The biggest fear for Mario Bekes when he first went into business was calling potential clients. Not because he feared the word ‘No’ or getting a knock-back, but because he feared they wouldn’t understand him.
As Mario recalls, “English was my fifth language at that stage and mine simply wasn’t very good. On one occasion I attended a networking event and a gentleman told me bluntly I’d never be successful. When I asked him why, he said I needed a speech therapist, saying my English was so poor I’d never succeed.”
Rather than setting Mario back, that forthright comment from a man who is now a client of Mario’s, motivated him to do something quite exceptional. He decided to write a book “on Corporate Business Intelligence because that was my strength, but as much as I was writing the book I was also learning to improve my English.”
Mario proudly recounts that “I even had help from my son who would often tell me: ‘no you don’t say it that way, you say it like this’. It was my son who inspired me to write the book.” Mario self-published one hundred copies of that book and it helped launch his career.
Even in his birth country of Croatia people purchased the book and it has since sparked a passion in Mario for writing. To this day his accent is still very strong, and he can sometimes be difficult to understand in conversation but he doesn’t hide from it, instead seeing it as a badge of honour, rather than an issue.
“The Australian people have embraced me, there’s no country like Australia” Mario states. “Of course you’re always going to find the odd person who will try to sabotage you, that’s just part of life, but that just encourages me even more.”
Life today in Australia for Mario Bekes is totally unrecognisable from the life he lived in Croatia, where he was kicked out of home at the age of fourteen.