10 Lessons From Satya Nadella

Though Microsoft is typically synonymous with billionaire Bill Gates, there’s a new man calling the shots – Satya Nadella.

Satya Nadella, third and current CEO of Microsoft, now heads the famed tech giant. It’s a position Nadella earned through his crafty entrepreneurship and business skills.

Those looking to better succeed in their own careers should consider these ten powerful lessons from the Microsoft CEO.

Lesson 1: Anything Is Possible

Nadella didn’t have the most traditional of upbringings. In fact, the future Microsoft CEO was born in Andhra Pradesh, India. Born in 1967, Nadella came from a severely impoverished country—one that little expected would give birth to the future CEO of one of the largest tech organizations in the world.

Nadella, however, didn’t let his background influence him. Instead, the future CEO would leave his home country after receiving a bachelor’s degree. Following his degree, he would attend the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, where he would earn a Master of Science in Computer Science.
It was this degree that opened the door for Nadella to enter Microsoft. At the time, Microsoft was the largest tech corporation in the world. This didn’t keep Nadella from securing a position, however, and over the next two decades, he would go on to work his way up the ranks to become the CEO of the company.
His journey along the way showcases that it’s not about where one comes from—it’s about their drive and ambition. Though Nadella didn’t have the fanciest of upbringings, he managed to secure one of the most lucrative and respected positions in the technology world.
In this way, Nadella’s story serves as an example to other aspiring entrepreneurs that they, too, can make it if they have enough drive and ambition.


Lesson 2: Be Prepared for the Unexpected 

As reported by Chicago Booth Magazine, Nadella had an interesting experience when he first interviewed for a job with Microsoft.

Though Nadella thought his interview was going well, he noted that it went on longer than he had expected. After being tired out by being asked several questions related to computer science, Nadella was asked one final question.
A question that he couldn’t have expected.
To close the interview, the interviewer asked the future CEO what he would do if he saw a child fall at a crossroads. Nadella, not knowing how to answer, finally replied that he would go to the nearest phone booth and call for help.
It was an answer that didn’t leave the interviewer satisfied. After being rushed out of the room, Nadella later learned that the question was meant to judge his empathy—he should have held the child.
Though Nadella’s other qualifications were enough to land him the job, the CEO notes that he never forgot the lessons that he learned that day.
Those looking to be successful in careers of their own should be sure to prepare for the unexpected. And, remember, it’s always a good idea to showcase your care and empathy for others.

Lesson 3: Be Innovative

Nadella literally started from the bottom before reaching the top. But he didn’t get that way without some innovative and forward-thinking actions.
Determined not to stay on the bottom rung, Nadella worked his way up through the company by bringing his unique skills to the table.
Over the years, he would go on to earn promotions—such as when he was called to lead the development of Microsoft’s search portal.
During this time, Nadella remained focused on his goals and developed innovative solutions to achieve them. It was this ability that got him recognized and eventually established as the CEO of the entire company.
This reflects the importance of innovation in today’s market. Entrepreneurs and businessmen alike can benefit from having an innovative spirit. By remaining focused and delivering real results with new solutions, individuals can strengthen their careers.

Lesson 4: Always Work as a Team

That’s not to say, however, that Nadella achieved his success alone. Nor does it mean that he doesn’t see himself as part of a larger team now that he’s reached the top.

According to Nadella, properly working on a team requires two things. The first comes from the top.
“Your ability to come into an uncertain time and an uncertain future and bring about clarity is key,” he said in an interview with The Chicago Booth. “The people who are capable of getting into a situation where there is, in some sense, panic and who can bring first clarity on what to do next—that is invaluable.”
For the entrepreneurs out there, there’s another step to this scenario. According to Nadella, it’s not just about being able to bring clarity to a team. It’s also about building the right one.
“The second attribute, which goes with bringing clarity, is people who can create energy,” he said in the same Chicago Booth interview.
For those looking to work their way up the corporate ladder, both of these considerations are important. First, it’s critical that you make sure that you’re able to bring clarity to a situation. By developing this quality, you’ll be able to stand out amongst your coworkers to get lucrative promotions.
On the other hand, you’ll also need to be able to bring energy into any situation. By keeping yourself and those around you motivated, you’ll showcase that you have the people and team skills necessary to lead. Though this may not show immediate results, over time, it can certainly help you get the career advancements that you need—just like it did for Nadella.

Lesson 5: Don’t Let Failure Stop You

For this to work, however, you’re going to have to be able to risk failure.

Those who don’t accept that failure will be part of the process will never be able to reach their full potential. Nadella has been vocal about his determination in not giving up on his dreams.

It’s a quality that he believes must be present in every worker if they really wish to be successful. In his personal life, Nadella notes that when he encountered failure, he learned his lessons and reinvented himself so that he could be better situated for obstacles in the future.

Lesson 6: Don’t Limit Your Dreams

We’ve seen how Nadella’s story shows that it doesn’t matter where one comes from.
But it goes even one step further.
It also shows entrepreneurs that it’s okay to dream. Though many may consider him landing a job at Microsoft an accomplishment in and of itself, Nadella blazed his way to the top of the organization in less than three decades.
This achievement represents a lifetime of work and in staying focused on one’s dreams. In this way, Nadella shows the importance of believing in and not limiting one’s dreams.

Lesson 7: Hard Work Pays Off

That being said, Nadella didn’t get his position with dreams alone. Instead, the Microsoft CEO worked hard to ensure his promotion to the upper echelon of his company.
Now, his heavy focus on hard work is benefitting the entire Microsoft company. In just a few months after taking over as the CEO, Nadella had already made several big accomplishments for the company.
One of the largest was his boosting of Microsoft Azure—a program that had before been inaccessible to consumers. Nadella changed course, making the software something that had powerful benefits to all consumers.
What may be even more impressive, however, is that the new CEO managed to quadruple the price of Microsoft’s stock in just four years.
This impressive accomplishment was the result of hours of hard work and innovative thought on the part of Nadella. Many of these changes came from his ability to capitalize on cross-platform developments at Microsoft. In 2018, the company witnessed one of its fastest expansion since the close of the twentieth century. Perhaps the biggest driver of this was Nadella’s insistence on pushing the company toward embracing cloud technology and subscription-based services.
By working hard and bringing similar innovative solutions to the table, businessmen and entrepreneurs alike can bring more success into their professional careers.


Lesson 8: Embrace Risks

Want to make it far in your organization? Follow this advice from Satya Nadella: take risks.

The Microsoft CEO proved the worthiness of this strategy through his 2016 acquisition of LinkedIn. At the time, Microsoft was totally out of the social media market. Nadella, seeking to change this, implemented a $26 billion takeover of the service, which operates as the largest professional social media platform in the world.
The takeover has proved beneficial for Microsoft, helping the tech giant remain relevant in new areas of the digital sphere.
Additionally, Nadella’s entire career at Microsoft can be seen as one big personal risk. Nadella, who originally came to the US as an international student, left his home country to pursue a career in a growing computer science field.
At the time, computer science isn’t what we see it as today. In this era during the late eighties and early nineties, the market was relatively young—making it a riskier, if not more rewarding, investment.
Still, Nadella persevered, earning his master’s degree before securing his job at Microsoft. His persistence eventually paid off when he was named the CEO of the tech giant in 2014.
Entrepreneurs and other businessmen can benefit by taking similar risks in their own careers. By being willing to risk failure, you can open yourself up to greater rewards.

Lesson 9: Plan Ahead

Nadella speaks of the importance of planning ahead in order to remain successful and competitive. About the subject, the CEO remarked, “The most important attribute that any leader needs to have—and it is often underestimated—is the need to create clarity when none exists.”

In other words, in order to remain successful, individuals must be able to effectively plan ahead and create order that can be followed not just by them but by other members of their organization. In doing so, they can advance in their careers and grow their companies.
Nadella has followed his own advice. The tech giant’s inclusion in a very select group of Microsoft CEOs speaks for itself. Of his experience, the businessman said, “Your ability to come into an uncertain time and an uncertain future and bring clarity is key.”
Undoubtedly, it takes someone special to use their foresight to navigate one of the world’s biggest companies. For this reason, professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs should look to Nadella as an example of a visionary able to make his dreams come true through excellent planning.

Lesson 10: Be Competitive in All That You Do

Nadella’s rise to the top of Microsoft didn’t come without a bit of friendly competition. By being able to bring out the best in his coworkers—while still managing to outpace them—Nadella took the top spot at Microsoft.

This competitive spirit is inherent in the nature of business. In order to make it in a field as cutthroat as technology, Nadella learned to showcase a competitive and dominating personality.
By honing their competitive nature, other entrepreneurs can start to become more successful in their markets. This proves true regardless of the industry—though some may be more competitive than others.
Using Nadella as an example, entrepreneurs can learn to overcome a variety of different circumstances en route to success.

The Bottom Line

Satya Nadella was an unexpected choice for many when he was named as Microsoft’s CEO in 2014. During that time, the new CEO has set an example that teaches lessons to entrepreneurs and businessmen at all levels.

What’s more, this Indian-American businessman has shown through his incredible cross-country journey the importance of hard work and dedication—not one’s heritage.
Above, we’ve compiled ten of the best lessons that can be learned from Nadella’s incredible career. By keeping these lessons in mind, you can increase your business and professional success. From the power of believing in your dreams to the importance of team work, these lessons showcase some of the most important traits to keep in mind while pursuing one’s career.

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