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Meet one of Canada’s top mentoring maestros: Devon Brooks
I knew I was getting into something unconventional and intriguing the minute I reached out via email to Devon Brooks for an interview about her experience as a mentor.
Only an innovator would have such a whimsical and unorthodox automated email message. AND she called me back. On the telephone.
If you’re looking for insight into the mind of a high-performance mentor, you’ve come to the right place.
Devon took a few minutes away from her many duties to talk by telephone to My StartUp about why she loves mentoring.
Devon Brooks is unreservedly enthusiastic, which clearly serves her well in her mentoring role on Futurpreneur’s Board of Directors.
It’s a role that Brooks owns.
“It’s a phenomenal way to give back and support people at a time in their business and personal growth when I know and have seen the real, true impact and invaluable measure of a mentorship,” says Brooks. “I definitely get something from it. It’s definitely my favourite way to stay fresh and stay close to the front lines of the start-up experience.”
Brooks comes by her mentoring prowess honestly enough, as she reflects on her childhood experience watching her own mother mentor in her community.
“I started mentoring before I really even knew I was doing it,” says Brooks with a laugh. “It was super innate for me…I saw my mom actively mentoring in her community from as far back as I can remember.”
As the co-founder of Blo Blow Dry Bar, Brooks was a successful entrepreneur before her 25th birthday. Her work has won her accolades and awards, including being named one of the top 30 entrepreneurs in Canada by Profit Magazine, and Chatelaine’s Hot 20 under 30 Women of the Year.
“I think that people learn best through stories,” says Brooks. “It’s really about the relationship and allowing people to learn through story-telling. I love the way I can help others through story-sharing.”
One of Brooks’ keys to mentoring success is to think of it as a reciprocal arrangement.
“The act of mentoring will forever influence what I do and the way I do it because of the way I get things reflected back to me,” says Brooks. “One of the things that I love about working with such a variety of mentees is that (the diversity) always influences how you ask questions and how you learn to listen.”
A good alignment of values is also a critical building block in any mentor-mentee relationship.
“When I’m looking for mentees, I’m looking for people that have those shared values, so from day one, we have a synergy and a shared way of being that I know both of us find value in and respect,” says Brooks.
“I would definitely suggest that everybody try their hand at mentoring at some point in their life and career. You get so much from it and it teaches you such a great deal about yourself,” says Brooks.
The word “reflection” is a common link throughout Brooks’ many rewarding experiences as a mentor.
“Creatives and entrepreneurs who are elder stateswomen or statesmen in their craft or sector, there’s a lot you learn from being a mentor; you have to have your ego in check, you have to understand that it’s not a preachy, one-sided conversation,” says Brooks. “It’s truly a dialogue and you’re just there to be a mirror for that person. You’re there to help them reflect to find the answers on their own through story-telling.”
In the final analysis, mentoring to Brooks is as much a learning experience for the mentor as it is for the mentee.
“Whenever you have the opportunity to help somebody by sharing a story, it helps you and it helps that person,” says Brooks. “Every time you share, you get to reflect on the things you’ve learned; you get to reflect on how you might do something differently and you get to help somebody at the same time.”
You can follow Brooks on Twitter @devsdevelopment. Be sure to check out Brooks’ weekly mentorship session @periscope every Monday at 12:40 pm Pacific Time.