Why Storytelling Matters – Satya Nadella’s Email

Named as the new CEO of Microsoft on Feb, 2014

Named as the new CEO of Microsoft on Feb, 2014
Photo via: http://www.microsoft.com/

On February 4, 2014, Satya Nadella was named Microsoft’s new CEO. (Read here)

He posted an email to all Microsoft employees the same day.

This is a brilliant display of storytelling and how it can communicate vision and mission.

The Message Should be Simple

There is a uniform theme to the email: don’t bank on the company’s past successes but innovate to survive.

“Our industry does not respect tradition — it only respects innovation.”

This is the vision Nadella sets for the entire company. Where Microsoft needs to be in the future is to innovate by following and leading the evolution of technology. The vision is to be established as a leader in mobile and cloud computing.

Through this email, Nadella clearly communicates the aim of all future products at Microsoft should “[empower] people to ‘do more.'” This singular, yet broad, mission is the compass for the company’s future direction, and it’s brilliantly simple.

All future decisions and plans of the company can be remarkably simple. All you have to do is ask two questions:

  • Will this product empower people to do more?
  • Does this help us in mobile and cloud computing?

Form and Function

The loosely chronological order and subheadings help get the message across quickly. In this case, form and function work splendidly together. By beginning with a recount of his background and why he chose to work at Microsoft, Nadella establishes rapport immediately and evokes an emotional response. The brief story creates a personal connection. At the same time, in a simple few sentences he answers why the vision is important and where it came from; also explaining how the mission is distilled from the vision.

Public Apology

In one of my tweets (above), I rushed to a conclusion saying a designer may serve better at the helms. After reading this email, I should apologize and retract that statement. Nadella’s ability to create and communicate a vision and mission is a strong indicator that he will be successful as the CEO of Microsoft.

I wish you all the best.

Are Super Bowl Ads Worth It?

Good to Be Bad - Jaguar

By Jaguar USA

How would you spend $4.5 million?

In an age of where a single tweet can engage millions overnight (think Oreo), how can a company justify dropping $4.5 million dollars on 30 seconds?

There are two reasons why Super Bowls are still worth their price tag.

The Fallout Effect

The effects of a nuclear bomb isn’t confined to its detonation and blast radius, there is nuclear fallout after the fact. Almost 27 years after the Chernobyl disaster, the area is still cordoned off because of the radiation. A Super Bowl ad will be talked about weeks and months into the future. Each year it may be revisited by the pundits. Adverts from previous years will become the measuring sticks for the current class. The value of an ad having such longevity can justify the high cost. If your spot is good enough to be immortalized among the Super Bowl Greats, then the $4.5 million initial expense seems almost insignificant. How can you price immortality?

Members Only

Running an advert in the Super Bowl is like joining a super exclusive country club. The membership fee is usually upwards of several million dollars. Oh, you’ll have to renew your membership once in a while because people may forget you were part of the club.
It used to be that any brands advertising on game day would be elevated into the Super Bowl advertising pantheon. However, there’s a game changer this year. A startup will be joining this upper echelon of brands. Named among the likes of Budweiser and Jaguar, GoldieBlox is ready for their spotlight.
It’ll be interesting to see whether they will cement their reputation among the Greats.

But in all honesty, the concept of the startup is great; with regards to execution, not so much. (Don’t tell them I said that.)

You all already should know about the draw power of the Super Bowl. So I won’t mention it. It’s actually a miracle in modern society that there is one moment in the year where almost an entire nation would stop and devote their attention to watch an event. All those malleable minds. Ripe for advertisers.

Beyond the Screen

The trend in the past two, three years is storytelling. Just look at the past two Budweiser campaigns. So, what’s next? Someone out there should create a Layar for commercials. Imagine the engagement, novelty and returns when you use visual/object recognition technology to create a live, interactive experience with the advert.
Actually, that’s a pretty damn good idea.