Scott Steinford: Leading and Empowering Through Change in the Pharmaceutical and Nutrition Industries

Most Empowering Business-Leaders Leading Through The Change

Challenging times call for extraordinary ‘out of the box’ thinking, creativity, and a belief that learning never stops.

Scott Steinford, Founder of Trust Transparency Consulting (TTC), is a Certified M&A expert with proven Executive level success. From starting companies to facilitating their acquisition, he has an extensive and awarded track record encompassing the pharmaceutical and nutrition industries.

Steinford has held CEO or President roles in for-profit organizations such as ZMC-USA and Doctor’s Best, as well as Executive Director and President roles in not for profit organizations. Trust Transparency Consulting was trademarked in 2007 and has been the cornerstone for industry coaching and strategic counseling.

Learning the importance of hard work, honesty & education

Steinford’s grandfather and grandmother met on a covered wagon train journey from Missouri to Texas. “Their values of hard work, and honesty were instilled in me since birth,” he states.

He recollects that his “professional” career began in elementary school as a Cub Scout. “It was then that I learned the fundamentals of leadership and the importance of character and ethics to encourage others. I didn’t always apply everything I learned in that regard, and every time I failed to follow the important principles of trust and integrity, I failed,” says Steinford.

Although Steinford’s grandfather never achieved more than a third-grade education, he never stopped reinforcing the importance of education. “When I would come home and complain about school and homework, he would let me know education is a privilege, not a right, and to never take education for granted,” he recalls.

Having learned the importance of education, Steinford made sure he funded and supported an educational reimbursement program in all the companies he led or ran.

“Too often a company will put educational reimbursement as a benefit but then not support the time and effort it takes to achieve the goal,” he states. “My greatest rewards and recognitions have come when an employee receives their teaching, nursing, business, accounting, or any degree. The knowledge that the education my grandfather inspired and I supported, in his honor, will go on to advance generations to come.”

Making trust transparent in the nutrition & pharmaceutical industries

Steinford acquired a Pre-Law from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Master’s of Science Degree in Law from Champlain College. He is known for his role with the ingredient CoQ10, and has passionately contributed to the 15 year 20% CAGR of CoQ10 (39Mt global market in 2000 to over 1000MT in 2021).

Steinford remains an authority on the CoQ10 ingredient market through leadership positions in ingredient supply, retail brand, and trade association levels. In addition to his role as Founder of Trust Transparency Consulting, he has written dozens of articles and has contributed to several more, firmly establishing his commitment to both organization and industry leadership.

As an active supporter of the United Natural Products Association, Steinford serves as an Editorial Advisor to the Nutrition Business Journal and Nutraceutical World. He is also a New Hope Ambassador providing NBJ reports and data for a comprehensive and targeted industry view, and delivers strategic thinking and achieves results by looking at the ordinary extraordinarily.

“My journey has traversed pharmaceuticals, vitamins and supplements with a common theme – ingredients are important,” says Steinford. “More than that, what people think of the ingredients in your product makes a difference in their expectations and loyalty.”

Trust Transparency Consulting was born out of the realization that enough people care about what goes into a product more than what goes into the marketing of a product. The company offers keynote addresses and workshops on the importance of trust in organizations and the value of making trust transparent both internally and externally. TTC also highlights the impact and dangers of the “transparency collision” which has repeatedly demonstrated an avoidable consequence to many organizations.

Demonstrating ‘out of the box’ thinking, extraordinary drive & vision

Steinford believes that sharing a goal not only provides a shared aspiration, but also opens the dialogue to see who else on your team demonstrates extraordinary drive and vision.

“I have had the incredible honor of leading several companies past the $100 million mark,” recalls Steinford. “Some were startups and others were halfway there when I came to the leadership table. Regardless, the positioning of the goal always made a difference to the dreamers that surrounded me.”

While he values having an achievable, and still aspirational, goal, Steinford feels that watching how people in leadership roles react to the goal is even more valuable. He recalls how during the pandemic, the company he led, Health Wright Products, was like so many others, struggling to recruit and retain employees.

“We knew we had to differentiate our company from the others, and we had to create a cohesive atmosphere with a common goal,” says Steinford. “We developed Project 150, supported by the Million Dollar Promise. The owners pledged a $1 million dollar bonus promise to the work force with the stretch goal being the achievement of $150 million in TTM Revenue. We placed large signage displaying the Program and the Million Dollar Promise throughout the facility.”

The bonus promise was to be over and above the normal bonuses in place, with the long-term expectation that the company should strive to reach the TTM goal sometime in 2024.

“We set benchmarks, with the first one being a 2021 Revenue of $100 million or 109% of budget,” he says. “That goal was met and staffing has remained over 90% at a time when other local companies struggled to overcome the ‘Great Resignation’.”

As a result, morale improved and momentum remained strong, as evidenced through employee engagement surveys. “No achievement is ever obtained alone, and challenging times calls for extraordinary thinking and creativity,” says Steinford. “It is this type of ‘out of the box’ thinking that has made a difference in my career and the companies I have led.”

Leading and empowering individuals through change

Steinford believes that success is not defined by what is achieved, but by who was inspired to create the achievement. “No success was ever achieved solely by an individual. Many inspirations lead up to every success,” he states. “How we recognize these inspirations, and the contributors, is the difference between ‘me’ and ‘we’.”

Leading individuals through change is Steinford’s “superpower.” He believes that greatness rests within each of us, and the ability to inspire people and organizations to work together to become better is a wonderful activity to facilitate and observe.

“I have had many role models in my life. One is the fictional character of the Wizard of Oz,” he elaborates. “The wizard was an ordinary man who brought out the extraordinary in the characters. That role is my goal as a leader of change. Whether you’re dealing with coworkers, or family members, the need to lead change within ourselves is an invaluable quality.”

Having been granted the gifts of self-confidence, ambition, and determination as a young child, Steinford realised that he did not know the depths of the gift until he saw them lacking in himself and others as an adult.

“When I realized what was inside of me, and the impact my sharing can have, is when I learned the capacity within all of us to define and achieve our own happiness,” he states.

As a leader, Steinford believes that empowerment is defined by what it is not, before it is defined. “Empowerment is not the expectation that someone will naturally make correct choices. Empowerment is defined first by the training of the empowered individual and second by the outcome of the result of that training,” he states.

Steinford explains that empowerment is allowing for the success of an action or an idea to be achieved and celebrated by the owner. “If the action or idea fails to achieve the expectation, it is the leader who should take the brunt of the blame for the failure, but it is up to the team to learn from the error and work together to recover, learn, and advance,” he clarifies.

Influencing change through mentorship

With the knowledge that mentorship has been a part of the advancement of human knowledge since the birth of humanity, Steinford believes that we are now living in an amazing time in the history of society.

“Historically, the elders possessed the important knowledge base and passed it down to future generations,” he says. “For the first time in the history of man, not only do the elders teach the youth, but the youth are able to teach the elders.”

He observes how children who have been born into the technology revolution are often better equipped to understand and teach their elders the technology that comes so naturally to them.

“Mentorship is a two-way communication now more than ever. To influence change today it is imperative to be as willing to learn as you are willing to teach,” he states.

Mentorship has always been an important element of Steinford’s life. “I love to learn, and I love to teach. Guest lecturing at Colleges and Universities on the paradigm that is Trust Transparency is my greatest joy!” he says.

For Steinford, Trust Transparency is the acknowledgements that trust needs to be made apparent and the belief that transparency is a valuable tool that builds trust. “Trust is part of every relationship we have from the moment we are born,” he says. “My lectures focus on the importance of making trust a proactive component of our everyday life.”

Staying abreast with challenges and industry trends

Steinford quotes Friedrich Nietzsche’s maxim, made popular by Kelly Clarkson, that “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!”

“I firmly hold to the concept that everything we see, say, and do, become a reflection of who we will become. It is up to us as leaders to empathize, and acknowledge, the capacity to feel both pain and joy,” he states.

With the knowledge that the workplace is only a fraction of what our associates’ encounter, Steinford believes that it’s important to accept another side of reality we don’t know exists in their world. Emotions of all types need to be heard to know the true imagery of the direction an individual and an organization is traveling.

“We all have capabilities and capacities that may limit our ability to achieve everything we want,” he says. “I believe we can naturally achieve everything we ‘need.’ To achieve more than our needs, we must dig within ourselves and inspire others to help us achieve an existence closer to our ultimate ‘wants’.”

Steinford also believes that education and death are the cornerstones to the advancement of society, and that death provides both a finite resource for our education, as well as a reminder that every day we can learn, we can also make a difference to others, until we can’t.

“We learn throughout life,” he says. “As we mature, we realize we can either hold on to what we have learned on our life’s journey and share it with no one, or share it with many in hopes that the information you have benefited from can benefit others.”

Steinford is also of the opinion that the internet is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to staying abreast of current industry news.

“There was a time when the news cycle provided time to interpret events before they were reported, or at least before the news had to be acted upon. Accuracy was more reliable in most cases,” he observes. “Today, the amount of information at our literal fingertips is astounding. The need to slow the information cycle to include verification and cross referencing of facts is important.”

An always-learning, aspirational leader

Steinford admits that there is no such thing as a typical day in his life. “Every day is different, primarily because I make it that way. My wife and family are not extremely pleased with the amount of chaos in my life, but they have learned its part of the package,” he says.

He also admits that balance has never been optimal in his life as his parents divorced before he was one and family balance was never embraced.

“I love my family, but I know I could have been more, and I regret that. But I also know they know a day did not go by that I didn’t love them, and they knew I was proud of each family member,” he says. “I use that history to empathize with employees who are struggling to maintain their own balance. Requiring a notice of balance for others, and a respect of what others believe, is important and has served me well as a leader and as a person.”

Steinford thinks of his COO as his family and ‘right hand.’ “My COO is family to me, and she has been my right hand in so many ways for the past 15 years,” he states. “We have run many successful organizations together and I know without my wife, and her, we would not have been able to achieve a fraction of what we have.”

Describing himself as ‘aspirational’ and one who believes that learning never stops, and improving is always a possibility, Steinford insists, “I am never satisfied with who I am or who I want to be tomorrow.”