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?
Ian Flux | Musician | Producer
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far? Never compromise your vision as an artist or let anyone convince you that there are shortcuts. Too often I see artists cutting corners for a quicker or easier path to success. Success to me would be adhering to what I set out to do and achieve exactly that, without compromise. Even if that success never arrives, I’m doing exactly what I want to do. Not what someone else wants.
Saudamini Madra | Mandala Artist
The most important lesson I have learned is to have courage to follow your passion and have faith in yourself. There are no shortcuts. Keep practicing in order to perfect your skill and to learn new ones.
Kristine Benglyan | Brand Marketing Manager
Customers are no longer just consumers; they’re co-creators. They want to be a part of something; to belong; to influence; to engage. A purpose needs to be shared between a brand and its consumers. At WOLF there is purpose behind everything we do because we know purpose transcends business and products.
Derek Do | Fashion Enthusiast
One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from this journey is that when you can find great friends online. When you are growing up, you are told not to meet strangers/people online and that can be true in a sense, but I’ve met many people on social media and we ended becoming friends. It didn’t matter how far we lived because one day we would be in the area and when that time comes, we would message each other to hang out. Before we met up, we essentially lived each others lives vicariously through Instagram stories and posts and it really seemed like we have been friends for years as these post gave us s reason to laugh, smile, or get angry about. We would communicate with each other strictly through DM’s and support each others post even though we’ve never met we still have full support of each other. If you are having difficulties finding friendships in social gatherings, try social media, because your interests are linked with other people’s interests as well and as you follow their lives, you’d eventually see and imaginary connection between yourself and the people you follow.
Erica Hunt | Birth and Postpartum Doula | NCS | Placenta Specialist | Reiki Practitioner | Healer and Herbalist
One of the most important things I have learned on this journey is, there is more than enough for everyone. I live in a city overflowing with people doing the same work I do with the same level of passion I have. To be jealous or wanting what others have completely takes my energy and focus away from what I am doing and building. We live in an abundant world, staying grateful, open and true to yourself will always bring in exactly what we desire.
Jennifer Ferla | Juris Doctor and Yoga Enthusiast
Never give up. No matter what.
No one in my family wanted me to pursue yoga as an activity, not even as a lazy past-time. Most saw it as a waste and even extended jokes at how “whimpy” of an exercise it was. I knew it wasn’t, of course- but I couldn’t tell my family that.
In 2010-2011 I signed up for two yoga studios in the valley, taking unlimited classes at both so that I could alternate between the studios and no one would notice that I was taking over two classes a day. It was Bikram Yoga, yoga practiced at 108 degrees. It was 10 years ago, around 2009 was when I started the practice in Davis, CA- where also I have a B.A. in History. I did yoga on the side, for fun. I was just trying to complete a Bikram challenge in Davis, CA, but when I moved back to Los Angeles, it became serious.
In 2012 at Bikram Headquarters (when it was still around on Olympic), I would take three consecutive classes a day. I didn’t care there who noticed me, and eventually I was invited into the advanced class by one of the more senior yogis at the studio.
Eventually, I started a paralegal program at UCSD. But meanwhile, during the transition down to San Diego, I let my fitness go too, my health, and I was in bad shape.
In the past few years after moving back to Los Angeles, and after realizing I was capable to work out, I started actually giving it a worthwhile shot. I was now going to law school and I had a lot to be thankful for, especially my health and all the progress I had made in school, being a high school graduate at 16, a junior in college at 18…etc. I knew if I could do that, I could do this, too.
I started doing non-stop workouts, dropping over 70 pounds in a year. I graduated law school this year, and I plan on continuing to practice yoga, cardio, and strength training daily- and of course, law!
The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is that there is nothing someone can say or do to ultimately control your future decisions. You always have a choice, and choose to believe in yourself, and pursue your dreams. For instance: my family still believes practicing yoga is a joke. But, at the end of the day, my most reliable influence is me, and my own belief in myself. And really, that’s all that matters: that against whatever odds and whenever people wanted me to quit, I never quit on myself.
My journey as a person has depended on my desire to succeed, courage, and the most powerful belief in myself as a person to be able to overcome any adversity that is set forth in front of me.
Alex Clough | Celebrity Fashion Stylist
In the beginning of my career, I would say “yes”” to every opportunity that came my way — partly to do with building my portfolio, and partly to do with networking and taking any work I could get. But over the course of a few years, my value and business grew, which led me to have to learn how to say “no” to projects that wouldn’t benefit me.
I still, to this day, have trouble saying “no”” to opportunities that sound amazing. But I have learned to step back, and weigh out the options to make sure the project is helping me to grow my business, and to be confident that I’m not getting taken advantage of. I am proud of the decisions I have made and the business I have developed at Alex Clough.Style.
Ella Cojocaru | Yoga Educator
I would say that the most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey so far is not to react so quickly. Growing up in Romania during the height of the revolution—and being raised in a household that was both physically and emotionally abusive—I was constantly “reacting” to others and my own environment simply to protect myself. Living in Los Angeles for the last 20 (the “belly of the beast,” as I call it), I often approached life the same way. Yoga has taught me that it is possible to slow down, pause and take a moment before reacting. I don’t have to react immediately to those around me. I don’t have to believe every single fleeting thought. I can choose where I place my awareness.
Chris Wylie | Entrepreneur | Designer
The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey would be continuously connecting with people. Networking is extremely important because it brings opportunity. The right people/team will help you reach further and grow personally & financially.
Ash Jangda | Composer, Musician, Educator
You get what you give…
No matter what field your in or how extraordinary or simple a feat/goal you have chosen to endeavor, naturally, be passionate but more importantly be compassionate. Be humble and grateful. Life is short. There are no guarantees and you should know by now that you can’t do it alone. You will need a team. It’s the attitude of gratitude and understanding that will help you foster meaningful, long lasting relationships with the key like-minded people that want to see you succeed as much as you want to see them succeed. It’s reciprocal. In an era driven by ego and narcissism I urge you to not only invest in yourself. Invest in the right people and together you will achieve even more than you ever could alone.
Jen Fassino | Owner & Founder of Nomad Haircare
Hands down, you need to choose a solid group of people to surround yourself with. Your circle needs to consistently support you, push you to be better and celebrate your successes. This includes work and personal relationships. Life is way too short to deal with bullshit behavior or a bad situation. If the people around you make you feel bad about yourself or act like a reincarnation of Regina George, you need to change your circumstances. Success cannot breed in situations where your mental clarity is stifled by negative thoughts and people contributing to that. If you elevate your circle, you elevate yourself.
Sarah Hanford | Owner of Sarah’s LA | Capturing a client’s first Infant Massage
The most important thing I’ve learned on this journey so far is to trust myself more! Starting a business is scary, but I have to stay confident in my expertise and trust that I am doing what is best for me by following my heart. Believing in my own abilities and putting myself out there has definitely been something new for me, but it has allowed me to share with new parents something I am truly passionate about.
Tamara Fruits | Owner of ON THE THIRD & ACTRESS | MODEL | DANCER
I believe besides staying consistent in your work and showing gratitude for where you are on your journey the most important thing would have to be to learn to rest, not to quit. It’s a journey for a reason and there may be times when you feel overwhelmed and feel like giving up. You can’t. Take a minute or a day to breathe, refocus and get back inline with who you are and what you want. Bring that visualization with you and get back to work!
Kieanna Michelle | Dancer and Production Coordinator
The most important lesson I’ve learned this far in my journey is that you have to keep fighting every day you have the chance to do what you love. Understanding that this journey is a process, you have to realize nothing is guaranteed. It will be hard, It will be long, it will be tiring, but that’s when you have to fight the hardest. It goes to show how bad you really want it. You have to fight your fear, fight the sad feeling of being alone, fight the typecasts when you go to auditions, fight the negative energy, fight the rejections and keep pushing. The moment you give up is when you lost the fight.
Kathleen | Model from Oceanside California
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is to never doubt someone or yourself. Everyone has the ability to be great and achieve greatness. It’s not our job to judge someone or tell them they can’t. I was told that I can’t be a model for many reasons. If I would have chose to listen to those voices I wouldn’t be experiencing this field and knowing for myself if it’s truly a passion or not. Do not let anyone tell you who you can and can’t be. Do it, try it. Someone else’s thoughts shouldn’t write your story.
Miguel ‘Gara’ Alvarez | Creative Director
The most important lesson I’ve learned, and I think that this is something that everyone should have present in their day to day basis, is that there’s no blueprint to success. A lot of people ask me how they can make money with video or photography and I always answer the same thing: if you’re getting into something because you want to make money out of it, you’re getting into for the wrong reasons.
Katy Polsby | CEO CW Stockwell
The most important thing I’ve learned is that everyone’s journey should be their own. There have been many moments in these past few years that were very fortuitous for me, and took me in the best direction, that I couldn’t have planned or forced. I had to be open to new ideas and opportunities, and follow my instincts when those opportunities presented themselves. One of those moments was when I was sifting through Remy Chatain Jr’s belongings, third generation owner of CW Stockwell, that were stored in my parent’s garage. Sandwiched between two old coffee table books I discovered a drawing he had started, but not completed. The colors were vibrant, and the pattern was bold – unlike anything I’d seen in wallpaper and textile design. I knew it had to be part of the line. I worked with my team to recreate the watery, saturated look – which takes 12 screens to create the wallpaper (most take just a couple). The result is called Remy – one of my absolute favorites from the Spring relaunch collection. If I hadn’t been at the right place at the right time – and been open to something new and unique – it never would have happened.
Jeff Payton | lead workshops & retreats | coach teacher trainings, and teach multiple formats @CorePowerYoga
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my yoga journey so far, is the discovery of the 8-limbed path. For years, I practiced asana, or yoga postures, with a myopic view as I focused only on the physical aspect of practice.
So many beautiful yogis have helped me to see hope where there was none, peace where frustration took root, and joy where anxiety once controlled my thoughts. Now, it is possible to feel better, even when things don’t feel okay. This is so empowering to me, my students, fellow yogis, and the yoga teachers I coach to become teachers themselves.
Whether directly resulting from our own actions, or a victim of circumstance, there is pain in this world. We will all certainly face challenges beyond our control. There will always be balance or a negotiation of opposing forces. This is energy. No need to place a label on it or pass judgement. We can accept this, if we trust that value exists, in knowing there is no light without the dark, and vice-versa. There, with the acknowledgment of possibility, we find the duality where both can exist. This is where we can find joy once again, even when the circumstances around us are clouded with uncertainty.
In that bliss, there is freedom from life’s pain. The same freedoms that yogis and the spirit of yoga has spent THOUSANDS of years evolving to find. Together we find a moving meditation in a greater intention of full body wellness: to heal, restore, ease pain, and grow in purpose.
This is the most important lesson I’ve learned, and will be forever grateful for!
Ashley & Jeremy | Owners of Unapologetic
The most important lesson we’ve learned so far is “you’re probably not going to do everything right the first time.” Starting a clothing brand is not easy but through trial and error we’ve finally been able to turn Unapologetic into exactly what we want to bring to our customers. We went through a lot of growing pains while trying to figure out our vision for Unapologetic. In the beginning stages, we compromised in certain areas around product and customer experience and in many ways felt that we were settling. We weren’t proud of that so we returned to our original brand vision and set out to do things right- the way we had always originally intended. Now, we offer a top quality product and every piece of clothing is hand picked and designed for Unapologetic. We sell high quality garments that have a lot of versatility in styling with any wardrobe that encompass being Unapologetic and showing the world the real you. The hard work and changes we’ve made haven’t gone unnoticed, and we were just recently featured in Vogue magazine.
Jenny Marie | Playboy Playmate | Model
Always stay true to yourself.
Malcolm Bowen | Actor
The most important lesson I have learned on my journey is that it’s not a race. It’s a marathon. Everything has its time and you don’t need to rush the results. This lesson has freed me of so much anxiety and worry about how my career is going. Still, I do what needs to be done. But, I just don’t give to much power to worry.
Joshua Wright | Clothing Designer & Photographer | Content Creator
The most important lesson revealed to me thus far has been to have faith in the process and allow yourself rest. In an age of information overload, it’s crucial to not let fear or envy drive your aspirations. Without risk there is no reward and nobody else’s success hinders yours. No matter the destination or path you choose, you have to take every single step to get there. God makes no mistakes and will steer you through the ups and downs accordingly, you just have to actualize it. Keep a level head with the “big picture” mindset and you’ll find yourself letting go of day-to-day stress and enjoying the little things more.
JASMINE NYE | Luxury Minaudieres with Swarovski Elements
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is to be patient, work hard and stay humble.
Bob Holz | musician | band leader
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to be patient and to realize that good things take time to develop.
Rudy Lorejo | Artist & Photographer
You don’t need to show/post every single thing you make. It’s easy to get bogged down in checking how many Likes you get – and it’s easy to forget how important it is to make your art for yourself.
Jennie Yoon | Founder & CEO
It takes a village to build something good. I mean really good. The startup journey can be lonely at times, and also so easy to get discouraged. Without my team and other Founders who I’ve built a relationship with, I don’t think we would be where we are today. So surround yourself with people who push you to be your best self.
Karen Ponce | Florist and event planner
Starting my business for personalized floral designs, such as, flower crowns and various wedding arrangements has been challenging, yet very rewarding. I’ve learned through the process, to put myself out there, promote my business by show casing new designs, and most importantly to focus on my clients’ needs. Listening to my clients’ visions and turning them into reality is my priority. The instant gratitude and recognition I receive on my work from my clients drives me to continue my passion. It is important to me to make my clients’ ideal dream(s) come true and memorable for their life special event(s), such as weddings, baby showers, music festivals, and so much more. I’ve also learned that with passion and commitment everything is possible! I put my heart into each design and set goals for my business. Every client I make a different unique design and use different flowers, and I have learned that’s what my clients wants to feel different and express themselves through my crowns.
Yelp: Flor Bohemia
Stacey Lamb | Photographer and Illustrator
As a freelance photographer and illustrator, I’ve had to navigate everything on my own. There has been A LOT of trial and error along the way. The most important thing I’ve learned is that it is okay to make mistakes. The best lessons come from some of the stickiest situations. I’ve learned so much more from my mistakes than from my successes!
Todd Drootin | owner, LP Guru
Nothing is more important than being honest with yourself and staying true to yourself. If you start building without making sure your foundation is strong, you’re just going to end up with a pile of rubble at some point. That may be a bit on the nose living here on the fault lines, but I’ve survived enough quakes — seismic and otherwise — to know how essential it is to keep your house strong enough to withstand a little shaking. The next 7 or 8 most important lessons probably involve specific intersections where I won’t attempt left turns. It’s hard out there!
TB Greene | Artist & Creator
Live for yourself and ONLY for yourself and conflict is not a bad thing. This has been a valuable, albeit challenging, lesson for me. I never saw my people-pleasing as a problem and never felt like I was making any real compromises by doing so. In fact, I prided myself on the fact that I was so “easy to get along with” and that it was a good thing to make sure everyone around me felt happy. How could this be a problem in any way? Over time though, I didn’t realize how much of my power, choices and personal dreams I’d given away to others, all in an attempt to keep everyone happy and avoid conflict. As a result, I found myself feeling angry and resentful that in spite of all my good will towards others, I wasn’t getting the same consideration in return. It seems I’d given others the impression that they could expect me to comply to their wishes or give them their way. Every time. It eventually sunk in that my people pleasing was causing me to live life based on everyone else circumstances and desires; not my own. In doing so, I was not taking care of my own needs, goals and desires, etc. It was hard to accept at first. How could I have been so misguided??? This can’t be true! I’m not a follower, I’m not wimpy and have a good opinion of myself. I would NEVER volunteer to give up my own happiness in order to make someone else happy. Would I???
These days I have a greater awareness of this tendency to please others and avoid conflict. Conflict is challenging for me not because I’m weak or can’t stand up for myself, but rather because I perceive myself as having only two communication modes; mellow easygoing mode or psycho bitch mode. When I’m dealing with people I love, I prefer not to subject them to my psycho bitch mode. I don’t like that mode because I feel out of control and have trouble reigning it in and I worry that I come across like a crazy, illogical person. I tend to think “okay, I made a concession for you, now you make one for me”. Could not be more wrong!!! I’m always hopeful of this because I prefer to stay in mellow easygoing mode; it’s how I like myself best plus I feel relaxed and calm. Apparently I don’t have a middle of the road mode and I worry my psycho bitch mode will push people away, be too over the top for the situation, or offend people. I prefer to save that kind of reaction for things that are deserving of it. Needless to say, I’ve had to get over it. I’m not 100% “cured” yet, as it’s a daily work in progress, but I’m asserting my preferences more and more. Surprisingly (or maybe not), I really haven’t had anyone give me any push back. Some people, however, are wired to get their way and will push me and push me. Thinking from past experience that if they push hard enough I’m likely to just cave instead of having conflict over a situation. Now not so much anymore. I have to admit that’s still a tough one for me to manage but continue to work on it. That being said, I get better at it every day and every day I feel more like my authentic self. Funny thing is that I’d heard that advice so many times over the years, not thinking it applied to me. I couldn’t imagine that anyone would willingly do anything that would take them away from their intended path in life. So, if you’re reading this, I recommend you take this advice to heart, hold on to who you truly are and never ever give your power away.
Carolyn Kim Johnson | Creative Content Strategist
To always see the beauty in all things. This applies to all aspects of my life–at home, at work, in friendships, with strangers and especially in circumstances.
In a way, it can be perceived as an idealistic point-of-view but I’d like to think it has helped me stay grounded and appreciative of the little things in life.