This morning, the world woke up to two "humbled" letters from two chief executives: Satya Nadella and Mark Zuckerberg. But you didn't need to read their words that closely because the CEOs proceeded to repeat them—almost verbatim—on camera not long after.
The public relations industry is built around myth-making and making important people seem likable. That's nothing new. It's just that the Microsoft and Facebook haven't always been so hot at it. This far cry from pit-stained Steve Ballmer yelling "Developers" over and over or Zuck's (also sweaty!) interview in the AllThingsD hot seat.
In Nadella's memo to employees as Microsoft's new chief executive, he describes himself as smart, but flawed human. Well, sure, he has an insatiable curiosity. But just like you, non-executive, he can't always finish what he starts:
And like anyone else, a lot of what I do and how I think has been shaped by my family and my overall life experiences. Many who know me say I am also defined by my curiosity and thirst for learning. I buy more books than I can finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can complete.
The memo was published by Microsoft and then Nadella submitted to an "interview" on some internal company show called "Microsoft Campus," which was also picked up by the press, where he shared the same humbling confession:
Like anyone else, my experience and how I think has all been shaped by my life's experience. The one thing that I would say that defines me is I love to learn. I get excited about new things. I buy more books than I read or finish. I sign up for more online courses than I can actually finish.
In Zuckerberg's letter celebrating his social network's 10th birthday, he wrote:
I remember getting pizza with my friends one night in college shortly after opening Facebook. I told them I was excited to help connect our school community, but one day someone needed to connect the whole world.
The proud pizza-loving American who wanted to change the world sounds a little different from the dorm room snot describing his users as "dumb fucks" to trust him with their personal info. It's hard to say whether the pizza detail came from Zuck or his "words man" Dex Torricke-Barton. (He's had a ghostwriter for years.) But our national cuisine comes up again when the Today show asks Zuckerberg about the cultural impact he made:
I remember really vividly having pizza with my friends a day or two after I opened up the first version of Facebook. You know at the time I thought someone needs to build a service like this for the world.
To his credit, Zuck pulls it off. That is until he tries to joke with Savannah Guthrie—asking if she's been talking to his mom when the interviewer asks about having kids. Dude, what did they tell you about ad-libbing?
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[Image via Getty]