Scott Shainman Shares 10 Lessons That Will Make You a Better Leader

"View every decision from 1,000 feet up and 360 degrees around."
Scott Shainman Shares 10 Lessons That Will Make You a Better Leader
Image credit: Scott Shainman

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In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with Scott Shainman, president of Getac North America, who helped lead the company to become one of the world’s largest rugged laptop and tablet manufacturers -- the types of devices used by the military, first responders, law enforcement, manufacturing and even NASA pilots! It was condensed by The Oracles.

1. Who was your biggest influence growing up?
Scott Shainman: My father is my biggest influence. He’s one of the most successful business people I’ve ever known. I was fortunate to learn directly from him. I watched him speak, negotiate and solve problems from an early age. Much of what I learned still serves me today.

Although he instilled countless life lessons in me, one piece of advice stands out: “View every decision from 1,000 feet up and 360 degrees around.” That reminds me to step back and get perspective on the issues before making a decision.

2. Share an interesting fact about yourself that not many people would know.
Scott Shainman: I once played a FedEx package handler on the King of Queens TV show! That always gets me surprised looks.

3. What are the core values that guide your business, and why did you pick them?
Scott Shainman: People are the priority. Products and services are meaningless without the people behind them. Products come and go, but the experience your people provide a customer lasts forever. Invest in your people and culture for continued success.

I also value consistent communication. The key isn’t speaking -- it’s listening. There’s a reason we have two ears and one mouth. But when you do speak, be clear, direct and unbiased.

4. What’s your favorite quote? (And how do you apply it in your life?)
Scott Shainman: “It is what it is.” A good leader doesn’t stew on decisions or “what ifs.” No plan is perfect, so start somewhere. When a situation presents itself, analyze it, discuss your options, use your resources to make the best decision and execute. Then don’t look back.

5. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Scott Shainman: Don’t let opportunities pass you by. Seize the moment. That opportunity may never present itself again. What’s the worst that can happen? If it doesn’t work out, you’ll be wiser for it.

6. Who is the best ever leader (alive or dead), and why?
Scott Shainman: I would have to say Alexander II, commonly known as Alexander the Great, who became king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon at age 20 and established perhaps the greatest empire in just 10 years. It’s not just that he was undefeated in battle. More importantly, he was a true visionary who brought together different cultures. I suppose you learn a thing or two when Aristotle is your teacher!

7. How do you identify a good business partner?
Scott Shainman: I look for three things in a business partner. First and foremost: Do they have a mutual interest in addressing our customers’ needs? If so, is there a cultural fit between our organizations? And finally, will the partnership be profitable?

8. Which single habit gives you 80 percent of your results?
Scott Shainman: I keep in constant communication with my team. I’m a big texter but also use every other medium like email, phone and the company instant messenger. Most importantly, I always ask what I can do for them.

9. What are you working on right now?
Scott Shainman: We provide mission-critical computing devices to clients in sectors like public safety and the military. So, I’m afraid I can’t tell you that! Let’s just say it’s all about the “user experience.”

10. What are two or three things on your bucket list?
Scott Shainman: I love history, so I would very much like to see the archaeological sites in Egypt. I’ve also always wanted to fly the North American P-51 Mustang, a single-seat fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War.

Connect with Scott on LinkedIn and Instagram.

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