“Lead the Field Literally Changed My Viewpoint on Life”: An Interview with Dr. Sarbari Gupta, CEO of Electrosoft by Jennifer Janechek

A month or so ago, I came across an article in the WashingtonExec about Dr. Sarbari Gupta, CEO of the technology company Electrosoft. In it, she says that Earl Nightingale’s Lead the Field audio program “literally changed [her] viewpoint on life when [she] first heard it in 1995 and motivated [her] to take bolder steps toward [her] goals in life.” Sound Wisdom recently published a beautiful print edition of Lead the Field, so I reached out to Dr. Gupta to learn more about how Nightingale’s work shaped her life and career. She was kind enough to chat with me over the phone, sharing many of her own success strategies as well as those that she gleaned from Nightingale’s audio program.  

Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the field you’re in. 

I grew up in India and came to the United States to do graduate studies in electrical engineering. In graduate school, I took various courses in what was then called “information assurance/computer security” (now cybersecurity), and several of my master’s courses focused on cybersecurity-related topics. My first job after grad school was at Trusted Information Systems. During this time, I received a postcard advertising an audiotape of this program, Lead the Field. The marketing must have been intriguing enough that I signed up for it and ended up receiving a packet of maybe six audiotapes.  

Nightingale’s delivery really motivated me and started me thinking about concepts like attitude. I started talking to contacts and discovered an opportunity to move to IBM to do some groundbreaking work in the cybersecurity arena. To some extent this tape prompted me to keep my eyes and ears open. Sure enough, opportunities came up for me to grab, including this move to IBM. But I always had this desire to be my own boss, and in many ways Nightingale’s principles helped me chart my course toward founding Electrosoft.  

Lead the Field has often been referred to as the “Program of Presidents” because so many top executives have incorporated Earl Nightingale’s insight and guidance into their management philosophies. How did Lead the Field shape your management philosophy or your work philosophy in general? 

In the first chapter, “The Magic Word,” the lesson about attitude changed how I interacted with my family and colleagues. I have continuously applied the principle of integrity, the seed for achievement, in my life. It has had a strong influence on my management philosophy, especially the idea of the person on the white horse—that whoever is the leader is setting the example; there’s no hiding. On a personal level, I’ve found “The Miracle of Your Mind” chapter very beneficial—getting out an empty sheet of paper in the morning, focusing on the most important question, and coming up with answers. It’s true, as Nightingale suggests, that when you key in on a question at the beginning of the day, your subconscious will often be at work, trying to find an answer to it. And those answers will come to you, often at odd times of the day! 

What qualities do you think are most necessary for success in business, especially as an entrepreneur and/or manager?  

More than anything else, resilience. You need to be able to bounce back after things like opportunities falling through. Integrity is another word I take very seriously. People need to see integrity to trust you. Also, goal setting—people who succeed have goals. Like Nightingale points out in one of his anecdotes, being a bricklayer might be a tedious job, but if you can envision the whole thing, then you’ll have the drive to build it. 

Do you have any advice to budding entrepreneurs about what sorts of things they should be doing to position themselves well to succeed? 

Networking is No. 1. Careers are made or broken by who you know and who respects you. Whenever you can, get to know people in your field, establish a relationship with them, and build on that. Take your work seriously. Do a good job in everything that you undertake. The impression you’re making today matters. You could encounter the same people in the future. If you give a positive impression that earns their respect—you put your heart into it, do a good job, etc.—you could meet them twenty years later and they might remember that they were impressed with you. It can make it easier to establish a business relationship later on. Demonstrate a good work ethic. Don’t ever think that senior people aren’t keeping an eye on you. Keep making a good impression, attend to matters of professionalism—dress, attitude, whatever it is. It just helps in the long run.  

In terms of readying yourself to be an entrepreneur, try to get different types of experiences. Seek jobs with exposure to the sales side of things, or the financial aspects of a business. Do this in a low-risk environment where you’re still an employee, learning on the job; then you’ll feel more confident that you can set things up for yourself down the road.

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About Sarbari Gupta

Dr. Sarbari Gupta has been active in the information security industry for over twenty years. She possesses broad-based knowledge and experience in the areas of cybersecurity, privacy, and cryptographic solutions. Dr. Gupta, who holds a PhD degree in Electrical Engineering and CISSP and CISA certifications, has authored over twenty technical papers/presentations in refereed conferences/journals and several chapters in cybersecurity books. In addition, she has co-authored several NIST Special Publications in the areas of Electronic Authentication, Security Configuration Management, and Mobile Credentials and holds four patents in areas of cryptography. Dr. Gupta is the founder, CEO, and president of Electrosoft, a provider of technology-based services and solutions with a special focus on cybersecurity.

About Electrosoft Services Inc.

Electrosoft, headquartered in Reston, Virginia, delivers a diversified set of technology-based solutions and services to federal, civilian, and defense agencies. They couple domain knowledge and experience with proven, mature management practices to design and deliver the right solutions on time and within budget. Their practices include an ISO 9001:2015 registered Quality Management System and Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) Level 3 assessed processes. Founded in 2001, Electrosoft is an 8(a) certified Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) and an 8(m) certified Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB). For more information about Electrosoft, visit their website at www.electrosoft-inc.com.

Get your copy of Lead the Field now from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-a-Million800-CEO-READ, and other fine retailers. Also available in the Earl Nightingale Series is The Direct Line, and The Direct Line Workbook is forthcoming in December.