Dorry Kordahi: Entrepreneur, Author, Co-Founder of DKM Blue

Dorry Kordahi founded Dorry Kordahi Management in late 2002 while still in his mid-twenties. Within a few years it was turning more than $3million a year and Dorry had the look of being on a path toward great opportunity.

DKM is now listed as number 20 of the Top 100 in BRW’s Fast Starter in Australia. More recently Dorry has been successful as one of the Top 4 Eastern Region Finalists in the Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year. This award being recognized as the world’s leading business award.

Dorry’s appetite for success has seen him profiled by Marketing Magazine in a series of 5 best marketers in Australia. He has also launched the industry’s first magazine focusing on brand values with a circulation of 30,000. It is aptly named Branded.

Dorry spent five years learning the trade before he decided to break away on his own. As he put it, he had nothing but experience. No money, no education, no backers, no clients. It was a life defining decision; failure was never an option. The stakes were high for the next decision; exactly what would his own business look like?

Dorry headed off to find his answers. He left on a 10-week journey to Europe intended as his personal mind mapping session. The trip extended to six months; determined that he would not return home until he had a clear set of ideas and plans.

His epiphany transpired and Dorry jetted back to Australia the very next day.

Today Dorry Kordahi is at the head of a thriving marketing and merchandise solutions business and continues to be a recognized professional in his field.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Determined, Hungry and Focused.

What is your life motto? Practice what you preach. If you say you’re going to go out there and do it, do it. Have the Power to Act 

When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? After working 4 years as an apprentice Hairdresser with my dad and didn’t really enjoy the path I was taking I had an opportunity at 21 to break in the merchandising industry and I sort of knew that this was the path I was going to take. I just took it with open arms and I knew I would be successful when I started.  There were a lot of ups and downs, a lot of hard work, a lot of tough challenges, a lot of decisions I made which at the time were life decisions. I had a goal and I stuck at it which paid off.

How much time and effort did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? 24/7. Whether I was at work or out with friends I was always thinking about the business, visualising was a big part of my success. I always role played situations in my head whether they were good or bad, I had a plan and an answer for it mentally. At times dreaming the dream is more fun than living it, so be ready what you wish for.

What are the challenges in your line of work? The biggest challenges we all face as business people is time management. I’m fortunate enough that this is one area I was always good at, because I started my business at a young age and did most of it on my own, it taught me all aspects of the business and how to handle situations. Staff is another challenge. Being able to adapt to 20 personalities and understand that everyone in life doesn’t want to same end result, so reading staff and their wants is something that is important.

What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? In all honesty I’ve made mistakes, but they’ve been calculated mistakes, they haven’t have cost me a lot of money or made me go backwards 10 steps. A lot of the mistakes I learnt in my previous company. In my eyes I felt they were making a lot of mistakes, but I think in their eyes they weren’t – and that’s the way my mind ticks. Looking for ways of how you’re doing it and making it better. I think any small mistake you do is going to benefit you in the long term. I’ve always learnt to look at other people’s mistakes and try not to replicate them myself. 

What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? I haven’t really had any hardcore advice where I’ve sat down with someone, but I’ve picked a lot of brains. I’m very, very observant and analysing what people are doing, they will be teaching me without them knowing; I would ask a lot of questions and listen. I would spend a lot of time with people older than me and in higher positions when I was younger; to me this was all part of learning and exposing myself to bigger things in life. 

In your mind, is formal training essential? No, not really. I’ve proven that it’s not because I’m far from it. I think that business comes down to common sense. I think working in the field is the best form of education you’re going to get and I think if you’re going to go out and start a company, know you’re industry, understand the industry. On the job training is the best learning you’re going to get. 

Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? I definitely think its good, especially if you can be mentored by someone who has gone through the whole business cycle of starting and building a successful business. There is a wealth of knowledge that can be learnt. Going back 10 years ago, I don’t think mentoring was really exposed to what it is now. There is a need for mentoring now more than ever. There are a lot of young Entrepreneurs going into business on their own and a lot of people are just diving into business without knowing what they’re diving into. So I think if you can get some advice and experience from someone that has done it, I think it’s a wise move.

What are some steps those starting out can take to start/further their career? I would suggest educating yourself within the industry you are going into it. Don’t just jump into it and hope you will swim. There are a lot of companies that fail that you wouldn’t know of, you only hear the ones that succeed, so don’t be fooled. If you are going to university to study back it up with field experience. This will give you the experience you need to be successful. Have a clear direction for your business and manage your cash flow. If you can’t afford it then don’t do it. Business is about building blocks and the most important block is the foundation, so focus on the first step not the 10th. 

What kept you going when you weren’t at your best? The fear of failure. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t have anything to fall back on. Hairdressing wasn’t an option. Going back and working for my cousins wasn’t an option. Even now I don’t feel like I’ve made it. I can’t sit back; people will bypass me. 

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? I always think about this and ask myself the same question. If I was born into a different family, born into a different environment…would I be in the same position? Then again you hear stories about people that are born in under privileged situations and become successful because they are determined and hungry. If it’s part of your character build, you’ll find a way no matter what environment you’re in. So yes and no. I don’t think I was lucky, I think I was fortunate to be given an opportunity at 21 and I took it. I played professionally overseas in basketball for a short stint. I knew that if I continued playing the sport I wouldn’t have had the success to date. I thought with my head not my heart; if I was going to ‘make it’ I was going to have to go down this path. So it’s a combination of a lot of things: getting a lucky break and knowing what to do with it.

Buy Dorry’s Book: Power to Act

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