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40 Under 40 - Class of 2019
Business Observer Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 7 months ago

Dori Marlin, 39

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Founder, Marlin Media & Consulting
by: Brian Hartz Tampa Bay Editor

Dori Marlin would like the world to know that, yes, “Dori Marlin” is her real, given name. “I was here long before the movie ‘Finding Nemo,’” she says with a laugh.

According to Jewish tradition, she says, it’s customary to give a child a name starting with the first letter of a deceased family member’s name. In Marlin's case, she’s named after her great-grandmother, Dora.

“So creative!” she says, still laughing. “They changed just one letter. Growing up, I hated the name. But now there’s the fish, Dory, and suddenly it’s cool. Maybe it’s not so bad. It just took me a while to grow into it and appreciate it.”

Marlin’s career has grown and evolved in ways she never expected, just like she grew into her name. After earning a bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from the University of Florida, she went into the TV news business and worked in regional New York markets Albany and Schenectady, as well as in Dothan, Ala. And yes, she says, there’s more than a kernel of truth in Will Ferrell’s notorious Ron Burgundy character from the “Anchorman” movies.

“There are some people who … they fit the profile,” she says. “And I feel like I was not that way at all.”

Broadcast journalism was a grind, she says, with many long days, late nights and lost weekends. With that in the background, it was the 2012 Newtown, Conn., school shooting — a tragedy Marlin covered — that drove her out of the TV news business. "That business desensitizes people," she says. "My producer said I was never the same after [Newtown]."

After relocating to Tampa and dabbling in newspaper advertising sales for about three years, Marlin recently went out on her own to launch Marlin Media & Consulting, a boutique marketing and public relations agency. Clients so far include attorneys, law firms and other businesses. 

Her new entrepreneurial path, of course, comes with challenges of a different type.

“You go from everybody wanting to get your phone calls to everybody dodging your phone calls,” she says. “But I think that being able to take that leap and start this thing on my own has been a huge accomplishment that I’m really proud of.”

 

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