This week I finally picked up Satya Nadella's book Hit Refresh. I've already seen some of his interviews and watched with disbelief how he has transformed Microsoft. The company's stock has more than tripled from about $40 in 2014 to more than $130 now. They’ve made some bold acquisitions including that of LinkedIn and Github. Some of its products are selling well and it seems to be a happier workplace as compared to before.
The biggest takeaway for me was that a company with thoughtful leaders and culture to back it can successfully change, even if it’s a giant corporation which made big costly mistakes in the past.
The other bit that sticks is about empathy. Nadella talks about empathy a lot in the book. I can see at Freshworks, my new workplace, there’s a lot of focus on this as well. Especially with the product and design folks who really listen to the end users even if they are building software for other businesses. But more on that later.
One more thing, Satya Nadella didn't go to an IIT. He went to a much smaller engineering college and wasn't quite the entrance cracking machine his father was. He did have a lot of exposure and privilege though. For instance, in his teens, his father, an IAS officer, brought him a Sinclair ZX computer kit. And later in his career, he was lucky to be able to pace himself to his liking, move to the US and study computer science just before the tech boom of the 90s. Most people are thrown into a job in their early twenties and never recover enough from the grind to be able to study or pursue their passion.
Anyway, back to books. I had to keep away Nitchzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (again) and The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingo (again). I wasn't making any progress with these books. Some books are meant to be read slowly. You want to chew on it, mull over it, admire it and slowly turn the pages. Hopefully, I’ll get around to reading them in a couple of months.
Here are some highlights from last week:
🤝🏿 I finally met Shradha Sharma, the founder of YourStory. We’ve known of each other for many years but never met. It was a good opportunity for me to come clean that I haven’t always said good things about YourStory and how some of my views have changed over time. Especially after becoming an entrepreneur myself.
🤝🏿 I met Pankaj and Josey at Sendhoor Cafe (the best South Indian breakfast in Koramangala). I love these early morning meetings where we talk about work and random things. I take the opportunity to pitch ideas and see how they react. #alwaysbepitching.
🎨We finalized a design studio and some bits of content for a project that we're working on for Freshworks Refresh ‘19 in Las Vegas. I see this as an incredible opportunity to work on something creative.
✒ We're also close to hiring two super talented editors and one designer for our team at Freshworks.
📧 I finally announced this personal newsletter and got tens of of subscribers. I have subscribers from two well known venture capital firms, a few startups, one angel investor, a couple of product managers and a few people from the media.
I'm also getting to know our Chief Marketing Officer (David Thompson) better. I've noticed a very clear bias for action and a sense of urgency. It translates into simple things like an e-mail that needs to be sent is sent right away and not kept for after the call.
📣This Thursday, I might give a talk at Accel Launchpad about story telling and how early stage companies can move the needle with good storytelling. I will also explore how they can avoid risks that affect the brand negatively. If you are interested, drop me a line and I'll block a seat for you. It would also be an opportunity to meet you in person. I don’t have much to talk about the Freshworks journey, because I’ve only joined the company and I’m still learning.
🏃🏿♂️I’m hoping to get back to running this week. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.
Meanwhile, I found these two articles really helpful in thinking about content strategy.
That’s it this week.