Steal her secrets series: West Michigan power woman, Denise Kohler-Kolesar, answers 25 career questions

Denise Kohler featured_55453

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- Her suit fits just right, she knows everyone in the room, and you can just tell she’s got it going on!  You wish you could be her or simply wish you knew her secret to success.  WOTV 4 Women wants to give you a deeper look at the many power women who are helping make West Michigan a thriving place for women at work. We’re having them dish the details on everything from work life to home life and what has led to their career success.

25 Questions with Denise Kohler-Kolesar

Meet Denise Kohler-Kolesar. She’s the President of 4060 Group, Inc. in Grandville, but you may know her best from her former business, Kohler Expos. Known for its signature Women’s Expos in Grand Rapids and Lansing, Kohler Expos annually produces six quality consumer shows focused on women and families that draw tens of thousands of attendees. After selling her business earlier this year to a long time employee, Denise is keeping busy by volunteering her time in the West Michigan community.

But there’s a lot more to know about this power woman and her career. Read our interview with the fabulous Denise Kohler-Kolesar.

Question 1: Describe your job and why you love it.

My current position is all volunteer. After selling my business last September I have kept extremely busy volunteering, sitting on three boards, current chair of the Steering Committee with GROW’s Established Women Business Owners Division, and have just been voted in as Treasurer of the Women’s City Club.

Question 2: Dig through your purse and tell us three must have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.

Lipstick, hair pic, and Kleenex. I’m surprised to find nothing actually. I don’t carry much in my purse.

Question 3: When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

A politician or a stay-at-home Mom.

Question 4: What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

Move forward … always.

Question 5: What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?

Sausage demoing.

Question 6: What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?

I kept learning!

Question 7: Flats or heels?


Question 8: Crying at work? Okay or not okay?

It depends. If something seriously happened to your family, I will cry with you and get you home a.s.a.p.

Question 9: Work/life balance? How do you make it work? What time do you “clock out”?

When you own a business you never clock out your own mind. I wouldn’t say I did a great job on the work/life balance. I was also, for a number of years, in the sandwich generation experience, taking care of parents. There was no balance. None.

Question 10: Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?

Absolutely Not.

Question 11: What makes you grateful?

My husband. Truly he was my rock.

Question 12: What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?

My biggest blunder was when I was asked what I was bad at. I didn’t get that job. It taught me to come up with a better answer!

Question 13: Describe your morning routine.

I get up happy. I already have my to-do list in my head. Shower, make my bed, brush my teeth, get dressed and go downstairs. I have an extremely healthy breakfast. An omelet with broccoli and sometimes burger for a little extra protein. I drink a full glass of water, then a cup of hot lemon water. I pack a lunch if necessary and I am happily on my way.

Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.

Winning Top Women Owned Business in 2011.

Question 15: What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

My family.

Question 16: What time did you wake up today?

6:00 a.m. Pretty normal for me.

Question 17: What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

Their mood.

Question 18: What are you reading right now?

Feisty and Feminine.

Question 19: In a typical day how many emails do you answer?

Now around 25-50.

Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?

Currently Blue Bloods.

Question 21: What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?

Women’s City Club of course.

Question 22: What’s your favorite app?

Oh boy, Weather Bug. I always want to know the weather. I travel around the state frequently and packing light is my plan if I know the weather.

Question 23: What experience in life made you the most nervous?

The risk of owning a business.

Question 24: What’s one question you always ask in an interview?

What is your current read?

Question 25: What’s the best part of your job?

Currently the flexibility.

BIO: About Denise

Denise Kohler-Kolesar hales from a family of entrepreneurs. Following in the footsteps of her late father, she launched Kohler Expos, Inc. in September of 1998 and named it in his honor. Her work included the largest events for women in West Michigan and Mid-Michigan, producing some of the most popular consumer shows in Michigan. She owned and operated the company for 18 years. In September of 2016 she sold the company. Her current focus is on community projects supporting others.

The Grand Rapids Business Journal recognized Denise as its Top Women-Owned Business in 2011 and she was a finalist in 2010, 2013 and 2015. She was nominated for an ATHENA award in 2010 and 2015. In 2013 she was a Finalist for the AWE Leadership Award. In 2012, 2014 and 2016 she was named with the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan.  She currently sits on the Kent County Parks Foundation Board as Vice Chair and serves on the leadership team and serves as Chair of the Steering Committee with the Established Women’s Division of GROW. She joined the Women’s City Club as a member in May of 2016. She serves on several committees for the Women’s City Club.

Do you know a West Michigan Power woman who deserves to be featured in our series?  Email us her name/business and contact info!

Other women featured in this series!

Founder of community arts center answers 25 career questions

West Michigan TV station general manager answers 25 career questions

West Michigan radio host answer 25 career questions

West Michigan lawyer answer 25 career questions

West Michigan coffee shop owner answers 25 career questions

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