Meet two mentors from Martin Martinez’s new organisation who are looking to help the next generation of business leaders succeed.
Even the most brilliant of minds need guidance now and again. Martin Martinez’s new mentorship organisation—the Boardroom—is set to launch soon, offering this guidance to leaders looking for a leg up over the competition. We covered The Boardroom last month, detailing what it will offer members and Martinez’s journey to bring it to fruition.
Now we have the opportunity to bring you insight into the lifeblood of the organisation—its mentors.
“I speak to a lot of entrepreneurs,” said Dorry Kadahi, business mogul of DKM Blue and The Boardroom mentor. “I’m always amazed at the amount of risk people put on themselves without any experience in the industry they enter. They don’t understand the risks that are associated with what they’re doing.
“I looked at the negatives before the positives could even start. I was visualizing all the things that could go wrong—all the things I wasn’t good at. This made me really think of how to get around the issues so that when I hit those hurdles, they weren’t really hurdles anymore. I want to help other business leaders prepare like I did so that they can maybe avoid heartbreak later down the line.”
Mentors for The Boardroom are in a unique position: they get to provide help and advice to leaders when and where they may not have had it in their own careers. Or if mentors received helpful insight during their career, they now have the opportunity to pass it to the next generation of business leaders.
“Founding your own business can be a struggle,” said Cynthia Dearin, founder of Dearin & Associates. “Being a CEO can be isolating, but mentorship programs like this are changing the perception of the lonely leader at the top. It’s an exciting platform and concept, and I think the supportive environment will dictate improved performance.”
Both Kadahi and Dearin have known Martinez for a while. He was selective in his choice for mentors of The Boardroom, and asked people he knew and trusted to join.
“I worked with him when he owned the Australian Poker League,” Kadahi shared. “We always had a good relationship and had talked about working together again.
“For me, I get a lot of enjoyment when someone takes my constructive advice and can implement change. It’s rewarding work. There’s satisfaction in guiding a group of people. And, I get to learn as well. It’s a two-way street.”
“I think you almost learn more from teaching than you do from being in the learning position. I think the mentors will benefit just as much as those being mentored. I wanted to get involved to share what I’ve learned. That’s what my business does, and I’ll get to take it a step further with The Boardroom.”
Not just any leader will be able to take part in The Boardroom’s mentorship programs Martinez will be focusing his efforts on companies that have gotten through the first tough years of business and are looking to take their business—and revenues—to the next level.
So what do leaders need to be able to do this?
“Patience!” Kadahi said. “They need to be adaptive and willing to empower, motivate, and lead by example.”
“It’s not easy, and there’s a lot of competition, so leaders absolutely need tenacity and the drive to succeed. Flexibility is another key, as is the ability to take and act on feedback. A little optimism doesn’t hurt either,” said Dearin.
“A lot of entrepreneurs want mentorship,” said Kadahi. “They want to be inspired and around like-minded people. Everyone needs a role model.”
When asked what spurred her interest in law, Cynthia Dearin had an unusual answer.
“All I wanted to do was become a diplomat. I was a smart aleck kid who didn’t really didn’t know what that meant, but it always shut people up when they asked.”
She came to know that the Department of Foreign Affairs hired law degrees, so the life path was set from a fairly young age. Since earning her degree, Dearin has been a political officer for Australia in Egypt, the first female CEO of Australian Arab Chamber of Commerce, and more recently the founder and CEO of Dearin & Associates.
Although she was originally nervous to be sent to a part of the world that was unfamiliar to her, she grew to love the Middle East.
“It’s easy to dislike things we don’t know,” she said. “The more you know and understand people, the more you realize they are not that different from you.”
Her experiences in the Middle East led her to write Camels, Sheikhs and Billionaires, as well as found her business. Dearin had always wanted to own her own company by 35, but she wasn’t sure what specifically the company would provide for people.
After being sent to the Middle East and learning Arabic, she ended up in London to get a master’s degree in Middle East Politics. Now, she translated all of this practical and academic experience into her business.
Dearin & Associates, an international trade consultancy, helps Australian businesses set up trade partnerships with partners in the Middle East and North Africa.
“I wanted to increase the region’s visibility,” she shared. “It’s a region that is growing economically, and there are plenty of opportunities ripe for the picking for Australian businesses.”
Most stories about dropouts don’t end well, but it does for Dorry Kadahi. Although claiming he did not have the entrepreneurial flair at the beginning of his career, he had the opportunity to change professions when he was 21 from hairdressing to sales, and he hasn’t looked back since.
“I found a passion for the industry. I was training myself, learning a lot from hands’ on experience on the job. That’s when things really changed for me.”
DKM Blue—a multi-discipline company with its hands in fashion, uniforms, marketing, and editorial production—is Kadahi’s wildly successful venture that has led him onto BRW’s Young Rich list at just 36 years old. The constant addition of new brands and brand acquisitions creates an ever-changing, always growing company that is exciting to manage.
Kadahi is also an accomplished writer—his novel Power to Act was published in 2010. The book is part autobiography, part educational and advice book for people looking to be inspired.
“I’ve always enjoyed inspiring and mentoring people and giving advice. I think I have an inspiring story—I went from nothing to something. I wanted to show people that they didn’t need a degree or formal education to succeed. I’ve had a lot of mentors and a lot of inspiration in my own life, and this book has allowed me to pass it down.”