Every twist in our story, challenge we face, and obstacle we overcome is an important part of our story. These difficulties make us stronger and wiser and prepare us for what’s ahead. As we grow and succeed we may imagine that soon the challenges will fade away, but in our conversations with business owners, artists, creatives, academics, and others we have learned that the most common experience is that challenges never go away – instead they get more complex as we grow and succeed. Our ability to to thrive therefore depends heavily on our ability to learn from our experiences and so we are asking some of the city’s best and brightest: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
Fritz G. | Wanderer, IT Guy at some company
So far, it has been the freedom that you can provide yourself every time you set yourself free from the chains of living in the city and explore places with a different perspective in life.
You see, every time a person visits a place, they tend to do cliché things common tourists do. If you want to enjoy more, see it with a perspective of an artist who wants to create art, not just another tourist photo.
Madeleine Perez | Los Angeles Realtor at Compass
My most important lesson? Well I think there have been a few. As a real estate agent in LA, it’s important to have your own brand and voice and market yourself. But it’s very easy for ego to take over and the real mission of your career can get lost. For me, I always remember that this is about my clients above all else. They’re about to make the biggest purchase of their lives, or maybe sell the home they raised their kids in – so it’s deeply personal. At the end of the day, I make sure I know who the priority is and that has always kept me on the right track.
I’ve also learned that I’ve always got to play up my strengths and use them to grow my business. I was born and raised in New York City so I’m honest and direct -something I was hesitant to show early in my career. I didn’t want to scare off clients and that was a mistake. Now I know that the honesty and integrity that have served me so well in life are actually a huge plus for my clients and I’ve gotten many referrals just from the reputation I’ve built on those qualities.
Lastly, a really important lesson on this journey has been to never make assumptions. When I started in real estate I just assumed my whole sphere knew…but why would they? People are busy with their own lives and jobs – they aren’t up to date on mine. Now, I make sure everyone I know is aware of what I do – from casual conversation to events at my son’s baseball league – I take every opportunity to discuss my career. Not just to gain clients, but because I’m really proud of what I do.
Katrina Wright | Owner and Operator of Crystal Bar Soap
Most important thing I have learned is to stay open to help and do not be afraid to expand your team. It has been a lesson that has taken me four years of business to learn but once I started hiring team members everything changed for us. We are so much stronger, we can handle any task or order that comes in and most importantly I have time for myself again to practice my own versions of self care or focus on new ideas for the business.
D.Painter | DJ | Radio Host | Event Promoter
At a point in your career and growth you may have to pause for your own peace of mind, health and future to redefine what success really is. In my case, as a DJ/Promoter, setting out to form your own tribe is far more fulfilling than seeking acceptance from other circles.
Levelworks Construct & Renovate | full service remodeling company providing quality interior and exterior renovation services
We’ve learned that communication with our clients is key!
Each homeowner is unique and has different expectations and needs. At Levelworks we are committed not only towards the perfect execution of our work, but also to creating a positive and inspiring experience for our customers. We encourage them to ask many questions and be involved in the decision-making process, so that they feel control over the creation of their dream home. Their peace of mind is our peace of mind - and that’s how the project can move from design to completion immaculately.
Kicomo by Kiara C. Morrow
Don’t lose yourself Be true to you ! “Be the person who changes the world, not the person who let the world change them.
Patio Saturday | Solo Hip | Hop & POP Artist
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is that life is an un-promised gift, and it is exclusively what YOU make it, so you must make every moment count and believe in yourself every day.
Lacey Wadsworth | Creator of Rambler | LA
With each experience in life your perspective changes. It is no different in business. Many things that are so obvious to me now had to be learned through trial and error. Keep the mindset that anything your business throws at you, whether good or bad, is simply an opportunity for growth.
Jamie Savarese & Isabel Sherman – Co-Founder & CCO
We’ve learned that no matter how much you read and how much prep you do, you will never be fully prepared to run a business. Problems will arise. You will wish you could fix mistakes made along the way. You will have moments of joy and moments of defeat, but all you can do is jump in, not think about the past, and be tactical when problems present themselves in the future. Running a business is extremely satisfying and as long as you know how to manage fear – you will succeed!
Jimmy Pham | Founder of Strong and Pudgy Apparel
The most important lessons that I have learned on my journey so far as an entrepreneur is not being afraid to take risks, network, trust in your team and always remain humble.
David Kovalevski | Founder of Waka Coffee
Be patient and truly believe in what you are creating. Starting and bootstrapping your own company is hard. Very hard! I have days where I doubt my decisions about things I have never done before like raising capital, managing supply chain and much more. Eventually, when you are patient enough to overcome even the wrong decisions, it all works out.
California Smokes | Suburban Lifestyle Brand
The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is to learn to be patient. Things take time and a lot of effort, I first rushed into things and it didn’t work out so well. Lessons were learned and I needed to do some re- adjusting to get back on track. People try to sell you on a fast, easy way to start a business put that’s never the case. You need to plan things out, give your self sometime and everything will slowly fall into place. Life is a constant teacher, it’s hard, but you have to try to learn as much as you can from every lesson life throws at you.
Dbandz | Artist | Entrepreneur | Songwriter & Producer
The most Important lessons I’ve learned on my journey so far are to remain humble & diligent. Some days people will quit on you the goal is to not quit on yourself. The road to success is paved with failure. The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow. It takes a thousand no’s to get the yes that will change yo life.
Julien JC, Of “Son’sphotos,” | Portrait photographer
What I learned was to not procrastinate & over plan things. Just dive into your ideas & dreams.
Leigha Renee | Lifestyle Influencer and OWNER | CEO | Drab 2 Fab Lifestyle LLC
The most important lesson on this physical journey of life that I’ve learned thus far is , all that’s required is faith as small as a mustard seed to manifest your wildest dreams . When you leap , the UNIVERSE SAYS YES . Believe and ALL THINGS WILL BE ADDED TO YOU.
Karmina | musical sister duo
The most important lesson we’ve learned in the journey so far is to STAY CREATIVE and STAY IN LINE. We can get so lost in the business side of our careers, and it’s important to remember why you created art in the first place – because it’s fun, it’s inspiring, it’s joyful. We have to remind ourselves to come back to that every once in awhile. And don’t give up just because things are taking a long time – keep going and it WILL pay off!
Cassie Young | MSW & Owner of Camp Wildfolk
In answering this question, I struggled to land on “”the most important”” lesson. There have been a looooot of lessons in starting my business. What could perfectly encompass all of it? And then it clicked in: “”Done is better then perfect.””
So many folks never accomplish their goals because they wait for circumstances to be perfect or the most ideal. Sometimes, just getting it done at all is what counts; the improvement and growth comes with time and patience. Enjoy the messy middle!
Sisters Sofie & Rubi | Owners of éLan Belle
The most important lesson we have learned in our journey so far is defined in one word, PERSISTENCE! Persistence to us means giving it our all each day and having patience in the process. As an entrepreneur many challenges are faced, & some of these challenges can be negative…. but whose to say a negative lesson isn’t an important one! Challenges, mistakes and setbacks are there to educate and give wisdom. Because when determination surpasses doubt, magical things can happen. Everything will occur in its divine order. Trust your process!
Elizabeth Haley | Actor | Model | Producer & Youtuber
So far, the most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is to fully love myself and be comfortable in my own skin. When I first moved to Los Angeles, I felt I had to look and act a certain way that wasn’t me. It took a lot of introspection to overcome my self doubt and fully love myself- flaws and all. I realized that my flaws were not a negative, they are what make me who I am!
Rob Empfield | Not offshore — We take our ‘Made in the USA’ stamp seriously
Enjoy it, life is so much more wonderful with encouraging, positive friends.
Devan Smith | Professional dancer | fashionista | lover of photography and vegan
Most important lesson I’ve learn in my journey is to always believe in yourself and to learn everything you can, put it in your bag of tricks and pull them back out when it’s SHOWTIME! You never know what’s possible, so be ready for it all! 🙂
Valerie A. Franco | Business Owner of SowLove Co.
The most important lesson I have learned in my journey so far, is “to never limit yourself or allow others to limit you and your abilities to reach higher goals than your mind can conceive”. Sure, fear and doubt is real and will try to show up when working towards your aspirations to achieve the vision you have, like starting a business, but do not sit on it too long, it will paralyze you from reaching your full potential and God given talents, the years fly by quickly. We were each created with purpose, but it is up to us to discover our purpose in life. “Vision with no action is only a dream, and action with no vision is chaos, but with both, this is where beautiful visions and dreams become reality”. So when our seasons change and we are no longer within our comfort zone, don’t be afraid while you’re there, “the higher you go the colder it gets” but that is the season that propels us to new heights, where we allow grit to develop and an even better version of ourselves to flourish. Whether we aim towards it or sleep on it, at the end of the day we make that decision ourselves. But the longer we stay in a place of complacency or limitations, the longer that vision will sleep, I decided to rather awaken it and step forward, take leaps of true faith, rather than wonder what if…. In this season of my life I would at times, think back to many years I gave so much of myself to make someone else’s dreams a reality, (founders with an already giant corporation), and there is nothing wrong with that as it prepared me in many ways for this season in my life and has stretched me to new levels and instilled a new level of patience, but I have an entrepreneur vision and desire of my own to build and work towards, so I was determined to not limit myself or allow the next years of my life to be shaped by someone else. In past seasons, the vision was there but asleep; there was no action. So, while I sat there day after day analyzing reports, budgeting, and working on the finances of our client accounts and there businesses, I thought what do I need to do to reach and aim for my own business, one that brings purpose to my life and coincides with the calling on my husband and I, one that would give us the space and opportunity to be flexible with our time and yet in the long run we could manage to continue building, while making time for our family now and the future children we desire to one day have. And the answer to that was so clear, “you need to be brave”, brave enough to jump into the unknown, to build something from scratch, trembling with fear, doubt, and all, but without being afraid of failure. No great things have ever happened in the midst of complacency, sure comfort, stability, and a well-paid career is hard to ex-change for a life of new beginnings where the unknown would feel so hard and cold at times, but it is in this journey that we find purpose and become who we were meant to be all along, in my own journey whether I am a business owner or anything else along the way I will no longer limit myself to “one thing” only. I am ultimately called to serve in every area, serve our clients well and serve others in our spiritual calling well; the two coincide and fill us with purpose, passion, and joy. My hope is that this may spark something inside of you that awakens a dream/vision that is asleep and that we all make it, make it to a place where our daily work is no longer a job, but a place of pure joy and fulfillment where we can give it our all or more, because every day you wake up you know it’s a gift from God to fulfill your purpose and calling doing what you love.
PAYAM ARZANI | PHOTOGRAPHER | ART DIRECTOR
The most important lessons I got which are relate to this industry and I would share there are two, first do everything you can do for your dream, your ideas and then just seat and watch it will happen. the second thing I’ve learned in art and fashion industry you need to trust the right people and be a good collaborator artist.
Rachelle Tratt | Yoga Teacher + Founder of The Neshama Project
That music, art, movement, nature and a supportive and loving community have the power to heal past wounds and traumas.
By creating new neural pathways in the mind, by working out and working in, we have the power to re-write our story.
This has been my life’s work thus far.
Sarah Sturgeon | Licensed Aesthetician & Skin Health Coach
The most important lesson I have learned along my journey so far is, never lose site of your dreams – the dreams in our hearts are there for a reason. They would not be there if we were not meant to achieve them. Never let anyone make you feel like they are not attainable. Let your dreams guide as you walk your journey, with courage, love and confidence, so when an opportunity arises that aligns with your dreams, you are ready to take it and they become reality.
Andrew Sideris | LA Photographer
Most important lesson I have learned in my journey is everything happens for a reason and not to force anything. Anything that seems forced is not worth it. Friendships, conversations and even love. People will come and go throughout your entire life. It just is what it is! Just let things flow and everything will always work out. Another thing I have learned is getting out of your comfort zone is so important for your health and your growth. I have learned that having an open mind about almost anything seems to always work. Photography has opened my eyes to see the world differently than I use to. Once you see it, it cannot be unseen. I started to see the way the light and the dark changes the story of an picture. The entire world is always trying to tell us a story and the best way read it is through photography.
Baylee Zwart | Founder and Designer of AZLEE Fine Jewelry
Everything takes twice if not three times the amount of time you think it will take. When I first started, I was like, Okay I will give myself a year, then if it’s not working I guess I’ll just move on. Starting a business takes years, so make sure to build that into your plan, and know that just because it’s not working after a certain amount of time, that doesn’t mean it’s not going to. Momentum is very real, but it takes years to accumulate.
CARLA LOPEZ | FOOTWEAR DESIGNER & CREATIVE
The most important lesson I have learned so far in my journey is basically, that everything I thought I knew- I don’t. When you are young and starting out you think you know everything, even if you have a few years of experience under your belt, you don’t know anything. The world is changing so fast that the biggest asset one can have is to be able to start all over and be adaptable to any circumstances. As hard as it sounds, that is the biggest lesson I have learned. Just get up and keep going, be resilient, and stay focus on the game.
Harte & Arrow Boutique | online boutique that specializes in children’s custom one pieces and apparel
Sales don’t drive loyalty, service does. We pride ourself on providing the best customer experience out there from our processing times, product production and fulfillment, and ensuring our customers are 100% satisfied with their order – we want our clients to LOVE our products as much as we do.
Melissa Mel | Designer | Model & Content Creator
This journey has taught me to replace seeking control with practicing gratitude. Every plan I’ve had for myself derailed beyond my control, but on the other side of that were rewards & outcomes better than what I could have planned for. Knowing how quickly things can unexpectedly upend keeps me grateful for what I have today, in this moment, and be open to what the universe puts in my path because you never know what opportunities may follow. I’ve learned to focus less on plans and more on direction – forward and always blooming!