How Compliance Boosts Growth With Steve Vincze

Compliance boosts growth because it gives your company the confidence of knowing what it can and can’t do. Dr. Diane Hamilton’s guest in this episode is Steve Vincze, President and CEO of TRESTLE Compliance. Steve discusses with Dr. Diane how compliance empowers your sales force and makes you win in the marketplace. The question is: how can you inspire your people to comply? One way is to create a collective identity your people are proud of representing. Do you want to know more? Then this episode is for you.

TTL 864 | Compliance Boosts Growth


I’m so glad you joined us because we have Steve Vincze here. Steve is a Global Compliance Expert and he is the President & CEO of Trestle Compliance. We are going to talk about all things compliance and maybe learn about how we should be more compliant in a time of COVID. It’s going to be a fascinating conversation.

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How Compliance Boosts Growth With Steve Vincze

I am here with Steve Vincze, who is a Global Compliance Expert and he’s also the President and CEO of Trestle Compliance, which provides risk assessments, compliance programs, and software for BioTech, Pharmaceutical, and MedTech innovators. It’s so nice to have you here, Steve.

Diane, it’s a real pleasure to be here with you.

I was looking forward to this. I love anything that gets into the pharma realm. As you know, I have a little bit of background in that area and it will be fun to get a backstory on you because you’ve served as a non-equity partner for the Big 4. You’ve done a lot of things as counsel to the US Representatives Oversight Committee. It’s quite a background. Why don’t you give me your backstory for people who aren’t familiar with your work?

[bctt tweet=”Stay very focused on what you need to do to accomplish your end goal.” via=”no”]

Let me start by saying I’m a product of a revolution quite literally. My parents, who were from Budapest, Hungary escaped in 1956. My dad was a young, handsome doctor and my mom was beautiful model. They got married across the border in Austria and I was a honeymoon baby. They arrived in the US on Memorial Day of 1957 and four months later, I arrived. That sums up my background because I grew up speaking Hungarian first and the home culture was Hungarian. I had to bridge cultures as a kid on my own. That’s what I do professionally, particularly as a compliance expert and practitioner where we bridge between the worlds of law, business, science, medicine, and when necessary, government and you have to the language. That’s where it sums up where my roots come from.

Another key element for me of getting to know who I am and how I look at the world is that as a Marine Corps artillery officer and then later became an attorney, prosecutor, defense counsel, and then ultimately an intelligence officer trained as an attaché to the embassy in Hungary. I sometimes joke as a compliance officer in the industry, I wish I had my helmet and flak jacket because there is a tendency to shoot the messenger syndrome. The word compliance is something that makes you feel all happy and moody.

First of all, thank you for your service and that’s quite a background, Attorney. Throw that in casually and some of the stuff you’ve done are huge things. I didn’t realize you were from Budapest. I sent my mom on one of those Rhine River Cruise. We had gone on a Rhine Cruise once but I didn’t get to see that area. I wanted to go back but she went on another one without me. I got to see a lot of really cool parts of Europe and I hear that Budapest is just beautiful.

TTL 864 | Compliance Boosts Growth
Compliance Boosts Growth: Use compliance to empower your sales force and win in the marketplace.


Yes, it is. They’re two cities combined. Originally, Buda, which is on the hilly side and then the Danube cuts through the middle of Pest, which is the more urban side where the parliament and the cathedral are on that side. It is a beautiful city and as I read, it’s becoming a popular place to retire for Europeans.

I did the other side. I went the Basel, Switzerland and we ended up in Amsterdam. It was quite an interesting tour. It was beautiful in that area, too. You made a comment about compliance. I teach a lot of HR and things where when you hear it, you’ll go, “We’re going to have to talk about rules.” A lot of people don’t want to talk about rules, but there’s a lot of risk and future things that we need to think about. I’m curious what you think about a lot of companies don’t protect themselves against.

Stepping back a little bit, one of the things that I have found to be amazing that we’ve learned in 2020 with the whole COVID experience and tragedy certainly from that experience is how similar and parallel some of those lessons are that can be applied in the business context and how many people understandably. I can understand the hesitation of getting the shot of the vaccine. Similarly, many businesses are hesitant to do head-to-toe compliance physical and it’s not appealing. There are all kinds of preconceptions about it, but that’s one of the things I would say. I’m in the process of writing a book called Winning With Compliance of how do you turn this thing on its head and use it to enable and empower your sales force to compete aggressively and win in the marketplace.

All of those adjectives and the words I’ve used are counterintuitive to most people when they think of compliance. Think the opposite. Instead of it’s a set of corporate handcuffs that burden you and keep you far off the line because you’re so afraid something may go wrong, the real answer is that understanding your risk gives you the power of knowledge, the knowledge of where those risks are and how to address them. That unleashes your confidence as a salesperson to say, “I know what I can and can’t do and if I’m not sure, I know how to get an answer.” That’s the power of an effective compliance process and support program. Again, the keyword there is process. A bunch of legalistic paper that tells you do’s and don’ts candidly maybe read once if at all and forgotten, and may look nice on a spreadsheet but isn’t effective operationally, that’s the key. What works in practice? That’s been my focus for most of my compliance professional career, which is for years now.

[bctt tweet=”Inspire and motivate your audience to a higher purpose. ” via=”no”]

You brought up some interesting things. You were talking about understanding risk equals knowledge. That ties very much into my research of curiosity because if you don’t ask the questions, you don’t get the knowledge. You don’t know what you can and what you can’t do. I found that curiosity ties into innovation, engagement, and everything that leads to productivity and success. We’re singing the same tune in some respects that you have to be aware and that requires asking questions and knowing what is going on. It doesn’t sound sexy when you say some of these terms like compliance and all that but it is about being armed and having that knowledge. I like that you named your company Trestle. That’s a support for a bridge, isn’t it?

Yes, absolutely.

Are you bridging?

Yes, that’s right. Having served in the shoes of my clients, I understand that the main thing people need is a good sound resource who can bounce ideas off that can validate what you may think that you may not have the time or other resources to check on and then to have support to get you to the other side. The way I like to say it is that we support to provide life science companies the opportunity to get to the other side and create value. That’s what compliance should be about all too often. When it’s not practiced properly, it’s a bunch of risk-averse attorneys who’ve never run a business, started a business, or sold anything other than their hourly rates. It turns business people off. These guys don’t get it. These guys don’t know what the risks are of the short window I have to get my message across to that doctor, clinic, or hospital.

I have to know my stuff. I need to get it out there, engage and connect with hearts and minds so that people like me, listen to me, and buy my product. It’s not easy at all. I appreciate that the challenges that salespeople and commercial people have. As a businessman and entrepreneur myself who has started over three companies and have been successful, I get it. It’s in that context. Also, for a free-market capitalist and a Milton Friedman fan, that’s why I went to the University of Chicago for my MBA, I understand that it’s all about opportunity and exploiting the God-given talent that you’ve honed through training, study and then making that opportunity happen.

From a senior executive investor perspective, that’s what they want to have happened. That’s why we’ve seen all the amazing technological discoveries, life science discoveries, and these vaccines that have been developed in unbelievably record time. It’s that American energy that American entrepreneurial spirit of adventure of get them and compliance is seen as the anathema to all of that. It’s counter-cultural. It’s not in our DNA. I’ve made a living basically of turning that on its head using the principles of Jiu-Jitsu, where you use the weight of your opponent against themselves, and here the weight of compliance is all the negativity and I say, “No. That’s not what it’s about. We’re here to find solutions, to find ways to say yes to explain the why behind the what and treat people with respect.”

I firstly have to demonstrate that you understand the motives, fears, and position of the people that you support. As an artillery officer in the Marines, we were all trained that, first and foremost, the core mission and the core business of the Marine Corps is infantry and everything else, whether it’s air support, logistics, intelligence, communications to include artillery is in support of the infantry mission. You first have to understand the core mission. That’s where I come in as a business guy, lawyer, and entrepreneur where I get it from a business perspective. The compliance needs to support air go and Trestle, your efforts to create value for your investors, patients, etc.

TTL 864 | Compliance Boosts Growth
Compliance Boosts Growth: We’ll never return to the pre-COVID era of how we practice business.


You were mentioning it sounds like it’s contradictory, but I teach a lot of conscious capitalism, servant leadership, and terms that sometimes people are going, “What?” when you say it. These things have to sometimes be explained so that you get an idea of what the end goal is. I love the Milton Friedman reference because I had Patri Friedman on the show, his grandson. It’s so interesting to follow that lineage of what they’ve done. You might find that show interesting after reading it. As far as the vaccines and everything that you also touched on, I had heard that you had your own issues with COVID-19. I’m wondering when you’re dealing with these firms and what they’ve had to go through with all this, how is COVID impacting your business, you, and your relationships?

I had a very serious case of COVID back in March 2020 when it was first hitting and at the early stages where two Harvard doctors, one a medical school professor at Harvard and one of his students and residents, both told me as soon as they saw me that they don’t know. They said, “Mr. Vincze, we don’t know how this will end up for you. Have you had end-of-life discussions with your family?” It’s the first words they said to me after I was taken by ambulance and had a serious case of COVID pneumonia. I woke up gagging for air so I was rushed to the Urgent Care that then called an ambulance and I was sent to one of the best hospitals in Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess. These great nurses and doctors looked at me and that’s what they told me. It was like, “You talk about a cold shower.” Both on a personal level and professionally trained, you try to apply humor and you stay very focused on what you need to do to accomplish your end goal and mission in Marine terms.

They asked me a question that, at that time, I couldn’t believe. Frankly, if I may use a blunt term, it pissed me off. They said, “Mr. Vincze, what would you like to do?” A bunch of four-letter words came to mind and I said, “What would I like to do? You don’t know me. I’m a Marine and I’m a Vincze. I don’t give up. I fight for my life and win this battle. I want you to help me do that. That’s what I want to do.” For three days, they literally told me they didn’t know if I would make it through the week.

Chris Cuomo, on his show, who also had COVID, accurately described that the beast comes at night at about 2:00 in the morning, and that was exactly true for me. I’d wake up 2:00 in the morning every night in the darkness, alone, not being able to breathe and not knowing because the doctor said, “We don’t know much about this disease that they gave me Tylenol and at that time, hydroxychloroquine, which on an emotional basis, I felt gave me an edge, whether it was true or not. We’ll see,” but I’m here. For me, at least, it didn’t seem to hurt. Psychologically, it helped because I thought, “I may have an edge here to fight this thing that nobody knows how to treat.”

[bctt tweet=”Make a roadmap with great detail on how you plan on moving forward.” via=”no”]

On a very personal level, if I may share and I respect everyone’s different views on faith, I was raised as a Catholic and went to parochial school. A bit of humor aside, in eighth grade, my teacher, Sister Mary Elizabeth, pulled me aside and said, “Steven, I know you’ve been accepted to a very good private school but I’d like you to consider going into the seminary to be a priest.” I got very quiet and I said, “Sister Mary Elizabeth, I don’t think I can do that.” She said, “Why? You’re an excellent student. You’re a fine, young man and you’d be a wonderful priest.” I said, “I like girls too much and priests can’t do that.”

In retrospect, I think I was right, but at the same time, in my own personal way, I’ve been faithful. What this experience really did is renewed and reaffirmed to me my faith. This is something that I do and have applied since is that when it comes to integrity and leadership, and this is something that I’m sure will resonate with you as an expert in these areas, leaders that are respected and listened to, whether they’re corporate, political, or compliance leaders are people that inherently feel their integrity and speak the truth. They feel, hear, and see that every signal that your body picks up, even if it’s through Zoom, although it’s much more effective in person is that this person believes what they say and they’re advising me in my best interests. That captures people’s attention and then results have to follow that mirror and validate that advice.

In other words, it’s a selfless kind of leadership. You have to put your client’s interests first. It’s not about making the quick sale. It’s about listening to the person across the table, hearing and understanding what they need, and then advising them accordingly, making that happen, and sometimes delivering a tough message even though they may not want to hear it. On a personal basis, at 2:00 in the morning, I turned to God and said, “This is all in your hands. No one here seems to know what’s going to happen. Do with me what you will. I believe in you and that you’ll make the right decision. All I ask is that you take care of my little girl because that’s who I live for, my family and my wife. If in your judgment, now is the time for me, so be it. I think she needs a dad.” For three days, there is a magical, mystical quality about threes throughout human history. To me, it had some real personal meaning. I’ve become even more selfless in how I approach my business, whether it’s a coincidence or not, 2020 and 2021 had been the most successful years of our business at Trestle Compliance. I joked that maybe I should stay on Zoom and stay home.

Zoom comes up a lot and I noticed you called it a Zoomified workplace. I hear a lot of Zoom fatigue but Zoom has its compliance issues. How is it affecting HIPAA and other things that you’re dealing with? We’ve got FERPA and online education. There’s HIPAA in medical. There are all these things that people have and rules to make sure that people’s information is not shared with the world. I’m sure that’s a big part of what you got to deal with.

What this COVID and Zoom era has catalyzed and accelerated at hyper-speed is that information, data security, and privacy have all now become enmeshed with commercial operations and have given added reason to make sure you integrate those kinds of protections into your business operations. We’re so reliant and I think many people have opined, and I agree that we’re likely going to be in a hybrid world. We’re never going to return to the pre-COVID era of how we practice business, where we’ll see what happens over the next few years, but here in the short-term, in the next year to two years, we’ll likely have some combination of Zoom meetings and in-person meetings. There’s a lot of pent-up demand, including myself, of wanting to get out there, meet people, go to conferences, and have that personal interaction, those conversations over a meal or a drink where people loosen up, and you get to know people. That’s when the real connections occur on both a personal and business level.

People have said and I’ve written an article, Privacy Is The “New Compliance”​ for the Life Sciences Industry. Years ago, compliance was evolving, especially in the pharmaceutical industry. I was part of what was then the largest case that gave rise to all kinds of standards that we live by with the TAP case in Lake Forest, Illinois, with TAP Pharmaceuticals back then. Compliance was evolving and now, we’re seeing the same evolution with privacy and data security. It’s certainly a very important part of any compliance program and business risk analysis.

TTL 864 | Compliance Boosts Growth
Compliance Boosts Growth: Privacy is the new compliance.


You brought up something that reminded me when I was working for AstraZeneca about something that they did. They made Nolvadex, which is an anti-estrogen product. I remember going to check out the facility one day and they didn’t have any women that were of childbearing age working in the plant, just in case, if they’re around any of the anti-estrogen products. There’s a lot of things that companies do and we don’t know about them, but sometimes they’re doing things thinking they’re doing what’s right or they’re not even thinking about what’s right but they’re thinking of what’s required when maybe they should be thinking about what’s right. I think about that a lot when I teach Ethics classes. We get into Enron and some of these but now, there are all these companies coming out. Everybody wants to be the next unicorn and fake it until they make it sometimes to be sure that they can do the next big thing. How do we do know what’s right and required and still please shareholders? It’s a tough balance, isn’t it?

It is. The first thing is to make sure that people like yourself and myself send this message to students in the classroom that it’s important to think about doing what’s right, not just what’s required. All too often, business schools have a rather lean, even absent a curriculum when it comes to consideration of ethics. Ethics is a touchy word. It can offend people, especially internationally because when people’s ethics are private, they’re personal. On the other hand, as an American, we’re often accused and sometimes rightfully so of being a bit heavy-handed in terms of imposing what we believe is right on the rest of the world. We have to be very careful as a cultural matter.

I’m thinking about a course I teach where we talk about these students look at a case where they have children working. It’s pretty much supplying their economy and some students will post about Tom’s shoes, giving away shoes, and how it hurt the local economy shoemakers. It didn’t help in some respects and then others will post about how you can’t stop buying from them or you kill their economy if you’re trying to send that message. Here we get into the same discussion of we are too involved and it’s all our perception. That’s a tough question, don’t you think?

What’s right is not clear necessarily. It can become quite obfuscated with all kinds of other considerations and priorities. That’s where I hearken back to my grammar school training, where I was told. I remember the day that this happened and at least experiencing this message from this white-haired Irish lady named Mrs. Walsh. She was one of the late teachers at our school who said, “As you grow older, people will try to tell you that what’s right isn’t so clear. I’m here to tell you that at your age now, remember the core values that you’re learning here at school, and whenever you’re in doubt, fall back on them. There are only ten commandments. Go back and read them and try to remind yourself of what these core values are.” I think I was 11 or 10 years old at that time.

That’s why I do think regardless of the religion, most religions agree on some form of the golden rule throughout history and across cultures. It’s like Justice Powell’s opinion on pornography. You know it when you see it. You also know it when you feel it as to what’s right and what isn’t. Many companies have gotten into trouble over the course of time where they did what was legal and legally defensible, but maybe in retrospect, if not the right thing to do.

One of the things I’ve learned and that I write about in my upcoming book is that the key question that most compliance officers ponder and wrestle with is how do you get people to want to comply. Not about doing it but wanting to do it. That’s the real trick. Any parent knows that’s the key to understanding your child. How do you get them to want to do their homework? The answer I think and a lesson I’ve learned from the Marines and elsewhere too, is you try to create a collective identity where people are proud of what that identity represents and then inspire and motivate that audience to a higher purpose, a higher cause, and here for life sciences, patient health and safety. If you have a product that may be prevented from being developed, marketed, or even received by patients that needed it because of some compliance violation, then that might be a reason you may want to comply in addition to all the individual benefits of meeting sales goals, targets, and bonuses that result, etc.

I do find that most people enjoy and that’s the key. People don’t want to go to work and go to the drudgery. They want to be feeling like they’re adding some real tangible value in doing something worthwhile. It all depends on the leader, tone, and messaging that they send. You see this in the political world and in all kinds of different ramifications that you can appreciate, given your expertise. You can communicate things very differently and do it in a very heavy-handed. You better do it or else. Here’s the threat of the consequences or you can do it because here are all the results, this is what you’re a part of, and we’re trying to achieve. I’ve seen CEOs that are incredibly effective in being able to craft a message that resonates with both the intellect as well as the emotion of the people in the company and the customers of that company. When it comes to compliance is you have to find a way and there are lots of technical ways of doing this that we can learn from effective at sales and marketing.

[bctt tweet=”Get advice from people who may not share your views to make the best decisions. ” via=”no”]

First of all, you brought up the golden rule. We talk about the platinum rule quite a bit since Tony Alessandra was on the show, which is do not so much what you would have done, but what they would want to have done. It’s interesting to find out what other people need and that goes back to the curiosity aspect. As you’re talking about some of these compliance situations, you also brought up your book and I want to make sure I get to that and when it’s coming out. Can you remind me the name of your book and when is it due to come out?

It’s tentatively. It’s called Winning With Compliance. It is scheduled to come out either at the end of 2021 or early 2022.

I’m excited to read your book. Thank you for sharing that because if it comes out in 2021 or 2022, this is a good time for this kind of thing. There’s so much that people are trying to do. Everybody is reinventing themselves right now. We all realize that we maybe weren’t as proactive as we should be. I’ve taught a lot of proactive courses that deal with foresight. I think that you have to consider all these things when you’re planning and when you’re doing stuff. You do a compliance risk assessment. Tell me a little bit about that.

On a technical level, the Department of Justice has issued guidance to its prosecutors. That’s an important context to keep in mind. When evaluating an effective compliance program and they did this first in 2019 and a refresh in 2020. The most important first step is to do a risk assessment. We strongly advise our clients that we agree, but more importantly, beyond because the Department of Justice says so, it makes a lot of rational sense. You should think of it as doing a head-to-toe physical of your corporate body of your business operations.

What kind of things are you looking at? I’m curious.

First of all, we’re trying to understand the business. If we’re a pharmaceutical company, what is your therapeutic area? What are your products? When are they scheduled to either be submitted for FDA review and approval? What’s your timeline, pipeline, and R&D? What kind of patients? Are they young, infants, children, or elderly? In other words, are they particularly vulnerable members of the population? Is this a life or death or rare disease? Does it require particular support services as many rare disease products do? Is it injectable or not? What are the dimensions of this business? How large is it? How many reps are you going to have? What’s the magnitude? All of this matters in terms of what you do from a compliance perspective.

Number one, we tried to understand the business. Number two, we try to understand where you currently are relative to a compliance vulnerability perspective. By that, we mean what do you have in place and what is your awareness of that? We have a proprietary software tool that we’ve developed where senior executives, generally from anywhere from 10 to 15 people, take this scoring tool through our software, score these compliance risks that we’ve identified, customized for them, and see what they think they had in place, relative to policies, procedures, training, and adherence as number one. Number two, we juxtapose that score against another score of what they think the historical enforcement focus has been by the Department of Justice and other regulatory agencies and then we conduct our scoring as the independent compliance expert and see if there’s a perception gap between the company score and our score.

You get a real sense of, is there as often there is particularly in younger companies for silos of compliance and understanding? That’s a key takeaway. We also try to identify all the good things we have in place, which is not normal whether it’s the Big 4 or small audit companies. The fear of executives is we don’t want to have some radioactive report that says how screwed up we are. We’re going to know we’re starting out, for example, that we need help. That’s why we’re talking to you.

TTL 864 | Compliance Boosts Growth
Compliance Boosts Growth: When evaluating an effective compliance program, the first step is to do a risk assessment.


Why should we pay for this and do this? The first answer is we’re not going to create a report like that. We’re going to be as fair and objective as possible and by taking a good, accurate photo, we want to capture everything that’s in that photo. The beauty and things that are working should be in there together with any gaps and opportunities for improvement. A very balanced objective view, which builds trust in the process. These guys know what they’re looking at, they’re fair, they document it and give us credit where credit is due, but then they also say, “These is where your gaps are and here’s how to build them.”

Again, solutions address the issues. That’s one of the key takeaways. You get peace of mind. You get a comprehensive report that’s done anywhere from 60 to 90 days. A lot of it depends on scheduling, logistics, and time of the year, but it doesn’t have to be all drawn out. It’s fairly inexpensive as most consulting projects go, but it gives you a good, strong foundation of knowing where you are, and then what do you need to do moving ahead. It’s like building a good fitness program where you first need to take a baseline assessment of where you are in terms of your cardio, strength, and overall health. What can your body tolerate and how do you work out to get to a certain level? You plan out with great detail the progression. It’s the same here. You get a great roadmap for how you move forward from a compliance programmatic perspective.

I love that since I write assessments for curiosity and perception. You mentioned the perception gap. It was fascinating to me when I was working on my assessment for curiosity because, first of all, it was the same thing that I was trying to do. It’s finding out where you are so you can improve. What’s holding you back? What’s limiting you, your curiosity, perceptions, and different things? When I wrote those assessments, it says that was my intention. There was a great HBR article by Francesca Gino, who has been on the show. Her article about the case for curiosity talked about the perception gap of what people think as far as leaders think that they are encouraging curiosity when you ask their employees, maybe not so much.

Sometimes we think we know what we know and it’s not what we think what it is when we go to all levels. Some of these assessments are critical for that. We’ve learned that sometimes the culture we’ve built maybe isn’t effective. In my Ethics classes, we often get into the Martin Shkreli situation and we talk about how his perception of charging so much and all the things that he thought were okay to do in his work as CEO. Do you find that most of the CEOs that you deal with have blinders on? Do you think a lot of them don’t recognize some of the things that are going on? Is perception a little skewed ever for them?

I’ve been fortunate in that the CEOs I’ve worked with in the past, for the most part, I listen and have done a great job in articulating the messaging and the purpose for compliance I have encountered and have seen. However, CEOs that are less enlightened to your point about curiosity and a complimentary point here that is supported by the Nobel Prize winner, Daniel Kahneman’s work, Thinking, Fast and Slow, I took an executive course at the Harvard Kennedy School back in the late 90s, where I got to meet Daniel Kahneman, who was a presenter. He’s an incredibly fascinating man, the incredible work that he’s done in economics and the course was on effective decision-making.

What he taught was is that certain types of people are inherently prone to certain types of biases. The classic case is the entrepreneur tends to underestimate risk and risk-taker and a go-getter, whereas the classic case of the lawyer or accountant is very risk-averse. They’re trained to be conservative and they tend to overestimate risk. The key is to understand where you fall on that spectrum and then to get points of view that may be different from where you are. This goes back to Lincoln’s cabinet of opponents, where you populate your advisors with people that may not share your views so that you, as the decision-maker, have the benefit of all kinds of different points of view.

This is another case for diversity of thought, culture, and perspective that can help you make the best decision in that period of time and sort through it. You need some kind of compass, though. If I may, as a society, one of the things we’re sometimes finding the hard way is that without some compass that you believe in that it gives you a direction, it can be buffeted in the ocean by the waves and the whims of the winds of the time and you have to have a clear line of sight into the direction you want to go. That is the measure of great leadership. A great leader can set that direction for every group, whether it’s a group of 2 or 3 or several million need that direction. They need to have that inspiration, motivation, and confidence that comes from a leader who believes in the direction they’re setting. The risk is that they may be wrong.

In any event, I’ve been inspired by several different works. One that I’d like to share is a book by a now-retired a Wharton Professor, Dr. Lawrence Hrebiniak, in a book called Making Strategy Work: Leading Effective Execution and Change. That’s something I’ve applied, both as an in-house compliance officer and as a consultant. The bottom line is all too often, people are in a very reactive mode to address either a problem they see in their industry, you want to avoid it, or that they see in-house and they go issue by issue rather than stepping back and thinking about what the strategy is here in terms of the overall direction we want to get to, what the goals are and then how we populate the resources we need with that in mind, as opposed to a singular, isolated problem that may be symptomatic of a broader, deeper problem. That’s where from a compliance program, I’ve seen many companies make the very sad mistake because it often leads to bigger problems of one-offing compliance issues. It’s often driven by a misplaced guide of saving costs. A penny saved is a penny earned, but sometimes it pays a little to invest now to avoid bigger problems down the road.

That goes back to the reason of conducting a good sound compliance risk assessment, where you get a very clear understanding of where you are, what you’re good at, what you have, what you don’t have, or where you need to improve, and then to have that confidence that comes from understanding, “Here are the rocks and shoals under the surface of the water or here’s the valley underneath the virgin snow that you want to avoid the crevice that you don’t want to ski into.” When these things, you can then attack with confidence and that results in a competitive advantage. That’s the messaging that people sit up and say, “I didn’t think of it that way. That starts to sound like the things we want to do.”

I’m thinking of the confirmation bias that you were talking about and I dealt a lot with that when I was studying perception. This is a time when everybody’s looking at social media, certain stations on television, and certain things to confirm what they want. It’s a time to think about your perception to ask questions, use curiosity, and see if maybe you are surrounded by yes men and yes women. Sometimes we surround ourselves so that we hear what we want to hear. We need to get out of that.

[bctt tweet=”A great leader can set the direction for everyone to follow. ” via=”no”]

I couldn’t agree more. On a personal level, I flip between stations to hear different points of view. Some of which I know, in advance, I likely won’t agree with, but I want to hear what the other side is saying and why, more importantly, and then see how that meshes with my common sense and understanding of a different issue that they may be discussing. I agree that there needs to be more of that and certainly in the business world, where all too often, CEOs and executives are judged quarter-to-quarter based on their reporting of certain results and outcomes. Time is of the essence and that’s sometimes where being able to explain the why behind the what, whether it’s to initial sales reps or to board members in terms of why you’re taking a particular strategy and you’re going to have to invest in here into a particular risk assessment or compliance support program that can enable and empower your business to then achieve the business results that you want by taking the appropriate legal, regulatory compliance measures that may be necessary.

The life science industry is front and center in the world globally. There’s a lot of their billions of dollars in that industry and historically, the government has indeed followed the water and the money. They will and I guarantee you that the current administration will be doing that rightfully so. They’re already increasing new stories of COVID-19 fraud and there’ll be other instances of fraud. The one thing sadly is true of the human condition is that humans, first and foremost, are flawed and secondly, are prone to temptation, and then finally can rationalize almost anything. With that combination will invariably lead to as a former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh once told me, at a conference, he said, “Steve, when the Department of Justice makes something a number 1 or number 2 priority, I can guarantee you two things will happen, more prosecutions and more convictions.” They’re going to go after this stuff. It’s all the more imperative that companies that have the best of intentions in mind and creating new exciting therapies for patients that need them take this into account, be smart about it, and still retain their passion. That’s where I am excited. Who gets excited about compliance? It’s not about compliance. It’s about success and creating that atmosphere and environment that breeds success and results that make a difference and adds value.

We want to see fewer Theranos and things happen that get overlooked. I had Bethany McLean on the show who was incredible, who wrote about Enron, and we’ve got so many examples of things. It will catch up eventually when people aren’t following what they should be doing. This is a good time to point out the value of that. This was an interesting conversation. A lot of people are going to want to know how they can find you and learn more. Is there something you’d like to share for them to do that?

Thank you very much, Diane, for that opportunity. People can find me on LinkedIn, @TrestleCompliance and also our website, which is On our website, there’s a way of contacting me if you’re interested in anything. Also, my individual email is I’m happy to respond to any inquiries of any kind.

You’re welcome. This was interesting. A lot of people need to recognize the importance of this and COVID has opened up some eyes here and there for other reasons like things like this that we haven’t focused on so much in the past. It’s a very important show. Thank you so much for being on, Steve.

Thank you, Diane. Congratulations to you and keep up the great work in terms of curiosity, leadership, sales, marketing, engagement, personality, motivation, and all the great things that you are working on. It’s a real honor and privilege to be on your show. I hope that I’ve added some value.

This was a lot of fun.

I’d like to thank Steve for being my guest. We get so many great guests on this show and there are so many episodes. I’ve lost count. We’ve had more than 1,400 to 1,500 people on the show. They’re all so fascinating. If you’ve missed any past episodes, you can go to If you go to the Blog, you can read the shows, which is nice because we link to different things we talk about. You can also find the AM/FM and podcast stations where we air on the site and take some time to explore and learn more about curiosity, perception, and everything else in the process. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of the show.

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About Steve Vincze

TTL 864 | Compliance Boosts GrowthSteve Vincze, is a Global Compliance Expert and President & CEO of Trestle Compliance, providing risk assessments, compliance programs and software for BioTech, Pharmaceutical and MedTech innovators. Prior to forming TRESTLE, Vincze split his private-sector career between service as an in-house or outsourced Sr. VP or VP Chief Compliance Officer for several life science and healthcare companies and as a consultant, forming his own firms as well as serving as a non-equity partner for a “Big 4” firm.

Vincze is Counsel to a U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Committee. He has 25+ years of experience in regulatory compliance matters, from government policy and enforcement to private sector business implementation considerations.

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