2015 is the Year Women Leaders FLOURISH

Unleashing passion is not a catchphrase for Dr. Rachel Talton – it is a calling. As the founder and CEO of a successful brand strategy firm, Synergy Marketing Strategy & Research, Inc. (Synergy), she unlocks passion in organizations, people, and brands from the inside out.

Her drive to help organizations prosper and grow is aligned with a deep desire to help individuals thrive. Late last year, Dr. Talton founded Flourish Leadership, LLC and the Flourish Conference for Women in Leadership. Flourish is an executive leadership development organization that helps high-achieving women thrive in business and in life. The company also helps high-potential middle managers become successful executives and entrepreneurs. Through FLOURISH, Dr. Talton’s goal is to unleash the passion and dreams of women who may have the desire to achieve more but lack a customized, holistic plan to do so.

“FLOURISH is the theme for 2015,” said Dr. Talton. “It is about a new you. I have been mentoring people most of my life. I was always the one you go to when you have a problem. My strengths were always being able to listen to people and help them solve problems – that is where I have always found the most joy. One of the things I appreciate about marketing is being able to go in and fix management, brand, and marketing challenges so companies can flourish and thrive.”

Synergy helps large corporations and institutions earn the trust, loyalty, and most of all, the passion of their customers and employees. The agency serves industries that are consumer-driven such as banking, healthcare, and retail, as well as nonprofit organizations, government, and education. Companies who have utilized Synergy’s services are definitely flourishing. Clients such as Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, the Cleveland Clinic, Kent State University, and the State of Ohio have used Synergy research and brand strategy consultants to leverage opportunities for growth. Synergy’s signature product, BloomPrint™ for Brands, assesses brand engagement, aligns the brand to customer needs, and activates the core brand promise across the organization. This product has been touted as “revolutionary” by clients and industry thought leaders.

Dr. Talton earned her Doctor of Management from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, where she has served as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing. Her research is focused on the impact of perceptions of trust, satisfaction, and value on consumer loyalty in dynamic industry environments. She holds an M.B.A. with a concentration in finance from Cleveland State University and a B.A. in Psychology. She has been featured as an expert in brand strategy and market research on ABC News, Fox News, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Crain’s and MBA Magazine, amongst many others. Dr. Talton has authored several practitioner and academic articles, including “Dare to Build Trust in Times of Distrust” and “Trust Payoffs in Distrust Dominated Environments.” Her first book, Beyond Extraordinary: A Blueprint to Flourish in Business and in Life goes to print in October 2015. Her second book, The Currency of Passion, will be published in 2016.

A lifetime member of The International Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma, Dr. Talton serves on the board of directors of JumpStart, Inc., Destination Cleveland, the Cuyahoga Community College Foundation and the Akron Community Foundation.

Prior to founding Synergy, Dr. Talton was an Executive Vice President at Marketing Programs, Inc., where she led Corporate Marketing Programs and Small Business Marketing and Research for several national financial institutions. Between 1997 and 2001, her consumer insights were used to help build one of the most successful retail small business banking programs in the United States for National City Bank (now PNC).

In early 2009, Dr. Talton co-founded TRUST, LLC, along with several established Northeast Ohio CEOs working in the marketing discipline. To support the organization’s mission, Dr. Talton designed “Women in Business Pay It Forward.” Today, Synergy still donates marketing services to one burgeoning company each year. The most recent recipient of donated services is a fast-growing Cleveland office design company. Synergy’s BloomPrint™ for Brands helped this company create a successful growth plan that has garnered a substantial increase in employee engagement and in annual sales.

Building on Synergy’s successes, in 2010 Dr. Talton and her team focused their energies on improving the economic development of historically disadvantaged groups throughout the Cleveland Plus region with the design and implementation of the Northeast Ohio Economic Inclusion Forum series. Dr. Talton now looks to take her passion for facilitating change to the national stage.

“I have been talking with our co-chairs – a group of brilliant ladies who meet weekly to share best practices, help and support each other, and provide resources. They are also there to be honest and say, ‘That is not such a good idea,’” Dr. Talton said. “About a year ago I was sharing how much joy I get, even when dealing with my Synergy clients, when I am helping individuals, particularly women, solve their personal and professional challenges.”

Dr. Talton recognized that many women are seeking support in executive leadership development. They are looking for answers to questions like how to flourish in the executive ranks, and once there, what’s next? Some women also struggle with how to balance all of these issues in their lives. Dr. Talton said that these are the women that look successful, have the right social status, and have amazing careers, but are still unfulfilled.

“I have found over the past couple of years that I have gained as much joy from helping these women to flourish as I do in my brand strategy work, which I love,” she explained. “Working with my mastermind sisters, I decided to start an executive coaching business for women because I love it and you should be doing what you love.”

And FLOURISH was born. The company provides high-achieving female executives and entrepreneurs with executive coaching, masterminding cohorts and their signature offering: Transformation Immersion™ retreats. These are scalable strategic and inspirational events hosted by Dr. Talton and a powerful team of co-chairs, representing eight states across the US.

“Beginning in the late fall, we will facilitate our second year of one-day retreats in three cities – Cleveland, Indianapolis and Washington, D.C.” said Dr. Talton. “Our premise is that when women flourish we change the world. It’s not that men are not wonderful – they are a blessing in so many ways – but when women flourish, everything changes – communities change, schools change, families change. Our ability to collaborate and empathize transforms the world!”

Dr. Talton wants 2015 to be the year that women transform themselves and begin living their dreams. “It is not just about what we do for a living; it is about how we align our lives,” she said. “How are we aligning our purpose with what we do 24 hours a day, and how does that manifest in our leadership at the office – whether it is our own business or we are working with someone else? It is also how we are flourishing in our families, relationships, and friendships. How are we flourishing in our churches, communities, and civic engagements? It is more than just looking at your professional life. It is how you are aligning your whole life.”

It is Dr. Talton’s hope that more women will know what it feels like to live their true passion and purpose.

“I have this amazing team at Synergy and these wonderful clients and work that I have been blessed to do,” she said. “The ability to add to that is something that makes my heart sing, which is watching women step into their own mastery. I mean, how cool is that? I think it is about being aligned with what I was really put here to do. So 2015 is truly that year and not just for a few of us. The New Year is a great opportunity for us to take a step back and ask ourselves, what is my purpose and what am I doing every single day to live that purpose?”

FLOURISH will come to Cleveland October 30, 2015. Last year it was sold out within two weeks. It will again will feature speakers, workshops, and collaborative coaching.

Dr. Rachel’s Prescription: Your Blueprint to Flourish in 2015 Your Year to Flourish

  • BE COMMITTED – People often have great ideas, but are not committed to them. Commitment requires putting the resources, time, and energy into making your dream a reality. This step is very important; people frequently want to skip over the commitment portion of making an idea work. Commitment is critical to flourishing across the four dimensions:
    • Self-care: Flourishing starts with taking excellent care of your most valuable asset. YOU. Start with a focus on the following elements, which include taking care of your health and your surroundings. Balanced nutrition, exercise, getting enough sleep, creating a synergistic and inviting environment in your home and office for work, play and rest. And don’t forget to engage in activities you really enjoy!
    • Sustenance: Flourishing also includes your professional and financial attainment. Have you reached your professional goals and made the contribution you would like to in your industry? Of course, money isn’t everything but we all need a certain amount of wealth to do the things we love, and contribute to our families and communities. It’s important to have a financial plan and be purposeful about following it.
    • Synergy: How many times have you heard respected leaders preach that good business is based on good relationships? It’s true. And those relationships start with you. To flourish in relationships, you must start with a healthy, authentic and nurturing love of self. Then, examine relationships with those closest to you – family, friends and colleagues. Prune and water where necessary.
    • Spirit: For some, this might be a religious distinction, but it doesn’t have to be. A healthy spiritual foundation can also be about mindfulness. The neuroscience is clear, and many of the top companies in the world are paying attention. In fact, a course in mindfulness, “In Search of Yourself” has a wait list of six months for the employees of Google!
  • FORM A MASTERMIND GROUP – The Mastermind program was introduced by Napoleon Hill in the 1930s. You are already masterminding when you and your best friends get together. These are the people who have your best interests at heart, will work through things with you, and will challenge you. Masterminding is a formalized way of getting these people together; many successful people do it because it is a way to both challenge their thinking and get perspective on their ideas. Many of the most successful people on earth have mastermind groups that they trust to push them to the next level, both intellectually and from a business perspective. Even if the group is not formal, put a team of people together that cares about you and your idea. You can’t do it alone.
  • CREATE A PLAN – Put together a plan. It does not have to be a 100-page, academically vetted, strategic plan, but it must be goal oriented. You should have big-picture goals broken down into tasks, a timeline for when these tasks are going to occur, and a delegation of who is responsible for implementing the tasks. Your plan serves as a blueprint to help you remember items that are critical to the success or failure of your idea. Place your guiding principles at the top of your plan so you remember why you are doing what you are doing.
  • BE ACCOUNTABLE – Hold yourself accountable to achieving your goals or explain to yourself why you did not. Create accountability metrics, preferably weekly, and reward yourself when you achieve your financial, professional and personal goals. This step is very important to your success.
  • BUILD YOUR SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION – Having a spiritual foundation or believing in something that is bigger than yourself can help to guide your decisions. Some actions may get you where you want to go but may not be the right thing to do. Another direction may take longer but is truer to who you are.
  • NEVER. EVER. GIVE UP – Sometimes in the middle of your plan, when things seem to be going well, you hit a wall. The difference between people who are flourishing and those who are not is that successful people see the wall as a learning experience on their way to getting to their goals. You have to be able to lift yourself up over your challenges. Something inside of you says I can do this, I can get beyond this challenge – and that’s self-determination. There are many people who are smart, beautiful, and talented, but who are easily turned away by a challenge. You never hear about these fantastic people because they let one or two or 10 challenges get in their way instead of using the challenges as a learning experience on their path to fulfilling their purpose.
  • REMEMBER TO CELEBRATE – Even if it is a little thing, celebrate! This advice is especially important for women. We assume that it is our job to take care of everybody and fix everything, and we never take the time to celebrate the things we actually do accomplish. Be sure to celebrate both the little things and the big things that you have been able to accomplish.