Clifton Taulbert

Thrive15 Mentor
Entrepreneur, Businessman & Author
President & CEO:
Freemount Corporation serving Fortune 500 Companies and Roots Java Coffee

Session Information

[Opening Keynote]
9:00am – 9:40am
Theme: Accelerate Your Imagination


~Ignite Your Entrepreneurial Journey~

According to our guest speaker, Clifton L. Taulbert, our IMAGINATION is the laboratory for INNOVATIVE IDEAS. Taulbert reminds us that every human has this incredible asset at her or his disposal—their ability to IMAGINE beyond what is known. Activating and acting upon your oftentimes whimsical moments is the starting place of entrepreneurial discovery. Key to turning on our IMAGINATION is our embrace of another human attribute often overlooked—our INQUISITIVE nature. Taulbert says, “Asking questions is essential to imaging steps or next opportunities. Asking “WHY” or “WHY NOT” turns on the IMAGINATION that led to Tesla, the iPhone and of course the MONA LISA.
As a result of my Great-Uncle Cleve’s imagination of what could be, I find myself a 3rd generation entrepreneur and my son a 4th generation entrepreneur who is now asking “WHY” and “WHY NOT” in the film and fashion industry. As long as we continue to exercise our IMAGINATION, we will continue to define our marketplaces and impact our personal lives.

  • The “Future” as an always Agenda Item
  • “Comfortable & Successful” are two different words
  • Our “Present Reality” should not Constrain Us
  • Over-confident with Past Success can Endanger Future Opportunities
  • Your IMAGINATION must be exercised daily
  • Asking Questions Matter


The United States Supreme Court was not the picture that Clifton Taulbert saw each morning growing up on the Mississippi Delta. He saw cotton fields—a world he thought would never change. But change it did, and the podium at the Library of Congress, where he was once invited as the special guest speaker of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, is just one of the many places where his journey has taken him. The former migrant cotton field worker is now an award-winning author, an entrepreneur, an educator, an inspiration, and a CEO of two different companies: An international human capital consultancy and a national coffee supply company.

Taulbert, the writer, is recognized and embraced around the world, from South Africa to Australia. His first book, Once Upon A Time When We Were Colored, became an international bestseller and a major motion picture. The United States government selected the book as a gift for Nelson Mandela upon his release from prison in 1990.

His most recent book, The Invitation, was chosen by the Architect of the United States Capitol as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Legislation. Taulbert has written fourteen books in total, produced a major motion picture, and served as a consultant on several documentaries: Jews in the Delta and the Emmy-award winning Boomtown: An American Journey, which details the birth of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

In 2018, Taulbert was asked by the University of Utah to open their 2018 Fulbright Scholars Innovation Conference, where he spoke to one hundred and twenty scholars from around the world. Taulbert’s address, The Revival of the Inquisitive Mind, was widely enjoyed at the U.S. State Department-sponsored conference.

Taulbert, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, graduated valedictorian of his high school class. He now serves as a Trustee for the University of Tulsa and is on the Board of Reference at Oral Roberts University. In 2017, Ambassador Barbara Stephenson, President of the American Foreign Service Association, presented Taulbert with the 2017 Citizen Diplomat Award, the highest honor given by Global Ties U.S.

Taulbert has been inducted into the Enlisted Airman Hall of Fame. He is also a recipient of the 27th NAACP Image Award for Literature. He is a Trustee for the Tulsa Library Trust, the Oklahoma Foundation for Academic Excellence, and the Tulsa Historical Society, and he serves on the Eudora Welty Advisory Board, the Anne Kathryn Sickle Cell Fund, and the Indian Nation Council of Boy Scouts.

Taulbert lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and shares his life with his wife, Barbara. They have one son, Marshall Danzy Taulbert, a film and athleisure wear fashion entrepreneur in Los Angeles, California.