Brent Harris is an artist, writer and researcher; he’s in the business of performance art, contemporary dance, choreography, writing, local history, and performance philosophy. However, through his Business Mentor, Astiana Trouland, he's found new and unexpected creativity. The two say it’s all about alignment.
Be ready to expect the unexpected
Brent aimed to grow his revenue and applied for a Business Mentor with the support of the Māngere Ōtāhuhu Local Board. He admits he had some preconceptions about what the process would entail.
"I may have brought some baggage about what it meant to be in business, to be in a serious, buttoned-down mode. However, I've discovered the opposite is possible. Being mentored by Asti has opened up my creative work.
“My production of ideas and writing has increased in speed. It’s all freed up quite a lot – I’m much more willing and able to share work,” he says.
Intent is vital in successful mentoring
Astiana Trouland, Ngā Puhi, was compelled to gift her time mentoring as she had benefited from a mentor herself. She sees immense value in supporting business owners.
"Now is such an important time to recognise the need for wellness for those creating businesses,” she says.
Astiana has great admiration for Brent. “He has a completely different zone of genius to me.”
She’s found it rewarding to see him grow and expects him to continue from strength to strength. She describes this as, "a process of evolution – a non-linear process of being successful and remaining creative and authentic in his form of expression."
The pair have uncovered a special dynamic for their relationship, which has allowed Brent and his work to flourish. Astiana says its critical to get to know what matters most to those you're working with.
Values are at the core of aligned progress
“The thing about working with creatives is not being too rigid, so values are close. With Brent, it was important to understand how his personal values are woven into his work. Values, boundaries and creative practices were the foundation for him getting his work done,” she says.
Astiana’s approach struck a chord with Brent, who comments, “I’ve been really encouraged and affirmed by her openness to a non-stereotypical businessperson.”
In particular, Brent notes Astiana’s ability to get to the heart of what matters.
“She’s very open and asks good questions. She gets me to think and invites me to unpack some of the things I might offer as a first response, giving space to explore those and expand."
“Towards the end of our sessions, she'd consider what we'd talked about and where we wanted to go. She would offer me some aligned actionables to support my aspirations, goals and values as next steps. It was a nice invitation; it was two or three things I could do that we could discuss in the next session. This was achievable, and it allowed me to think of the business as lining up.”
The difference is visible
Astiana gave Brent particular support to gain traction online.
“Because he didn’t have a website, it’s been interesting to help him develop an online presence through Substack and as his journey of creating it, becoming content and solid in his values,” she says.
“It means he has a platform that he can continue to share through, and we can see more work from him out in the world.”
Brent explains, “Substack is a platform like an email newsletter. I've been growing my subscriber base and have had different interactions with my readers.”
With his Business Mentor, Brent is also looking at how he can leverage other parts of his practice.
“I’m keen to expand the linkages and opportunities to increase the income for those projects and to grow the work.
“I'm most excited about the relationship between framing and thinking of my work as a business and how that can open up and be generative for my creative practice.
Astiana shares his enthusiasm and looks forward to seeing him remain dedicated to the milestones he’s set for sharing his work.
Any business can benefit with the right match
Although Brent’s business is one of a kind, he and Astiana have some advice for any business to reap the benefits of mentoring.
Astiana says Business Mentors have an opportunity to empower their mentees from the start.
"Brent has two young children, so making it accessible and okay to be with his kids made a huge difference.”
Brent recommends being bold and brave. “Be clear about what kind of interaction and focus you want from the mentoring. Be as clear and specific as you can. Be open. Take on suggestions. Be willing to try, experiment and give it a go.”
Find inspiration for your business's future
Could a fresh perspective bring new ideas to your business? If you're ready to take the first step in applying for a Business Mentor, click here.
To see Brent’s work, find him on Substack here: https://brent94d.substack.com/