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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on transforming company culture to foster growth

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on creating a culture that fosters ideas 07:18

Satya Nadella became Microsoft's third CEO in 2014 after working at the company for 22 years. Since then, he has generated $250 billion in market value for Microsoft.

One of Nadella's keys to Microsoft's continued innovation was cultivating a "premium" company culture.  

"The culture needs to enable you to come up with new ideas, build new capabilities. So that's why I think for companies to be successful over a long period of time, you need more than a good idea and a good strategy. You need a culture that fosters that growth," Nadella said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."


Nadella discusses his personal and professional journey in his new book, "Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft's Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone."

Microsoft co-founder and former CEO Bill Gates writes in the foreword: "We had fallen behind Google, and our original search team had moved on. Satya was part of the group that came in to turn things around. He was humble, forward-looking and pragmatic."

Nadella said growth eventually tapers off, so the real question is: "What do you do when that happens? How do you hit refresh is sort of, I think, the real challenge for us as individuals, us as companies or us as societies."

A big driving factor for Nadella is empathy.

"I think empathy is everything. If you think about even in the business context for us, our job is to meet the unmet, unarticulated needs of customers. That's where innovation comes from. There's no way we could innovate without having the deeper sense of empathy," he said.

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He recounted his first interview at Microsoft where the last question was, "What would you do if there was a child who had fallen on the road?"

"So I thought about it for a few seconds, I thought there was some algorithm there and then I said, 'I'd call 911.' So the interviewer just walks up and leaves, and I thought I'd blown the interview because he then tells me, 'Look, when a child is on the ground and crying, you pick them up and hug them.' That is my first big lesson on empathy," Nadella said. He now says that having a son who has cerebral palsy has helped shape his outlook. 

Nadella calls Microsoft a "tool company" that creates "technology so that others can create more technology."  

"In a world today where every walk of life and every industry is being shaped by digital technology, our original thesis is even more important and I wanted to be in touch with it," he said.

He also said it's important for companies to "think about the surplus we create around us."

"When I think about Microsoft, one of the things that gives me the greatest pride, whether I'm in the New York area or any part of the world, is the small businesses that are more productive. The large businesses that have become more competitive," Nadella said. "The public sector that's more efficient. The educational outcomes that are better because of the work we do. Unless and until we measure ourselves with the outcomes outside of our own balance sheet, I think there's no long-term success in business." 

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