Where you grew up and your background can often have surprising effects on our lives and careers. We’ve asked folks from the community to tell us about how their background has affected them.

Lanie Whitby | Lettering Artist

I am Filipino-American, born in Los Angeles and raised in the Inland Empire. Read more>>

Laura Grier | Adventure Photographer, Photo Anthropologist, Travel Writer & Global Artisan Entrepreneur

The entire reason I became a photographer was because I was obsessed with watching Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic channel at a young age. I actually thought I wanted to be a Zoologist or an Archaeologist my whole childhood, because to me that meant being Indiana Jones who I was obsessed with. My three sisters and I had a very unusual upbringing. Growing up, both of my parents worked for the CIA and we were stationed all over the world. All 4 of us would eventually work at headquarters in Langely as our first jobs during college. At a young age I was living in Jakarta, Indonesia and I lived in London and Italy and I was constantly around new languages and cultures. Because of my upbringing, I realized there is a huge world outside of my bubble and it has created this wanderlust/travel bug within me that will always influence my work. Read more>>

Tabby Biddle | Women’s Leadership Coach & Founder

I am from Philadelphia. My ancestors came over from England in the 1600s with William Penn to escape religious persecution. They were Quakers. I’m not sure how much you know about Quakers, but they believe in non-violence, equality and peace. They are social justice activists who believe in an inner light, and who fought for the end of slavery in the United States and marched as suffragettes to gain women the right to vote. But growing up, I didn’t know all of these details. As a young girl, the ancestors I mostly knew about were a string of male leaders who held a slightly different significance in American history. My great-great-great grandfather, Nicholas Biddle, was an American financier and the President of the Second Bank of the United States. He made it the first effective central bank in U.S. history. Read more>>

Maeve McCaffrey | Yoga, Fitness & Wellness

My earliest and probably most formative years were spent in fairly rural Vermont. Let’s be honest, most of Vermont is rural, but some feels more small town, some more cow based. My parents moved there from NYC to start an organic farm well before it was cool to do so. I was the last born of three older brothers, the youngest and I were both born at home, again, well before home births were cool. With that said, it was a pretty cool place to. be a kid. All four seasons in full effect and we lived according to that. In summer we ate vegetables from our garden and my mother would can fruits and vegetables for the winter. Read more>>

Smita Malhotra, MD | Pediatrician & Author

I’m a first generation immigrant to the United States at the age of 12. What I learned in childhood gave me a perspective on life that has been my greatest strength. It was in that journey that I became the person I am today. I saw my parents start over to build a new life and because of this, I was not afraid of reinventing myself. Because I saw ‘starting over’ as an opportunity and not something to be feared, I was able to build a brand and business and pivot in my career path. I also came from a country where speaking your mind could lead to persecution. When I came to the United States, I never took for granted the freedom of being able to use your voice for change. So sharing my story and experiences has become a large part of who I am. Read more>>

Joseph Friday | Navy Sailor, Chef & Pro Wrestler

I was born in Queens, New York raised in Brooklyn then I moved to Richmond, VA.. Youngest of 2. Both my parents and sister are from the Country of Trinidad and Tobago. I was raised in the Christian faith. Seventh-Day Adventist to be exact. I would say growing up with that background really impacted the way I handle certain situations…good and bad…just like you, I’ve been through a whole lot And also it really just made me enjoy life and creativity. My father always tells me “Jojo, don’t ask God to order your steps if you’re not gonna move your feet.” He worked hard to provide and my mother did the same as well. My sister is a mother of 3 and she achieved her degree while her husband was on deployment. The way our parents worked through tough times in a country where they really didn’t know a soul is what really inspires me to keep pushing in anything I do. Read more>>

Sheri Fink | Inspirational Speaker, #1 Best-selling Author & President

I’m from a small town in rural Virginia where I learned the value of being kind and working hard. I dreamt of being a writer, a teacher, a mother, a princess, and a mermaid and of living in California. I’ve achieved most of those goals in my life by keeping my focus on the vision for my life and business and living according the values as a kid. Read more>>