Ilana Kukoff

Founder of Cognition Builders

Ilana Kukoff is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Cognition Builders Corp. A skilled leader who has been featured in multiple major publications and television programs, Kukoff is also a published author and sought-after speaker.

Cognition Builders is a global company that designs unique methods and curricula to help family members realize the best version of themselves and change how they behave and speak to one another in the home. The Cognition Builders methodology works with families where they are, often in the comfort of their homes.

At the core of the Cognition Builders programs is a team of Family Architects, who design a customized curriculum for each client from more than 2,000 programs. The Family Architects work to improve the way families think, speak, and act toward one another in the following areas of the human condition:
Behavioral patterns.
Family systems.
Intellectual engagement.
Social interactions.

Cognition Builders receives referrals from mental health practitioners and stakeholders who work with families in conflict on a wide variety of family-system-based issues.

Kukoff and the Family Architects at Cognition Builders build a family program proposal that helps families understand the process prior to beginning the work. During the engagement, family members work on learning better ways to respond to and communicate with each other.

Kukoff has been a commentator on “Access Hollywood,” has been a guest on a local National Public Radio affiliate, and has presented at TEDxConejo. She has been quoted in many family- and education-focused periodicals.
She has been a faculty lecturer at the University of California at Los Angeles and was a consultant for the television show “Brothers and Sisters” via the Norman Lear Center for Entertainment at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications. She also served as a guest lecturer at the University of California Los Angeles Bruin Woods Family Camp in Lake Arrowhead.

Kukoff studied at Columbia University. She is the parent of two adult children and lives in New York City.

Where did the idea for Cognition Builders come from?

The idea for my business stems from the need to help families in the comfort of their own homes. This way, our team can be the proverbial fly on the wall and help in real-time. Since our referrals come from mental health stakeholders who rely on our teams to be reliable narrators — essentially their eyes and ears — we have family architects in residence who help replace language and behavior as it’s happening.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

There really is no typical day because each and every day requires creativity, stamina, and diligence. I have to start with a deep understanding and desire to do whatever is needed.

How do you bring ideas to life?

We brainstorm ideas together and workshop them based on the need we see among families.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m really excited about how people are embracing change and a growth mindset.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I walk a minimum of 3.5 miles each and every day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell her to be patient.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

I’m a terrible speller and writer.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

We follow every single conversation up with an email summarizing the call. We also request the person to either negate or confirm our understanding of the conversation.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Follow through repeatedly, follow up repeatedly, and understand that circumstances change. Recognize how the market is shifting. I cannot emphasize enough to read everything you can get your hands on.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Years ago, I spread myself too thin. I had stakes in far too many areas. If you don’t have a concentrated dedication to one business, it leads to a far less successful business.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

We licensed our curricula *without* family architects to clients. This allowed families to decide who implements the curricula.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent it on dinner at a restaurant with my family.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

I love anything Google because I can use it as my personal assistant, and it never fails me. I love asking Siri to record everything with my voice. This has helped me more than I thought possible.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

DisneyWar by James B. Stewart because it’s all about complex relationships.