Cleveland Business Connects

For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

Q&A with Rachel Talton, Chief Transformation Officer, Flourish

Photo by Gery Petrof

Already a rock star in the Northeast Ohio marketing community, Rachel Talton is now taking the logical next step —a summer tour. The CEO of Synergy Marketing Strategy and Research will take Flourish —her executive coaching conference —to four cities, including Cleveland, this summer. She talked with CBC magazine about her goals and career.

Q: Where did the idea of Flourish originate?

A: The short answer is that my partner, Dr. Monikah Ogando, and I believe (and the evidence shows) that when women flourish, they positively impact the world. Interestingly, we both have expertise and education in behavioral science — even though we are both business strategists. We realized that we each have a personal mission to ensure that the strong voices of women are heard and, in the process, transform their individual careers, businesses, and lives for the better.

Q: What are the primary goals of Flourish?

A: The primary goal of Flourish and the Flourish U.S. Conference Tour for Women in Leadership is to support women executives and entrepreneurs. Many high-achieving women seek to not only succeed but also to thrive in their professional careers, their relationships, their personal and civic lives, and in their health and well being. We support them by providing unique and effective executive leadership development experiences. What is transformational for these women who experience Flourish is the customized assessment and 100-Day Plan they create, in addition to the collaborative coaching that occurs in our sessions.

Q: Can you tell us more about Monikah Ogando?

A: I think she’s incredible, but of course I’m a bit biased. Dr. Monikah is a published author, a terrific strategist and coach, and an Inc. 500 awardee for building one of the fastest growing consultancies in the country. She’s a loving mother and wife and wonderful friend and business partner. We work so very well together. In fact, we joke that she’s “Dharma” and I’m “Data.” We enjoy working on instructional design, creating the unique Flourish experience so that every woman we work with and every organization we touch is positively transformed.

Q: How did you choose your four tour stops — Washington (July 18), Atlanta (July 25), Cleveland (Aug. 29) and Fort Lauderdale (Sept. 26-28)?

A: You know, understanding context is one of the key opportunities for the work that we do. The cities we chose are all experiencing growth and/or represent a unique opportunity for women in leadership to thrive professionally and personally. Of course, an important reason for choosing both Cleveland and Atlanta is the many business and civic connections we have there. However, each of these cities has its own burgeoning corporate and entrepreneurial economy. Cleveland’s renaissance is something I am passionate about and have been engaged in through my civic work. So, it’s such a pleasure to see the results of more than $10 billion of infrastructure, public and private investment in our community. Atlanta, of course, ranks No. 7 for most women-owned businesses, according to American Express OPEN. It is also considered to be the easiest city to recruit executives, according to 50 U.S. search consultants, based on research conducted by Heidrick & Struggles in 2012. Interestingly, Washington has the highest rate of women-owned businesses, according to a study by It is also home to organizations that serve as resources for women in business, such as the Washington Women’s Business Center, which provides training to women entrepreneurs to support their businesses, and the National Women’s Business Council, an advisory council that serves as a voice for female entrepreneurs to the federal government. Ft. Lauderdale will be the host city for our Flourish Executive Retreat, which is a highly immersive, three-day leadership and personal-development symposium. This culminating retreat will attract women in leadership from across the United States.

Q: Who from Cleveland should think about attending the Aug. 29 conference?

A: If you are a high-achieving leader of your organization in senior or executive leadership or an established entrepreneur seeking new ways to both grow your business and thrive in your personal and civic life, then the Flourish Cleveland Conference for Women in Leadership is for you. We’re so excited to serve these women by providing an extraordinary experience (one that is inspired and motivational) and providing in-depth customized leadership and personal development tools to flourish well beyond the conference’s closing activities.

Q: You serve on the board of several area organizations, including Positively Cleveland and JumpStart. What do you feel you bring to the table for those groups?

A: As one of many civically engaged professionals in our community, it is my hope and prayer that I bring my expertise in the art and science of marketing, brand building, and strategic growth to the table for the nonprofits that I serve. I believe my knowledge of marketing research has proven to be beneficial to the organizations I’ve served, including my role over five years as marketing chair of the Positively Cleveland board. Personally and professionally, I aspire to bring people together. Just recently I co-hosted an event in my home, bringing together more than 50 businesses, nonprofits, and civic leaders to support a leader and institution that are important to this community — Cuyahoga Community College President Dr. Alex Johnson. The truth is it’s not only expertise that is required to provide good governance. It is the unwavering commitment to the mission of the organization, your time and treasure, and the belief that the organization continues to make a difference in the lives of our citizens.

Q: You spoke at CBC’s Female Entrepreneur Summit on April 9. What was your take-home message for those attendees?

A: It was a fantastic event. The audience was engaged, and the content was substantive. My talk was about the power of building a marketing plan that is scaled for growth. Although I am biased, one of the most important tools for developing a strategy is the research and insights to make smart, strategic decisions. The other critical resource in the development and implementation of a sound marketing strategy is talented, experienced, and passionate professional people. Of course, marketing strategy for growth is something I am very passionate about because this is the core competency and work of my company. Synergy has just announced that we will expand beyond our 3,600 square foot Synergy Insight Center headquarters in Akron. Synergy is excited to expand into the Cleveland market, touting a significant strategic partnership with SmartShape, a very successful and well-respected product development firm. Synergy will serve as SmartShape’s marketing research and user-experience research arm. With its expanded territory, Synergy announced the grand opening of Focus Group Concierge Cleveland, with a high-tech new focus group facility at the historic and innovative SmartShape headquarters in Downtown Cleveland. The partnership is also aligned with Synergy’s goal to expand our reach as the most sought-after brand research firm owned by a woman of color in the state of Ohio.

Q: What local groups have you engaged with and benefitted from over the years?

A: In addition to the boards of directors that I serve, I have been involved with Cleveland Bridge Builders and Leadership Cleveland over the years, as well as the President’s Council Foundation, Consortium of African American Organizations, and Entrepreneurs’ Organization. These groups are all fantastic organizations. We are also involved with the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program.

Q: Has business networking played a role in growing your business?

A: I can honestly say that business networking has been an invaluable tool for our business growth over our 11 years in business. It is through networking and collaborative engagement that our company has built what we call passion equity — a combination of financial equity, brand equity, and customer loyalty that drives bottom line results for companies. Without champions to support our products and services, it is almost impossible for a company to grow. The same is true with individuals. In fact, we talk a lot about the relationship construct through Synergy’s signature product, BloomPrint for Brands, where we assess customer and employee loyalty, passion and satisfaction. I also work closely with our Flourish clients to build, strengthen, and leverage relationships in order to help them fully thrive in business and in their personal lives.

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