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Talent Stacking: The TalentQuest Story

Talent Stacking
1. What 3 things are you pretty good at?
2. What’s Your Talent Stack?
3. Talent Stacking: The TalentQuest Story

During my interview process with TalentQuest, I had the pleasure of meeting with TalentQuest’s founder and CEO, Dr. Frank Merritt, Ph.D.  The time spent speaking with him cemented my desire to be a part of this company. His passion, work ethic, and interests that helped create this business fascinated me.

In a previous blog, I provided some extreme Talent Stack of well-known public figures.  Given Dr. Merritt’s (Frank’s) amazing story and journey to where he is today, I thought it would make sense to share a more relatable example that combines traditional learning with lived experience.

In subsequent conversations with Frank after I was hired, here is how I interpreted his unique Talent Stack:


Passion for Psychology: the study of mind and behavior.

By the age of 15 Frank knew he wanted to be a psychologist.  At age 16 he graduated high school and began working toward a Psychology degree at Clemson University.  His first degree turned into a Master’s, and finally a Ph.D. in Psychology.


Strong Business Acumen: an in-depth understanding of how a business works, how it makes money, and how strategies and decisions impact financial, operational and sales results.

Like many students, Frank would go to class in the morning, and then to pay for school, he worked full-time at Walmart where he honed his business and sales skills.  In his time working at the large retailer, he honed his sales skills by matching needs with opportunities.  By the age of 18, he had over 100 people reporting to him and became the second in charge of the store – all while still carrying a full course load at Clemson.


Keen interest in Computer Science: the study of the principles and use of computers

Frank’s love for technology began to develop during his time at Clemson – before much was even known about computers. He was doing some statistical work on police departments when he realized that technology could make his life easier.


Foresight/Calculated Risks: the ability to predict what will happen or be needed in the future and be able to weigh the consequences of the actions

Throughout his life, Frank’s work ethic and good instincts have been key to his success. While completing his residency in a hospital setting to complete his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, he was conducting eight hours of clinical work a day and realized he was burning out.  A chance meeting with a Psychologist named Dr. Robert Bleke changed the course of his career.  Dr. Bleke identified that Frank’s unique combination of business and personality constructs would be of great value to his corporate consulting practice.  It was the mid-80s and using Basic programming language, Dr. Merritt realized that he could use a computer to collect and deliver the assessment results to clients.  Sadly, with the lack of processing speed (and the internet!), Frank’s vision was ahead of its time.

Fast forward to the 90s.  A banking client was having issues with turnover of its tellers.  The bank obviously didn’t have the budget to have a psychologist interview every teller to identify and correct their attrition problem.  Frank suggested that the bank have the tellers complete paper assessments, and then fax the completed assessment back to be scored.  The scale of data that was collected in this process highlighted key behaviors that predicted the likelihood a teller would stay or go. In 1992, at Dr. Bleke’s retirement, Dr. Merritt acquired the firm and with the birth of the internet in the mid-90s, an online behavioral assessment which predicts productivity and retention was born – and in the early 2000s became the successful talent management SaaS company that is now TalentQuest.


Grit: ability to work hard to overcome challenges and maintain effort over time despite failures, adversities, and plateaus in progress

In speaking with Frank, he referenced the lyrics of a Janice Joplin song: “…freedom is just another word for having nothing left to lose”.  This mantra has served him well throughout his life and career and is a true reflection that hard work and persistence is the recipe for success.

As I think about Frank’s Talent Stack, it’s clear how these elements combined to build the company TalentQuest. He was able to marry his passion for psychology with his interest in technology. He had the foresight to take calculated risks. The grit to overcome obstacles and the business acumen to bring it all together.  Just like Frank, you can combine your unique passions and interests to build something special.

This is the final blog of a three-part series on Talent Stacking.  You can read the first two entries here:

Learn how your unique personality traits can support your Talent Stack. 

Joe Strick is a Senior Account Manager at TalentQuest. He has spent the last 12 years helping organizations optimize their workforce and talent needs. He is passionate about ensuring clients are successful in executing their talent, performance, and learning strategies.

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