Possibly The Greatest Talent Brand Move Ever Made By A New CEO

February 7, 2014

Earlier this week Microsoft named Satya Nadella CEO (and yes, he does have a LinkedIn profile). Nadella’s email to employees, sent on Day 1 at the helm and published on the company site, swiftly reverberated around the web, a rip-roaring rallying cry to talent far and wide – past, present, and future. Here are the 3 things I love about it from a talent brand perspective:

1. It’s real.

With this letter, Nadella and his team did an admirable job of instantly humanizing the c-suite. He shares that he’s 46 years old, married for 22 years – exactly as long as he’s been with the company - and has 3 kids. He has a thirst for knowledge, confessing that ‘I buy more books than I can finish’ and ‘I sign up for more online courses than I can complete’. I instantly want to know what he read most recently and wished he had learned online.

2. It’s passionate, yet approachable.

Nadella’s letter manages to combine inspiration with a down-to-earth tone. With Microsoft, he sees the opportunity “to change the world through technology that empowers people to do amazing things.” To quiet the eye-rollers, he concedes: “I know it can sound hyperbolic — and yet it’s true.” I leave his letter believing he means every last word with regard to that opportunity.

3. It instills belief in Microsoft’s potential impact.

Employees and candidates alike want to know that they’re working on something that truly matters. It can be hard for a technological behemoth to sound virtuous, but Nadella successfully ties Microsoft to greater good when he says: “The work we do empowers the world to do more of what they care about — get stuff done, have fun, communicate and accomplish great things. This is the core of who we are, and driving this core value in all that we do — be it the cloud or device experiences — is why we are here.”

Well played, Microsoft and team. Mr. Nadella, if you’re reading this, I thank you for doing what CEOs everywhere should do – communicating transparently with your key constituents about who you are,  what makes you tick, and why you believe with every fiber of your being in the company you run. I’m not sure if you meant this as a brilliant talent brand move, but I interpret it as such. And I’m betting that candidates around the world, both internal and external, will read your letter and be impressed.

To talent acquisition leaders everywhere: could your CEO pull this off? Share this with him or her, and in fact with your entire c-suite. Because the very best talent brands are articulated, championed, lived and breathed from the top down.

* image by LeWeb13

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