Devon Brooks: Transforming Personal Development through Technology

DevonBrooks, CEO, Sphere | CIOLook | Business Magazines
DevonBrooks, CEO, Sphere | CIOLook | Business Magazines

An ability to comprehend the necessity of disruptive methods and implementing them for the betterment of the businesses, defines the success of a leader. Meet Devon Brooks the CEO of Sphere. With a devoted vision to integrate technological aspects for transforming personal development and enhancing the personalized coaching, an astounding shepreneur has leaved her mark in the world of business. Her ’reason for being’ ideology to ignite a transformational dialogue and cultivate intimate community in unconventional ways, led her to establish an innovative personalized coaching platform. CIO Look appreciates the contribution made by such leaders and believes introducing their passionate endeavors and approach in making a difference edition.

Below are some of the highlights of an interview, occurred between Devon and CIO Look: 

Take us through your journey on becoming a leader. 

Growing up with entrepreneurs, always came very naturally to me to conceive ideas, articulate them, and solve business problems. My mom, Judy, started her first company when she was a single mom. I had always wanted to build something with my mom. We started Blo Blow Dry Bar, a first of its kind salon offering blow outs, together in 2007. Born out of a university project, Blo now has over 90 locations across four countries.

As the company started to grow, I was catapulted in a leadership position where I was hiring and scaling teams who were mostly peers my same age and older.

At the same time, I was going through two judicial court cases after being through some tough grievances and, later, attacked in my own home.

I sought out guidance to continue to grow, not only as a business leader but in other aspects of my life. I look at things through a growth mindset.

Coaching and those high impact conversations with an unbiased, trained thinking partner, propelled me through that time; it asked me to challenge my sense of leadership, understand what authentic leadership looked like and what it was going to mean for me to bring the fullness of who I am to the workplace and integrate everything going on in my personal life into that experience.

Coaching, as a business tool, continues to gain legitimacy. I’ve felt its incredible power. It helped me to become a better leader, and also helped many other leaders I know.

It is why for the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been backing in startup land, grinding it out, to get my latest venture—Sphere, off the ground. Because I really believe coaching has the power to shift thinking and support humanity. And I want more people to be able to access it.

One night, I was sitting awake in bed dreaming of building something that would make it easier for people to get the conversations they need to grow.

I’d been coaching professionally since my co-founders and I sold our business and I’d seen the industry booming with little to no innovations in consumer technologies. Yoga and meditation had so much beautiful, approachable tech powering and scaling their magic to reach the masses but coaching – a personal development tool that has been proven to support emotional and social intelligence – didn’t. People didn’t know where to go and find the right coach for them; while coaches were wasting too much time, and money, on business development, maintenance and management.

A brief note on the company 

Born from my own frustrations with a lack of accessibility and exceptional technology in the coaching space, my latest newest venture, Sphere, enhances the experience of personal coaching, by transforming and scaling the way guidance is accessed and delivered.

Sphere streamlines an intuitive matching algorithm that connects best-fit coaches and clients and handles everything on the spot from booking, to having sessions and tracking progress. On a mission to support and elevate the collective consciousness, Sphere makes getting personal coaching convenient, customized and approachable. I am still a huge advocate of coaching. It’s ingrained and centered around my entire business. But I also believe, not only “executives” should access to coaching. My role as a leader is to level up my passionate team and help them develop and grow. At Sphere, my team gets coaching just as much as I do.

How do you diversify your organization’s offerings to appeal the target audience? 

At Sphere, we are on a mission to help people grow. No matter whom they are. Individuals work their way up in corporate ranks. They spend years as a high performer, slowly getting promotions that expand their skill set and leadership.

Then, they hit the c-suite: the title of ’Executive’ hits their e-signature; they snag the corner office (or at least one with a window). And with that new, shiny title come another perk: a coach. We’ve seen and heard it all too often: that individual contributors in organizations are left to muscle through their personal and professional development on their own – or relying solely on one individual—often their manager—to provide them with; let’s face it, very biased guidance. And when I started chatting about coaching with more and more people as we got closer to launching Sphere, this thought that coaches were only for senior leaders, executives or the c-suite kept surfacing.

In our books, we believe coaching should be democratized; available to anyone and everyone regardless of their current situation, their goals, their role, their gender, their job title.

It’s for the entrepreneur or solopreneur. It’s for the small business owner. It’s for the working dad or mom. It’s for the first-time manager. It’s for someone who wants to re-look at reevaluate their purpose.

If you want to increase your self-awareness, build yourself up, level up your professional and personal development and grow, don’t wait. Invest in yourself now.

Describe some of the vital attributes that every leader should possess. 

Some of the leaders I look up to and the values that I admire (and focus on myself) are:

  • Grit
  • Gratitude
  • Humility
  • An insatiable passion
  • And a deep commitment to their continued learning and development (the best leaders are always growing!)

Entrepreneur life is 7-day-a-week flow. It’s non-stop, and it’s all I have ever known. I’ve never had an annual salary that I was not totally, completely responsible for figuring out. I’ve worked through both pregnancies, with no maternity leave. No paid vacations. It’s not about measuring success or getting validation from anyone. It’s about how resilient you are and how many times you get back up. Hence the word: Grit.

I am blessed with an enriching community. I get to work with people who move and inspire me, I get to hire them! For me business is a vessel to make an impact, and that’s what I live for. Hence the words and attributes: Gratitude, humility, deep passion and a commitment to growth.

How does Sphere help you boost your personal growth using Technology? 

The problem Sphere Solves became apparent with the technological trends we are all experience in our daily lives. Health and Wellbeing apps like HeadSpace, Calm and ClassPass are becoming increasingly popular.

When it comes to coaching, technology will start to play a central role in how Guidance is both accessed and delivered. Sphere is at the forefront of that. Coaches will differentiate themselves in the future by connecting through platforms and being able to meet almost anywhere and anytime regardless of their physical location.

As someone who is keen to grow, expand their horizons and work with a coach, this means you can access powerful, best-fit coaches anytime, anywhere.

Have you in any ways contributed towards the cause of women welfare. 

I was assaulted in two unrelated incidents at 18 and then again at 21. I went through the ensuing judicial process that eventually led to two guilty pleas, and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, and Anxiety. Advocacy and activism are in my blood and bones. I have served as a board member to (WAVAW) Women against Violence against Women. And in 2017, I launched a community-driven editorial platform and inclusive resource, curated with women in mind, for all those affected by any sort of trauma. Canada’s Minister of The Status of Women recognized me during Women’s History Month for my contributions to the progress and well-being of women.

My experiences as a victim of trauma and physical assault have informed everything I do. Being a victim has given me the gift of perspective. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a hard time getting through difficult things, but I am always looking at things through a growth mindset. It gets to choose how I show up in the world. Yes, these personal experiences have shaped who I am, yet at the same time I don’t let the past define me or stop my future or present self.

What are your future endeavors/objectives and where do you see yourself in the near future? 

To work day-in-and-day-out on Sphere, bringing access to Guidance to millions and helping people grow. For the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been back in startup land, grinding it out, spending so much time away from my family and putting everything on stake, to get Sphere off the ground – because I really believe coaching has the power to shift thinking and support humanity. And I want more people to be able to access it. That’s where I’ve been and that’s where I am headed.

We just are crossing a big-time milestone – a real live Beta release.