Dean Scott

Traffic Safety Program Manager

Dean Scott was born in 1968, the youngest of seven brothers and one sister. Raised by his mother in Baltimore, Maryland, he was chosen as valedictorian of his graduating high school class in 1987. After high school, Dean enlisted in the US Army, becoming a military police officer. He served in the armed forces for 20 years, including a combat tour in Iraq, and a humanitarian service mission in Goma, Zaire.

Dean received a Bronze Star for valor in combat in 2006. While in the military, Dean Scott continued his education, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree from Colorado State University Pueblo in 1994, later earning a Master’s Degree in Management from Murray State University in 2004.

Dean Scott became a Pastor in 2009, and took a position at the New Kingdom of Faith and Restoration Church. The Church serves as the primary food provider in the Greater Northland Area of Kansas City, feeding over 100 families a month. Dean currently works for the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), where he provides grant oversight of Traffic Safety Programs. He also manages the financial disbursements and reimbursements of program grant funds. In 2022, he was a recipient of the highest award given to non-management employees, the NHTSA Superior Achievement Award.

When not working, Dean Scott enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, as well as motorcycling, and following the Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, and LA Lakers.

Where did the idea for your career come from?

Having a military police background made it easy because we work with law enforcement in advancing our program objectives in NHTSA. It was an easy transition because cops talk to cops. With my history of being a cop, the agency felt like I could be a great asset to them, so they actively sought me out. I was flattered by it, but I was really motivated by the opportunity to save lives. Ultimately, on the road, even as a police officer, our number one duty is to save lives. I think that being with NHTSA right now, we’re really saving lives each and every day, especially by working with our partners in law enforcement.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I’m a teleworker now because of the pandemic, so I only go into the office once a week. My typical telework day goes like this: I wake up at 6:30 am, log into my computer, look at my emails, and begin to figure out my tasks for the day. Am I going to update the child passenger safety website, or schedule a meeting with my partners in Arkansas? Is there a government issue that I have to fix, or is there training? Some days are dedicated to taking training courses online. We have a NHTSA training regimen sent over email every morning that provides us with opportunities to take training, and sometimes I’ll take a full morning to just do a three-hour training session on sexual harassment, how to stop phishing on your computer, or how to ensure physical security. We train on a wide variety of subjects.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring ideas to life by involving people, because once you voice an idea, other people can help to make that idea become real by giving their input. “Hey that’s a great idea, but have you thought about this? Have you thought about maybe asking Kentucky and Indiana to participate in this border to border exercise instead of just keeping it local within our five states, then we can have a bi-regional or multi-regional effort?” I think many ideas start off small, but they can evolve into something much bigger if you get buy-in from other partners within your agency.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Reduction in fatalities across the United States in traffic crashes and the increased usage of seatbelts. Those are two very exciting things to me because when those things happen, a great number of lives are saved. Each day, when I see fatality counts going down in each of our 50 states, I’m very happy because it means the efforts of our agency are saving people.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I like to get up early in the morning. I did it in the military, but when I retired from the military, I told myself I’d never get up early in the morning again. Now, not only do I get up early in the morning, but I get up two hours early. I get up at 5:30 every morning and I exercise. I get on my treadmill and that helps me to get my day started. I think it gets my endorphins flowing or something.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I should’ve saved more money when I was young. I should have learned about the stock market, including all the nuances of trading, how to open up an IRA account, and just generally how to invest. I would tell any young person to learn these things, because the younger someone is when they begin investing, the better off they’ll be later in life.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Climate change is real. It’s getting hotter every year, but nobody believes it. People say we don’t need to do anything about climate change, but we do.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Document, document, document. Make sure that you write everything down, make sure you keep all your documents for every transaction. Never throw away receipts. Always keep the records pertaining to important things that have happened to you in the past, such as medical documents. Keep everything and make sure that you get what I call a “fireproof case.” Then put all your documents into that case, so that you’ll always have it. You never know when you might need an old document.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Learning to become a great public speaker. Sometimes a person who is a great public speaker can overcome a lack of knowledge in a given area, because a great speaker will typically gain that knowledge as they go along. Being a great speaker requires you to take speech classes and stand in front of an audience and take criticism. Make your speaking and presentation skills a priority in life and it will help you immensely in many different ways.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Once, when I was in the military, I fell asleep on duty, and it was a bad situation because it was a high security location. I was able to make up for it, but it was just a very tough situation. I made amends by working harder. In my off time, I went to sleep at night when I was supposed to, so that when I woke up in the morning to go to work, I was not tired and I would give 100%.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

If you’re in the federal government, you need to invest in TSP, which is the Thrift Savings Plan. The Thrift Savings Plan has a matching offer, meaning that they match whatever you put in 100%. If you put in $1,000 a month, they match it with $1,000. There’s also interest paid on that money, so each year you’re drawing interest and you’re going into what’s called a money market. You’re investing in commodities in different parts of the stock market, and all of that adds to your retirement savings. If you do that over maybe a 20-year period, you’re looking at a tremendous windfall—but it’s all about what you put in. For federal employees, investment into the Thrift Savings Plan is the best thing you can do

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I actually bought some sunglasses, they were some Ray-Bans and they cost $110. I love them because my eyes can’t handle the sun.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I’m starting to use Google, but I also really like Yahoo. I like Yahoo because it gives me information about sports and lots of other stuff I like. Yahoo also has a great calendar. Outlook is my favorite calendar, so I would suggest anybody reading this use Outlook. I’ve found the Go-To Meeting program is also good. It allows you to place all your contacts into the Zoom for Government program, and so it builds your calendar for you. It actually buzzes when there’s a meeting. It’ll let you know that your meeting is about to begin in 5 minutes! I’m really techy when it comes to those platforms.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Well, I’m not an avid reader, but I did read Colin Powell’s biography and would recommend anyone read that. It’s about leadership, and it is compelling to read Colin Powell’s words on the subject.

What is your favorite quote?

“Money ain’t a thang.” — Jermaine Dupri

Key Learnings:

  • Learning how to speak well publicly can benefit a person in many aspects of life.
  • Ideas are best brought to life by bringing in other people and asking for their thoughts.
  • It’s important to learn about financial matters, such as money management and the stock market at an early age.