I’m really excited to introduce today’s guest blogger: Dustin Hogan. I recently met Dustin through a mutual friend, and was immediately struck by the ambition, charisma and “can-do” attitude of this very nice young man. And although we’ve only known each other a couple of months, already our friendship feels like a well-worn pair of leather gloves; meaning it’s reliable, comfortable, but above all is something I can count on to do the job at hand… no pun intended!
Dustin is an accomplished music production teacher and Toastmasters speaker, something which is he’s not only passion about, but works very hard at. When we were talking about how he got involved with Toastmasters, Dustin brought up the topic of mentorship, and how it’s helped him achieve his own goals. This sounded awesome, so I asked him if he’d write a post for me about it, and he agreed to. When his copy came in for review, I must say besides being terrific, it revealed yet one more passion this interesting new friend of mine has, which I’ll let him tell you about. So without further adieu, please welcome Dustin Hogan!
Back in the day when I was a young punk (I’m 32 now; so compared to David, I’m still a young punk!) I thought I could – and should – do everything on my own, and with no help from anyone else. I’m not sure if I thought I was being noble, proud or was just uncomfortable in my own skin; but the thought of getting “guidance” in any area of my life wasn’t appealing to me one bit.
As you probably know, life has a funny way of bringing us exactly what we need; and in my case, it wasn’t until my early 20’s that life began to shine a light on the power of mentorship. And to be honest, my introduction didn’t come in the traditional areas of life that you’d expect people to typically receive mentorship. I wasn’t mentored in business, nor finance, but rather in the world of club DJ’ing; you see, back then my dream was to be touring the world and hitting big stages as a DJ, and all my goals were focused towards that dream! Don’t get me wrong – that dream still holds true for me; but like I said before, life has this funny way of bringing you exactly what you need, when you need it. So thanks to life’s “power to inspire”, my goals have shifted from to not only include this dream, but others that are, shall we say in slightly different direction… but that’s another post entirely!
So how on earth was I going navigate this dream of becoming a DJ on the “big” stage? It seemed like such a daunting task and such a huge dream, and I certainly didn’t set out to find a mentor to help me, because at the time I didn’t even know what a mentor was. What’s cool is that life just kind of brought him to me… It’s a beautiful thing really. As beautiful as it was I still had to do my part. Deep down I had to be open to the opportunity and I had to push past any uncertainty I had and just be willing to try something new.
Here’s what happened: Through the local DJ scene in Calgary I was given the opportunity to compete in a DJ competition – a competition that if I won, would allow me to open for one of the biggest DJs in the world! It was a “Battle Royale” unlike anything I had competed in before. I put everything I had into each performance and moved my way up the ranks, all the way to the finals. I put my heart on the line in the finals, and worked harder than ever before. Once everyone had performed, the moment of truth came, and guess what? I placed second! Ah, so close but so far. But placing second was actually the best thing that could have happened to me, because that day I was introduced to the man who would serve as my first mentor. He was the head judge for the competition; and I must have done something to impress him because he pulled me aside and said he wanted to work with me. I was ecstatic!
PICTURE Disclaimer! Here I am 7 years ago before a gig, lost in a world of bright colors, crazy hairstyles and questionable pant choices. Things have changed slightly. ☺
My First Mentor
Now the thing with mentorship is that it doesn’t have to be this “official thing” where you sign a contract, or have some meaningful ceremony where someone proclaims they’ll be your mentor; it certainly didn’t start out this way for me. It began as a relationship where this person mentioned he was going to help me out and show me the ropes, and then with time it really started to form. It was more of a natural progression, rather than some mapped out journey. In fact, it was only in starting to work together that I realized he was serving as my mentor. He pushed me wherever I needed pushing, and supported me as I needed.
Things really started to take shape when both of us invested in the process. What I mean is that it wasn’t only about my mentor pushing for results; no, as the mentee I also needed to pull my weight and commit to the process as well. I have to admit that it took me a while to get my own momentum going. I was young, still answering many of my own questions so it took some time to get comfortable in the process. But the sooner I opened to the process and just let things flow, the better it got.
And to be totally honest, there were some days when it was tough for both of us. Many days I was leaning on my mentor for his past experience and advice, and other times when I didn’t always agree with the methods. I learned that it’s okay to question what I was being told; but overall, it was my trust in him, his experiences, and the process that really garnered the best results for me in my journey.
Dec 2014 I still have my original mentor, as well as other mentors in different areas of my life. I am also fortunate to be in a position to be a mentor to multiple people and share the things that I have learned along the way, and overall, I find it to be such a rewarding process. One of the things I have discovered is that there does not need to be a set of guidelines or rules – Just like with my first mentor, all mentorships can be as official or unofficial as the situation calls for; it’s really up to the people involved. And also, I’ve learned growth isn’t just a one-way street; in fact, both sides of the table see growth and benefits from the “Mentor – Mentee relationship.Here’s what I mean:
As a mentee, you are able to tap into the experience and knowledge of someone who has “been there and done that”; it helps you bypass many of the possible mistakes that can occur on the path to greatness. It helps you see the greatness in yourself, even when it might be too buried to even register; and can also create opportunities that may not have presented themselves without the guidance you get from your mentor.
As a mentor you get to sharpen your tools by sharing your knowledge with someone else. When mentoring someone, often knowledge surfaces that you may have forgotten you even had, in order to help your mentee, and, moving forward, this helps you deepen your communication skills. It allows you to keep your wisdom, knowledge and passion towards your subject constantly growing, and moving forward into the future. The success of your mentee is part of the legacy you leave in this world; as is the knowledge you get in being their mentor.
I’m not saying everyone needs to rush out today and start searching for a mentors; this usually doesn’t work, because trying to force something to happen usually doesn’t make it happen any quicker. My advice is simply set the intention, keep your eyes open, and allow it to happen naturally. I also encourage you to have mentors in multiple areas of your life, just as I’ll also encourage you to mentor people in all areas of their lives. I am proud to say that David is my newest mentor; and in the short time I have known him I can say he has helped me in so many ways. Even as an old dog I hope he can say I have shown him a few new tricks as well. ☺**
The bottom line is that regardless of whatever area you want to grow in, (business, finance, DJing, or wherever your own interests lie) there is really no limit or ceiling on the growth that comes from the power of mentorship. For me and my DJing, I’m so grateful in 2011 that I had the opportunity to open for “The Bloody Beetroots”, and in front of about 1000 people. Without the guidance of my mentor I would of never developed the skill to get to that point; but more importantly, I probably would have never developed the confidence to push my limits and pursue my dream. Equally as important (and as you can tell) my outfit of choice for this event was more on point! 😉
**Note from David – He’s definitely keeping me on my toes these days! Thanks Dustin! Great to have you holding me accountable! Looking forward to more greatness!