Walker’s Legacy Profiles recognize unique women of color in business who embody the legacy of Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire. In this installment, meet Rachel Talton.
Rachel is the CEO of Synergy Marketing Strategy and Research, Inc. and Flourish Leadership, LLC. Rachel strives to help others flourish in all that they do professionally and personally. Her vivacious energy is contagious! We appreciate Rachel taking some time to answer our questions and inspire us all to flourish in our own lives!
What is your “day job”?
That’s a great question. Sometimes I feel that I have several! My day job is CEO of Synergy Marketing Strategy & Research, Inc. and of Flourish Leadership, LLC. Synergy is a brand strategy and research firm. We serve regional, national, and global corporate and nonprofits, providing them with comprehensive brand and leadership strategies and full-service marketing research.
Flourish hosts the Flourish Conferences for Women in Leadership in several U.S. cities and partners with the Flourish Foundation to touch and transform the personal and professional lives of 10,000 women leaders by 2020. Our goal is to help them strategically flourish in several areas of their lives. The Foundation allows us to also serve emerging leaders and girls aged 14-19 with leadership offerings and growth strategies as well.
I’m also a burgeoning author of my first published book. I’m really excited to share it with the world. It’s called Flourish: Having it All without Losing Yourself.
Who were your heroes or mentors?
My first heroes and mentors were my mother and my maternal grandmother. Both of them are brilliant, beautiful, benevolent and strong. They have been so meaningful in shaping the woman I am today and the contribution I want to make to the world!
I have several business mentors, but I will discuss the most important here. First is my husband. He happens to be my life partner, but he has also had a tremendous impact on our businesses and my strategic approach to business. I’m so honored to be his partner and wife. And I’m so proud of him. Three other important mentors in my professional life have been Congressman Louis Stokes (God rest his soul), Pat Mullin, and Margot Copeland. Each of them have poured into me and helped me brainstorm big questions in my life and business. They have championed, sponsored, and mentored me whenever needed and have certainly helped me grow as a leader.
Finally, there are many, many others who I look to for guidance on my personal board of advisors. Some whom I look to from afar are Jesus, Oprah, Ghandi, and Warren Buffet. I’m absolutely fascinated by Pope Francis as well. What an exemplar of loving leadership and transformational (if incremental) change! I was just in Rome last week and reflected on what wonders he’s done for the Catholic Church.
When did you decide you were an executive administrator and that this would be your journey?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but through my early adulthood, I thought my career path would be pretty traditional. Since I was a very young girl, I’d wanted to be a psychiatrist and author. My mission in life was to help people who needed mental, emotional, and even physical and spiritual help to become whole. To live their purpose, even through difficulties.
Although my vision for my life never included business, I’ve always had a strategic mind and have always been excited and fueled by the opportunity to solve problems of the human condition.
Today, I am so fortunate that my day job and God job have collided! My education in psychology and business and management and my professional experience as a marketing executive, leadership and brand strategist, and researcher have truly come to full fruition. Every day I am blessed with opportunities to solve business problems for companies and organizations, solve human challenges for brands and consumers, support women leaders as they grow luxuriantly to meet their full potential, and engage heavily in philanthropy.
If you weren’t the CEO of Synergy and Flourish, what would life look like?
That’s an interesting question. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I would probably spend more time on philanthropy, such as the Flourish Foundation and several other boards and issues that matter to me. I’d write more and I’d certainly travel the world more!
If you had it all to do over again, would you do anything differently?
You know, that’s always a tough question. I could say that I’d live the perfect life and never make the MANY mistakes I’ve made, but then I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t have the scars that help me be more empathetic. Or I wouldn’t have the lessons that come with failing and failing forward.
I think if there is anything I would do differently, it would not be to change my choices or the circumstance in my life. I think I would take more time to reflect on the lessons and amazing experiences I’ve been able to have. I would take more time to flourish myself. To learn, to grow, and to invest with the people I love.
What do you do for you that brings you absolute joy or peace?
That’s an easy one. Helping women flourish. It’s literally my favorite thing. The pleasure I get when women (and extraordinary men) have a foolproof strategy to help their business, to grow their careers, to nurture their relationships or build their teams, to grow brands, market share, or consolidate a product line is indescribable. I just can’t think of a more edifying role than that of strategist and executive coach. I get to bring all of that education, experience, and expertise to bear to serve people I care very much about and organizations in whose success I’m invested. It’s the best job ever.
Another thing that brings me absolute joy is travel. I absolutely LOVE to see the world and all of God’s glory. I love to hear and try to speak the languages, to share in the interesting foods, to witness the wonder of different cultures. To fall in love with a new country every year.
What would you like your epitaph to be?
She LOVED. She loved fully, authentically, proactively, passionately, meaningfully, and without reservation. She touched and positively transformed the lives of thousands of women and girls. And most importantly, she changed my life for the better.
I hope whoever writes it can say that.
In one word, what is it that you want people to remember about you?
Is there anything else you wish I’d asked you?
No. I love that you are sharing your gifts and the stories of flourishing women leaders with the world.