Building Trust and Authenticity in the Insights Industry

Sep 19, 2023

In the premiere episode of her podcast “Insightful Inspiration”, insights industry executive Isabelle Landreville sits down with Raj Manocha, Chief Client Officer at Sago, to discuss the importance of building trust and being authentic in the insights business.

Isabelle and Raj go way back – over 15 years in fact. Isabelle has seen Raj build an impressive reputation over the years for his ability to foster trust and connect authentically with clients right off the bat. She wants to dig into his approach and get his advice for others looking to do the same – especially since she’s seen the importance of trust first hand in her own research projects.

The Power of Leading with Trust

Raj shares that his approach is to give people 100 percent trust upfront rather than make them earn it. He focuses on understanding clients’ needs, trading stories, and making them feel comfortable, as if they’ve known each other a long time already.

Raj says that relationships and trust are central in the insights industry. People want to work with those they feel they can rely on. Giving trust freely at the outset helps him form bonds faster. It also signals he has nothing to hide.

Raj learned early on that this approach breeds reciprocity. When you go out of your way to help others, without expecting anything in return, it motivates them to lend a hand too. This kicks off a “cyclical process” where goodwill keeps flowing back.

The Challenges of Being Authentic

Isabelle notes that authenticity has become a buzzword, but yet it’s important to develop authenticity and how she continues her authentic leadership herself. She asks Raj how he developed his own authentic leadership style.

Raj emphasizes the importance of “being yourself” and “being true to who you are”. Due to his speech impediment when he was younger, he’s naturally more introverted and observational. He watches how people react to build his communication approach.

Raj believes you must be comfortable with yourself first before you can be authentic externally. It took him until his 30s to fully embrace his authentic self in business settings. He encourages young professionals to reflect continuously on their experiences to grow as leaders.

Navigating Power Dynamics

Isabelle wonders if Raj’s high-trust approach works as well with people who prefer that trust is earned. Raj notes people’s preferences reflect their own “healing journey”. If someone hasn’t worked through personal trust issues, they may not reciprocate fully.  

In those cases, Raj will still start from a place of openness and adjust his expectations based on how the relationship develops. He tries to “meet people where they are”, not where he wants them to be.

Making Connections in a Hybrid World

Isabelle asks how to nurture trust and authenticity remotely. Raj stresses the importance of non–work conversations to bond, like grabbing drinks pre–pandemic. He and peers recreate this socially through chat groups.

With new clients, Raj recommends transparent check-ins on how the relationship is evolving. Don’t let transactional interactions become the norm. Seek out opportunities to connect casually and continue building rapport.  

Advice for New Industry Entrants

In summarizing takeaways, Raj recommends that new entrants focus on the human element. People still buy from people in the insights business. Approach your role with sincerity and helpfulness. Say yes to building relationships whenever you can.  

Overall, Raj believes leading with trust breeds more trust. When done consistently, it becomes a virtuous cycle that pays dividends professionally and personally.

  Building Trust and Authenticity in the Insights Industry

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