Q: How did you get started in this business?
Raoul Davis never takes no for an answer. While serving as VP of his campus student government association, he asked a guest speaker if the bureau that booked him offered student internships. The speaker said “no” but Raoul suggested they “give him one anyway.” Raoul’s sales mettle was put to the test when he negotiated a “yes” and quickly put in motion an innovative sales model that helped him secure recognition as top sales person for the company. He packaged up his learnings and launched his own speaker management company. Instinctively, he decided to pivot the business and layer in a proprietary blend of book publishing, public relations and social media services to create one of the most integrated CEO branding firms in the world, a distinction the company has held since 2009.
A Long Island native, Davis completed his undergraduate degree at Winston-Salem State University and earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Delaware School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, renowned as one of the nation’s top-ranking public policy programs.
Prior to joining Ascendant, Davis was in management roles for Paramount, Speakers Etcetera (a west coast communications firm and speaker’s bureau) and the General Wesley Clark for President Campaign. Davis also holds an interest in a number of innovative enterprises including Three Squared Inc., a real estate planning company utilizing shipping containers to build and Cargolinc, a real estate technology company. A couple of years ago, Davis joined 150 entrepreneurs who were selected to participate in small business economics forums at the White House, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Senate.
Davis founded Ascendant Group in 2004 and as partner painstakingly grew his full-service CEO branding firm, garnering industry recognition and building an exclusive list of clientele. The Wilmington, Delaware-based agency works exclusively with C-suite executives and entrepreneurs, providing top-tier PR outreach, media training and full-service book publishing including developing concepts and negotiating deals, author tours and personal appearances, social media content and strategic alliances.
The agency’s private executive client list includes Fortune 50 executives, CEOs at middle market companies with $5-100 million in revenue and New York Times best-selling authors. Under his leadership, the company has helped clients generate significant business deals, speak at Ivy League institutions, win recognition from elected officials, receive invitations for White House-sponsored events and secure media coverage in the New York Times, CNBC, the Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Wall Street Journal.
Q: Can you describe your customers / what type of customers do you have?
Ascendant works with corporate CEOs, entrepreneurs, C-Suite executives, retired athletes, and megachurch leaders that are socially conscious, innovative and focused on growing their organizations through direct engagement with the customers influencers, and stakeholders that matter the most to their business success.
Q: What are some of your “keys to success” in building your customer base?
Ascendant coined the moniker that we are built on referrals and inspired by trust since 2004. We believe in focusing on outcomes, not just output. In fact, the company’s customer service philosophy is to meet client expectations, guaranteeing minimum placements across TV, radio, online and print or we “Do It On Own Our Dime.”
In 2015, the agency opened an office in Cairo and launched its global practice division helping CEOs in China, Switzerland, Peru and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region receive guaranteed global visibility.
We know it’s important to practice what we preach. The agency values cultural and business exchanges. In fact, Davis has participated in conferences and summits at the White House, in the Caribbean and in India. The agency believes the right kind of industry recognition helps retain top talent, grow the client list and position the company for future opportunities. Under Raoul’s leadership, Ascendant was named a founding member of the Forbes Agency Council, a leading by-invitation-only group for top PR and advertising executives and garnered awards for design, organizational culture and public relations work, including: Top 25 small businesses to work for by Mo.com, excellence in client public relations campaigns by Agency Post, the Silver award from the 20th Annual Communicator Awards for its web design work for www.vanmoody.com, and Corporate Brand Strategy Firm of the Year (USA) & Award for Excellence in CEO Branding (USA) in 2016.
Q: Is there anything about your business that you feel makes it special?
Ascendant is a unique firm in we are the only one that offers a fully integrated model for executing CEO brands. There are executive coaches that talk about it; however, we strategize and execute. We believe well-known CEOs build well-known companies. While other agencies only focus on media strategy, we implement campaigns using public relations, strategic visibility book deals (when it makes sense), and social media to accelerate CEOs brand and grow CEOs firms topline revenue. Additionally, CEO branding means developing a portable brand that makes them sought after. Finally it means anytime a CEO gets involved in a new venture, it will create excitement.
Q: Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? In the next ten years?
The Agency is in position for explosive growth in the global market, specifically in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region as well as Netherlands and other parts of Europe. We are