Dr. Agatha K. Rokicki Exclusive Interview – ‘In My View, True Success Is Not A Singular Achievement But A Dynamic State’


Dr. Agatha K. was recently interviewed by RootsAndRoutesMag.com and below is the Q&A session we had with her.

Dr. Agatha K. As Cover Story – January 2024 Edition

Could you provide a brief summary of yourself, including your background, interests, and any significant life experiences?

I am a dedicated social entrepreneur deeply immersed in transformative projects that blend innovation, strategic leadership, and positive change. Guided by executive ethical leadership, I navigate the intersection of business and purpose to create a lasting impact aligned with my values. My leadership journey spans two decades, beginning in project management where I mastered the intricacies of deadlines, budgets, and team dynamics. Transitioning to property management heightened the stakes, honing my strategic thinking amidst the challenges of seamless property functioning and positive tenant relationships.

A shift towards non-profit organization leadership allowed my passion for making a difference to converge with my leadership journey. Managing a team dedicated to a noble cause taught me to harmonize empathy and efficiency, navigating fundraising, stakeholder engagement, and program development.

Diversifying into art and gallery management provided a unique perspective, emphasizing the importance of creativity in leadership. This phase underscored that leadership transcends processes; it’s about cultivating an environment where innovation thrives.
A pivotal moment arrived with my involvement in the Social Entrepreneurship Research Institute, merging entrepreneurial spirit with a commitment to social change. Leading initiatives at the nexus of business and social impact reinforced the idea that true leadership demands adaptability and a keen understanding of the global landscape.

My journey, encompassing project and property management, non-profit leadership, art curation, and social entrepreneurship research, has shaped me into a leader thriving on diversity, complexity, and the pursuit of excellence. Embodying the ethos of a leader who inspires, listens, and cultivates team flourishing, I reflect on a dynamic path that prepares me for the challenges of tomorrow. Energized by the journey, I eagerly embrace the twists and turns ahead, confident that each experience has equipped me for the evolving leadership landscape.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your life and how did you overcome it?

In my journey as a social entrepreneur, I’ve confronted formidable challenges that tested my determination. The hurdles of navigating resource constraints, societal inertia, and the complexities of creating sustainable impact demanded unwavering dedication. Despite these struggles, I emerged with a resilient spirit, strengthening my commitment to ethical practices and reinforcing the belief that meaningful change necessitates both passion and perseverance.

One of the prominent challenges I’ve faced is fostering and sustaining genuine innovation within the organizations I lead. While the notion of innovation is widely embraced, establishing a culture that consistently nurtures creativity, risk-taking, and forward thinking presents a considerable leadership hurdle.

As a leader, I grapple with the delicate balance between encouraging inventive ideas and maintaining operational efficiency. The challenge extends beyond generating innovative concepts; it involves providing the necessary support structures and resources to bring those ideas to fruition. This requires breaking away from conventional thinking patterns, embracing failure as a learning opportunity, and fostering a mindset where every team member feels empowered to contribute innovative solutions.
Sustaining a culture of innovation demands continuous effort. I actively seek out and remove barriers that stifle creativity, instill a sense of purpose to inspire inventive thinking, and champion a collaborative environment where diverse perspectives are valued.

Successfully addressing this challenge goes beyond achieving sporadic breakthroughs; it establishes an ongoing, dynamic ecosystem where innovation becomes a natural part of the organizational DNA. Fostering and sustaining innovation not only enable staying ahead in the respective industry but also create a workplace that attracts top talent, driving long-term success.

Can you share a significant aspect of your cultural heritage that has played a crucial role in shaping who you are today?

As a Polish-American social entrepreneur, a significant aspect of my cultural heritage that has played a pivotal role in shaping who I am today is the strong sense of community and resilience deeply embedded in Polish culture. The ethos of togetherness and the ability to endure challenges with unwavering determination have become guiding principles in my personal and professional life.

Growing up with a Polish background, I was exposed to a cultural heritage that values close-knit communities and the support networks they provide. The concept of “solidarność” or solidarity, which holds a special place in Polish history, has left an indelible mark on my perspective. This cultural inclination towards unity and collective strength has profoundly influenced my approach to social entrepreneurship.

In my journey as a social entrepreneur, I draw upon the lessons of resilience and community collaboration instilled by my Polish heritage. These values have become the bedrock of my commitment to addressing social issues and creating positive change. The understanding that societal challenges are best tackled through collective effort and shared responsibility informs the collaborative initiatives and partnerships I seek to build.

Moreover, the cultural emphasis on education and intellectual curiosity within the Polish heritage has fueled my drive for continuous learning and innovation. This commitment to knowledge and progress has shaped my entrepreneurial endeavors, driving me to seek innovative solutions to complex social problems and stay at the forefront of positive change.

In essence, my Polish-American cultural heritage has imparted a profound appreciation for community, resilience, and the power of collective action. These values resonate deeply in my role as a social entrepreneur, guiding my efforts to make a meaningful impact on society while maintaining a strong connection to the cultural roots that have shaped my identity.

What motivates and inspires you on a daily basis?

As a “sui generis entity” in the realm of social entrepreneurship, my daily motivation emanates from a profound sense of purpose. The higher calling to bring about social wealth, impact, and change serves as a constant driving force. The unique position I occupy as a trailblazer in this field fuels my self-motivation, propelling me to transcend conventional boundaries and make a distinctive mark.

Each day, I draw inspiration from like-minded individuals who share the same fervor for positive transformation. Leaders and successful people with a growth mindset become beacons of influence, showcasing that it’s possible to make a significant difference in the world. Witnessing their impact and the positive change they instigate fuels my belief that, as a social entrepreneur, I too can contribute to making this world a better place for all.

The opportunity to create a lasting legacy of social change, to be part of a collective movement towards a more equitable and compassionate society, is a source of unwavering inspiration. It’s this collective synergy with other visionaries that sparks innovation, resilience, and an unyielding commitment to the mission at hand.

In this “sui generis” role, the daily journey is not just a routine but a dynamic exploration of possibilities, a continuous quest to push boundaries, and a commitment to realizing a vision that transcends the ordinary. The combination of personal drive, a higher purpose, and the inspiration drawn from transformative individuals converges to create a powerful force propelling me forward each day in the pursuit of meaningful social change.

How do you balance work, family, and personal life?

As a social entrepreneur deeply committed to the holistic growth of both individuals and organizations, I strategically navigate the delicate balance between work, family, and personal life. My day commences with a deliberate focus on well-being, where early mornings provide a tranquil space for reflection, mindfulness practices, meditation, and physical exercise, fostering a centered mindset.

During these early hours, I engage in strategic thinking and planning, ensuring a clear understanding of priorities. Goals are reviewed, progress assessed, and key tasks outlined, aligning personal and professional objectives. This intentional planning serves as a compass, guiding each action toward broader strategic initiatives.

Mid-mornings are dedicated to high-priority tasks and purposeful team interactions. Valuing collaboration, I emphasize clear communication and active listening to nurture a positive team culture aligned with the overarching vision. Lunchtime becomes not only a refueling break but an opportunity for networking and relationship-building, strengthening connections with team members, peers, and industry contacts.

In the afternoon, focused work takes precedence, allowing me to immerse myself in projects requiring concentration and creativity. Team well-being remains paramount, with breaks for physical activity and short mindfulness sessions to sustain energy and focus.

As the workday concludes, I embark on a reflective practice, acknowledging accomplishments, addressing challenges, and expressing gratitude for the team’s efforts. This marks a transition into a commitment to work-life balance, providing space for personal pursuits, family time, and relaxation.

Understanding that success is a comprehensive pursuit encompassing professional achievements and personal fulfillment, I structure my workdays with intentionality. This approach not only drives organizational success but also fosters a culture that values well-being, collaboration, and continuous growth, inspiring individuals to thrive both personally and professionally.

Can you describe a turning point in your life that helped shape who you are today?

A pivotal turning point in my life unfolded not too long ago, etching a vivid memory in my journey. Upon graduating with a doctorate degree in business administration, specializing in social entrepreneurship from a premier business school in Switzerland, the contours of my professional path underwent a transformative shift. This choice stemmed from my role as a social entrepreneur, having founded and led The World Of Art Gallery, Art Advisory, and Investment—a social purpose company—and the non-profit, Helping Hand Foundation.

The crux of this turning point lay in my original research, particularly focused on social entrepreneurship, more specifically, hybrid ventures. The recognition garnered by my research materialized in publications within esteemed American journals, including the Journal of Leadership, Accountability, and Ethics. This newfound recognition opened doors, leading to invitations for mentoring, consulting, and contributing to scientific publications.

Fueling my desire to continue the journey in research and education, I conceived a Social Entrepreneurship Program to implement at my alma mater. Unfortunately, the institution lacked the necessary funds, and despite prolonged collaboration and negotiations, the project remained unrealized. This hurdle left me feeling stuck, as the envisioned partnership didn’t materialize, posing a significant challenge.

In the face of this setback, I held firm to my determination not to abandon my vision. Embracing the tenacity required of a social entrepreneur—boldness, calculated risks, and resourcefulness—I pivoted. Rather than dwelling on the unfulfilled partnership, I seized the opportunity to establish the Social Entrepreneurship Research Institute.

This institute became my new and exciting endeavor, focusing on research in social entrepreneurship, sustainability, innovation, impact, and change. It emerged as a blessing in disguise, transforming what seemed like an unpleasant experience into a catalyst for empowerment. The Social Entrepreneurship Research Institute stands as a testament to resilience, empowering social change and pioneering the future of social entrepreneurship through research, mentorship, and innovation. This turning point not only shaped my trajectory but reinforced the belief that setbacks can lead to unforeseen opportunities, ultimately contributing to a more impactful and meaningful journey.

Can you share an experience where you felt a clash of cultural values and how you resolved or navigated through it?

In my role as a social entrepreneur, I encountered a scenario where I was leading a team characterized by a rich tapestry of cultural backgrounds. Despite the evident talent within the team, there were notable impediments to productivity due to communication breakdowns, posing a threat to overall morale. Recognizing the imperative for a transformative shift, I took the initiative to address this challenge head-on.

I conceived and implemented a pioneering program titled “Exchange Perspectives.” This initiative aimed to bridge the gaps in understanding and appreciation among team members who hailed from diverse cultural backgrounds. The essence of the program lay in fostering informal meetings where team members were paired across different backgrounds.

Throughout these exchange sessions, team members engaged in open dialogues, sharing personal and professional anecdotes. The discussions delved beyond the realm of work-related matters, encompassing facets of culture, values, and aspirations. The program was instrumental in fostering a sense of camaraderie, effectively dismantling barriers and nurturing a profound understanding among team members.

As a direct consequence, the communication dynamics within the team underwent a remarkable transformation. Previously isolated departments began collaborating seamlessly, and a surge in creativity was evident as diverse perspectives were seamlessly integrated into problem-solving approaches. The newfound cohesion within the team translated into heightened productivity and a notably positive work environment.

By acknowledging and celebrating the unique strengths inherent in diverse perspectives, I successfully revitalized communication channels and cultivated an environment where each individual felt genuinely appreciated for their differences. This strategic approach not only addressed the immediate challenges faced by the team but also laid the groundwork for an inclusive and innovative workplace culture, aligning with the ethos of my role as a social entrepreneur.

Have you faced unique challenges as a diaspora individual, and how did you overcome them while maintaining a strong connection to your roots?

As a Polish-American, my journey as a diaspora individual presented unique challenges that centered around language and cultural assimilation. Initially, the struggle to learn and communicate effectively in English, given the predominantly Polish language spoken at home, left me feeling like an outsider. This challenge not only affected my ability to blend in but also stirred a sense of embarrassment about my heritage.

In the early stages, my limited proficiency in English made me feel disconnected and hindered my ability to fully engage with my surroundings. The desire to fit in and make meaningful connections fueled my determination to overcome this obstacle. I dedicated myself to learning English, immersing myself in language studies, and actively participating in English-speaking environments. Over time, my fluency increased, and I gradually began to blend in and form connections within the broader community.
A crucial turning point occurred when I shifted my perspective on my heritage. Rather than viewing my cultural background as a source of limitation, I came to appreciate it as a unique quality that set me apart. This change in mindset allowed me to embrace my Polish heritage proudly, recognizing it as an integral part of my identity.

Maintaining a strong connection to my roots became a priority as I navigated the challenges of cultural assimilation. I actively networked with individuals from the same cultural background, forming bonds with the Polish community in the diaspora. Attending cultural events, gallery exhibits, and participating in church activities became essential elements of my routine, providing a sense of belonging and reinforcing the ties to my roots.

Ultimately, my journey as a Polish-American diaspora individual became a story of resilience and self-discovery. Embracing my heritage, acknowledging the uniqueness it brought to my identity, and actively participating in cultural activities allowed me to overcome initial challenges. I discovered that being appreciated for my talents, educational accomplishments, and professional achievements by people from diverse backgrounds in the U.S. was not mutually exclusive from maintaining a strong connection to my Polish roots. This experience underscored the importance of embracing one’s cultural identity while thriving in a multicultural environment.

How has your cultural background influenced your personal and professional aspirations?

As a Polish-American social entrepreneur deeply committed to fostering social wealth, driving social impact, and catalyzing social change, my cultural background has played a pivotal role in shaping both my personal and professional aspirations. Growing up in a heritage steeped in resilience, community, and a strong work ethic, I carry these values into my endeavors as a leader dedicated to making the world a better place for all.

The Polish cultural legacy has instilled in me a profound sense of responsibility and commitment to contributing positively to society. The historical backdrop of overcoming challenges and striving for progress resonates with my ambition to drive social change. This cultural grounding has fueled my passion for innovation, pushing me to explore novel solutions to complex societal issues.

As a social entrepreneur, my Polish-American identity manifests in my approach to leadership—executive ethical leadership is at the core of my values. The principles of integrity, transparency, and a deep sense of responsibility guide my decisions and actions. Drawing inspiration from the rich tapestry of my heritage, I strive to lead with empathy, recognizing the interconnectedness of diverse perspectives in creating meaningful social impact.

My cultural background has also shaped my commitment to inclusivity and community engagement. The strong sense of community inherent in Polish culture aligns seamlessly with my vision of creating a more equitable and inclusive world. This perspective drives my efforts to ensure that the initiatives I undertake are not only innovative but also considerate of the diverse needs and aspirations of the global community.
In summary, as a Polish-American social entrepreneur, my cultural background serves as a compass guiding my personal and professional aspirations. It infuses my leadership style with a sense of duty, resilience, and a commitment to ethical practices. Through innovation, executive ethical leadership, and a dedication to social impact, I aim to contribute meaningfully to the collective journey of making the world a better place for all.

What is your definition of success and how do you measure it?

My perception of success transcends mere professional achievements; it’s a holistic pursuit that intertwines both career milestones and personal fulfillment. The intentional structuring of my workdays serves as a testament to this philosophy, ensuring that every endeavor not only propels organizational success but also cultivates a culture centered around well-being, collaboration, and perpetual growth. In my view, true success is not a singular achievement but a dynamic state that inspires individuals to flourish both personally and professionally, fostering a harmonious blend of accomplishment and contentment.

Can you share a situation where language presented both a challenge and an opportunity in your personal or professional life?

Growing up in a Polish-speaking household as a Polish-American, I encountered a unique challenge and opportunity associated with language that significantly impacted both my personal and professional life. The predominant use of the Polish language at home posed a considerable hurdle when I ventured into the broader English-speaking environment, presenting a formidable challenge as I pursued my education and career.

Early on, the process of learning and communicating in English proved to be a daunting task. Initially, I struggled to grasp the nuances of the language, both in spoken and written form. This linguistic barrier posed challenges not only in my academic journey but also in day-to-day interactions within the English-speaking community.

This linguistic challenge became a transformative opportunity. Recognizing the importance of mastering English for personal, academic, and professional success, I embraced the challenge with determination. The process of overcoming this language barrier demanded considerable effort and persistence. I engaged in intensive language studies, sought language immersion experiences, and practiced consistently to enhance my fluency.

As I gradually became proficient in English, I witnessed a profound transformation in both my personal and professional spheres. Academically, I was able to fully participate in university life, contribute meaningfully to discussions, and excel in written assignments. Professionally, my enhanced language skills opened doors to a broader range of opportunities, facilitating effective communication in diverse professional settings.

This journey of conquering the language barrier not only enriched my personal growth but also became a testament to resilience and adaptability. It underscored the importance of embracing challenges as opportunities for growth and leveraging them to overcome barriers in pursuit of personal and professional excellence. Ultimately, the experience of navigating the complexities of language as a Polish-American contributed to my development as a well-rounded individual, capable of thriving in diverse linguistic and cultural landscapes.

Additionally, how do you actively contribute to and give back to both your first and second homes, be it through community involvements, philanthropy, or other means?

With an enduring commitment to societal betterment and a legacy spanning over two decades, I proudly serve as the steadfast Nonprofit Manager and visionary force behind the Helping Hand Foundation. Throughout my extensive journey, I have meticulously managed and overseen the assets of a non-operating private foundation, leaving a transformative mark across diverse spheres.

The Helping Hand Foundation’s journey is characterized by a profound commitment to a range of causes. From pro bono work and volunteerism to contributions in education, arts and culture, animal welfare, health, and social services, we have cast a wide net of positive impact. Our active participation in events and programs has planted seeds of change deeply resonating within communities.

Our extensive network spans healthcare partnerships, collaboration with fellow nonprofits, transformational engagement with educational institutions, advocacy for animal welfare, enrichment of cultural and intellectual hubs, and offering support to individuals and families in need.

Guided by the powerful mantra “When there is Hope, there is the Ability. When there is Love, there is Strength. When People come Together, Unachievable is Nothing” (Rokicki, 2000), our tireless dedication aims to foster a better world for all, leaving behind a legacy defined by compassion and transformation.

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I’ve intentionally reshaped my online presence by focusing solely on professional interactions within the realm of LinkedIn. This curated platform serves as a virtual space where I connect with like-minded individuals, fellow professionals, and notable figures in the industry. You’re invited to join me on this platform to delve into my professional experiences, showcased through interviews, podcasts, articles, and posts. It’s a space that mirrors my enthusiasm for fostering genuine connections and engaging in thought-provoking discussions. Let’s explore this professional journey together – connect with me on:


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