The brain is the most powerful muscle a human has, and the most critical to our daily function. Yet we sometimes don’t give it the workout it needs to continue growing. As adults, we need to continue conditioning our brains to improve and maintain performance as we grow older.
Enter neuroscience, or, brain science. In the past couple of decades, there has been a significant shift in our ability to research the brain, and scientists have just gotten started. We’ve learned more about the brain in the last few months, than in all the years prior to that, combined, and our rate of discovery continues to increase. At Thought Design, we apply the newest findings from modern brain research to our programs and products, to offer holistic brain performance enhancement, as well as specific skills and function focus, depending on what our clients are seeking. We also constantly develop and design new programs and workshops, to offer the latest knowledge to our customers.
Led by a Brain Science Leader
Veteran business coach and brain science expert, Denise VanEck has dedicated her career to helping individuals and some of the nation’s largest brands perform more efficiently and collaboratively. She created Thought Design in 2013 to allow her to create and curate the physical environment for her high performance thinking programs.
Meet Our Team
Under brain science expert Denise VanEck’s leadership and guidance, the Thought Design team delivers neuroscience learnings and techniques in a holistic, customized experience, captivating and stimulating all five senses across a variety of activities and programs.
Denise VanEck McClennan
Veteran executive coach and adult development expert, Denise VanEck McClennen has dedicated her career to helping individuals and some of the nation’s largest brands perform more efficiently and collaboratively. Through Denise’s specialty in applied neuroscience, she helps people generate insight and do better thinking. She designs unique learning experiences that incorporate brain science, social science, and the latest research on performance and business development. The individuals and teams Denise works with are high-potential people that are interested in doing what it takes to be the very best versions of themselves. They are ready to think deeply, act courageously, and take some risks in figuring things out.
Denise believes that people are the foremost experts on themselves. Every person has the potential to solve their own dilemmas, create a roadmap for their own lives and make a unique contribution to the world in some amazing way. Whether it’s in a coaching session or a workshop, she loves helping facilitate people toward that magical ah-ha! moment of insight.
Denise’s professional career titles have ranged from Executive Coach, Chief Learning Officer in the financial services industry, Author and Facilitation Lead, and Professor. She has over two decades of executive leadership, consulting, training, speaking and coaching experience, and is a frequent keynote speaker at national conventions, corporate and academic learning events and retreats. Denise holds certifications with Tilt365 Positive Influence Predictor, NeuroLeadership Institute (Certified Coach), Enneagram (Train-the-Trainer), LifePlanning ™ process, Tom Paterson StratOp process, E-Learning Instructional Design (USC Irvine), DiSC, Conscious Leadership Coach, Associate at Imposter Syndrome Institute, Cynefin Foundations, The Neuroscience Academy certification, Growth Edge Coaching/Growth Edge Network, and Bar-On Emotional Intelligence Assessment. She has served on boards with Growth Edge Network, Habitat for Humanity, Kent District Library System, City of Grand Rapids Advisory Board, and Pregnancy Resource Center. Denise has been a Member at The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) since 2001 and also with The NeuroLeadership Institute.
Denise created Thought Design in 2013 to allow her to create and curate the physical environment for her high-performance thinking programs. Thought Design is the culmination of a lifetime of constant experimentation and discovery related to learning. She had always dreamed of having a place where people could come to learn and feel like the space itself was part of the learning experience. Thought Design is very much that space, with 4000 square feet of space with beautiful full river frontage. Using the most current brain research to design learning experiences that can REALLY transform people and teams, she knows that organizations, teams, and the people that inhabit them can truly thrive if they are learning together as a lifestyle. Denise’s dream is that Thought Design helps make that difference, changing lives and the world we all live in.
Denise and her husband split their time between their home in Rockford, Michigan, their houseboat in Douglas, Michigan, and a home in Punta Gorda, Florida, gravitating towards the best weather for each of the seasons. In addition to her professional career, she is a mother to five adults, and grandmother to seven growing-so-fast kids, who also help her decide where she spends her free time.
A life-long learner, leader, innovator, and relationship builder, Tara Colvin has formally led people for ten years while honing her ability to coach, set direction, and inspire vision. Tara spent most of her career serving in the education industry, managing federal and state grant dollars for at-risk students. Her undergrad degree in accounting brought her to Volunteer Income Tax Assistance centers as a volunteer, offering free tax help to people with low incomes and limited English speaking taxpayers who need assistance in preparing their own tax returns. Tara felt a huge sense of community with volunteering, which developed into assisting VITA for the last 16 tax seasons. She always likes to say, “Not everybody wakes up on Saturday morning and likes to do taxes, but I do!” Similar to how she wonders about the potential of people, teams, and processes, she wonders the same thing about houses! This fascination with the potential of what a house “could be” led Tara to start a residential redevelopment business in 2015. Tara’s passion for helping people, learning new things, and supporting people and processes to reach their full potential is what eventually brought her to Thought Design. After taking her teams to Thought Design workshops and courses for years, loving the whiteboards and how the space was designed, Tara joined as a partner in January 2022. Tara brings her 15+ years of experience to Thought Design as a Leadership Coach, business owner, and community-centered relationship builder.
Chef Shaun Wooden
Chef Shaun Wooden brings a wide variety of experiences to the kitchen. After a childhood of being a very picky eater, Chef Shaun’s parents told him, “If you don’t like what we made, make something yourself!” So, his pickiness actually led him to teach himself how to cook, and into his career as a chef! His experience has ranged from Dishwasher to Executive Chef, working throughout the West Michigan culinary industry for nearly 25 years. With his extreme passion for cooking and culinary arts, Chef Shaun has developed menus for many successful restaurants in the Grand Rapids area including Rose’s Express, Red Jet Café, and Cedar Springs Brewing Company. He loves to be creative in his menus and incorporate his training in southern Germany where he learned traditional Bavarian cuisine. This creativity has won him many awards in his career: Best Pizza in Grand Rapids, Prettiest Pizza in Grand Rapids, Top 3 Fried Chicken in West Michigan, Top 3 Chef in West Michigan, and MLIVE Top ten Best Fried Chicken in Michigan. Chef Shaun brought his years of experience and knowledge to Thought Design in 2021, and enjoys making cooking a little more accessible for everyone.
Space for Headspace
We’ve designed our beautiful, riverfront Cognitive Performance Center in Rockford, Michigan, to be a 5,000 square-foot indoor/outdoor campus with state-of-the-art amenities necessary to support growth, sensory stimulation, and peaceful reflection.
From the Culinary Studio to the Learning Lab and the Studio/Gym, each space was thoughtfully planned to enhance the objectives of our workshops and programs, as well as provide beautiful venues for private event rentals.
Want to learn more about Thought Design and what we do here?
We’d love to schedule a time to talk with you or invite you in for a discovery session to tour the space and find out exactly how we can help you.