It was March 27, 2014, and Satya Nadella was about to make his first public appearance as CEO of Microsoft. The tone, he knew, would be important.
Nadella’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer, was famous for making public appearances feel epic. At a 1991 meeting in Japan, he seemed to injure his vocal chords because he was screaming “Windows” with such force. In 2000, when Microsoft celebrated its 25th anniversary, Ballmer reportedly popped out of a giant cake. And in 2013, when he announced he was stepping down, he bid farewell to 13,000 Microsoft employees as “(I’ve had) The Time of My Life” blared through the speakers of Key Arena in Seattle. Through tears, the 6’5” Ballmer shouted, “Soak it in all of you. You work for the greatest company in the world.”
Nadella was not that kind of CEO.