About Me

I’m a Pacific Northwest kinda guy… born and raised in Bremerton, BS in mechanical engineering at UofW in ’72, launched my first company in ’76. EMS Music manufactured a tape player that worked 24/7/365 in commercial environments, and we leased tapes of “foreground music” to restaurants and retailers throughout the US and Canada. We were one of three companies in the “industry” — all based in Seattle.

Sold my shares and moved to SoCal in ’81 with my “street degree” in business, joined a friend’s marketing firm, and helped it grow from 2-35 employees in five years. Transitioned to my own virtual agency in ’86 — just me and a list of SoCal’s best freelance creatives.

Clients ranged from start-ups to a handful of very large corporations, but most were midsize companies. Manufacturers, distributors, inventors, service providers. They all had a common problem — get their product in front of people who needed it and convince them it was the right solution for their most immediate problem.

A chronic early adopter, I went online early joining listservs before there was a World Wide Web. In the mid-90’s, I was invited to speak to a group of CEOs about the marketing implications of the Internet. They were members of TEC (now known as Vistage) who met in groups of 12-15 every month to share ideas, hold each other accountable, and learn something new from “experts” like me. Thirty presentations later — from San Diego to Orlando, Atlanta to Alberta — I was convinced that “coaching” was powerful stuff.

In ’99, I was invited to coach the clients of an experimental SBDC (small business development center) in Orange County, CA. VenturePoint was funded by the SBA and the State of California, but managed by the Orange County Business Council. Unlike most SBDC’s that help mom-and-pop stores, VenturePoint was created to help early stage high-tech, potentially high-growth companies get off the ground.

We provided educational workshops, investment meet-ups, and individual coaching for entrepreneurs and founders groups. In three years, VenturePoint turned $2.5 million in grant money into $167.5 million of economic impact, as measured by the state and federal sponsors. Not a bad ROI for coaching, eh?

In ’06, I joined TEC (now called Vistage) as West Puget Sound’s first CEO group chair. Early in ’08, I turned my group over to a veteran chair and hung out my shingle as a CEO coach specializing in strategic planning, marketing communications, and exit strategies. I work pro bono with startups and nonprofits and base fees on my client company’s revenue.

Why so much personal history? Coaching is a relationship. This is a beginning. If you are looking for a coaching relationship to help you take your company to the next level, call me at 206 605 1667 or send a message below.

Ken Sethney [marketing coach]

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