TV Writing Coach

The Difference Between a Coach and a Mentor

I recently had the honor of sharing my message with a group of women at the Hollistree Women’s Empowerment event hosted by Rakita Lillard. 

We spent about 4 hours together on a Saturday morning. I loved the intimate setting and that it was held in a unique venue was really refreshing. We gathered in The Spice Suite in upper north west Washington DC. I even bought a few yummy spices to take my culinary skills to another level! 

How do you Find a Coach or a Mentor? 

That’s the question one of the guests asked. She said that when she’s inquired about someone being her mentor she’s received the response “Well, that’s like taking food from my mouth because I charge for my services.” Some of the other guests told her to run from those people because they have the wrong attitude. 

Well, I disagree. Now, the person may have been able to express themselves more eloquently, but they do have a point. You see, their response says they aren’t a mentor, they’re functioning in the marketplace as a coach. 

Here’s a response coaches can use when someone asks them to mentor them and they’re unable to do so:

“I’m really flattered that you see value in having me mentor you. Unfortunately, I’m currently at my capacity for mentorship this year.”  

A much more eloquent and authentic way to express your truth. Remember, to say this only if this is true! 

For those of you who want to know the difference between a coach and a mentor here’s my best advice…


Help you get specific accelerated results in a defined area of growth you need right now. Plus, most importantly, you pay an investment to have their time and undivided attention (if you invest to be coached 1 -on-1 or in a group setting).  You become a priority because you’ve made an investment in yourself to grow to your next level.  They will hold you accountable and stretch you in a way most mentors won’t.

You choose a coach to work with based on what you currently need to grow to your next level in life and business. You should do a short discovery session to find out if you and the prospective coach are a good fit and vet the coach to make sure they have the social proof and have gotten results for others who have the same or similar problem you’re facing.


Tend to offer encouragement and support with you staying on your path and answering questions related to their field of study and/or life experience. You don’t pay to have their undivided attention and if you have a lunch or dinner scheduled with a mentor, if something comes up and they have to cancel you go along with it. They may not be able to reschedule with you for a few weeks or a few months and typically that’s just the way it goes.

Mentors and coaches have value but in two very different ways. There’s actually nothing wrong with coaches who are doing business in a marketplace deciding to have a maximum number of individuals they can mentor. However, there is a more gracious way to communicate that fact. 

Was this information helpful? In the comments section below, please let me know how you’ve selected your coaches and mentors in the past? 


Denise Joy LOVEs all things drama TV. I'm a binge-watching-deconstructing-story-maven. I've been a college professor and professional writer for 20 years, but I grew up in “O” town. No. Not Oakland, Omaha. Growing up in middle America was an idyllic experience. I grew up on the taste of welfare...powdered milk and government cheese. Along with my siblings I lived in 13 different homes from the time I was born until I was 17. The first being a low income projects nicknamed “Little Vietnam”, so don’t come for me! Learning how to outrun the eviction notice cultivated my love of storytelling from a young age. At 9 I published my fist poem and at 13 I wrote and shot my first movie, “The Chase” with my neighborhood crew at Tommy Rose Gardens Projects. People say I'm a master at reinvention. Just another byproduct of lessons learned from my vagabond/gypsy like upbringing. And for those of you that wonder if I’m spiritual, ratchet, bougie, professional or ghetto…please note, I’m mixed.