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March 16, 2022 26 mins
 

In this episode host Dustin Plantholt speaks to Chinwe Esimai about her new book, Brilliance Beyond Borders: Remarkable Women Leaders Share the Power of Immigrace (a word she coined to represent an immigrant’s expression of her highest purpose and potential). Much like the women she profiles, Chinwe too is a trailblazer in her field who immigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria as a teenager.  

Growing up outside of the culture allows immigrants to bring a fresh perspective to whatever they do. Talk around the dinner table in Nigeria was centered on world events and she began to ponder and discuss how to make the world a better place. Her journey to become the managing director and chief anti-bribery officer at Citigroup, Inc., the first person to hold this title in the bank’s history, is an inspiring one to say the least. 

One strategy Chinwe uses to excel in her own life is to not focus on the borders, any potential barrier to moving forward. Although immigrants' cross physical borders, there are other borders that can be impediments to success, including the ones we impose on ourselves. By shining a light on immigrant women who have honed the traits that shaped their success, she hopes to spread the message that we all possess a unique genius and can create incredible legacies. 

Prior to joining Citigroup Chinwe spent five years at Goldman Sachs in various regulatory risk-management roles and served as a law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. She was fortunate to have mentors who helped to build her confidence so that when the time came, she could step into a new role that, in many ways, was meant for her, even though she was taking a risk. “Readiness doesn’t mean you have all the answers. There will still be challenges when you step into it.” 

What does it take, specifically for immigrant women, to go from surviving to thriving? Oddly, failure is an essential ingredient to their success. Many immigrant women have faced trauma, but the ones who move forward seem to use any rejection they face as a call to action. Other ingredients include… 

(1) The ability to go within and be thoughtful about what you are uniquely suited to do. What frustrates you? Where are you passionately curious? Begin with reflection and determine to honor your unique talents and gifts.  

(2) Commitment to innovate over time. Learn to pivot and seize opportunities that come your way.  

(3) Take ownership of your decisions. Some people want mentors to feed them answers. Keep in mind a mentor doesn’t have to be someone like you—have the same gender or lifestyle. 

“The journey of life is about growth. It’s about ongoing examination, reexamination…honoring and finding the time and space to listen to that inner voice,” adds Chinwe. 

Her mission in writing the book is to democratize genius because we are all geniuses. Each section of the book concludes with a step-by-step guide to help readers achieve to their own extraordinary results, as well as an Immigrace Journal, a guide on how to serve the world and build a remarkable legacy. 

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