Building An Authentic Career in Entrepreneurship Education with Josh Cohen

In this short series, we hear from mid-career professionals, leaders, and founders on what it takes to build an authentic career, some of their challenges and proudest moments along the way, and their best piece of advice for navigating an intentional and authentic career. Get inspired below!

What's your name?

Josh Cohen

What's your title or function?

Director of MBA Entrepreneurship Programs and Startup Recruiting at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, and CEO and Founder of Mobility Leadership Advisors.

What led you to this career path?

My parents are teachers and they undoubtedly influenced my long and winding career path. For too long, I resisted their influence on me until I noticed that it was oozing out of me in other ways: mentoring colleagues, helping young alumni of my master's program, coaching friends going through the job search process. Eventually, I decided to stop running from this influence and start to embrace it.

What would you say is your unique zone of genius?

What I excel at is taking disparate pieces of information--information I gather from conversations I have, books I read, podcasts I listen to, classes I attend, and experiences I enjoy and putting that all in my proverbial rock tumbler (my brain) to connect dots on information that can help others navigate their careers, make decisions, or be a more effective leader. Also, I'm willing to use my enthusiasm to bring out the best in people. Walking down the halls of an elite business school wearing a purple unicorn costume to celebrate a departing colleague is not for those who lack enthusiasm.

What's the best part and the hardest part of the work you do today?

The best part is seeing the lightbulb go off with a coachee when you ask them a good question or direct them to a resource they hadn't considered. The hardest is when they don't pair that insight with action that will allow them to make the change they want.

What's a challenge you've overcome in your career (that you're willing to share)?

Growing up, I loved baseball and even drew imaginary baseball stadiums in the margins of my math notebook. I even did my college political science honors thesis on the economic beneficiaries of public financing of Major League Baseball Stadiums. But how to work in the famously-competitive world of sports in a new state having never worked in sports before? I had to network my butt off. I cold called all the people that I had researched in my honors thesis and used my conversations with some as social proof for the others. My hustle paid off. The founder of a small, two-person consulting firm doing executive recruiting created a role for me--something that I had zero experience in--where I worked until I came to business school and has since grown into the sports industry's premiere search firm.

When you look back on your career what are you most proud of?

This is back in college, but it undoubtedly shaped my whole career so I'll share. I had my heart set on a prestigious fellowship program and, while not confident I would be selected, knew in my heart that I was perfect for this program and they would see that. As you can imagine, I didn't even get an interview. After stewing in my disappointment for a few weeks, I was inspired to run for a student legislature position, something I had never done before in college or high school. Running that race and winning gave me the confidence to pursue everything after that and fundamentally altered the opportunities available to me later in college and beyond.

What's the job or passion project you've considered but never gone after?

I have always been drawn to great customer service, despite never having worked in hospitality or food service nor formally in customer service. I've had to leverage good customer service in some of the professional roles I've had, but never as a function. So an area that might be interesting for me to explore down the road (maybe when I retire?) is a bartender at a high-end hotel or bar where customer service is at a premium and I could learn from my guests.

What is the best piece of career advice you'd like to share with others?

You have to know yourself. I've spent a lot of time--with coaches and by myself--plumbing my mind to understand what makes me tick and what I want in a job and in a life. Too many people are on autopilot and haven't taken the time (or had the courage) to really get to know themselves and what they value, what their strengths are, and where they want to go.

What does a fulfilling life and career look like for you?

A fulfilling career is aligned with my strengths and values. This alignment means that I am running TO the play and rest that make up a well-lived life, but I'm not running FROM work. A fulfilling life and career also acknowledges that there are different seasons. There will be good seasons and bad seasons, busy seasons and fallow seasons, etc. Just like the realization that going fast doesn't kill you, the quick stop does, so it is with expectations. Hard times aren't what get in the way of a fulfilling career or life; it's the expectation that there never will be hard times that does.

In you're ready to get more out of your career, here are three ways that we can support you. 

1) Join Our Job Search Accelerator Membership. Our structured step-by-step process to clarify, attract, and land your ideal opportunities.

2) Get 1:1 Career and Executive coaching. Learn more and book a complimentary call.

3) Download our free career clarity guide. Download here.