“Microsoft is known for rallying the troops with competitive fire,” Nadella writes in Hit Refresh, his new autobiography. “The press loves that, but it’s not me.”
Nadella isn’t brash or outspoken in the manner of his predecessors or many of his Silicon Valley peers. His thoughtfulness stands out in an industry known for big egos and awkward detachment from the real world. He talks a lot about empathy and mindfulness. Those who know him say he means it.
Nadella’s book recounts some personal and professional struggles, including details not widely known about his upbringing in India and adjusting to his children’s disabilities.
In a surprising passage about the “perverse logic” of US immigration law, Nadella reveals how during his early years at Microsoft, he gave up the security of a green card — which grants permanent American residency — for a temporary work visa because it was the only way his wife, Anu, could join him in the United States.
“I went back to the US embassy in Delhi in June of 1994, past the enormous lines of people hoping to get a visa, and told a clerk that I wanted to give back my green card and apply for an H-1B,” Nadella writes. “He was dumbfounded.”
Risking his career gave him instant notoriety on the Microsoft campus. “Anu was my priority,” he writes. “And that made my decision a simple one.”