Emad Rahim’s story is that of survival against incredible odds. He had to overcome numerous challenges to achieve the success he is enjoying today. Emad Rahim was born in a concentration camp in the killing fields of Cambodia. On the day when he was born, his father was being tortured. Rahim’s father was later executed. His older brother died of starvation and illness. He is the last of his father’s bloodline.
Emad did not know any of these things growing up. He had never wanted to know his history until 2008 when he found information about his roots during a project he was undertaking. He thinks this discovery would have probably destroyed him if he had found out during his teenage years. He is thankful this information got to him in the right time and made him stronger and revitalized his resolve to succeed. He says he realized he needed to succeed and make his father proud.
Emad grew up in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York in the 80s when the area was full of gangs and drug dealing. His family moved out of the area after he got shot being at the wrong place at the wrong time. For him, this was a blessing in disguise: it gave him a chance to live a different life and even pursue college education, something no one in the neighborhood had done.
Emad says he watched some of his friends have kids at a very young age, others imprisoned and even others die in gang violence. This made him yearn for a better life. He did not want to end up like his friends. This motivated him to focus on school. Consequently, his graduation from high school was a great self-esteem booster and it made him want to go to college and pursue further education.
He says he discovered he was dyslexic and ended up going to a community college where he struggled through learning. He would later find educational programs designed for people with difficulty in learning. He joined Empire State College where he says he accelerated and matured in that environment.
Emad Rahim is an entrepreneur, a business leader and an associate professor and program director at Bellevue University. He says he went from hating education and barely graduating high school to earning his doctorate, something he never thought he could ever achieve. Today, Rahim is celebrated for his exceptional talent for making swift assessments of businesses in varied operational challenges.
At 24, he started a non-profit organization after getting frustrated working at another non-profit where his idea to use corporate methodologies to improve their bottom line was ignored. He could now implement the ideas he had tried to sell to his seniors in the other organization. His non-profit, Human Service Association soon grew and turned into a full profit.
Resilience: From the Killing Fields to the Boardroom is the title of Rahim’s upcoming book. He expects the book to be released in January 2015. The book is a motivation booster. It is taking bits of his story and tying them to his survival, his adapting, his leadership philosophy and the transformation his story and experiences can bring – SALT (Survival, Adapting, Leadership and Transformation). The target audience for the book is young people fresh out of college, mid-level managers in need of motivation and community leaders trying to figure out a way to move forward from a place of frustration. He hopes leaders can use examples and experiences outlined in his book to become better leaders.
Speaking on education, Rahim says today there are very many ways of learning that you need not go through the educational system in the traditional sense of the phrase to achieve learning. The options for learning are numerous and anyone can find the type of classroom that can accommodate their learning abilities and personality. He believes if he succeeded, no one is an exception.
“You don’t have to go to college to be successful. College is not for everyone. But you should have a game plan. There should be an end goal. You should be motivated to do something different,” he says.
Emad describes success as facing challenges, overcoming them and reflecting for satisfaction and happiness. In the next five years, he hopes to give more and connect with more people. He also hopes to grow his net worth and help shape the lives of young people. He says he would want to help young people identify mentors and be mentors themselves.
His advice to the younger generation in their pursuit of success: “The main thing is to step outside our comfort zone… we have to start building a network with people that don’t look like us, that don’t come from our neighborhood.”
Emad is a Muslim so he prays five times a day. He tries to eat healthy and he works out at least an hour a day. He says when he is frustrated and upset at the world, he spends time with his two daughters. “Sometimes in order to refresh we have to get outside of the business way of thinking. We have to step outside of that and do something totally different.”
He says the key to balancing a busy career and family is to make sure you include your family in your schedule. Rahim says he includes his wife in the things he is doing and avails himself to support her in what she is doing. He also makes sure he is communicating and trying to involve people in his circles to help him manage his time.
It is quite easy to get in touch with Emad. He is on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. He says he is very approachable and will respond to someone who sends him a tweet.
In conclusion, Emad says, “Regardless of all of our challenges in life… we can’t constantly think about the past, we can’t change the past, but we can look at how the past shaped us as a person, how it impacted us as a person, how it changed us for the better. It made us think different, it made us act different. And if we can do that and appreciate that and kind of look forward on how to take advantage of those …experiences we will become a better person.”