Dr Linah Joudeh, the 316th person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, has been defined by the power of problems.

Linah has had some big problems to overcome during her life, but has always chosen to grow up rather than give up.

While Linah was in her early twenties, and living in Jordan, she was too broke to afford hospital care for her newborn baby. It made her determined to become financially successful, so she’d never be in that position again. 

Several years later, having moved to Australia, she failed an exam – not once but four times – to become accredited as an Australian dentist (having already completed a dental degree in Jordan). These were painful blows, because not only do you not receive feedback about why you failed, you also have to wait another year to retake the exam. Rather than abandon her dream of practising dentistry in Australia, Linah kept studying and passed the exam after four years of trying. 

Those extra years of study turned out to be a happy accident: Linah began tutoring other overseas dental students in the subjects in which she’d already passed. That side hustle grew and grew, until, in 2018, Linah rented premises and turned her coaching company, E-Denta, into a fully fledged business. The rapid growth continued – but when the pandemic arrived in 2020, the training centre had to close and the business appeared doomed. In response, Linah quickly pivoted to online training, which meant that 2020 ended up being a  year of growth for E-Denta where she tripled her revenues and grew the team from herself and husband only to over 10 team members. 

Linah is a confident, determined entrepreneur with big dreams. She’s about to open a dental clinic alongside her training centre. She’s planning to become a mentor and motivational speaker, so she can show immigrants and people from challenged backgrounds how to recognise the power of problems – to use setbacks as a reason to get up rather than give up. And she’s in the process of writing a book, ‘The Power of Problems’, which she’s aiming to complete by the end of the year. 

One thing I loved about Linah was her strong mindset. She’s convinced she has total control of her destiny and that she can find solutions for whatever problems she encounters. That doesn’t mean she’s immune to self-pity or self-doubt; it just means she’s able to ignore those thoughts and find a way to succeed regardless.