7 Frequently Asked Questions with Fiona Citkin
1. Why did you focus on prominent immigrant women when writing a book about success in America?
F.C. : First, I’ve always been fascinated by women, the “fair sex.” All very successful women are alike, in that they are happy. Each of less successful women is, typically, unhappy with her jammed potential, the only thing that makes women feel fulfilled—apart from a fleeting orgasm. So I set out to do something to help all women be happy.
Second, they belong to a special subset of the American women who had never before been viewed as a group—and I found it interesting as well as challenging.
Third, I am one of them, if not too prominent. Yet, we’re social twins, albeit not identical but fraternal, wearing different cultural make-ups but possessing a common denominator – the need to integrate into the all-American culture, a daunting task.
2. What is a “success value?”
F.C. : Success value is a background strategy for success—an imperative that guides us like a built-in GPS, helping to reach the destination named “Success”. This value, or strategy for success, is different from a “recipe” which is the focus of many self-help and leadership books. Such recipes alone are not enough for success: we need the background values contributing to a foundation for success, something that all big achievers have.
3. What is your favorite success value?
F.C. : It is "Cultivate Character-Building." I made it Number One for a reason: it always worked for me and it appeared to be paramount for all successful women I interviewed. Growing professionally and developing their own character traits to suit the new cultural environment was their common denominator that helped advance success.
So I elaborated the success stories to show that character-building can contribute a great deal to your success – although there’s no elevator to this high floor and you have to take the stairs! And I showed how.
4. What inspired you to do research and work on this book?
F.C. : As a professional educator, to learn and share my learnings is in my calling. I learned first-hand—the hard way—what it takes to start from scratch and succeed in America. And I was inspired to learn more from other successful immigrant women who wanted to help those who come to America after us. It’s a huge goal.
Now that the book’s written, I’d like the readers to use this shared knowledge and tips to their best advantage: map out their opportunities; persist in tapping into their passion; find others with shared values; and become an American achiever despite all odds. Today I make it my business to help people implement it – and this is my new inspiration.
5. Why do you use the case studies of American success?
F.C. : I wanted to drill down the particular "success values: and their how-to—illustrating how our book subjects arrived at the particular achievement or trait. The case-studies are existing solutions of the real-world issues, taken from experiences of 18 American achievers. They also provide more food for thought, each calling attention to one possible way of solving issues.
6. What do you want people to take away from Achievers?
F.C. : I’d like them to see that today knowledge is real power, the power which controls access to opportunity and advancement. And I want people to take action fearlessly—and be a success using some shortcuts from this book. I want them to use the door I’ve opened, but remember they enter by themselves.
7. How did you come from your “Transformational Diversity” book to writing success stories of American immigrant women?
F.C. : A forever-immigrant, today I feel fairly deeply-rooted in America but not so much as to forget where I came from. “Transformational Diversity: Why and How Intercultural Competencies Can Help Organizations to Survive and Thrive,” brought me broad professional recognition. It feels good to be internationally recognized for re-inventing myself under different circumstances—which translated into an ability to consult others and put thoughts to paper – in blogs and books.
But I also came to understand what people need most to succeed in terms of developing special skills—and how much thornier this path can be for a woman, especially an immigrant woman. So I decided to put this knowledge to use and help others define their best options to evolving life-work issues—learnings from the best role models available in America.