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Nearly a decade ago, my team--the Diabolical Devs--won a Microsoft developer ping-pong tournament where Bill Gates presented the final awards.

As a reward, we got 5 minutes of fame, playing against Bill and Harry Shum (now an executive VP). We were cautioned beforehand not to embarrass him :)

Satya Nadella (in the background and now CEO) was then the newly appointed corporate VP for Bing and Harry's boss. I learned a few key things over the course of the tournament:

The Day I Played Bill Gates and Satya at Ping-Pong--What I Learned

Teamwork: I lost my only match of the tournament in the final but my two team mates (Nikhil and Senthil) came through. Nikhil Dandekar was like Michael Jordan in game 5 of the 1997 NBA finals.

When the championship was on the line, he  elevated his game to a level we had never seen!

The power of a genuine compliment:  When the mystery guest of honor was announced, Jaydeep Mehta burned the midnight oil writing a poem for Bill Gates and read it out  (almost tearing up) in front of the entire Bing division.
It wasn't planned, but everyone listened in silence for several minutes when he announced he had a poem to read. It was about how Bill had inspired him as a child in India and from Bill's reaction, I believe he was deeply touched.
No matter how successful one is, they always appreciate a genuine compliment.
• Humility: When Harry (who  organized the tournament) invited Satya to present the awards and give a speech, he declined, stood by the rails in the background and asked Harry to proceed. In a company where 'visibility' mattered a lot, this was noteworthy.
Satya was also more accessible than his predecessor and would meet with anyone in his division for 10 minutes on Fridays. I had a 10 minute session with him and recall him saying:
"Leadership is a privilege that can easily be taken away. The talented people who work for me have a plenty of options and can leave at any moment. I therefore treat them like unpaid volunteers"
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