc., the manner in which you present it.

“How do you identify role models you can fully relate to? How do you find mentors, coaches, and sponsors who can help you succeed without hiding your true self? At work, the tech industry, including Microsoft, is simply not as diverse as we must become. And outside of work, minorities can also feel isolated. King County in Washington state, for example, which encompasses Redmond, Bellevue, and Seattle, is 70 percent white. African Americans comprise under 7 percent, and Latinos and Hispanics are nearly 10 percent. To help connect communities of people with like backgrounds and interests, there has been a long tradition inside the company of underrepresented groups organizing themselves into employee resource groups such as Blacks @ Microsoft (BAM) and Women @ Microsoft. In all there are seven major ERGs and forty more specific networks.”

The power of support groups and knowing the truth can be essential to help support to the world so that everyone gets more opportunities no matter the circumstances.

“After three years of intensive focus on culture-building, we began to see some encouraging results.” Greatness takes time and consistency.

“To be a leader in this company, your job is to find the rose petals in a field of shit.”

Optimism goes a long way.

“The competitive landscape had shifted seismically over the previous decade, and now new and surprising partnerships with friends and former enemies were needed.”

“Build Partnerships Before You Need Them There was an audible gasp and more than a smattering of chuckles in the auditorium when I reached into my suit jacket and pulled out an iPhone. ” The smartest and the most brilliant can make allies out of even the darkest enemies.

“We have to find smart ways to partner so that our products can become available on each others’ popular platforms.”

“The first is engaging their customer base by leveraging data to improve the customer experience. Second, they must empower their own employees by enabling greater and more mobile productivity and collaboration in the new digital world of work. Third, they must optimize operations, automating and simplifying business processes across sales, operations, and finance. Fourth, they must transform their products, services, and business models.”

“our talent for partnerships was a key to what made us great. It’s the kind of thing that can happen to any great company. Success can cause people to unlearn the habits that made them successful in the first place. We knew we needed to retrain our partnership muscles. We had to look anew at our industry and find ways to add value for our customers whether they were on an Apple device, a Linux platform, or an Adobe product.”

“Fortunately, this instinct is part of my DNA. My very first job at Microsoft in 1992 was all about partnering. We were building Windows NT, a 32-bit operating system. But most of the backend applications that we needed to become viable had been built for Unix-based minicomputers, not Windows. And so my task as a young Windows NT technical evangelist was to move those applications onto the PC architecture. Lacking credibility as a serious enterprise player, Microsoft had to do a lot of hard work just to be considered. We built prototypes of applications for our PC platform and then took them to customers in manufacturing, retail, and healthcare to show them that their big, robust minicomputer apps really could run just as well on a PC—maybe even better. They were surprised to see their mission-critical apps work with a graphical user interface on a device they’d thought of as a toy.” Sometimes it’s necessary to go back to your roots an reinvent yourself after so many years of change.

“Partnerships are journeys of mutual exploration, and so we need to be open to unexpected synergies and fresh ways to collaborate. Openness begins with respect—respect for the people at the table.”

“I don’t let the limitations of the past dictate the contours of the future.”

“but today are frontiers of innovation—mixed reality, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. Mixed reality will become an essential tool in medicine, education, and manufacturing. AI will help forecast crises like the Zika epidemic and help us focus our time and attention on things that matter most. Quantum computing will give us the computational power to cure cancer and effectively address global warming.” Combining technology with people to create genuinely amazing breakthroughs for the world to solve some of the world’s most significant problems especially in health and wellness.

“I instantly saw its potential in classrooms, hospitals, and, yes, space exploration. NASA was, in fact, one of the first organizations to see the value of HoloLens, adopting an early version to enable astronauts on Earth to collaborate with astronauts in space. The importance of innovation and propelling society forward.

“the ability to feel or touch data—something known as haptics.”

“but the Snowden case broke a crucial ingredient in cloud computing—trust. How could we be an American cloud computing company, asking the world to trust us, when the NSA is using commercial services to spy on people up to and including heads of state? As tech companies, we have to design trust in everything we do. But policymakers also have an important role. Trust is not only dependent on our technology but also the legal framework that governs it. In this new digital world, we’ve lost the balance we need in large part because our laws have not caught up with technological changes. Later on, I’ll discuss what a modern policy framework designed to instill trust might look like. But first I’d like to explore the very essence of trust and how it has shaped our values and founding principles. “

“Trust in today’s digital world means everything. In a 2002 memo Bill Gates sent to Microsoft employees, he expressed the idea that trustworthy computing is more important than any other part of our work. “If we don’t do this,” he declared, “people simply won’t be willing—or able—to take advantage of all the other great work we do.”

“we need a regulatory environment that promotes the innovative and confident use of technology. The biggest problem is antiquated laws that are ill-suited to deal with problems like the Sony hacking case or the San Bernardino terrorist attack. In the midst of Apple’s standoff with the FBI, Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, went before Congress to argue the larger point that our laws dealing with data privacy and security are badly in need of revision.”

“Encryption plays an important role in protecting our customers’ most private data from hackers and other malicious actors. Regulatory or legal reforms in this area must not undermine security, an essential element of users’ trust in technology.”

The importance of trust and data security in this new world of the information age. He touches upon something that is so real in 2018 as we an approach an age where data for money is frowned up in virtually every nation but in America.

“I find that Europeans tend to be far more sensitive about privacy issues, perhaps in part because they recall how personal privacy was utterly shattered by dictators of the previous century.”

“They are “drawn to Xiaoice’s knowing sense of humor and listening skills,” Markoff wrote. Millennials in particular—many of them digital natives born since the advent of the Internet—are comfortable sharing their innermost thoughts and feelings with a digital companion because the discussions are nonjudgmental and anonymous.”

“AI will fail if it can’t complement its IQ with EQ. One might almost say that we’re birthing a new species, one whose intelligence may have no upper limits. Some futurecasters predict that the so-called singularity, the moment when computer intelligence will surpass human intelligence, might occur by the year 2100.”

“greatest challenges—disease, ignorance, and poverty. However, advancing AI to this level will require an effort even more ambitious than a moon shot. Christopher Bishop, who heads our research lab at Cambridge, once wrote a memo arguing that it will require something more akin to an entire space program—multiple parallel, distinct, yet interrelated moon shots. The challenge will be to define the grand, inspiring social purpose for which AI is destined.” Technology is not bad, we just need to adapt. It’s those who is resistant to change that will fail.

“In his book Machines of Loving Grace, John Markoff writes, “The best way to answer the hard questions about control in a world full of smart machines is by understanding the values of those who are actually building these systems.”(Food for thought)

“we shouldn’t think of technological intelligence as artificial, but rather as intelligence that serves to augment human capabilities and capacities.”

“Would you prefer to have $100,000 today or be a millionaire in 1920? Many would love to be a millionaire in the previous century, but your money then could not buy lifesaving penicillin, a phone call to family on the other side of the country, or many of the benefits of innovations we take for granted today. And so beyond this one measure called GDP, we have practically a moral obligation to continue to innovate, to build technology to solve big problems—to be a force for good in the world as well as a tool for economic growth. How can we harness technology to tackle society’s greatest challenges—the climate, cancer, and the challenge of providing people with useful, productive, and meaningful work to replace the jobs eliminated by automation?”

“They are using the latest cloud technology and AI from Microsoft to create a state-of-the-art healthcare diagnostics service that can, for example, detect an atrial fibrillation event before it happens because of the rich data going from the personal device of the patient directly to the cloud. In turn, this cloud service can be made available to hospitals in smaller towns or rural areas in India. Enlightiks also has plans to take advantage of IndiaStack to authenticate the user, accept payment, create portal, medical records, and much more. This Indian innovation is now looking to expand in the United States, Africa, and everywhere else.”

“experiences, I keep returning to this simplified equation: ∑ (Education + Innovation) × Intensity of Tech Use = Economic Growth Education plus innovation, applied broadly across the economy and especially in sectors where the country or region has a comparative advantage, multiplied by the intense use of technology, over time, produces economic growth and productivity.”

“While data privacy and security are always key concerns, they also need to be balanced against the demands for data to flow more freely across borders and between the various services that make up a modern global digital economy. Governments have been strong advocates for promoting digital security to protect the community from harm. However, our experience is that public policy and regulation in this area needs reform to ensure the right balance is struck. This is by no means easy, but Microsoft and other leaders in our industry have extensive experience helping governments modernize their regulatory frameworks to achieve this balance and help promote public safety and national security without compromising the benefits of these digital services for the public and private sectors and millions of citizens.”

“We also need to continue to promote free and fair trade. If we want to see growth and see it more broadly, opening up more markets and clearing barriers to trade for entrepreneurs is an essential step. It’s unfortunate that, in recent years, populist politicians on both the left and the right have campaigned on pledges to overturn free-trade agreements.”

“Throughout history, new classes of workers and new, more complex tasks have resulted from cutting-edge technologies.”

“where diversity of skin color, gender, religion, and sexual orientation is understood and celebrated. I know that we are on the right track when I hear a colleague express an insight that could only come from empathy, or when a product breakthrough results from someone who used Microsoft as a platform for his or her personal passion and creativity.”

Indeed I would say the main takeaways. The TLDR part is.

  1. Hiring the best talent out there and surround yourself with mentors/ diversity of opinions but also collaborate on a joint mission/goal.

2. Taking bold risks ones that will produce exponential payoffs. The most successful people tend to trust their intuition while many would think its a crazy idea.
Using technology to your advantage, it will not take over your job if you learn new skills and get with the times.
3. It’s always more than just about yourself. It’s about contributing to the greater good of mankind.
4. E + SV + SR = T/t Empathy + Shared values + Safety and Reliability = Trust over time
The Gutenberg Bible was the first book produced using movable type technology, and within fifty years the number of books grew to an estimated 12 million, unleashing a renaissance in learning, science, and the arts. (Embracing change and know that things are always going to be changing)

5. Trust has many other components as well—respect, listening, transparency, staying focused, and being willing to hit reset when necessary.

After three years of intensive focus on culture-building, we began to see some encouraging results. (Great progress takes time)

6. To be true to your heritage and learn from your ancestors.
7. Creating powerful partnerships is the key in today’s age where information travels fast.

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