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The Importance of Being Earnest — And Leading

By Seth Kaufman

Can Philosophy (and History) Shape Leaders?

Having the right business strategy is critical to success – but never underestimate the importance of good manners.

Those are just two of the lessons from a Vanguard dialogue on global leadership with Richard Schatzberg, the Chief Commercial Officer for NeSt Technologies, a privately held global software solutions company with seven thousand employees.

Early in NeSt’s founding, Schatzberg and his C-level partners made the decision “to not ride the wave of projects,” he tells veteran journalist Ken Stone. “We made a decision to go after long-term strategic relationships. And that has really transformed us. We did not grow as fast as some of our competitors—the TCSes (Tata Consultancy Services) of the world and the Wipros of the world, who entered the public markets and took off…we grew a little bit differently. We literally grew like a stairway, one client at a time. What that has allowed us to do, which is still true today, is control the growth of our staff relative to our customer needs. Understanding cultures, that has always proven to be incredibly, incredibly important.”

Cultural awareness—and common sense good manners—are something Schatzberg swears by. Once, at a critical business meeting, he was offered coffee and tea by a gentleman in a white coat. “We both turned to him and said, ‘Thank you so much, sir.’ And thankfully it was the right thing to say, because it turned out that once he served everybody coffee and tea, he took off his white jacket only to have his suit underneath. He was the CEO and was testing us to see how we understood the servant service culture of India.”

For more of Schatzberg’s insights into global leadership you can read a transcript of the interview, listen to a podcast of the dialogue, or watch a video.

These thoughts are taken from a dialogue conducted on Mar 2, 2022. Participants may have changed companies and/or titles since then.


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