Carmen Rita Wong is a virtual career shape-shifter.
Since starting out 20 years ago as a journalist, she has seamlessly morphed into a financial columnist and author, producer and television host, NYU professor and, most recently, acclaimed fiction writer.
To Wong, a successful career is not a succession of “gigs,” but a long path toward being happy and fulfilled.
“We get stuck in these weird prisons that we built for ourselves,” she told Fox News Latino. “When it becomes all about success and making sure we make more money, it’s great … but sometimes it can trap us,” she said, “we don’t realize that we’re not happy.”
“As long as you continue to keep trying new things, finding your way and your path toward fulfillment, the money and success will come,” she added.
Wong’s latest endeavor, “Never Too Real,” is a novel that some have described as “Sex and the City” for Latinas. And it has garnered glowing reviews — The New York Times called it “the summer’s smartest sexy beach read” and Kirkus Reviews said the book is “brimming with smart dialogue and ricocheting plot twists … ripe for a screenplay.”
“Their story is my life, and it is an amalgam of all my Latina girlfriends,” she said of the book, which she wrote under the name Carmen Rita. “They’re all very different, but what they all have in common is that they’re the first generation to get a college education in the U.S.”
“They’re the children of immigrants, and they’re doing really, really well and that bonds them together,” she added.
A single mom, divorced and living in New York City, Wong’s financial expertise is still very much sought after. Recently she was a guest at the White House as a member of President Barack Obama’s “Business Forward” initiative to further African-American, Latino and Asian-American business owners.
When it comes to financial matters, Wong says it all comes down to paying attention.
“You have to be motivated to do something,” she said. “You have to have goals in mind, very specific goals and put price tags on those goals and then saving to achieve them,” she said.
“Not taking care of [your finances], not paying attention, [and] not realizing the different parts of your financial life have costs,” she added.
Wong talks a lot about staying in one place versus continuing to move forward, particularly as a first generation U.S. citizen with parents from the Dominican Republic.
“One thing we share as a culture, especially if you’re the first in your family to ‘make it’ as they say, we know that we can just go back,” she said.
“I waited tables in college, I could always go back to that,” she said.