Mentor vs Life Coach: Why It Matters

When my family and I first moved out from New Jersey to Lake Tahoe, I couldn’t wait to learn how to become a good skier. The best way for me to learn was to ski right behind all my friends and do what they did. Afterward I would ask specific questions about all the cool stuff they could do. What do you focus on in powder? How do you edge on groomed trails? What are you thinking about for your next turn when you’re skiing in the trees? Then I mirrored what they did.

I can’t imagine how long it would’ve taken me to become a proficient skier If I had just tried to teach myself.

What does skiing have to do with finance, Ken?

Hold on, I was getting there.

Over the last 10 years I’ve been approached by numerous life coaches and business coaches  that claim they can make me way better at what I do. Life coaches and business coaches–let’s just call them “consultants”, for the sake of this post–sound great in theory, but in the end they’re all talk. (Of course this isn’t true for all “consultants”, some have made huge impacts for me and others).

When you’re choosing a mentor or coach, observe what they do and how they live, not necessarily what they say. If they don’t live and breathe your version of success, then why would you want their advice on how to succeed?

The huge difference between learning from a mentor and learning from someone who calls themselves a life coach or business coach is simple: mentors teach you to do as they do, too many life coaches teach you to do as they say.

Back in 2008 when I was changing careers from a full-time professional engineer (P.E.) to an insurance agent and financial advisor, there was an overwhelming amount to learn. What enabled me to succeed, in such a competitive industry was shadowing and being mentored by the best of the best. I found people that taught me to do as they did, not what they said. Everything I teach my clients and future clients is to do as I do, not what I say.


5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Mentorship


1.Summon Your Do-Whatever-It-Takes Attitude

It was very awkward transitioning  from a career in engineering to a career in finance. Two clear goals kept me focused:

  1. I wanted to help people gain financial freedom in ways that the standard approach could not offer.
  2. I knew that to survive and thrive in this industry I had to reach out to the best of the best.

When I wanted to learn more about auto and home insurance and how to educate my clients, I asked one of the top agents in northern Nevada out for lunch. I wanted to learn as much as possible from him, and lunch seemed like a pretty affordable way of making that happen. But I wasn’t going to stop there.

Soon after I rented a room right next to his office so I could literally walk in his footsteps. I paid close attention to the way he communicated with his clients and potential future clients. I attended meetings with him and I soaked it all up. Shadowing this accomplished agent taught me that most leaders love helping others. I learned to do as he did.


  1. Personalize What Your Learn

Once I had worn in his methods enough to feel comfortable, I started to modify a few things to suit my personality. I used lessons and philosophies that resonated with me to create an an approach for educating my clients and potential future clients that I wanted to serve.

Learning from someone that was already incredibly successful for decades allowed me to excel at a rapid rate. I was not reinventing the wheel–I was learning from someone who was already accomplished, which saved me a lot of time and let me get to the fun part paster: fine-tuning my own approach.


  1. Keep Your Pride in Check

One of the hardest parts about shadowing and learning from a mentor is opening yourself up to new ways of thinking so you can reengineer your mindset and habits for success. That takes humility, and humility is a skill in and of itself. I have been humbled many, many times.

A good friend of mine over a decade ago was such a phenomenal athlete that whatever he did he naturally excelled at. However, he never wanted to learn from others, he just wanted to figure it out himself. I never understood that. I felt that if he latched onto some incredible mentors (coaches, former professional athletes) he would have become one of the greats. But he was not humble enough or willing to do that.


  1. Seek Out New Mentors For Every Stage Of Your Growth

When I first discovered how powerful a well-designed, dividend-paying whole life insurance policy (The BankosaurusTM) could be, I knew I had reached the next level of my “engineer of finance” journey … and I was going to need mentorship from the best of the best.

For the last seven to eight years I have traveled to Las Vegas, Houston, Park City, Toronto, and this week, St. Louis to shadow and learn from incredible mentors in the financial industry. Spending high quality time learning and shadowing the best of the best is helping me become one of them. I see my growth in the successes of my clients. I have helped them recapture and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions more for today and their future (typically with no out-of-pocket expense).

The best way to help my clients play the financial game differently is to be the best of the best, so they can learn from what I do, not just what I say.


  1. Start Now

If  you want to be the best of the best in your industry (doctor, engineer, CPA, attorney, nurse, architect, martial artist, carpenter, teacher, or trapeze artist), I recommend that you find great mentors ASAP.  When you find them, ask why they do what they do. Shadow them and duplicate their techniques. Over time modify the areas that are specific to you and your personality. Here’s where I plug my company: And to become the best of the best with your personal finances, schedule 15 minutes or more with me. Learn the “why” and determine if I’m the right financial mentor for you. If I am, then do as I do.