The Difference Between a Mentor, Teacher, and Coach

The difference between a mentor, teacher, and coach

I’ve been struggling with my own vision for lately – but not in the way that you would assume. I’ve been feeling stuck using the terms “coach” and “blogger” to define what I do. Not that either of those terms are a bad thing – but they didn’t resonate 100% with my heart. 

If you’ve been around these parts for a little while – then this post is absolutely nothing new. I’ve been hinting at changes – revamps – remodels – reconstructions – the whole nine. But before I share what all those plans are (not today, but soon) – I wanted to ask you the same question that my good friend Alionka Polanco asked me, “Do you know the difference between a mentor, coach, and teacher?”

She was recently interviewed on the Total Freedom Podcast and discussed this very topic. (To watch the live recording on YouTube >> go here). But I’m going to explain it to you here:


A mentor is the person who can show you the way because they’ve been there. For instance, if you want to be the greatest talk show host of all time, Oprah could be your mentor. Oprah would be able to give you a clear outline of the steps that she took, let you know what her motivations were, and also give you a heads up about obstacles you may face along the way. The interactions could be informal or formal depending upon how well you know her. I’d also like to add that people can be mentors from a distance… aka you’ve never met them in person, or even spoke to them BUT you study their work. 


Teachers help you build a skill set. Maria Forleo would be an excellent example of a teacher – especially in her B-school. She teaches entrepreneurs how to get their business up and running.

B-School is the world’s best online business school for modern entrepreneurs. It’s an 8-week online training program that teaches you how to use smart online marketing to fuel both higher profits, and your higher purpose. You’ll learn step by step how to package, position and sell your products and services using modern tools of entrepreneurship. After purchasing B-School once, grads get to re-take the course every year, for the life of the program — for free.


You can follow Maria’s teachings in order to get to a certain destination or achieve a skill. That’s what teachers do – they help you build skills. 


The goal of coaching is to boost confidence and/or anxiety to improve performance. The coach is there to help you change your mindset around your goals. Coaches can sometimes help with a very specific skill, but really they are there to answer questions and anticipate mental setbacks before they occur. Tony Robbins is one of the most well known, transformational coaches. And, in some cases, this person doesn’t necessarily have to already be equally or more successful than the client. 

Does this make sense? In the conversation between Alionka and Chris – he notes that in many cases you may need 3 different people in order to help you move forward. Meaning that you need 1 coach, 1 mentor, and 1 teacher since not all teachers are mentors, not all mentors are coaches, ect.

Now I say all this to share that I feel like I’ve messed this up in my own life in 2 ways. 

  1. I’ve hired coaches when I should have been working with teachers or mentors.
  2. I don’t think that I really and truly enjoy coaching the way that I used to, I’d prefer to be a teacher.

Knowing and understanding this mishap has helped me create a more dynamic vision for I know I’m being vague – but I’m really looking to get all of my ducks in a row (for real, for real) before speaking about anything in too much detail. 

But, if you’re still reading, I will share that 2016 will involve some changes to the way I write blog posts and produce products. Manifest Yourself is a way of thinking that I haven’t really honed in on as much as I would like to. My private clients get all of this good juju in one on one sessions, but in order to have an impact, this has to be scalable to reach a wider range of people. Make sense?

So, now that I’ve explained the difference, do you know what you are?

Or better yet, do you need to find a mentor, teacher, or coach?


  1. Melody says:

    I never thought about the difference between each of these before. I kind of clumped all them under a coach I think, but I definitely see the important differences between them. I had been thinking lately, that maybe I need to hire a coach but now I think I actually need to find a mentor for what I want to achieve.

    Thanks for breaking down the differences! I look forward to your new content in 2016!

    Melody //

    1.28.16 ·
    • Thanks so much, Melody! I’m happy this post was able to clear up the differences.

      2.10.16 ·

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