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Ali Borhani’s journey, which began in Persia, has been one of many successes and a few failures. It has seen him travel across the globe, work at the most junior positions within start ups and multinational corporations to becoming the Head of Corporate Strategy and Business Development for Middle East and Africa within Bosch and Siemens. Over 2 years ago, however, Ali realised that he was ‘unhirable’, he listened to his gut, surrounded himself with mentors and advisors and took the entrepreneurial plunge. In 2010 he launched his own strategy advisory firm called Incubeemea, out of Dubai, and ‘hasn’t looked back since’.
Ali has personally experienced the value of having mentors by his side throughout his life, starting with his parents, and began mentoring others from an early age – it is in his nature to see and bring out the best in people. As an engaged and passionate Canadian, when he lived in Toronto, he collaborated with the Maytree Foundation and the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) as a mentor and worked with people who were newcomers to Canada to help them successfully integrate into the society.
As he was planning and getting prepared for his entrepreneurial leap, Ali attended a workshop in Dubai, which was led by Tony Bury, Mowgli’s Founder. Inspired by what he heard and experienced, Ali remembered Khalil Gibran’s quote, “I slept and I dreamed that life is all joy. I woke and I saw that life is all service. I served and I saw that service is joy,” and realised that it was time for him to formally ‘give, support and assist someone going through one of these tough, yet rewarding, journeys’. He also secretly knew that he would benefit immensely from the process.
He was not wrong. In 2012, Ali joined the Mowgli Mentoring Experience (MME) program that was held in Lebanon and sponsored by Anima Investment Network. Within the 3-day Kickstart Workshop that begins all of our yearlong mentoring relationships, Ali thoroughly enjoyed the intense level of bonding that took place and said that the relationships he had made was like ‘a compressed pack of deep high school friendships’. However, the highlight was meeting and being matched with Evelyne (Eva) Turk. He often reflects on the ‘unique human-centric matching methodology and process’ that the Mowgli facilitators use and marvels at how the ‘matching was spot on!’
Since they have begun working together, Ali and Eva’s relationship has grown from strength to strength and he is so proud of her as well as her achievements and accomplishment. When asked what he believes are the reasons why the relationship has been so successful, he says, ‘it is because it is highly trust-centric, its an open and honest exchange and not a top down monologue, so there is no patronizing or preaching, but the exchange is based upon listening, questioning and provoking. In addition, its mutually beneficial and most of all, enjoyable! Its enjoyable to spend time with her but there is also a sense of joy in seeing that is discussed, implemented and that there is a sense of self-measurement and accountability in place.’
He feels that ‘mentoring is like watching a movie. You have the privilege of watching, rewinding and sometimes, through your questions and recommendations, fast-forwarding. You are able to take an objective view and detect where they are going, before they do and help them to see what needs to be in place to make the journey smoother’.
When asked what impact he thinks he his support has had on Eva, he stated that he has ‘tried to be, an accelerator and an airbag; I try to accelerate the speed of progress but also assure her that she has the necessary protection mechanisms around her at the same time. The dynamics that this creates has had an substantial impact on the way that she has structured and governs the business, including the establishment of an Advisory Board, as well as enabling her to formulate, examine and execute new business processes and models, on her own and with confidence.’
On the personal side of things, he has encouraged her to have regular ‘Eva Days’, which is a time to reflect, relax and maintain perspective. He tries to remind her to have balance and to remember the importance of life, of enjoying life and not to not get overwhelmed with all that is in front of her.
When Ali set out on his journey as a mentor, he believed that he would also benefit from the experience, and again he was not wrong. When asked what benefits he has personally experienced as a Mowgli Mentor, he says that ‘it has allowed me to also grow. After every call with Eva I feel richer and re-energised. She continuously teaches me balance, resilience, passion and determination and during each of our calls and meetings, I feel that the art of deep listening is constantly being refined and recalibrated. I know my wife is happy about this!’
Today Ali has 4 mentors, his parents and two business friends who he says act very differently; ‘one acts as a sail and the other as an anchor. My sail mentor constantly shows and helps me to embark on new journeys and to explore and shape new opportunities. My anchor mentor reminds me not to stray too far and not to stretch without consideration.’
When asked what advice he would give to people wondering whether or not they could be a Mowgli mentor, he said ‘take the plunge and rest assure that it is a transformational experience. You rarely have the ability or opportunity to bring your best knowledge, care and attention to a 100% pro bono relationship whilst remaining fully dedicated, honest, effective and of service to the other party in this day and age. It is an unbeatable sentiment that is truly humbling’.
‘Mowgli really is the: Most Original Way of Giving, Learning and Inspiring!