Business Coach

Many company leaders are seeking a mentor, coach or advisor to assist them.  Is there a difference between these roles?  

I think so. 

A mentor has already achieved something you want to emulate or replicate yourself.  You seek a mentor for wisdom and experience. Someone who is not, or has not been there, will not be effective as a mentor.

A coach helps you organize your thoughts and to develop and execute your plan. You seek a coach for clarity and accountability. Someone who doesn’t listen, in favor of giving advice or offering solutions, will be limited as a coach.

An advisor has a functional or technical expertise, such as manufacturing, retail or distribution.   You seek an advisor when you need expertise to solve a specific problem.  Someone does not possess specific expertise about your problem will not be helpful as an advisor.

A person hired for one role, say as a coach, may also be qualified to assist you as a mentor or advisor within their area of expertise.  And this is useful because they already know how you think and what you expect.  On the contrary, it is also important to be aware when the person is being asked to serve beyond their qualifications, such as asking a technical expert to coach in general business.  

“Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong – these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”Winston Churchill


I’ve found the leaders who have chosen to work with me are first seeking a consigliere, a counselor.  Someone loyal and trustworthy. Someone confidential and discreet.   Someone who listens and seeks to understand.  Someone who speaks objective truth without judgment.  And if I qualify I can offer further assistance as:

  • I am an effective mentor for a leader whose business is stuck or those struggling with the transition from individual to team leadership.
  • I am an effective coach who understands how lonely it can be at the top and who wants to examine their own thoughts and follow through by working on their business, not just in it.  
  • I am an effective advisor for new product creation, expanding professional services, and improving client engagement.

Perhaps it would help to talk.  

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to set up a free 30-minute call. 


"(Elephant Tales is a) wonderful book. Very thought provoking. I can definitely see the value of presenting one of these stories to a leadership team for discussion and potential issue solving as the opportunity presents itself. As a professional who also works with Entrepreneurs and is one, these stories are on point and typical of what I see on a regular basis. Sometimes being too close to the problem is the problem. Stand back and look at it from an outsider perspective. Does it look the same? How many story related events have you experienced or caused? I definitely narrowed in on a few that I could relate to. Funny how much alike most business's are. It's those leaders that recognize it and do things differently who win."
Salty Thomason
President / LeaderShift, LLC
"I've known Keith for years, and his ability to translate deep leadership lessons into easily-relatable messages has been part of his "special sauce" as long as I've known him. I'm so pleased he collected his messages into "Elephant Tales" -- it's an inspirational read, filled with practical, powerful leadership advice. My advice? Get a copy for yourself, and one for all the members of your team. Thanks, Keith!"
Bob Tipton
Chief Executive Officer / R S Tipton, Inc.
"I've had the pleasure of working with Keith for the past few months and it's been an incredibly valuable experience. Keith offers a lot of creativity and wisdom when tackling business issues. Keith inspires new ways of thinking and is easy to collaborate with which inspires the best possible outcome to complex business matters. I consider Keith's ideas and feedback instrumental in many of the positive changes we've made this year."
David Balzen
Chief Executive Officer / SalesStaff, LLC
"I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Keith over the last five years as an IT service partner and most recently as a client of Closing Strong. Keith’s intimate knowledge and understanding of the challenges of the legal technology and consulting industry has been invaluable and would be difficult to replicate. His perceptiveness and insight based on years of direct leadership experience has provided me with the guidance needed to make changes that positively impact the bottom line. One of the most important things my sessions with Keith provide, is the dedicated time to review my challenges and assess my decisions. Keith is quickly able to understand the situation, drill down on the actual issue and make me confront them. In the very short time we have worked together in this capacity, Keith has helped me to identify and focus on some of my biggest challenges towards developing a strategy for growing the firm without compromising our values. I have no hesitation in recommending Keith. I am confident I’ll continue to leverage his guidance as we advance to the next phase."
Angelo Whitfield
President - Sophus Consulting - Public Sector Information Technology and Services Consultant / Sophus Consulting
“Keith has the ability to get an entire company focused in a positive direction while empowering managers to take responsibility of working as a single team. Keith is fair with outstanding business ethics.”
Brad Thompson,
President, Epex LLC
“I’ve known Keith since 2001. I have had the pleasure of working with him in a variety of settings, including as members of an executive round table where we collaborated on the challenges of building our respective businesses. First, he gets it: growing a business, leading an organization, managing diverse organization, managing diverse individuals, inspiring results, setting uncompromising high standards and ethics. Then, repeatedly, he delivers the results. Keith is someone I trust and rely on for counsel and feedback, and our relationship is one that I highly value.”
Stephen Sweeny
Chief Operating Officer / 3Coast
"Keith has the ability to learn new businesses and organizations quickly, and to adopt their missions as his own. However his true gifts lie in being able to become part of the team in developing the appropriate strategy and goals, and define the processes and KPIs needed to fulfill it with great efficiency."
Al Mueller
President/Owner / Excellence in Giving
“Keith Okano has this unique and uncanny ability to make everyone feel comfortable, important, and as though their opinion is truly valued. He communicates as openly and effectively with a client or partner as he can with one of his own staff. He can easily discuss details at a technical level, business level, market level, or executive level. He is thoughtful, creative, thorough, and a visionary.”
Wayne Ford
SVP WW Commercial Sales / Kofax
"Keith truly values individuals, with all their strengths and shortcomings, and enjoys lending his experience and long track record of success in support of others."
Mark Poag
Managing Director / FitzRandolph Gateway Ventures
“Keith's decision-making ability, confidence and continued support are key in helping get through difficult situations while continuing to contribute to the bottom line. His professional and very approachable leadership style streamlined many operations and promoted continued unity and morale within the organization.“
Lentz Ferrell
Director ISS (ret.), / Silverton Healthcare
“Keith has proven over time to have the perspective, vision and patience in working with others to build teams and accomplish goals for the business he runs. He leads with passion, focus and determination.”
Ernie Rapp
President & PCCA Vice President of Business Development / PersonalMed
“The stories, imbedded in “ELEPHANT TALES “, depict in a humorous way realistic encounters between CEOs and their Organizations. “ELEPHANT TALES” is a required read for any CEO interested in improving his/her leadership by understanding the relationship between the Elephants, the Ants, and the Mahouts. There is much wisdom between the lines of each story. CEOs skilled in understanding what these stories reflect are better prepared and more able to discern and focus on the appropriate courses of their Corporate Decision Making.”
A. "Butch" Madrazo
President and CEO / MMM Enterprises, Inc.
"Keith is a true leader; he’s got great, natural leadership skills. My experience as an officer in the military has confirmed that leadership can be taught – to a point, beyond which instinctive leadership traits emerge, but only from the exceptional leaders. That’s where Keith shines. Keith creates an inspiring vision for organizational goals. And then he knows how to inspire and motivate his team to achieve those goals. He takes teamwork to a whole new level. Keith’s team members routinely exceed their performance expectations.”
Chip Cooper
E-Commerce Attorney ✔SaaS Attorney ✔Custom FTC Compliance Programs ✔ Author ✔ Speaker
"For the past few months I have been meeting with Keith and find our conversations to be the highlight of each month. I leave each meeting feeling like I have a heightened level of clarity, inspiration to continue challenging myself as a leader and motivation to think about things in a new way. Keith provides such a balance in his coaching: he gives advice, shares anecdotes from his extensive personal experience, asks the right questions, pushes me to think and act boldly and provides genuine encouragement.”
Amanda George
Consultant / Sterling Associates
"Keith Okano brings a clarity-of-thought to the executive team. He has a measured and seasoned approach to problem solving, a highly responsive, yet fair and even-handed style when dealing with crisis, and an overall intuitive sense of what it means to be a leader."
Mike Dalton
SVP Worldwide SaaS Software Engineering / BAE Systems
"Keith is a true motivator and leader. Keith obtains a great ability to break a complex business into simple, easy to understand, business strategy.”
Matthew Blake, MBA
CEO / Franklin Data