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.

Into the Unknown

It’s the first year anniversary of Felix Baumgartner freefall his way into the history books.

I just finished watching the documentary of mission.

Felix Baumgartner making his historic jump

Picture of Felix Baumgartner. Taken from: http://www.universetoday.com/97972/

Watch it here: http://stratos.rdioexclusives.com/documentary

(Not sponsored by Red Bull, Rdio, or anyone for that matter.)


Red Bull made the loudest branding move by being quiet and in the background. Take out a pen and paper: people love good content; people hate having something shoved in their face. Watch the documentary again, watch the Q&A video again, and watch the media coverage again. You’ll find that Red Bull was hardly pushed to the forefront.


Disrupt, innovate, and revolutionize are overused words in the startup world. When you actually do something no one has done before, that’s innovation. If you looked at all the preparation and practice jumps, you’ll notice that there is a gradual progression in reaching the final jump. Another thing pointed out during the Q&A (http://stratos.rdioexclusives.com/landing) is that no one will likely break the records set by Felix. Basically, innovations are hard to come by. Luckily, innovations are overrated. Take their approach of gradually improving to reach a goal and apply it to any industry, product or service. Sometimes, to be a successful entrepreneur just means taking some existing thing and improving upon so much that you become an expert.

But then again, it doesn’t hurt to really land an innovation, doing something no one ever has.

Team culture

Through all the ups and downs of the Redbull Stratos team, what kept them together? What made the team trust in the figurehead of the project after Felix quit because of his anxieties in the suit?

Everyone on the team served a greater purpose. This was what motivated them to stay the 12 hour shifts. This greater purpose will also motivate employees through the tough, grueling days. Inspire them. Give them a grand vision.