The One, Simple Piece of Career Advice From Microsoft’s Satya Nadella

nadella career advice on lawfuel


nadella career advice on lawfuel

What’s the best career advice you could receive?

Better still, what’s the best advice you can actually use to advance your career satisfactorily?

A recent article in  Business Inside with Microsoft boss Satya Nadella saw the software giant’s boss pay credit to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck and his best-selling book, Mindset, which Nadella saw as helping to transform Microsoft.

There’s no question that Nadella has been highly successful in leading Microsoft and displaying distinctive and effective leadership of the organization.  And so when he pays tribute to someone who provides top career advice then everyone – lawyers included – should pay attention.


Satya is quoted:

“I was reading it not in the context of business or work culture, but in the context of my children’s education. The author describes the simple metaphor of kids at school. One of them is a ‘know-it-all’ and the other is a ‘learn-it-all,’ and the ‘learn-it-all’ always will do better than the other one even if the ‘know-it-all’ kid starts with much more innate capability.”

“Going back to business: If that applies to boys and girls at school, I think it also applies to CEOs like me, and entire organizations, like Microsoft.”

The advice to ‘learn it all’ is excellent for a number of reasons.

Being ‘expert’ implies you know it all.  But that also has a counter-productive element, implying that the experts are satiated by their knowledge of their specific subject.

And that’s not helpful – let alone true.

Constant learning is the key to succeeding – and to growing and learning from errors and mistakes.

It also, coincidentally, makes you a more appealing person – as a student, rather than a ‘know-it-all’.

Nadella has used this concept leading Microsoft –

“Some people can call it rapid experimentation, but more importantly, we call it ‘hypothesis testing.’ Instead of saying ‘I have an idea,’ what if you said ‘I have a new hypothesis, let’s go test it, see if it’s valid, ask how quickly can we validate it.’ And if it’s not valid, move on to the next one.”

“There’s no harm in claiming failure, if the hypothesis doesn’t work. To me, being able to come up with the new ways of doing things, new ways of framing what is a failure and what is a success, how does one achieve success–it’s through a series of failures, a series of hypothesis testing. That’s in some sense the real pursuit.”

Certainly Nadella practices what he preaches, as displayed during the time when Microsoft had their epic fail with the articifical intelligence app ‘Tay’, which was hacked and corrupted leading to a major embarrassment for the company.

Did Nadella chastise and criticize?  Not at all.

Part of his email to employees read:

“Keep pushing, and know that I am with you … (The) key is to keep learning and improving.”

He urged staffers to take the criticism in the right spirit while exercising “deep empathy for anyone hurt by Tay.”

So the key lesson to keep learning is one that should be kept close to heart – just as the Microsoft chief does.  Daily.

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