How a trip to India helped Steve Jobs revolutionize Apple

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Microsoft founder Bill Gates has said in the past that he was jealous of Steve Jobs’ “good taste.” Jobs has always been known for his eye for design and, whether you want to give him credit for it or not, helping to create some of the most revolutionary and user-friendly products in the world.

How did Jobs acquire such an eye? According to him, it was through Zen meditation, which he encountered at 19 during an extended trip to India after dropping out of college. In an interview with Walter Isaacson for his biography, Jobs said:

“If you just sit and observe, you will see how restless your mind is. If you try to calm it, it only makes things worse, but over time it does calm, and when it does, there’s room to hear more subtle things — that’s when your intuition starts to blossom and you start to see things more clearly and be in the present more. Your mind just slows down, and you see a tremendous expanse in the moment. You see so much more than you could see before. It’s a discipline; you have to practice it.”

Zen has been around for thousands of years and those who practice it have to commit to courageousness, resoluteness, austerity and rigorous simplicity. Jobs’ commitment to simplicity transferred over into the products he helped create at Apple.

But Zen didn’t just help inform Jobs’ classy, simple aesthetic, it also helped him understand his customers better — numerous studies have shown that meditation increases empathy. Isaacson writes in his book:

“Instead of relying on market research, [Jobs] honed his version of empathy — an intimate intuition about the desires of his customers.”

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8 things worth knowing about Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella

 

NPR: 

 

Satya Nadella, the Indian-born, Wisconsin-educated Microsoft veteran, is now its big boss.

Satya Nadella, the Indian-born, Wisconsin-educated Microsoft veteran, is now its big boss.

While it’s never been considered a “cool” company, Microsoft is still a force — worth $300 billion, and Windows operating systems still run on a big chunk of the world’s computers. While the profile of founder and former CEO Bill Gates still looms large, outgoing leader Steve Ballmer took the reins in 2000. And Tuesday, the board chose an internal candidate — 46-year-old Indian-American engineer Satya Nadella — to head the company. He’s only the third CEO in Microsoft’s 38-year history.

For the uninitiated, here are eight things to know about Nadella, so you’re ready for this week’s cocktail party chatter.

1) Nadella is known for his work with cloud computing at Microsoft and his deep technical knowledge. The company’s cloud platform — which Nadella came to oversee in 2013 — is the infrastructure beneath Microsoft services such as Bing, Xbox Live, Office 365 and Windows Azure. Nadella has helped Microsoft’s cloud platform, Azure, become a more serious competitor to Amazon’s cloud. Before becoming head of cloud and enterprise engineering, Nadella led Microsoft’s server and tools division.

2) He’s a hyper-educated guy. Nadella’s education started in his native India, where he attended Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet, and earned his bachelor’s degree in electronics and communication engineering from Manipal University. In the U.S., he picked up a master’s degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, before earning an MBA from the University of Chicago.

3) He’s a company man. Nadella knows Microsoft and its culture — he’s been working there since 1992. Before taking up the job at Microsoft, Satya was a part of Oracle-owned Sun Microsystems.

4) He sees the future of Microsoft in devices and services, not software. In a December interview with Quartz about his vision, Nadella said:

“I think reconceptualizing Microsoft as a devices and services company is absolutely what our vision is all about. Office 365 and Azure on the services side are representative of it. Does that mean we won’t have our software available for other people to build on? No. Windows is available outside of our devices. Windows server is available outside of our data centers. We think that’s important because there will always be distributed computing. But at the same time, there is also the customer expectations that we should complete the scenario. That means running a cloud platform, running a cloud service. So we’re conceptualizing the future of Microsoft along those pivots.”

5) His hometown has deep ties to Microsoft. Nadella’s hometown, the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, is a technology hub that is home to one of the biggest Microsoft research and development centers outside of the United States. His father, B.N. Yugandhar, still lives in Hyderabad. According to Reuters, the senior Nadella was a member of the elite Indian Administrative Service and a member of the Planning Commission during 2004-2009 under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

6) Nadella is the father of three children; two with special needs. In an interview with New Zealand-based Paymark last September, Nadella talks about balancing his professional goals with personal ones:

“At home, raising kids or maintaining a loving relationship, realizing that you have achieved something fantastic is much harder to see. For example: making sure you are at home, reading to your kids every night, just trying hard to be a great parent with just hope that it may make your children great people and parents themselves, but that for most people you won’t know the result of your efforts for 20 years and nothing is certain.”

7) Nadella joins the growing list of Indian-born executives heading major global corporations. They already include PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and Deutsche Bank co-CEO Anshu Jain.

8) The man likes exclamation points. A brief scan of what appears to be his Twitter account shows it, though the brand-loyal feed doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2010.

 

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8 things worth knowing about Microsoft’s new CEO, Satya Nadella

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Microsoft appoints Satya Nadella as its new CEO

Microsoft appoints Satya Nadella as its new CEO

Microsoft announced this morning that Satya Nadella will serve as its third chief executive.

Various reports over the past week pegged Nadella, Microsoft’s former cloud and enterprise head, as the leading candidate to replace Steve Ballmer when he retires later this year. Nadella’s appointment makes it clear that cloud services will play a big role in Microsoft’s future.

Microsoft also announced that founder Bill Gates will step down as chairman of the board and take on a new Technology Advisor role to “devote more time to the company.” John Thompson, who led the new CEO search, will take up the mantle as chairman of the board.

Introducing the new CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella: msft.it/msceohttp://t.co/AmwwEpRoEY
Microsoft News (@MSFTnews) February 04, 2014

Microsoft is one of those rare companies to have truly revolutionized the world through technology, and I couldn’t be more honored to have been chosen to lead the company,” Nadella said in a statement this morning. “The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform. A big part of my job is to accelerate our ability to bring innovative products to our customers more quickly.”

An Indian immigrant and 22-year Microsoft veteran, Nadella led the development of the company’s cloud services, which serves as the backbone for things like Office 365, Xbox Live, and Bing. One of Nadella’s big challenges going forward will be to help Microsoft regain some relevance in the mobile world. Windows Phone has inched its way towards being the third-place smartphone platform, but that was mainly due to BlackBerry’s implosion and success in European markets.

Microsoft is a really complex business. … You’re never going to find a CEO who is going to do it all,” said Kevin Spain, a former Microsoft executive who previously worked with Nadella and now serves as a general partner at Emergence Capital Partners. “Instead, you need someone who is a great leader and a great teambuilder, and I think Satya is both of those things.”

Steven Sinofsky, the former Microsoft Windows head who was once considered a leading CEO candidate before he abruptly left the company last year, congratulated Nadella on Twitter this morning:

Congratulations to @satyanadella new $msft CEO! @ http://t.co/pSa4V0Zico
Steven Sinofsky (@stevesi) February 04, 2014

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Microsoft appoints Satya Nadella as its new CEO