Nina Godiwalla on Building Family Bonds in an Immigrant Community

In Chapter 1 of 18 in her 2013 Capture Your Flag interview, author and entrepreneur Nina Godiwalla answers "What Childhood Experiences Have Been Most Fundamental in Shaping Who You Are Today?" Godiwalla shares why she valued her experience being raised in a close knit Persian Indian immigrant community in Houston. She details how it informed her and her husband's decision to raise their two children in that same community. Nina Godiwalla is an expert on diversity, leadership and women in the business world. She is CEO of Mindworks, which provides leadership, stress management, and diversity training to companies all over the world. She is also a bestselling author and public speaker. Godiwalla earned an MBA from Wharton, a MA from Dartmouth and a BBA from the University of Texas.


Erik Michielsen: What childhood experiences have been most fundamental in shaping who you are today?

Nina Godiwalla: I grew up in a Persian-Indian immigrant community. I really got this sense of community from being in that sort of environment, and, to me, now I have my own family. There are all these elements of community which I took for granted growing up, to me that was normal. My parents took us out for New Year’s, I was always with my family for our weekly events. It was much less just our family time, and everything revolved around our community, whether it was for a big event or for every single weekend, we were with our people in our community. So I think that sort of element has been incredibly impactful because I constantly feel like I have to create a sense of community for my family now when I think about what has had such an impact, and it’s interesting because my husband grew up in a completely different community but it was very much that way too, that they were part of a small community that they were always getting together, and so I think because we grew up in these communities, we both feel that, and it’s interesting because I don’t feel a lot of my other friends sincerely feel that way, and I think, partly, it may be because we’re both from different immigrant communities. I’m not sure if that is part of it, but it definitely—it informs so much of what I do now within my family life. It does inform my professional life as well.

Erik Michielsen: In what ways?

Nina Godiwalla: Well, I think, professionally, so much of what I determined what I would do when I was growing up, what I determined what I would major in, so much of what I was exposed to, from my entire growing up, like the first 18 years, was so much through that community, (chuckles) and so I think it informs all these choices you’re making at such critical times. What am I interested in? What are my interests? Who do I wanna be like? Who are my role models? All gets informed by this community, and you got your parents in this community, and so that was a lot of it, a lot of it was around that.