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This is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s ultimate lifehack for Indian students

This is Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s ultimate lifehack for Indian students

For Satya Nadella, the journey from a boy born in Hyderabad to one of the most influential business executives in the world wasn't an easy one. Unlike most of the fellow Silicon Valley big names, Nadella had no fancy IIT engineering degree or Ivy League MBA to his name and has to face several failures and setbacks in his journey to become the third ever CEO of Microsoft. In an exclusive closed-door interaction with our Sahil Mohan Gupta , Nadella explained why we, especially students, must focus on learning as a lifelong mission, even from failures.

"I think for parents to have high expectations for their children is wonderful. My father, for example, was a guy who hadn't met a guy who had given an exam that couldn't be passed, and he was always humored by the fact that how could someone fail an IIT exam, " said Satya Nadella.

"There was this colleague of his ( Nadella's father) who gave his last test and then came out and said this is it, I no longer have to write any more tests. And my father sort of said to me how wrong this person is going to be in life, that this is somehow the beginning of it all and this person feels he has achieved it all," Nadella added.

In fact one the key steps Nadella took in reorienting Microsoft was instilling a culture of listening and learning, as he wrote in his recently published book Hit Refresh,"anything is possible for a company when its culture is about listening, learning and harnessing individual passions and talents to the company's mission."He writes,"to encourage the shift toward a learning culture, we created an annual hackathon during our OneWeek celebration". In fact, this annual hackathon has been one of Microsoft's major source of innovation.

Nadella had one more important message for the ambitious Indian youngsters- failures and why we should learn from them.

"I look at it and say let's have perspective. What matters more isn't what you did yesterday but what your posture of learning is tomorrow. That's where parents and institutional leaders can be elitist and we have to identify kids and give them the confidence to not be know-it-alls but be Learn-it-alls. Flunking exams has definitely taught me as long as I'm learning I'm fine. Failure is part and parcel of life, the question is what you are going to do about it," he said.

There is no better example to demonstrate this lesson than Microsoft's doomed acquisition of Nokia. " We learned a lot from Nokia, even it resulted in a painful write-down of the assets. Acquiring the Finnish smartphone company led to numeric growth in terms of people and revenue, but ultimately we failed to break through in the highly competitive mobile phone business. Importantly, though, we learned a lot about what it means to design, build and manufacture hardware," writes Nadella.

In fact, this lessons they learned from failure is what has fostered them to create some of the best hardware in personal tech such as the Surface lineup . So, next time when you fail, see it as the best learning opportunity.

(Image Credit: Flickr/ BagoGames )

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