She’s known as a young emerging leader in B.C. and across the country.
She’s been on The National Post’s “Worthy 30″ list; named one of the 30 most fabulous entrepreneurs in Canada by Profit Magazine; she’s been honored by Canada’s Labour Minister as a ‘Canadian Woman Who Enriches Canada’s Economy and Community,’ and that’s just a short list of accomplishments.
Her name is Devon Brooks and she’s mentored more than 100 individuals and businesses across the country.
Brooks mentors young entrepreneurs but with a style different to others.
“We’ve all seen those posters out there. They all say ‘Be fearless, be grateful, be amazing, every day,’ and you probably have one over your toilet seat, I’m guessing? This freaks me out a little bit because ‘fearlessness’ has started to become this buzz word in our culture and sometimes when things become so popularly and widely used, we start to forget the value that they hold for us. The thing that I am afraid of for us, for me, and for the world, is that when we start to use fearlessness this way that we start to bury our fears.”
Speaking to a crowd at a TEDx conference Devon Brooks talks about fearlessness in business.
She explains why taking a 360 degree canvass of someone’s entire life plays a vital role in becoming a successful entrepreneur.
“Because of my own journey, facing two incidents of trauma at 18 and 21 years-old, I really learned from that. The ability to look at every facet of what you’ve gone through as important as how you got to where you are today has changed my ability to perceive weakness that’s crucial to the inventory of who you are and how you got here. Whereas somebody else might look at it as something you need to get over that challenge, that hurt or trauma, I look at it as taking inventory about how it affects how we show up, and lets respect and acknowledge that. And let’s build around that and work from it verses trying to push it aside and get over it.”
But what’s the difference between a mentor and a coach? She says is about having someone to keep you accountable.
Brooks says is not about copying and pasting a strategy and then try to make it work for everyone.
She says cultivating community is one of the most important things for startup businesses.
“If you’re leaving community out of your impact strategy, if you’re not thinking about how you can use your business or enterprise to elevate people, you’re missing a massive opportunity to be a part of something so much bigger than your concept or idea. As the world continues and the way that its going, small business is going to be more and more influential and play a bigger role in the economy and supporting people both locally and globally. I think if you’re considering how from day one what you’re trying to build is going to elevate the people that come into contact with it, than you’re thinking from a place of high integrity.”
For Brooks, the most important quality to being a mentor is to be able to guide and work with people to help them be their best. She says a mentor should educate and inform rather than affirm.
“It’s not about you sharing your way and why it’s best, it’s about being able to reflect in a way that finds out and that pulls out what is best for that person in that circumstance.”
But she says being a mentor has its challenges.
“Personally, because I’ve been so forward and open about my own journey with [sexual] assault and violent trauma, many of the people who seek me out to support them in their growth are people who have either gone through or are going through some really, really challenging stuff. So, I would say what’s most difficult for me, is just hearing that because I do let it all in.”
So if you’re looking to Devon for a mentor…she says, expect something different.
“We all get to achieve our goals in very different ways, we have very individual paths to get to what we feel like is success or however we define success. Some people can get there by brushing a lot under the rug and breaking a lot of hearts and leaving a lot of people in the dust. I mean, it is also very possible to reach what you want to reach with high integrity and without leaving behind the parts of you that are sensitive, that are fragile. Taking inventory of what you’ve experienced and leading from that place, from that inclusive place, it’s only going to make you more exceptional, it’s only going to make you more magnetic, it’s only going to make you more and more relatable, and bring you closer and connected to the people who you want to work with.”