Levels in Microsoft mapped to one single quality

I have this habit of over-analyzing things, trying to figure out the formula which connects the underlying dots to put a structure to my thoughts. At Microsoft I spent countless hours thinking about skills I need to acquire and qualities I need to build to move ahead in my career. Two most important activities I frequently did was deducing what skills my managers had which made them effective and second experimenting with my own ideas. After all the thinking, below is how I deciphered career levels in Microsoft to single most important quality people need to develop to get there.

Base = Intelligence and Hard work
These are two core qualities people need to get anywhere in life. You need to have a fresh mind which can think and you should be hard working. There is no escape from these.

Senior = Self Critical
Person who is self critical and is able to evaluate what skills he/she needs to acquire constantly (and then acquire those) should definitely make to Senior in Microsoft. Self critical people are able to see goodness in others and able to pick the right skills they need. Without continuous self improvement, your career is going to stagnate quickly.

Principal = Courage
Now this is where things get hard. As you climb up, you will be required to take many decisions everyday and those decisions are going to be very crucial for your team and product. Your level of courage will define if you are going to target big challenges or not. Courage will help you open up to take risks and experiment more which in turn will help you learn more. Without courage leaders won’t be able to pursue big dreams and take calculated risks. Courage is what pretty much separates men from boys, leaders from managers.

Partner = Good Intuition
Everyone in the world has some level of intuition on everything but depending on how good your intuition is, you are going to succeed less or more. Are you able to predict needs of others, market, customers better than others. Can you tell which team composition will work better, which market strategy will work, which features customers are going to love. Can you just feel what are the next steps team should take? Intuition helps with these kind of things and good intuition makes you extremely effective. You can term it as experience too but experience can build good intuition or bad intuition. People with bad intuition has view of the world which might not be right and actually will make them take bad decisions. As building deep intuition takes time, you cannot really fast forward in building this. IMO more you travel, experiment in previous years, better intuition you are going to have.

Vice President = Out of box thinking
Now out of box thinking is the hardest as most of the people will struggle their whole life to even understand what it means to be inside a box. Even ones which can tell when they are inside, its very hard to get outside the box. As per my own understanding, you are inside the box when you accept an outcome without rationalizing it completely, when you stop questioning processes/directions etc. just because that’s how you have seen them but can’t really justify it. People who are able to keep their awareness and perspective fresh and able to question their knowledge and principles all over again as required stay out of the box. These leaders can guide through their emotions and that of the team successfully and gets to fulfill the biggest responsibilities in corporate world.

Of course people have lot more qualities than these and there are many other things you need but these form the basic ones in my mind. Yes there are people who get to these levels without these qualities too but this is what separated majority of the people at these levels from ones below them. I would love to hear from readers what skills/qualities you might put higher than these.


My favorite motivational quotes

I have been keeping a list of quotes which I read once in a while to motivate myself and to push myself to do the right things instead of doing things which are convenient. These has been a great source of inspiration for me. So instead of maintaining the list in my drafts, I decided to share it with others and inspire them too. I will keep updating this list with the new ones I like.


  1. It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.”
      by Mark Twain
  2. “Character is the result of two things: mental attitude and the way we spend our time.”
      by Elbert Green Hubbard
  3. “When it’s time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.”
      by Henry David Thoreau
  4. “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”
      by Anonymous
  5. “As you think, so shall you become.”
      by Bruce Lee
  6. “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
      by Bruce Lee
  7. “If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
      by Bruce Lee
  8. “Real living is living for others.”
      by Bruce Lee
  9. “Happiness is not by chance, but by choice.”
      by Jim Rohn
  10. “Without a sense of urgency, desire loses its value.”
      by Jim Rohn
  11. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
      by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  12. “A man is what he thinks about all day long.”
      by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  13. “Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.”
      by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  14. "When you choose to be pleasant and positive in the way you treat others, you have also chosen, in most cases, how you are going to be treated by others.”
      by Zig Ziglar
  15. “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”
      by Albert Einstein
  16. “Try not to be a person of success, but rather a person of virtue.”
      by Albert Einstein
  17. “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
      by Anne Frank
  18. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”
      by Aristotle
  19. “Experience is the child of thought, and thought is the child of action.”
      by Benjamin Disraeli
  20. “To talk goodness is not good… only to do it is.”
      by Chinese proverb
  21. “An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere. The pessimist sees only the red light. But the truly wise person is color blind.”
      by Dr. Albert Schweitzer
  22. “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost. That is where they should be. Now put the foundation under them.”
      by Henry David Thoreau
  23. “Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
      by Martin Luther King Jr.

If you know of any quotes which you think might fit in this list, please leave it as a comment.