Dr. Katherine Cohen (known as “Dr. Kat” to her students) is one of the leading independent university admissions counselors in the world. Cohen is the founder and CEO of IvyWise, a comprehensive educational consulting company—with expertise in admissions counseling, tutoring and test preparation, and school research–that works with students globally in over 40 countries to help them get into the schools of their choice. IvyWise is comprised of a team of ex Deans and Directors of Admission from the most selective universities.
Cohen is the best-selling author of The Truth About Getting In and Rock Hard Apps, and is a sought-after speaker and expert on university admissions. She is a YPO Member, one of the most highly rated YPO Speakers, and has been a Faculty Resource for YPO/WPO since 2000.
The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are great at what they do have a passion for what they do and the willingness to go above and beyond what’s expected of them. They work hard. They also have the ability to understand what they know and what they don’t know so that they can seek the support of others or external resources for the things that they may not be good at. Great leaders don’t assume they know it all. Doing constant professional development is what separates people who are great at what they do from those who are just good at it.
A Key Talent | My communication skills – and not just how I carry on a conversation. I do my due diligence to learn everything I can about the people I’m meeting with and their backgrounds. I speak many languages and always work on picking up more, but I’ve also traveled a lot in order to learn about other cultures. Communication is also about understanding different personalities. Having engaged with a wide variety of parents and students through my company, IvyWise, I’m better able to communicate with them and others outside of my business.
The Characteristics Of Success | Tenacity, willingness to work hard, resilience, risk- taking, and the ability to pick myself up in the face of failure. Also the ability to think ahead in a macro way – I always like to be a few steps ahead and consider the bigger picture and what I envision for the future. From our business model to details like our logo, materials, talks, and more, my creativity and foresight has led to a lot of success in our industry.
How I Use My Mind | I am, at the same time, very focused and a multi-tasker, so I’m able to manage a lot of things at the same time but also focus on a lot of things at the same time. I also put my mindset in a place of assuming success instead of assuming failure – and that success breeds more success. I think “What should stop me from being successful?” Going into anything I do with a positive attitude has helped me achieve many of my goals and ambitions.
Lessons I Have Learnt | One of the biggest lessons is learning from failure. To not brush a failure under the rug, but to instead look at what I could have done better and apply those lessons to future endeavors.
Also, learning to move on. If something’s not really working – whether it’s with an employee, client, vendor, etc. – there is a point when you have to move on. Part of this is realizing that you can’t please everybody, so it’s important to identify people that you’re not going to be able to work with successfully and find a respectful way to move on rather than hold onto that relationship or constantly worry about it. It’s a small lesson but also a big lesson because it can apply to all aspects of life – friendships, business relationships, and more. You need to have the ability to let things go and to not take everything personally – especially in business. Realize that everybody has his or her own struggles and personal things going on and sometimes it’s not about you.
Performing At My Peak | I take care of myself. I work out at least three days a week doing SLT pilates or yoga to keep my energy up. I also eat healthy. I tend to eat only non-processed foods and make sure we’re always eating well at home. I also make sure I get enough sleep. I think sleep is key. Personally, I need at least 8 hours of good sleep each night so that when I am up I am able to multi-task and perform at my best.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | For me there are two areas of resources that inspire creativity and growth: One doesn’t have to with my work and one does.
I work in education, so there’s a whole range of books, publications, and conferences that are higher education focused that also keep me inspired and growing – like NACAC’s annual conference, The Chronicle of Higher Education, education articles in various news publications, and even auditing free online classes through sites like Coursera, Academic Earth, and talks on TEDx.
I don’t just focus on education though – I find inspiration in a variety of places. I’m a consumer of literature, art, culture, news, music, environments, and more. I’m fueled by a constant curiosity – anything from the latest interesting novel to revisiting a book I read a long time ago. Environments and the people you surround yourself with can also inspire growth. Recently I went to Art Basel and I was so inspired by the art and the creative people I met there. I also travel a lot, both personally and for IvyWise. Visiting and working in places like the Middle East and India keeps me informed and breeds creativity.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | We have on average about 28,000 days on the planet, and I am in the middle of that time. If I think about the fact that those last, say, 4,000 days are not going to be as good in quality because of how we age, I really only have 10,000 days to accomplish my goals. When you look at it that way, you really start to think about the importance of every single day and how to make the most of it.
It’s important to think about how you choose to spend your time and who you choose to spend it with. We all have a shelf life, so think about the things you’re wasting time on. Each day, each moment, is important – don’t waste it.
Advice On Building Wealth | First, find something that you love to do. Pursue something that’s connected to who you are and your core interests because if don’t love what you do it’s going to be hard to grow and build wealth around something you’re not excited about. Keep in mind that wealth and riches aren’t necessarily monetary. You can be rich in a lot of things that are not financial – knowledge, relationships, quality of your life, the love in your life, love for what you do, etc. If you find your passion those riches will follow.
Also you have to remember that at the end of your 28,000 days you’re not going to take money with you. Ask yourself: Are you making enough to be comfortable during those days to live the life you want to lead?