Steal her secrets series: Gymco President answers 25 career questions

steal her secrets series woman of the week
Credit: Doreen Bolhuis

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 Doreen Bolhuis

Credit: Doreen Bolhuis
Credit: Doreen Bolhuis Left: Doreen on the flying trapeze Right: Doreen pictured with grand baby Meredith.

Meet Doreen Bolhuis. She’s the president and founder of Gymco Inc. Doreen has been honored twice as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal and with the “Inner Circle” award from Inforum.  She sits on several community boards and continues to work to empower women in our community.  Read on to find out more about this West Michigan power woman and her career.

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

I love my job because every day at Gymco we are helping kids become stronger, more courageous, and more confident through learning gymnastics and sport skills. This is life-changing for students and it is rewarding that they’ll carry these lessons throughout their lives. Plus, I work with people who are fun, creative, and care about making a difference.

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

I travel light and have a small purse because I like to keep things simple. However, the “musts” I carry are lipstick, cash and cards, and keys.

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

I began teaching sport skills to my friends in 4th grade in my back yard and discovered the reward of helping others achieve more than they thought they could. I was hooked and by 7th grade I knew I wanted to major in Physical Education. It was the right direction for me and today I am still passionate about teaching and coaching.

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

Be careful about debt.

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

I’ve enjoyed every job I have had because I always sought work in my interest areas using my gifts and talents. Using this strategy, work doesn’t feel like “work”.

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

Start my own business. This has empowered me to create opportunities and achievements that would not have been possible otherwise.

Question 7: Flats or heels?

Definitely flats. I love to be active and with flats, I can run even in a business suit! However, I do love the look of heels and have done some pretty crazy things in them, like walk on the balance beam.

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

NO! Unless they are tears of empathy for another person. Otherwise, learn to control your own emotion to lead with a strong and quiet presence.

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

Being an entrepreneur, I never clock in or out. I am always on call, always thinking about my business and people, and I work any time of the day or night as necessary for my company’s success. However, I sleep 7-8 hours a night, block time for regular exercise, and eat organic. The commitment to my own health empowers me to consistently give my best to my company, my community and my family.

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

I usually eat lunch at my desk because once I’m on a roll with a project or idea I hate to stop. I pack my lunch and snacks with organic protein, fruits and vegetables that sustain the high energy I’m known for. Positive energy is a distinguishing characteristic that has contributed to my personal and business success. My advice for others is to learn what your body and mind need for optimal performance. If you thrive with a lunch break, do it.

Question 11: What makes you grateful?

It is truly the little things that give me joy. Being outdoors, physical activity, health, friends and family, community engagement, and giving back through volunteering. Everything else is icing on the cake.

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

As a 36 year entrepreneur, I haven’t been subject to many job interviews, but I’ve conducted hundreds of them and I frequently coach others on successful job interviews. One of my tips is to create 3-5 goals for your interview. These include outstanding gifts and talents you want to highlight along with examples of how you’ve used your talent for successful outcomes. You can then weave these goals into any question which puts you in the drivers seat during interviews.

Question 13: Describe your morning routine.

Two cups of coffee while reading, watching news, responding to email and problem solving for the day. Next, a four mile run followed by strength work and stretching. I take my protein shake and vitamins to consume during shower and dressing. I pack my lunch or snacks and am ready for whatever the day presents. I am usually fully engaged and busy until bedtime around 11 PM.

Question 14: Proudest career moment to date.

I’ve achieved many public awards over my career and I am thankful for them – they are the bonuses of a career well lived. My proudest moments have actually been more private ones in the countless lives I’ve touched and hearing about the impact I’ve had to inspire and empower others to reach higher.

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

Using my gifts, talents and experience to make a difference in our state and my community through board service and mentoring. I’ve learned so much through my business journey and it is rewarding to help others on their way.

Question 16: What time did you wake up today?

6:00 A.M.

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

I notice eye contact and facial expressions which is how most people wear their inner thoughts.

Question 18: What are you reading right now?

“Life Together” by Dietrich BonHoeffer along with my ongoing reads of business publications, industry publications, finance, psychology, current events and travel.

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

Perhaps around 50. I try to streamline my work to avoid too many emails since they are an enemy of innovative thinking and creative process.

Question 20: What’s your favorite TV show?

I really don’t watch much television except some news in the morning with coffee. I prefer instead to engage with people or read about interesting things, so many evenings I am away from home involved in activities I enjoy. I did watch Downtown Abbey when it was on and I catch some episodes of The Biggest Loser occasionally.

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

The University Club. I am a member there and appreciate the great service and quiet atmosphere for meetings.

Question 22: What’s your favorite app?

Flashlight! It has come in handy more times than I can count.

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

Skydiving. Jumping out of a plane at 3,000 feet was absolutely terrifying. But, after my chute opened and I realized I wasn’t going to die it was exhilarating! After doing that I was prepared to face any other fear.

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

If a family or friend were to describe you, what would they tell me about you? Also, why are you interested to work here?

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

The best and worst parts of my job as an entrepreneur and President are the challenges I face every day. Many people rely on my business – my employees for income, vendors for customers, and the community for our services. I must be at my best to lead a successful business and facing the challenges have made me a better person. I am sure that I am a very different today than if I had not taken this journey of business owner. There is no better school than the one of hard knocks!

***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!


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