It’s not every day that the chief executive officer of a major company gives you a call because he wants to talk family-to-family with your readers, but that’s exactly what happened when Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella contacted Good Housekeeping not long ago — and GH editor-in-chief Jane Francisco jumped at the chance to meet with him. After all, he’s a father of three who is not only leading one of the most significant technology companies in the world, but also navigating device rules and screen time with his kids on the home front. We figured he would know better than anyone how to make that work in our readers’ homes with a minimum of friction.
After an introductory Skype chat with his wife, Anu, Jane scheduled an interview in their home near Seattle — simple enough, or so it seemed. After four delays, one canceled flight and an in-air detour, she finally landed around 2 a.m. — minus her luggage, which apparently had never left New York.
At 7 a.m., Jane raced to Target, grabbed clean clothes and was late making it to the Nadellas’ home for the interview. Feeling anxious, Jane found that her anxiety dissolved when the front door opened. Anu and Satya welcomed her with a warm, neighborly embrace, offering her coffee and looking like any other friendly family down the street. And that’s really who they are.
“We have extreme controlled chaos in our house,” Anu Nadella, 45, said, referring to the constant motion of children, a dog and a parade of people going in and out of their hilltop home that overlooks a large lake. As the wife of the CEO of Microsoft, Anu is skilled at juggling demands, raising their three kids — including a son with special needs — as typically as possible while her husband is steering the rest of us straight into the next industrial revolution.
But as Satya, 50, says in his inspiring new book, “Hit Refresh,” that revolution is about more than just designing new apps. “At its core, it’s about humans and the unique quality we call empathy, which will become ever more valuable in a world where the torrent of technology will disrupt the status quo like never before,” he said. In other words, technology is nothing without the soft touch of humanity.
As they talked, Jane learned that Satya’s deeply empathetic nature owes much to his eldest child, Zain, 21, who is severely disabled. He was born weighing just 3 pounds, having suffered asphyxiation in utero; as a result, he is visually impaired, has limited communication and is quadriplegic.
Two daughters followed. Before long, it was clear that one daughter had learning differences beyond what local schools could successfully cope with. Anu found the answer in the Eaton Arrowsmith Academy in Vancouver, which focuses on the neuroplasticity of the brain — essentially training the brain to function at a new level. Anu shuttled their daughter back and forth for five years, and played a role in the establishment of the Eaton Arrowsmith Academy in Redmond, Washington.
Through it all, Satya rose steadily at Microsoft, a company that was beginning to sag under bureaucracy and infighting. In February 2014, he was tapped to be its CEO, and he ignited a fresh growth mentality emphasizing pushing oneself to look at things in new, often empathetic ways.
“After Zain was born, things started to change for me,” Satya said. “It has had a profound impact on how I think, lead and relate to people.” His wish: That we’ll all feel empowered to create our own change at home and at work, one empathetic step at a time.
ON ANOTHER MATTER …
Ask the GH Test Kitchen
GH’s resident kitchen pro, Susan Westmoreland, shares her best tips and favorite shortcuts for cooking and entertaining.
Q: What should I do with my turkey-day leftovers?
A. Grab the waffle iron to transform sides into a tasty entree: Mix 2 cups prepared stuffing with 1 egg and 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water (if mixture looks dry, add a bit more liquid). Cook in a preheated waffle iron, then top with turkey and cranberry sauce.
Test Kitchen Trick: No waffle iron? Form the mixture into patties and pan-fry in a skillet until crisp.
Q: Which kinds of apples are best for baking?
A: For pies and crumbles, use a combo of sweet and tart apples that hold their shape: think Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala and Winesap. It’s important to go with a mixture of varieties, but always make sure to include the perennially available Granny Smith, since its tartness prevents a dessert from getting too sweet.
The following products and vehicles were recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unless otherwise indicated, discontinue use of the products immediately and return them to the store where purchased for a refund. For more information about the products, call the manufacturer or CPSC’s toll-free hotline, (800) 638-2772. Only some cars or trucks recalled are affected. Contact a dealer for your model to see if it is included in the recall. The dealer will tell you what to do.
Norco children’s bicycles with Samox cranksets, sold at Norco Bicycles dealers nationwide from May 2016 through September 2017 for between $400 and $1,700.
The cranks can bend or break during use, posing a fall hazard. Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled bicycles and contact an authorized Norco Bicycles dealer for free installation of a new crankset. Consumers can contact Norco at (800) 663-8916 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. PST Monday through Friday, or visit the company’s website at www.norco.com. Click on “Safety Notices/Recalls” for more information. Consumers can also contact their local Norco Bicycles dealers to request installation of a new crankset.
Nissan Infiniti Q50 and Q50 Hybrid
The driver’s frontal air bag inflator may have been improperly welded. In the event of a crash necessitating deployment of the driver’s frontal air bag, the inflator may crack and release the gas needed to properly deploy the air bag, increasing the risk of injury. Nissan will notify owners, and dealers will replace the driver side air bag inflator for free. Owners may contact Infiniti customer service at (800) 662-6200, option 7.
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Distributed by King Features Syndicate
—GOOD HOUSEKEEPING REPORTS: Talking family-to-family with a tech guru–