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In Memory of Hezekiah Griggs – More Than A Client, A Person That Impacted The World

The Ascendant Group organization mourns the loss of an incredibly talented young CEO, youth advocate, and inspirational figure Hezekiah Griggs III. We had the pleasure of working with this 28 year old transformative figure that impacted an entire generation for nearly 4 years.

Hezekiah passed away on Thursday, December 22nd, shortly after midnight. Our hearts are broken.

After finding success at an early age Griggs became a popular inspirational speaker and youth advocate, all before the age of 15. Still a teenager, he began giving MLK speeches and often educated his fellow millennials and the generation after his on the importance and meaning of the message of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Griggs mentored hundreds of youth, inspired hundreds of thousands of people, and leaves a legacy dedicated towards service.

Though his life was tragically cut short by a car accident in Florida at the age of 28. Griggs lived an ambitious life where he was able to get a lot of philanthropic and professional milestones accomplished. He regularly spoke for church organizations and was a dedicated leader.

"Hezekiah was an amazing and innovative thinker that put God first in everything he did and challenged all to do the same. His entrepreneurial wisdom was unparalleled. He was a good friend and mentor, yes mentor, even 16 years my junior. He created my logo in 2008, he said Kim you are classy and smart, your logo needs to represent you, in 4 minutes he sent over what is now my logo. He was extremely giving and wanted everyone to succeed, especially our young people. I spoke at his leadership camps, he loved seeing youth thrive in our communities. I admired him greatly", said Kim Reed, Senior Partner at The Ascendant Group.

"When I met Hezekiah Griggs I was blown away by the maturity of his voice and business acumen. As I got to know Hezekiah I grew fond of his sense of humor, commitment to inspiring young people, and how focused he was on solving social justice ills even though he was at an age where most of his peers were concerned with having fun; Hezekiah never wasted a moment that he could positively impact a young person's life." Added Raoul Davis, CEO of The Ascendant Group. Another, Partner in the company Louis Lautman, was one of the first people that introduced Hezekiah Griggs story to the world in the inspirational documentary The Young Entrepreneur Society.

While Mr. Griggs has left us his life leaves a legacy. We encourage you to look at this video to get a small sense of that.


Ascendant Group has been Awarded the 2016 Corporate Brand Strategy Firm of the Year for Excellence in CEO Branding by Wealth and Finance 2016 Business

Following extensive voting and research conducted over the past two months, Ascendant Group was awarded the above achievement for excellence in what it does best: CEO Branding

Wealth & Finance International ( is a monthly publication, dedicated to delivering high quality informative and up-to-the-minute global business content.  Developed by a highly skilled team of writers, editors, business insiders and regional industry experts, Wealth & Finance International reports from every corner of the globe to give a global circulation of 130,000 readers the inside track on the need-to-know news and issues affecting banking, finance, regulation, risk and wealth management in their region.

The Team at Wealth & Finance International interacts with many respected and successful businesses on a daily basis, internationally as well as close to home.  As a result, they have set up a team of in-house professional judges to research businesses all around the world before awarding the above prestigious award… and this year, 2016, Ascendant Group had the privilege of receiving this honor.

By winning the 2016 Wealth & Finance Business Award, Ascendant Group is being recognized as being a business that as a result of using “innovative methods and outstanding results, (Ascendant Group) is changing the way we view their industry and seeing them surge ahead of their competition.”

As Wealth and Finance International themselves state: “Rest assured that only the most deserving nominees will walk away with one of our prestigious awards.” 

So what exactly does Ascendant Group do that garnered the above recognition?

Since 2004, inspired by trust and built on referrals, Ascendant Group specializes in CEO branding.  We’ve delivered significant results for a variety of corporations, from multiple-billion-dollar companies based in China to mid-sized U.S. companies and even early stagebusinesses with high growth potential.  We do that by employing a mix of media outreach and strategic social media, leveraging the likes of LinkedIn.  We have also helped broker strategic alliances, producing signature events and negotiating a book deal. 

Raoul Davis, CEO of Ascendant Group, explains: “A strong CEO brand in today’s society helps to give emotional staying power to the company in a time when it is harder to differentiate a company’s services or product than ever before amongst the crowd of similar products, fast followers, and even those who will clone quickly.  They want to give their business to a company with a great reputation… and that reputation begins with the person in charge.” 

We would love to be the team that helps you reach your next level of success.  Let us share details of how our creative and technical teams develop and drive comprehensive branding efforts that will raise your profile and attract the attention of others that share your vision, accelerating your longer-term career or business goals. 

With offices in Newark and Wilmington, Delaware and Cairo, Egypt as well as plans to continue to expand further internationally into the Netherlands, let Ascendant Group help you succeed.  

What Americans Think About CEOs Speaking Out – Important CEO Branding Takeaways

A recent report on the topic of CEO Activism recently came out and it has huge takeaways regarding CEO branding.  Here are some highlights.  Contact us with your questions about CEO activism and its role as part of the mix in building a strong CEO brand.

CEO Activists Reap Rewards; But Not Without Incurring Risks

Nearly 40 percent of American adults believe that CEOs have a responsibility to speak out on hot-button issues, according to a new survey, “The Dawn of CEO Activism,” released today and commissioned by global communications and engagement firm Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research.However, the survey also showed that chief executives need to show caution with the topics about which they choose to speak out on, as three in 10 (32 percent) of those adults have a less favorable opinion of CEOs who speak out on issues that are not tied to their companies’ respective line of business. With CEO activism in its early stages, companies and their leaders need to proceed with a healthy dose of caution if they engage deeply on issues that are squarely and controversially in the public realm.

“As more CEOs begin to take public stands on current hot-button issues, we wanted to take the pulse on where Americans stand on this revolutionary shift,” said Micho Spring, chair of Weber Shandwick’s Global Corporate practice. “We gathered data to better counsel companies on how to engage and protect their brand health and reputations.”

CEO activism has at times been very effective. In the past year or so, a number of CEOs have spoken out about social and environmental issues such as climate change, income fairness, same-sex marriage, immigration, gun control and discrimination – all issues that are not necessarily tied to the bottom line.

This onrush of public announcements has been so evident that one CEO declared a “third [political] party emerging in this country, which is the party of CEOs.” (Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, CNN, June 12, 2015) Such activism by America’s business leaders has the potential to shape not only the reputation of CEOs but also that of their companies and the likelihood that consumers will buy or not buy their brands.

Activism Encouraged But Not Always a Plus 

As noted above, a sizeable segment of Americans (38 percent) believe CEOs have a responsibility to speak out on hotly debated issues.

The belief that CEOs carry such a responsibility is most likely to translate to favorable opinion toward CEOs who do speak out. When respondents are asked their opinion of CEOs who take public positions on hot button issues, the scales tip in favor of the CEO (31 percent more favorable vs. 22 percent less favorable). Yet, when the issues are not directly linked to a company’s bottom line, the reverse is true and Americans feel less favorable (32 percent less favorable vs. 20 percent more favorable). Favorability is thus dependent on how strongly an issue’s link is to the bottom line, the data showed.

CEO Activism Influences Purchase Intent

A CEO’s stance on controversial issues can also work for or against the company when it comes to sales. While four in 10 Americans (40 percent) say they are more likely to buy from a company when they agree with the CEO on an issue, a comparable segment (45 percent) say they are less likely to buy if they disagree with the CEO’s position. Since a CEO’s external stance may affect behavior as basic as buying a product, companies need to have a firm understanding of the attitudes of key customers and other stakeholders before CEO activism goes public.

Americans Unsure of Motivation

The public does not fully credit CEOs’ motives for taking public positions on hotly debated issues. Americans believe the top reason for CEO activism is “to get media attention” (36 percent). Four other reasons tie for second place with 21 percent of respondents saying each of the following: “to build a CEO’s reputation,” “to sell more products or services,” “to be open and honest about how the issue aligns with company values” and “to be open and honest about how they personally feel about an issue.” Among these top five cited reasons, only the last two demonstrate trust in CEO activism motives. Adding to the skepticism, only 14 percent cite “to do what is right for society” and fewer (11 percent) cite “to speak up on behalf of the company’s employees and customers.” At the bottom of the list is “to attract and retain the best employees” (7 percent). Clearly, if CEOs want to signal that the well-being of employees is at the heart of their activism, their message is not resonating loud enough.

Media attention, of course, may not necessarily be a total negative since activist CEOs are attempting to bring attention to an issue that they wish to influence and about which they feel passionately. Still, many Americans think that CEOs speak up out of self-interest, whether it be seeking media coverage or building personal reputations. CEOs need to make their rationale for participation in this type of public dialogue crystal clear in an attempt to alleviate such doubts about CEO motives.

According to Weber Shandwick’s chief reputation strategist Leslie Gaines-Ross, “As the world grows more complex, polarized and politically-charged, our research provides an early roadmap for CEO activists to consider when speaking up on pressing societal issues. It is understood that CEOs have to carefully balance many constituencies but they will find themselves increasingly in the spotlight as they try to make a difference in a world that requires them to stand up and be counted. This new strain of CEO activism requires leaders to articulate their positions in a straightforward, unambiguous and meaningful way in order to be fully understood.”   

Millennials Are On Board More

Millennials (18-35 year olds) are the generation more inclined to favor CEO activism. They are more likely than other Americans to be aware of CEOs having taken public positions on controversial issues, to feel favorably toward CEOs who speak out, and to say that they will buy from companies whose CEOs take a public position they agree with.

For companies looking to appeal to the next generation, CEO activism might just be the right course of action.

Guiding Principles for CEO Activists

Without a doubt, companies and their leaders need to deliberate whether to speak out on controversial issues of the day and to decide which issues should be addressed. Weber Shandwick’s report provides 12 guidelines for leaders and their companies to consider. Following are several rules of the road:

  • Recognize that CEO activism is an emerging dynamic that is only going to increase as CEOs become more deeply engaged in the new world order.
  • Carefully evaluate the impact of the CEO’s stance among key stakeholders.
  • Establish a link between the issue and the company’s values and business.
  • Consider employees. Assess how it will impact them and gauge their support. If some employees disagree with the CEO’s stance, will they feel excluded, less productive, less loyal?
  • Look in the mirror. Make sure there are no skeletons in the closet related to the issue. This is a good time to put one’s house in order.
  • Consider the channels, messages and tone of voice used. Ensure that the reasons behind the public stance are clearly and transparently articulated and voiced over time, not just one time when the issue first appears in the news.
  • Have a crisis preparedness plan ready for a media, stakeholder or social media backlas
  • About the Research

    The Dawn of CEO Activism was an online survey commissioned by Weber Shandwick and conducted by KRC Research. The survey sampled 1,027 U.S. adults 18 years of age and older and interviewed them in May 2016.

Kobe Bryant’s 60 Point Finale and what he has taught us about CEO and personal branding

John Salmons with Kobe

This is our client John Salmons as he was guarding Kobe Bryant which he did many times over his 10+ year career.  Here is what John said about Kobe before his big game last night:  "It always took your 100% focus to guard Kobe! Seeing the Lakers on the schedule was always a game I prepared a little differently for, because it was always the ultimate challenge. The NBA will miss him! Congrats Kobe for graduating from the game."

I never had the honor or more accurate the torturous deed of guarding Kobe Bryant.  I have however been watching him for 20 years.  To say that he was viewed as a villain for most of his career is a fair statement.  However, Bryant did a masterful rebrand this year.  He realized he will have a much longer career off the court than he ever had as a basketball player.  He did a farewell tour that endeared him to the fans and he left everything on the court last night.  He scored 15 of the last 17 points for the Lakers and he won the game. 

This last year in many ways rewrites his history.  He now will be remembered for his 5 titles, being a great competitor, and for ending his career scoring 60 points in a game.  A feat at age 37 seems completely implausible. 

I could only hope that we could help our CEO clients build a brand that performs a fraction of what Bryant has done.  Now what is next?  We get to watch Kobe Bryant be a CEO.  I have no doubt he will be a great one. 





Creating an Authentic Brand



A huge branding trend of 2016 is blurring the lines between companies and their audiences: authenticity.

The public is craving content that is genuine from companies they follow. It has been shown that consumers engage more with companies that make an effort to build a relationships than faceless companies that seem unapproachable.

People like knowing what your Brand has to offer but people love knowing the people behind the brand. Knowing that big name companies are run by people just like them ignites trust and gives them meaning for supporting a brand.  With the explosion of social media brands now have more opportunities to connect with their audiences on a personal level than ever before.  

Ascendant Strategy helps grow and connect your brand to the audience you desire through PR campaigns, social media management, brand strategy development and more.   


Ascendant Group launches office in Cairo to expand CEO Branding focus globally

Vantage BDS, an Egyptian business development solutions company signed a partnership agreement with Ascendant Group, the global frontrunner in CEO Branding. Ascendant’s unique service focuses predominantly on emphasizing and spotlighting to the public, the outstanding capabilities and expertise of professionals who are leading organizations and institutions within both the private and public sectors, which positively impacts the credibility of such entities, ultimately inducing a higher confidence level from stakeholders and enhancing their top line revenue.

“The success of any organization or institution depends primarily on the capabilities and performance of its people, from top management to all functional and operational personnel,” says Ezz Eldin El Nattar, CEO of Vantage BDS and now Partner in the new Ascendant Global Division. “However, a capable leader is the driver of success and therefore it is important to all stakeholders to be aware of the competence, aptitude and success stories of such a leader.” On entering into this partnership Ascendant Group CEO Raoul Davis added “Ezz ran the 9th largest business in Egypt at one time we couldn’t think of a better person to head our global outreach efforts in the region. We’ve had success in the United States, China, and Peru and look forward to helping CEOs in the region increase their visibility by raising their level of recognition within both their industry as well as the global audiences.”

Ascendant Group for over a decade have developed a proprietary 5 phase brand model, which has created a proven framework through which they execute a custom built brand acceleration program using core components such as brand strategy, public relations, social media, design, strategic alliance development, and book deals/marketing.

The official signing ceremony for this exclusive partnership occurred during the CEOs Summit, which will be held at the Cairo Marriott Hotel in January 2016.

About Vantage BDS

Vantage BDS is a business development solutions consultancy, established in 2003 with a mission to provide a wide range of organizations within the MENA Region with effective, state-of-the-art solutions to complex business-related problems. Their clientele range from startups to multi-million dollar enterprises within the private, public and government sectors. Utilizing their vast professional network and capitalizing on the diverse corporate experiences of their consultants, Vantage BDS has successfully developed and executed a series of creative business development projects and strategies, which have positively impacted the bottom lines of their clients in the most challenging times. Vantage BDS is an associate member of Global Trade Matters, the private sector think tank for economic and political reform policies.

About Ascendant Group

Built on referrals and inspired by trust since 2004, Ascendant utilizes a proprietary CEO brand development and implementation model that is amongst the most integrated in the world. With a clientele that ranges from multibillion dollar Chinese companies to mid size companies in the U.S., and retired professional athletes with business ventures, Ascendant offers a vast experience across a number of industries. Recently the company was named a Founding Member of the Forbes Agency Council; a designation reserved for some of the world’s leading agencies. You can learn more at


When you’re a small business owner, it can be tempting to stick to tried and true methods for branding and promoting your business. However, the marketplace is constantly evolving, so what worked last year isn’t guaranteed to work this year. Because branding largely determines how your customers view your business, it’s critical to be in touch with current branding trends.

The following are 2016’s most important small business branding trends and how to best use them to your advantage.

1. Personal Branding is Now Mandatory, not an Option

Your personal brand and image as the owner of your company is just as important as your company’s brand and image. The two are interrelated and are equally important. For instance, would you take health and fitness advice from a business run by someone who appeared unhealthy and out of shape? If your personal brand doesn’t align with your company’s, that disconnect will put off potential customers and damage your bottom line. This methodology is called “CEO branding,” and it’s the art of using tactics such as PR, social media, book deals, speaking engagements, and award procurement to provide the clearest point of differentiation any great company has, its leadership. Our business Ascendant has been doing this for over a decade

2. Increased Social Media Budget

Organic reach isn’t dead but it isn’t what it used to be, either. In April 2012, Facebook for Business reported that pages organically reached about 16% of their fans. In 2015, that number plummeted to 2.6%. The fact is, if you want to reach a bigger audience on social media platforms, you’re going to have to pay for it. However, don’t despair. Truthfully, Facebook and Instagram are doing a great job making these services much more efficient and measurable than other forms of advertising. Twitter and Pinterest have followed suit. While LinkedIn advertising tends to be more costly and, in my opinion, has a while to go before it becomes a more efficient spend.

See the full article here:

Ascendant Group Branding Launching Global Division

The Ascendant Group, known for designing and executing successful PR strategies to enhance the personal profiles of CEOs and executives, announced it has launched a global division.

“We’ve built a company focused on exceeding the high expectations of an executive clientele – and we are thrilled to officially expand our services on the global scale.” – Raoul Davis, CEO

An established titan in the field of personal branding, Ascendant Group not only delivers top line CEO branding strategies but also works with business leaders to execute those strategies. Ascendant Group’s established clients, ranging from CEOs at $5 to $250 million companies to executives at Fortune 500 companies, often seek multi-year relationships with the company. Clients benefitting from Ascendant’s services have taken the spotlight in prestigious media outlets and have seen unprecedented company growth.   

Whether executives want to expand their brands into the United States or want to leverage the prestige US media outlets offer, foreign clients can rely on Ascendant Group’s experience to increase their media presence in the US. Ascendant Group is already serving clients in Peru, China, Switzerland, and Canada. The Ascendant Group’s promise is to secure guaranteed significant visibility for foreign clients within the first 60 days of working with them by utilizing public relations in the United States – a mandate the company has been able to fulfill for 100% of their current foreign clients. The value of Ascendant’s global division lies in exposure to the largest and most recognizable media outlets in the world. In turn, this global presence can impress shareholders, customers, and potential strategic partners.


With the combination of a unique marketing mix and focused execution, the Ascendant Group has helped place clients in The New York Times, ABC News, and other high-profile media outlets.

If you would like more information, please contact or 302.450.4494 ext 202.

New CEO Branding Book Coming June 2015

Dr. Marc Fetscherin is an Associate Professor of International Business and Marketing and a Cornell Distinguished Faculty at Rollins College, Florida, USA. His expertise is in international marketing with a specialization on marketing strategy, marketing research and branding. 

He asked Ascendant CEO Raoul Davis to contribute to his new book  "CEO Branding: Theory and Practice" (2015).which includes some of the top experts on branding.  Davis elected to write perhaps the books most practical chapter on CEO Branding:  How Perception Defines Reality.  Davis provides a tactical tool book on how to build a CEO brand.  In contributing to the book Davis says "Dr. Fetscherin has put together the most comprehensive book on CEO branding to date.  It covers it from a practical and academic perspective.  Anyone interested in understanding how a CEO can impact the perception of a company should pick it up."  

The book can be purchased at

Why LinkedIn Matters for CEO and Personal Branding

Most people view LinkedIn as just another account they need to remember a password for. The truth is, if done the right way, LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to propel your business into the next level. What is that next level? Whatever you want it to be! Imagine you are an accounting firm looking for new clients, you are also looking to expand your business globally. All you really need to do to get the ball rolling is establish an excellent online presence using LinkedIn, and brand your company in a way that promotes professionalism and authenticity.

Let’s flip the scenario. Imagine you are looking for an accounting firm to help handle your business, but you are busy and don’t have a lot of time to do research. Wouldn’t it be simple enough to log into LinkedIn and search for firms that could offer assistance?

When creating the account it is extremely important you understand what your potential clients are looking for and how you can portray this through your account. Understanding how to apply strategy and research to your profile will make all the difference in your ultimate success rate.

Overall, LinkedIn is a powerful outlet to expand, promote, hire, connect, and succeed in a fast paced business world. While social media is adapting and certainly becoming one of the strongest social tools known to man, it is strongly encouraged for businesses to learn how to adapt and survive using this tool.

For more information and help with using social media use the link below to read an article all about the business pros and cons of different social media outlets.