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I don't believe in failures!

Washington's Women Weekly

Women On Top Interview
Updated Monday, June 20th, 2011
Svetlana Kim

Svetlana (Lana) Kim reminds us that pursuing our dreams remains our most powerful path to success. Lana’s unlikely path takes her as a political refugee from Leningrad to Wall Street and beyond. Today, Lana is an accomplished author, successful businesswoman and active community advocate.

1. Your book, White Pearl & I, describes your journey as a political refugee from Russia to the United States in 1991 with only a dollar in your pocket and speaking not a word of English. However, this is not a book of ruthless overachievement. It is one of hope, optimism and gratitude combined with perseverance, hard work and faith. What guided you from Leningrad to a lone bus stop in NYC to where you are today?
I naturally, and sub-consciously, tuned into the “source”, a higher power, my higher power. All I knew was to have faith. Every single pearl evolves from a central core. The core is an irritant, often a grain of sand. To protect itself, it secretes layers of nacre, which forms a beautiful pearl. Even with difficult events in life, I learned to embrace those challenges and learn from them. I don’t believe in failures. They do not exist in my world. Negative results are still results because you learn from your mistakes. Whatever situation, pleasant or unpleasant, you do your best. I would describe it as understanding and accepting your challenges without rejecting them. Learn from them and move forward.

2. You have also referred to positive and negative energies. How do you use these energies to your benefit?
Yes, I believe in both positive and negative energy – and I respect both. If everything comes your way, you’ll have no reason to challenge yourself, to learn and grow. In order to reach success, we need to connect to the source. The universe will put you in the right place, with the right people, at the right time. You don’t need to worry about it. Everyday I say, “I, Svetlana Kim, will connect to my source all day with grace and gratitude.” Whenever I feel anger, resentment, jealousy, I stop and connect with my source. That is my GPS. It takes a lot of exercise just like physical exercise.

3. As you were developing your career, you built an amazing “network.” How do you describe effective networking from your experience?
When there is the chemistry. When you meet someone and there is a positive reaction . . . that is chemistry. The relationship grows naturally over time. It’s like dating. When you find someone who connects with you, you know it. It’s not about collecting business cards but it’s nurturing the relationship and building a friendship. I’ve realized that building a network is not building a scorecard. It’s not who you know but who knows you and that is developed through authenticity and sincerity.

4. There’s a chapter in your book entitled,“Finding a Female Mentor.” What is your definition of a valuable mentor?
A mentor is not one who simply passes along her contact list. A mentor is someone who is interested in developing you professionally, as well as personally. It must be an open and honest relationship with sincere feedback. I read about other women and their accomplishments or may meet them at a conference. I approach them to learn more about them. I observe their body language and how they communicate. If there is chemistry and connection, I may ask them to be my mentor. The mentorship often grows by itself. That’s how it works for me.

5. How did you take a seemingly impossible dream and make it a reality?
It’s a mental commitment, an absolute desire. It’s learning to replace fear with faith. One moment leads to another and there were seconds that seemed like years. I realized that I needed to take life seriously. There was this voice that said, “No kidding kid, life is serious.” Now, I recognize that to have a vision is to have images of dreams. I shift the consciousness in my mind.

6. Your grandmother, White Pearl, passed along many “pearls of wisdom.” From your book, and I’ll quote, “Life’s interesting, my darling. Never, never give up your dreams, even if they seem impossible. Always have faith. Give what you want to receive. There’s no end in our life – an end is only the beginning of something new.” So, what’s next for Svetlana Kim?
Who knows? I stay open to receiving and giving. Life is a circle. As my grandmother said “there’s no end, only the beginning of something new.” I also keep in mind what Hillary Clinton said, “The 21st Century is the Woman’s Century.”

With a wink and a smile from Lana, the interview is complete.

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