Ali Ashour has a passion for mental health and community outreach, and he channeled that passion to found Hand of Mercy Health Care. Born in Iraq in 1989, he and his family fled first to Syria, then to the U.S. after losing his father and uncle in the Iraq War at the age of fifteen. He completed high school in Virginia, then studied Robotics and Automation Engineering before moving to Maine in 2014 to pursue a degree in Psychology. Choosing to work to support his family alongside his studies, he found his first job in the field in 2016 as a language interpreter. He became a case manager in 2017 and held both careers until he founded Hand of Mercy Health Care in 2019.
With Hand of Mercy, Ali Ashour strives to provide superior mental health services to as many clients as possible while creating a better and more supportive work environment for his employees. Hand of Mercy Health Care now has over one-hundred and fifty clients and eighteen employees, with further hiring underway.
Where did the idea for Hand of Mercy come from?
The idea for Hand of Mercy came from the efforts to give back to the community and the need to help each other. Coming up with the name Hand of Mercy reflects what we are trying to do. In general, I see Hand of Mercy as a reflection of myself.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I get up in the morning, and the first thing I need to do is drive my younger siblings to school. Then, after breakfast, I get into my office and connect with my employees and clients. I’m in the office from nine to five but continue working to confirm the process, and the documentation is analyzed thoroughly. I make sure my employees get the IT support they need. I handle phone calls with other organizations that have questions or who would send us referrals. I interview new hires, and I train new employees as well.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When I have an idea, I take the time to research it first. I try to read more about people who have done similar things to what I’m thinking, and I look for the benefits and the risks of that idea. If my research leads me to believe that idea would be helpful in what we’re working on, I then turn it into either a policy or a document that is able to be applied.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Success, achieving my goals. When I put my effort into something, and I see good results, that excites me.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m not practicing many habits, in particular, these days. I give all of my time to work. I’ve put all of my customs, hobbies, and activities aside, and I’ve just been working.
That said, I do manage to work out sometimes working out and eating healthy help. I have a shoulder injury from 2018 that I’m still recovering from limits my ability to work out. Sometimes when I work out, I have to stop early and consult with my doctors. But staying active and eating healthy are invaluable habits to maintain, even with a busy lifestyle.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self not to waste time. Time is so precious – far too precious to waste.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
That an unforgiving work routine will not guarantee enhanced productivity. A lot of business owners are under the assumption that one must maximize every moment of their day. In reality, an overbearing work schedule leads to exhaustion and burnout. I recommend setting small achievable goals and taking it one day at a time.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Always look for ways to improve. As much as I’ve improved myself over the years, I’m never satisfied. Self-improvement is a continuing process.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Make sure you’re consistently correcting, or even better, preventing mistakes. Work to improve the processes of everything that you do. Be proactive in searching for solutions to any problems you might have.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I try to hire people with higher education and with better experience and skills. But this is a new business, and people tend not to trust new agencies even when you’re doing the right thing and providing better service and better employment conditions than the older agencies. I overcome that by providing higher pay and a higher quality of employment and looking for people who seek these sorts of better opportunities – people who want to be successful – I try to convince them that Hand of Mercy is the place to do it.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Always strive for the highest standard of ethics. I believe that if you have solid ethics, you’ll be more successful.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
As a business owner, I spend a lot of money every week on the business. I think the best money I spend is when I go downtown and give to the homeless. The best money I spend is money that helps the community directly. I’m helping people find their way out of the cold, and the look on their faces makes my day.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
In general, using electronic tools and software is very helpful. I find Adobe Acrobat to be one of the most useful pieces of software we use for completing and signing documents.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“How to Be a Great Boss” by Gino Wickman. The book provides some compelling insight when it comes to enhancing productivity and creating a positive work culture.
What is your favorite quote?
“No Pain, No Gain.”
You cannot gain without pain. But that quote doesn’t mean that the pain has to be physical pain or emotional pain. The pain is the effort.
- Take the time and effort needed to fully understand your ideas before you commit to them.
- Stay active and eat healthy.
- Never stop working to improve yourself.
- An ethical business is more likely to be a successful business.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.