Business Minded

Vanessa Denha-Garmo

Vanessa Denha-Garmo

It is one of my favorite breakfast meals: Tahin and Silan (sesame butter and date syrup) on whole grain bread.

The Denha family was known in Iraq as makers of Tahin or as it is known in America as Tahini. I grew up with jars of it always in the house. It was my father, Sabri Denha’s, staple Lenten meal.

This month, writer Ashourina Slewo writes the cover story on another family – a - five generation tahin making family. Their business and story take readers from Iraq to America and from America back to Iraq. She visited the plant in Madison Heights and saw the grinding up close. From the sesame fruit in the fields to sesame seeds in the factory, Ashourina shares the narrative of this family business.

There really is an art to being an entrepreneur. I know it’s in our blood as Chaldeans but I would have benefited from a business degree now that I own a business and so does my husband. I remember when I decided to go back for my Master’s Degree, my then boss, Bob Ficano actually told me I should get an MBA instead of a MA in Communications. He said it would better serve me. Probably the best suggestion he ever made to me in the seven years I worked for Wayne County. I didn’t heed the advice, however.

I earned a MA in Communications with a Christian perspective. I don’t regret it but I do believe a business background would have helped. Both hubby and I made mistakes along the way and learned things the hard way. Some business lessons I did learn was by having worked for very successful business people such as John Jonna. He will always be my favorite boss next to my dad but beating me out on the list as my own boss. He is not only very insightful but funny and armed with fun facts that he dishes out regularly. I worked for John in the 90s while attending Wayne State University studying journalism. John co-owned the Merchant of Vino.

The last conversation I had with him was last month for the article I penned for this issue and I, of course, laughed a few times and he said, “see Vanessa I made you laugh. I just added time to your life. Do you know every time a person laughs, it adds time to his life?”

One Christmas I wrote John Jonna’s Top Ten Sayings and had it laminated and Framed. I wonder if he still has it. I should have asked.

My mind is not naturally focused on business.

I am very much media minded. I wrote a presentation on that subject and often consult clients on the industry but one thing I have not been in my career is business minded. Since venturing on my own, I have become an avid business reader. I read business books, articles and publications. The information has been helpful. I have consumed material on investments and business plans. I also talk to people who are business savvy. My sister-in-law Rita has served as a sounding board as she and her husband Mark have built a very successful and reputable landscaping and snow removal business called Outdoor Accents.

I feel fortunate to have interviewed so many people who have created and operated successful businesses. I have learned a great deal from every story. We also started a yearly Entrepreneur Forum as part of our Chaldean News events and all the panelist have shared a wealth of information. We are excited to organize another panel this year. Our event is on November 13 at Shenandoah Country Club. You may be naturally business minded but we all can learn from each other. We hope you can join us.

Alaha Imid Koullen
(God Be With Us All)
Vanessa Denha-Garmo
Follow her on Twitter @vanessadenha
Follow Chaldean News on Twitter @chaldeannews