Princess Dhladhla’s story. A story as rich as full-roast coffee.

Mentee Nkosazana Dhladhla from Rustenberg was rudderless and really in need of a mentor to help bring her coffee shop dream to life. Ian Fuhr provided the guidance, and gave her tips on how to be a servant leader.

This is how it all began: Three years ago, I resigned from my job as an insurance sales consultant. I have always wanted to run my own business, but I didn’t realise how challenging it would be to embark on this journey alone.

Last year, I started selling organic coffee in Rustenburg. I was so passionate about selling it, but I had no direction, no plan nor sense of purpose.

And then I found Ian Fuhr through The Mentorship Challenge. Meeting him was like a dream! He arrived in my life just in time – when I felt I just could not continue, because I knew I was getting lost.

We are still in our early days of mentorship, but our very first session gave me so much to think about. I am so grateful I met him! We started communicating initially through email, and then had our first session on Skype. He gave me ‘homework’ (research!) to do, which I emailed back.

He is accessible and a true mentor – one I could never have imagined in my life!

I know I’m a changed human being. I now know the things I need to overcome first, as a person, in order to grow – those paradigms and stereotypes that had been built up in me by my environment, family, and society. One must overcome those blockages in order to become an exceptional human being and earn the moral authority to lead. I didn’t know all this, and it is all thanks to Ian.

I was ready to give up on my journey, because it has not been easy coming from an underprivileged background. And I was always the odd one out in a family who is mad about business! It has been tough, but my mentor is like a mirror: I can now see my mistakes as a leader, and I now fully understand the importance of servant leadership, and putting the needs of my customers first, instead of my own interests.

I’m in the process of opening my coffee shop in Rustenburg, since we do not have one in my area. We are still in the construction phase of our website – here it is; you can check it out on www.beancafe.co.za.

I am so incredibly grateful to The Mentorship Challenge. It has ignited a fire in me! Thank you so much for the life-changing work you are doing for us. I hope others can join the challenge in order to move forward in their own journeys.

Princess (Nkosazana) Dhladhla

Ten take-outs from Princess’s tale

1. Be open and willing to challenge your own assumptions, prejudices and habits. If you’re not open to change, nothing will change.

2. Be willing to take risks and follow new paths. If you’re risk-averse, you may get stuck.

3. Take a long hard look at your own locale – your local area, your ‘hood’. Identify a gap in the market in that area, and develop a service or product to plug that gap.

4. Understand what leadership means – it’s a contract you make to take care of your employees and customers, before you take care of yourself.

5. Don’t be afraid of failure – it’s the greatest teacher.

6. Always be humble and grateful, and express your gratitude – these are qualities that will serve you well.

7. Pace yourself – don’t go too big too fast. You want to create something sustainable and valuable, and that takes time and self-discipline.

8. Never be afraid to ask for help, and don’t be surprised when it comes from unexpected quarters.

9. Try to give back – if you’ve received the support and wisdom of a mentor, try to pay that forward in the future.

10. Never become complacent – always be willing to innovate and experiment.

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