Nov 20, 2017

Book Review: #HitRefresh by @satyanadella

Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of the book by Harper Collins' publicists. They reached out to me and I did not solicit it.

The book is part memoir, part manifesto and part forecasting of the future of technology. As he explains he's written the book when the transformation, as he says "Hit Refresh" (based on the browser command) is still ongoing.

What stays with you after the end of the book, is Nadella's view of "empathy" and "growth mindset"

When he was hired in Microsoft his hiring manager asked him "what would you do if you see an abandonded child in the middle of the road?" Satya answered "I'll call 911" 

The manager after he was hired told him that his answer was wrong because the correct answer was "I'll pick up the child". Nadella reveals that he became acutely aware of empathy when his son Zain was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and how it shaped his worldview. His wife Anu also introduced him to "growth mindset" and that shaped his view of the future is that it will not belong to the "know-it-alls" but to the "learn-it-alls"

Another gem from the book is:

The book is a both a memoir, where Nadella shares his personal stories and also his vision and manifesto for Microsoft as well as the future of how technology is impacting the future.

He reveals that he is a huge cricket fan, and that he was playing with a cricket ball when he got the call to be Microsoft's third CEO. His cricketing hero was Hyderabad's legendary ML Jaisimha.

The book is a case study in an on-going culture change, but Satya's impact is felt. He shares how this image made many of his colleagues nod their heads in agreement when they saw it - and when he became CEO his role was to change it
Image result for microsoft culture
He shares how Microsoft is now collaborating with competitors like Apple, Adobe (Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and Satya are both alumni of Hyderabad Public School) and Google. Also shares how he was against the Nokia deal (Microsoft dumped it soon after he became CEO)

There is also a chapter on how tech companies are struggling to deal with user privacy and national security and the reason Microsoft supported Apple's decision not to give the US security agencies a "backdoor entry" to the iPhone's data - I wish this was a longer chapter

He also owns up his missteps - like the time he spoke about the salary difference in tech by gender - and was criticised for his remarks.

I'd highly recommend this book - its not a linear retelling - but a fascinating mix of a person's journey from being as aspiring cricketer to the CEO of one of the world's most impactful tech firms.