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 career questions with Shannon Cohen, Founder & CEO of Shannon Cohen Inc., a West Michigan difference-maker, public speaker and community leader. We heard Shannon speak at the Go Red for Women Luncheon and she had us hooked. This power woman was named among the 2018 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal and her work has even taken her to the White House. Read on to find out more about Shannon Cohen and her career.


Q1 – Describe your job and why you love it.

I am a serial entrepreneur with the privilege of wearing multiple hats as a difference maker in community. Whether through my consultancy, podcast, public speaking, life as an author, or retail product line of inspirational products, my heart beats for the holistic well-being of folks that lead, love, and serve.

Shannon Cohen gifts
Shannon’s product lines

Q2 – Dig through you purse and tell us three must have items you found and 1 item you were surprised to find.

  • My #fav red LipBar lipstick — “Bawse”- nothing says powerful and strong like a good red lip.
  • Cash — every girl needs a lil’ on hand at all times.
  • A peppermint — don’t want to be offensive after a long day of talking and meetings.
  • Surprise: my 5 yr old son’s toy.

Q3 – When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to work the slush machine at my local KMart. The woman who worked there was sooo kind to me that I wanted to be her. As I got older, I realized my dream wasn’t the slush machine, but a career in a helping profession. PS: I actually did a Tedx Talk on this for GVSU!

Q4 – What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

I think some of the best career advice emerges from our own personal reflection and revolution. I remember the day I told myself, “Shannon, THIS is YOUR Day to live at the intersection of joy and purpose”. Those words of self-love and affirmation changed my life.

Shannon Cohen

Q5 – What’s the job you’ve had (in your lifetime) that still gives you nightmares?

No job gives me nightmares…I’ve had nightmarish moments! But like artist Jill Scott says, “… just because you have a nightmare, doesn’t mean you stop dreamin'”.

Q6 – What’s the best thing you’ve done to advance your career?  

Exit a role to birth my own business in 2009.

Q7 – Flats or heels?

Both 🙂 I love being ambidextrous.

Q8 – Crying at work? Okay or not okay?

OK — tears are human and emotions are indicators. They are the equivalent of the indicators on our car. They are indicators that something is not OK. We honor the indicators of our as diagnostic guides… we should honor our tears too!


Q9 – Work/life balance? How do you make it work?  What time do you “clock out”?

I prefer to think in terms of flow. Some weeks the flow leans heavy toward work, other seasons family is rooted firmly in the center. I’ve learned to be agile with the flow, to give myself grace, and to speak up for what I need and what I can give.

Q10 – Eating lunch at your desk? A do or a don’t?

I try to honor lunch as a space to commune with others, a time to take a mental break from my computer, and to recharge. The work will be there!

Q11 – What makes you grateful?

So much makes me grateful! The support and love of a fabulous husband, my son’s smile and our daily snuggle time, the spaces I get to use my gifts to uplift others, breath in my body. Just so much to pause and be radically grateful for!

Q12 – What was your biggest blunder in a job interview? What did it teach you?

When I was in grad school, I went on an interview right after doing the “big chop” and I wore my natural hair in a short afro to the interview. The woman who greeted me to escort me to the interview said, “I hope you don’t plan to wear your hair like that everyday”. I was taken aback… but didn’t speak up to address that racial microaggression. I got the job, and ended up supervising that woman. I’ve learned the importance of using my voice in the moment to champion truth, justice, and equity.

Q13 – Describe your morning routine.

I am an early riser and work hard to intentionally protect my “cool of the day” time. I wake up 1 hr before getting my family off to work and school. That is my time of stillness and respite. I love the quiet and restorative nature of morning. I have my quiet time — go for walks, pray, sit in quiet, drink some tea, read a book, journal about whatever is bubbling up in my heart and mind, and center myself for the day ahead.

Shannon Cohen morning-meditation

Q14 – Proudest career moment to date.

As a serial entrepreneur — I have a proud moment in each aspect of my business. In 2019, I served as a multi-day keynote for a conference powered by the University of Michigan, presented my product line at the National Stationery Show in New York, and launched a podcast!

Shannon Cohen BirthdayPodcast2

Q15 – What’s the most important thing in your life right now?

Peace — peace that originates from within and radiates out!

Q16 – What time did you wake up today?

I’m in California for work right now, so I woke up at 6 am GMT

Q17 – What’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone?

Their smile.

Q18 – What are you reading right now?

Madame President – a biography of the life of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leader of the Liberian women’s movement, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the first democratically elected female president in African history. [by: Helene Cooper]

Q19 – In a typical day how many emails do you answer?

Way too many 🙂

Q20 – What’s your favorite TV show?

Right now I am enjoying “All Rise” starring Simone Missick

Q21 – What’s your favorite spot for a meeting in West Michigan?

  • Rising Grinds Cafe
  • The Chapbook Cafe at Schuler Books
  • Mudpenny

Q22 – What’s your favorite app?

Marco Polo — it helps me stay in close contact with family and friends that live away

Q23 – What experience in life made you the most nervous?


Q24 – What’s one question you always ask in an interview?

What inspires you?

Q25 – What’s the best part of your job?

The ability to create pathways for other entrepreneurs and emerging leaders