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Daily Routines

Satya Nadella: Daily Routine

On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.

Ever since taking over from his predecessor, Steve Ballmer, in 2014, Satya Nadella has rallied the stagnant tech giant, initiating a culture transformation that prioritised empathy, collaboration, and a growth mindset. As the CEO of one of the most valuable publicly traded companies in the world, Nadella has two constants in his daily morning routine – exercise and self-reflection.

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Waking up at 7am, after getting his usual eight hours of sleep, the first thing Nadella does is ask himself “what are you thankful for?” It’s a ritual he picked up from Dr. Michael Gervais, a high performance psychologist who has coached Microsoft employees and the Seattle Seahawks. “It’s just grounding. It gives you the ability to get up in the morning and orient yourself for the day,” he said on LinkedIn’s Hello Monday podcast.

Then, Nadella gets in his exercise. “For me, the daily ritual is just a half-hour of hitting the gym every day,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where I am, what time zone, how late I got in, I get up and get to the gym. It’s just 30 minutes of running, and it just makes a huge difference.”

When it comes to juggling his home life and office life, Nadella doesn’t like to see it as a balancing act between work and life. Instead, the CEO likes to look at it as work-life harmony, even though that hasn’t always been the case, “I used to always think that you need to find that balance between what’s considered relaxing versus what is working,” he told the Australian Financial Review.

Now, for Nadella, it’s all about integrating the two aspects of his life. “What I’m trying to do is harmonize what I deeply care about, my deep interests, with my work,” Nadella said, who believes that this approach “gives me a tremendous amount of satisfaction and energy to go back to work.”

“When Satya steps in the house, Dad’s home,” said his wife, Anu, in an interview with Good Housekeeping. “And Dad does homework with the kids, sits with us at the table. When we go to public places, he’s recognized, and the girls see that, but has it affected their everyday peace? I don’t think so. Our private lives are pretty private.”

Like the one thing that I do try to practice is when I’m with my kids, am I really present or am I just there? That’s the thing that I ask myself. And quite frankly, you know, I fail a lot but I at least ask myself that when I am trying to do something consciously with my family, am I really prioritizing it, and that sort of gives me — when I do it well, that gives me a tremendous amount of energy and satisfaction to go back to even work.

‘I represent it all’: In conversation with Microsoft’s Satya Nadella | Australian Financial Review

It’s a similar approach to Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, who also views his daily routine as work-life harmony — “I think work-life harmony is a good framework. I prefer the word “harmony” to the word “balance” because balance tends to imply a strict tradeoff. In fact, if I’m happy at work, I’m better at home — a better husband and better father. And if I’m happy at home, I come into work more energized — a better employee and a better colleague.”

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

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Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.