Personal Development

Mark Taylor: From grinding as an entrepreneur to guiding as a CEO coach

Mark Taylor Cope Award Ceremony 2

Reflecting on what I loved and loathed led me to Vistage. I never could’ve dreamed I would love the work this much.

Editor’s Note: This profile is part of a series highlighting Vistage Chairs — executive coaches who help guide CEOs and leaders of small and midsize businesses to make better decisions for their companies, families and communities.

Mark Taylor has experienced the highs and lows of entrepreneurship.

Mark’s first business, The Taylor Fire Protection Company failed after six months. When he started his second business, an engineering tech company, he was a self-proclaimed “micromanager on steroids.” Despite hiring qualified employees, Mark worked from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., double-checking every sales transaction, proposal and line of code.

Vistage Chair Mark Taylor

Vistage Chair Mark Taylor

Mark joined Vistage in 1995 after hearing a Vistage speaker explain that most companies never reach $10 million in revenue because the CEO fails to hire an executive team. He learned how to hire and establish an executive team and how to “let go.” The effort paid off, and Mark’s business became Michigan’s 58th fastest-growing company.

In 2005, he sold his company and his wife moved to New York City with him, where he began working for the company that had acquired his business. The startup was a high-tech internet company that raised $20 million and became publicly traded. However, transitioning to this new role made him reflect on his future plans. “I had little time for my wife and three children and was feeling burned out,” he says.

Ready to change, not ready to retire

While he was ready for a significant change, Mark wasn’t ready to retire. Instead, he envisioned a career that granted him more time with his wife and allowed him to spend nights in his bed. He also felt passionate about serving others.

Years before, Mark completed a coaching course and became a certified coach. His goal in doing so was to become a better coach for his employees.

“I found that I loved having meaningful conversations with people that truly impacted them and changed the way they thought,” he says.

Mark was thinking about launching a coaching business — pondering whether or not to “go it alone” — when his former Chair suggested he enroll in Vistage’s Chair Academy, a rigorous program designed for executives who aspired to be coaches. Mark saw an opportunity to have support and structure alongside independence.

Mark Taylor and Patrick Lencioni

Mark with The New York Times bestselling author Patrick Lencioni

In 2009, Mark launched his first CEO group at the height of the “Great Recession.” Undeterred by the turbulent economic times, Mark grew his Chair Practice to 7 groups and 127 members. Since then, Taylor has been guiding leaders to the top of their game by doing what he loves every day.

Mark Taylor Cope Award Ceremony 3 accepting the award

Mark accepting the 2022 Don Cope Memorial Award

Mark’s passion for encouraging and supporting others to become more effective leaders has earned him several accolades including the STAR Award, which has recognized him as one of the top 20 performing chairs in the country over the past nine years.

In 2016, Mark was honored with the Pat Hyndman Award, given to the Vistage Chair who, “has gone above and beyond the call of duty in service of Vistage and given unselfish and immeasurable service.”

Five years later, he was honored again when he received the Robert Nourse Chair of the Year Award for the Chair who has excelled at providing exceptional value to the entire Vistage community.

In 2022, Mark received the Don Cope Memorial Award, Vistage’s highest honor for Chairing.

Vistage CEO Sam Resse described Taylor as a trendsetter and early adopter, a leader who dedicates countless hours to educating fellow Chairs worldwide, and a Chair who is motivated by one goal: to support his peers.

Grateful for his new life

So how does a reformed micromanager become a top-performing executive coach? It comes down to caring, Mark says.

“I can relate to them. Many are founders or generational leaders. They are carrying on their family legacies or creating a family legacy,” he says. “I come from a working-class background. My mom was a single mom who worked two jobs while raising three kids.”

Indeed, some of the CEOs Mark guides come from similar backgrounds and have created generational wealth, he says, adding that 15 have sold their companies.

“I just got an email from a CEO with a background similar to mine who sold his company for over $100 million,” Mark recalls. “He said, ‘I just want to thank you. You have no idea how much you’ve changed my life.’”

Mark with his family (including the grandkids)

Mark and his family (including the grandkids)

Mark is not the only one who is grateful for his new career.

“If you ask my wife, she’ll say she’s never seen me happier,” he says. “I love having an impact on CEOs. I love having the opportunity to learn continuously. And I love having time to spend with my two grandchildren. When my own children were growing up, I was so busy working on my business that I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be. You get a second chance as a grandparent.”

In addition to his work with Vistage, Mark is also a Certified Positive Intelligence Coach, a Certified Working Genius Facilitator, and a Tribal Leadership Trainer. He also holds a bachelor’s in science degree, an MBA, a Master’s in Leadership, and five coaching certifications. He is the author of the Leadership Field Manual: Exercises & Tools for Executing Culture Change. His TEDx talk was highlighted by Forbes.

Explore more coaching journeys

If this coaching story interests you and you’d like to see more, learn more about Chairing and how it could lead to the next chapter of your life.

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About the Author: Vistage Staff

Vistage facilitates confidential peer advisory groups for CEOs and other senior leaders, focusing on solving challenges, accelerating growth and improving business performance. Over 45,000 high-caliber execu

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