Hit ‘Refresh’ to transform your life, the Satya Nadella way (Book Review)

By Nishant Arora,

Title: Hit Refresh; Author: Satya Nadella; Publisher: Harper Collins; Pages: 272; Price: Rs 599

When you hit “Refresh” in a web browser by clicking the little arrow — or press the “F5” function key — it quickly updates the web page, without wiping out anything but opening the page afresh.

For India-born Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, hitting refresh in life is something any person or organisation looking to make a sustained impact over a long period of time must learn to do and implement.

Some people and organisations have one major “hit refresh” moment and others hit refresh often.

In “Hit Refresh” — while taking the readers through his personal journey from Hyderabad to the company’s ongoing transformation at Redmond, Washington State, in the US — Nadella is confident that the knowledge he inherited in India is helping him write new codes of life for Microsoft’s global audience: Be it Cloud, Microsoft 365, Windows 10 and the emerging disruptive technologies.

“Looking back, I have been influenced by both my father’s enthusiasm for intellectual engagement and my mother’s dream of a balanced life for me,” he writes.

After attending schools in Srikakulam and Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Mussoorie, Delhi and Hyderabad — and later flunking an IIT entrance exam — Nadella landed in the US.

There was no master plan but a call from Microsoft, for him, “was time to hit refresh again”.

Today, Microsoft is at the leading edge of Cloud-based technologies as it infuses capital into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) for an inclusive, democratic “Intelligent Cloud” architecture.

For Nadella, the future belongs to AI-based computing and Microsoft is building the world’s most powerful AI supercomputer and making the infrastructure available to everyone.

On Monday, during his keynote address at the ongoing “Microsoft Ignite” event in Orlando, Florida, Nadella said Microsoft has been working to invent a universal, programmable quantum computer and to identify revolutionary applications that will run on it.

In the book, Nadella sheds light on the ongoing activities and future plans to build new computational methods for programming the quantum computer.

“Through quantum computing, we can unlock solutions to problems in areas such as AI, clean energy, global warming, materials design and much more,” Nadella told the packed house at “Microsoft Ignite”.

At “Station Q”, writes Nadella, Microsoft researchers and collaborators are working days and nights to overcome challenges in the path towards universal quantum computing.

“At Microsoft, we’re on the cusp of empowering a quantum revolution with our unique, topological approach,” he told the gathering at the Orlando event, hoping that “quantum computing will make AI even more intelligent”.

Bill Gates, who has known Nadella for more than 20 years, writes in the Foreword: “Satya has charted a course for making the most of the opportunities created by technology while also facing up to the hard questions.”

“Ideas excite me,” Nadella explains. “Empathy grounds and centres me.”

In his latest blog on the book, Nadella wrote: “Books are so often written by leaders looking back on their tenures, not while they’re in the fog of war. What if we could share the journey together, the meditations of a sitting CEO in the midst of a massive transformation?”

“Hit Refresh” is about individual change, about the transformation happening inside Microsoft and the technology that will soon impact all of our lives: AI, Mixed Reality and quantum computing.

The book is “about how people, organisations and societies can and must transform and ‘hit refresh’ in their persistent quest for new energy, new ideas and continued relevance and renewal”.

“We should be optimistic about what’s to come. The world is getting better, and progress is coming faster than ever. This book is a thoughtful guide to an exciting, challenging future,” Gates writes.

Don’t just buy the book to know who Nadella is. Instead, buy it to hit the refresh button in your life from “a principled, deliberative leader searching for improvement — for himself, for a storied company, and for society”.

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at nishant.a@ians.in)


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