Books: Local author Elisa A. Schmitz hopes to fire up readers


As the daughter of a Puerto Rican mother and Yugoslavian immigrant father, Elisa A. Schmitz knows what it means to be an “outsider” learning to use her “differentness” to make a difference.

As a child, she lived in Puerto Rico, war-torn Lebanon and Evanston. All along, she looked for and created what she needed to survive and thrive.

Schmitz’s new book, Become the Fire: Transform Life’s Chaos into Business and Personal Success, shows how to transform obstacles that can block the progress of women and Black, Indigenous and people of color into the unstoppable fuel of fulfillment and success. 

In addition to detailing her entrepreneurial journey, the book includes interviews with 10 diverse and successful women with 10 actionable lessons to help readers put the real-world power of the book’s message to work in their own lives.

“’Become the Fire’ means not allowing yourself to be in the fire, getting burned, but instead using the fire to ignite your motivation, passion and grit,” Schmitz said. “It means not focusing on what you don’t have or can’t do, but instead leveraging what you do have and what you can do. It’s about seeing life’s fire as fuel to propel your success.”

The RoundTable asked Schmitz about her career and first book, which goes on sale Oct. 11, in this edited email interview:

Local author Elisa Schmitz.

Q: Tell us about your Evanston roots.

A: I lived in Puerto Rico and Beirut, Lebanon, when I was young, but we settled in Evanston by the time I started kindergarten. I went to grade school, high school and grad school in Evanston. I raised my kids in Evanston and built my first business in two different offices in downtown Evanston. [Schmitz now lives in Glencoe.] My parents and dearest friends still live in Evanston, so it will always be our hometown.

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