Mary Lou Cohen, President of Relocation Today
Some people make an immediate impact on you when you meet them, and Mary Lou Cohen is one of those people. No matter what the situation is, Mary Lou finds the silver lining and lifts others up with her kindness, empathy and positive attitude. She is a living, breathing, gratitude machine, and I had to remind her to dial down the humility during our interview in order to illuminate her accomplishments. Mary Lou has led the continued growth of the award-winning Relocation Today. Relocation can be a stressful time in people’s lives, and Mary Lou enjoys supporting her clients while connecting them to the best resources for a smooth transition. It’s this level of care that has earned Relocation Today a strong reputation, and has primed Mary Lou for an increase in global mobility work. As she grows this offering in her business, she’s also growing her leadership team to create a lasting legacy, and relies on her personal values to lead everyone to success.
Q & A with Mary Lou Cohen
Favorite product or service?
“SuperFood Plus powder made by Dr. Schulze. I take it every morning and can’t believe how much it energizes me.” superfoodplus.com
Book you’ve read that others should?
Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza
Do you believe there is work-life balance?
“I do, but I don’t believe that there’s balance all around all the time, I think that it changes. My home life is in balance, or my work life is in balance; and some days it’s not going to be in balance. My family pulls me back when things don’t seem balanced; I know that deep, sincere love is there.”
What do you want for your future self in 10 years?
“Perfect health. I would also be stepping away from this opportunity and looking for my next passion.”
Advice to women?
“To be nice to each other. Own what’s yours, own the good that you have and be proud of your good. But then also be proud and happy for other women’s good and their strength, and see those strengths, don’t try to minimize them.”
Advice to your twenty-year-old self?
“Don’t worry about what others think.”
What is your best habit or practice?
“Leading a life of health in all areas; mind, body and spirit. The last thing I want is for my family to have to think about me in any way other than that I’m healthy.”
How do you recharge?
“Designing and organizing; I started out studying interior design in college. It’s what lifts me up.”
Where does your optimism come from?
“Wanting to reflect my family well and having really good role models in my grandmother and parents.”
Global moves currently comprise 12% of Relocation Today’s moves. This is a big shift in the industry; when Mary Lou first started her business only the highest-level executives were relocated. Now, many large companies are offering rotational programs (four consecutive nine-month stints including a stint abroad) as a way to attract young talent. “The approach of trying to groom them for leadership roles through these rotational programs is eye opening and super exciting…I think it’s a big change we will be seeing as corporations invest more in younger people for relocation, to give them the full experience in order to train them for leadership roles down the road,” shares Mary Lou.
These changes equate to decreasing margins for the company due to less storage, renting instead of buying property, and reducing the effort needed to procure international work visas. Instead of bemoaning this, however, Mary Lou takes her signature positive outlook and is “embracing it as the new reality.” As much as her business is going global, Mary Lou recognizes that international offices aren’t needed in order to do work and communicate effectively. She and the Relocation Today team simply need to connect their clients to good international resources, and she is so confident in their level of service that she does not mind the competition. “I think the abundance of suppliers and competition is really good because it raises the bar on quality,” Mary Lou shares. In the growing world of relocation, Mary Lou’s greatest compliment is when a client contact takes Relocation Today along as its relocation provider after they move to work at another company.
Growing a legacy
It’s not just her clients who are grooming young talent; Mary Lou is developing new leaders within her company as well. Seeing her clients give young employees experiences like the rotational tour programs has been illuminating for Mary Lou, and she is committed to growing her own team to create a lasting legacy at Relocation Today. “I get super excited when I watch our younger generation here in the office or when I’m in meetings and people speak up,” she says. “Or when suppliers that are coming in are younger and are taking charge of the industry. I feel pride for them.” By focusing on making these new leaders in Relocation Today instead of experts in the broader industry, Mary Lou has improved her retention and given employees a growth path within the business. She believes it’s her generation’s “responsibility to lift up and inspire” the younger generation and Mary Lou does this by leading with her personal values.
When it comes to company success, Mary Lou defines it a bit differently than most. To her, success means “baby steps,” and “all the perpetual contributions and the sticking-with-it that leads to getting business. The success has been in all the deposits.” This concept is echoed in Mary Lou’s personal life as well, which she phrases as “making deposits without demands,” meaning she trusts that others value their relationships with her whether they reciprocate or not. Doing the right thing and creating high value is the basis of Mary Lou’s legacy at Relocation Today.
The global expansion of our world is bringing new challenges and opportunities. Mary Lou is embracing these challenges at Relocation Today and is focused on creating an enduring legacy for the future. By leading from a place of optimism and shared values, Mary Lou is guiding her team to realize the abundance and opportunity everywhere. Although her industry is rapidly changing, her commitment to impeccable service is not. Creating connection and relationships across global borders is the key to Relocation Today’s success, and Mary Lou Cohen is ensuring this will be the case for many decades to come.
Sue hawkes, CEO of YESS!, is a Certified EOS Implementer, Certified Business Coach, WPO Chapter Chair, bestselling author and award-winning entrepreneur. She has been helping entrepreneurs and leadership teams succeed for the past 20+ years.