Storytelling : And why say a hello like this?

It was on 4 Feb 2014, I was on my way to a client meeting and I received a sms – chk out Satya N’s letter to employees. I straight away looked online and found the newly appointed CEO of Microsoft’s letter to employees on his first day. This morning as I watched Satya’s interview on Why Microsoft Exists ? I was reminded of his letter to Microsoft employees on his first day as a CEO.

The letter has a total of 967 words. I want to zoom in to just 105 of those which is roughly 10%. These are the most impactful words of the letter because its in these words that the world got to know something about the character of Satya.  Its your character that trumps your credentials not your title.

So, lets look at these words.

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Who am I?

I am 46. I’ve been married for 22 years and we have 3 kids. And like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family and my overall life experiences. Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things. So family, curiosity and hunger for knowledge all define me.

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I asked a few business professionals what comes to your mind when you read this and the answers I got were

different, nice person, honest, I have so many books that I don’t read after buying too, likeable, sense of connection, humanity and family oriented.

So, in just 105 words Satya achieved a lot and how did he do that ?  The ease of these words is only an illusion. Satya and his team have worked very hard on crafting his who am I story. Let’s decode the methodology behind this story.

I’ve been married for 22 years and we have 3 kids: In one my previous blogs I mentioned that when you meet someone for the first time building a connection is the desired outcome and that happens by a bridge of commonalities. Now, Satya’s letter is read by a  variety of readers ( Microsoft employees and public ) so  how can he find a commonality with so many people ?  The trick here is to go with things that are common to all, like parents, friends, marriage and children which is exactly what Satya has done here. Connection Storytelling via finding something in common to all. These things are also profoundly human and naturally lead to a connection

I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete:  In this sentence Satya is building likability and connection by being vulnerable by openly admitting that he doesn’t read all the books he buys and doesn’t complete all the online courses he signs up for.  This sentence also reveals what Satya is passionate about which is learning. Only somebody keen to learn will buy a book and sign up for online courses.

Dr Brene Brown very rightly puts it as…Courage is to tell your story of who you are with your whole heart.

Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning : In this sentence he clearly articulates what is it that he is passionate about but this sentence would have evaporated if it was not for –  I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete. He has cleverly made his passion for learning memorable by unread book and incomplete online courses.

I fundamentally believe that if you are not learning new things, you stop doing great and useful things: So, what does doing great things mean? This sentence is a perfect segway to what is most important to Microsoft which is Innovation. After talking about his passion for learning he connects to what is most relevant to Microsoft which is Innovation. He has aligned his passion of learning to innovation. He makes a great connect between learning and innovation by stating without learning you cannot innovate.

Satya  has stayed away from the traditional approach of reciting your CV when saying hello to your teams. He has  done something remarkable.

If you are leader you can use these techniques to build connection too. This is what I suggest you do.

I AM ABOUT TO SAY HELLO…..

1

Make sure you tell people who you are via a story

2

Don’t think of reciting your CV

3

Think of what is common between you and people listening to you

4

Think of what are you passionate about that is relevant to your listener

5

Don’t boast about your achievements. You are a CEO and that is enough of an achievement

6

What are some of the failure moments in your life that have shaped you and that will help convey what you are passionate about ?

7

Can people find out what you are saying about yourself by an online search. If the answer is yes. Don’t use that

8

At the end of you telling about yourself your listeners should feel they got to know something about you that they did not know and they feel a sense of connection with you

Your introduction aka hello  is your golden opportunity to make a lasting first impression or not. If  you put in thought and effort like Satya, you will be remembered. The fact that I am blogging about Satya’ s Hello 1.5 years later is demonstration that good stories stick and spread.

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"I attended your story telling course some time back. And I've enjoyed keeping up my knowledge with your blog. You may not have realised however, that the Whole of Government is implementing Internet Seperation. Hence I'm not able to access the links to read your articles. Could I suggest including a QR code in your emails so that I can use my mobile to scan it and gain immediate access to the article? It would be most helpful"