The best piece of advice Steve Ballmer gave Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Nadella ballmer gatesMicrosoftLeft to right: Satya Nadella, Bill Gates, and Steve Ballmer.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says there’s one piece of advice that his predecessor Steve Ballmer gave him before handing over the reins in February 2014:

“Be bold, but be right.”

Nadella revealed this detail on stage at Dell World, PC manufacturer Dell’s annual event, held this week in Austin, Texas.

“I keep thinking about it,” Nadella says.

Indeed, Nadella’s Microsoft has been very bold. In the 20 months or so since Nadella took over, the company has launched a bunch of initiatives that would have seemed insane under the old guard:

From Microsoft Office on iOS and Android, to buying Android app startups entirely, to launching its first-ever laptop, the Surface Book, this is definitely not the Microsoft of the eighties and nineties.

But Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, on stage with Nadella, had his own rejoinder to Ballmer’s advice: “And don’t screw it up.”

Nadella laughingly agreed.

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