We’ve been fortunate to connect with so many brilliant, thoughtful entrepreneurs and creatives and we regularly ask them about the most important lessons they’ve learned over the course of their careers. We’ve shared some highlights below.

Kennedy Roberts | Photographer & Web Designer

That more afraid I am, the closer I am to the heart of it. Over the course of starting my business, KAR creative, there have been many moments of fear. Of course there was the fear that we would run out of money or that work would stop coming. There was also the fear that I wasn’t a strong enough artist or creative of business person to make it work. But more than any of that there was always the steady pulse of fear behind signing contracts on projects that seemed to be just a little bit beyond where we were at in that current moment. When we pitched a mood board that was a bit more complicated than anything we had ever done, or took on a web design project that was bigger than anything we had done – it always came with the fear that we were out of our league. Read more>>

Simone Jackson | Career Coach and Lifestyle Blogger

You’re allowed to change your mind. Simple as that. They’ll adjust. Read more>>

Myla Hardie | Musician & International Record Label owner

Any career in the creative sector requires an extreme amount of curiosity for life, people and processes. It also takes an extreme amount of patience with yourself and others and realizing that the ability to be flexible is key to your survival. I suppose as an entrepreneur will tell you, the learning curve is real and it lasts for years. Especially since we are talking about culture and art, the way we make a profit is not from widgets and gadgets. Yes, we make content and products to sell, but the concept behind these “products” are from a place of human intervention and meant to connect with the human experience in some way. Read more>>

Marcus Kuiland-Nazario | Artist in Residence, 18th Street Arts Center; Artist, Curator, Director Sea Change

For the past several years, I’ve been taking risks and only working on projects and artworks that inspire me or excite me. I will not become wealthy from being an artist, but I can have a richly rewarding life. I have been left with emotional/psychic hangovers in the past after working with artists or organizations that I didn’t want to, or my heart wasn’t really in. I have learned not to waste my time with people or projects that don’t serve me or my vision or make the world a better place somehow. I’ll put up with a crazed narcissist if somehow the greater good is served. Unfortunately, the art world is full of those. I have also learned that there is no such thing as an “art emergency”. Things can wait a bit to get appropriately solved unless a loss of life or limb or public safety is involved. Read more>>

Madeline Fraser | Founder and CEO of Gemist

There are many! As an entrepreneur you are always pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and when you do that often, you learn a lot. I have three mantras that I’ve developed over the last eight or so years that I’ve been an entrepreneur. #1: “Do One Thing Each Day That Scares You” “If you are afraid to do things that scare you, that’s okay BUT if you are unable to push past that fear and execute on what you have to do, you have a problem.” This quote is one by Eleanor Roosevelt.bWhen I was growing up my mom had a magnet of it on our refrigerator. She lived by this quote and I have also learned to do the same. It reminds me that I can do anything – fear can’t stop me. So many things in life are scary, and putting yourself and your idea on the line are on the top of that list. When you can learn to push through the scary things, it’s an incredible feeling. Slowly, you get less scared, then you grow more and have to face a new list of things that feel terrifying. Read more>>

Maile Healey | Owner & Lean Planner/Designer

The most important lesson we have learned, is that you never really stop learning! Each experience and/or event presents something new you can learn from. That doesn’t necessarily have to have a negative connotation; it can be a positive one too. And in truth, a person or team should never really stop learning. Having the willingness to observe, learn, take responsibility and execute the actions of your job properly and well, are really the key components to making a business work smoothly and successfully. And if you’re lucky, you might even enjoy it!. Read more>>

Samy Sabh | Writer/Musician

That when the easy route presents itself, don’t go down it. Read more>>

Jacobo Aparicio | Producer

In my personal experience, and what I have learned from my bosses and mentors is as simple as this: to be kind. It really doesn’t take that much effort to be polite, kind and accessible, and in turn it opens many, many doors… and keeps increasingly more open. In addition to that, and again, drawing from my personal experience and by working with my mentors, the need to truly be persistent and determined with your goals and dreams is another major lesson. Specially in competitive industries where you may be frequently exposed to the rejection of your ideas, being relentless and consistently passionate (which is not an easy thing) is what typically makes the difference between for those who become successful. Read more>>

Danielle Harrison | Personal Trainer & Online Coach

The most important lesson that my business has taught me is to be adaptable. The world is ever changing and evolving. Especially in today’s, days and times. My whole fitness business had to pivot to solely online, from solely in person. This change helped me to branch out, trust myself, and expand my skill set. My business has shown me that your core values and mission are important, but the way you execute it may evolve, and that is o.k. Grow with the times, but stay true to you, and people will pursue that and want to work with you and grow with you. Read more>>

Cheryl Alonzo | Doula, Childbirth Educator & HypnoBirthing Instructor

That you can plan and plan and do all the research and take all the classes to be prepared for how you think something will go, and in the end, something will inevitably not go according to plan and you must be able to readjust and roll with it. With my birth clients I prepare them for their ideal birth experience, while very much letting them know, there are no promises in birth and that we will work through the unexpected together. Read more>>

Alyssa Schermel | Children’s Author & Entertainer

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and get it wrong. This advice goes completely against everything I was taught, and in some fields I think we can all agree it is absolutely crucial to get it right. I mean, I imagine not too many surgeons, doctors or engineers feel that their mistakes should be embraced. And in no way am I encouraging careless or sloppy work. It is crucial to practice, do your research and set high expectations. But when there is no room for failure, it is impossible to learn, grow and move forward, especially when starting a business in the arts (or maybe any business at all). Just last year, I decided to write a children’s book. I was already a children’s entertainer, performing in theatre and impersonating various characters for kids. One of those characters is Unicorn Princess Gemma and there were tons of kids interested in her origin story. So I started writing “The Unicorn Princess” – a process that I felt would be short and simple. I could not have been more wrong!. Read more>>

Suze Yalof Schwartz | Meditation Expert & Creator of the Unplug App & Studio

The most important thing I’ve learned is that I can figure out how to do anything. That doesn’t always mean I am good at it, but to me the best part of running Unplug has been that I get to learn new things every day! Sometimes I even shock myself when I hear myself speaking to tech-savvy people in their language. Read more>>

Aleta Braxton | Singer/Music Teacher

Do your best to stay positive, even in the face or adversity….and be nice to people. Read more>>

Joseph Bricker | Actor & Writer

Truthfully, the most important lesson I’ve learned from working as an artist is that having money to start out with gives you a huge advantage. A lot of the opportunities creatives are given to break into whatever they’re wanting to do are pay-to-play in disguise. Participate in a festival? Drop a $500 participation fee. Print your comic? Pay for printing and shipping. Get seen by a casting director or agent? Hand over a “workshop/showcase” fee. Self-tapes? Don’t forget to buy a backdrop and a good light and a tripod and editing software. I’m not saying you don’t need to have talent, but money opens a lot of doors. Even being able to afford training in whatever art you practice is a privilege. Read more>>

Jessica La | Freelance Designer and Illustrator

I’ve learned many important lessons since starting my career. One of the most important, is to stay inspired and eager to create. Speaking for myself, it’s easy to get into a comfortable routine. Whether you’re a freelancer or full time staff, an artist who works in their own style or someone who has to adapt to a client’s style, we can all fall into the same pattern. And that could be great for a bit! But in order to grow, we need to actively seek out inspiration and push ourselves to keep creating. As artists, it’s important to keep our skillset sharp. The only way to do that is to continue creating for ourselves. Exercising our creative muscles will then benefit the work we do for clients. Read more>>

Andrew Moore | ASL/Deaf Interpreter, Teacher, & Consultant

Do what you’re best at. Harness your skills and know your self-worth. Always be open-minded and ready to learn. Be sensitive to people. Enjoy life!. Read more>>

Daniel Corey | Award-winning screenwriter, graphic novelist, musician, photographer

A lot of people can’t make it past #1. Look, if you don’t do the work, just stop reading now. I’m a writer. Somebody recently asked me what the best thing is about my writing. I think they wanted me to say something like “My characters are so amazing, my dialogue is the best ever,” etc. But my answer was: “Finishing.” If you’re a writer, then write. And put something down in a form that is complete, so that it can be shared with others. Start your script or novel, then finish it. I basically broke into the comics business because I demonstrated an ability to create completed, finished work. I created and published my first book “Prophet” with artist Anthony Diecidue, which laid a path for Anthony and I to publish “Moriarty” with Image Comics and be distributed worldwide just a few years later. So, start something, then finish it. That’s what doing the work means. Read more>>

Jade Sturms | Designer & artist

The most important lesson that I’ve learned from starting my own business is presence. There’s a certain level of surrender that’s required when you venture into the unknown, unpredictable territory of starting a business. One of the trade-offs is that you can lose the sense of embedded consistency, stability and predictability that many of us grow accustomed to when working for someone else. For me, this felt scary in the beginning. It’s one of the things that made venturing out on my own feel risky and intimidating. It took a lot of inner work to feel okay with this feeling of the unknown, but now it’s one of the things I value most about working for myself. My business has encouraged me to be present and focused on what I have going on in the current moment, rather than attempting to manage and control how things will unfold in the future. To find comfort in being grounded in the now instead of using precious energy stressing about the outcomes and unknowns of tomorrow. Read more>>

December Fades | artist, singer-songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist, producer

Being a musical artist has taught me so many things. One is definitely patience. Success for most people doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long, steady, steep uphill battle. I’m in for the long haul. Each time you feel like you made progress, you realize how much you don’t know and how much you need to improve. When times get tough I have to remind myself that there’s no growth without struggle, strife, and feeling uncomfortable. My love for music keeps me going. When I think about quitting, I’m quickly reminded that music is interwoven in my entire being. Music is everything. So I have to pick myself back up by my bootstraps and continue on… no matter what! I will succeed. My music speaks for itself. Read more>>

Mary Candler | Artistic Director of Hedgepig Ensemble & Founder of Joyful Singing

Your vision is only as successful as the people you bring in and surround yourself with. I made a mistake early on of doing everything – because I felt uncomfortable asking for help. But asking for help, getting advice, and even letting people take on parts of the work actually build a community. If you ask for a favor, and someone gives it, they are actually investing in you – even if it’s just fulfilling a silly task like running to the printer or transporting a set piece. The more goodwill investors you have, the stronger your business will be. Read more>>

Rory James | Comedian & Writer

I think the best thing any person pursuing a creative career can do is become immune to rejection. If your art is important to you, then it’s perfectly normal to feel sensitive and protective about it. Far too often, very talented people stop following their passion or stunt their own growth because they’re afraid of negative feedback. But here’s the scoop – even if you’re amazing at what you do, there will be people who hate you anyway. Maybe because they’re jealous, or maybe it’s insanely arbitrary – they hate you because you look like someone who was mean to them in high school. I remember when I realized “Oh! If there are people who hate Mariah Carey – someone who is objectively incredibly talented, beautiful, and successful – then there will definitely be people who hate me!” It’s liberating. Read more>>

Miracle Laurie May | Mindfulness Consultant for Creatives & Artist Extraordinaire!

In my signature program, YOU ARE YOUR OWN MIRACLE we talk about “shoulds”, and I like to say, “you can take your shoulds and shove ’em!” (My sister helped me come up with that one. She’s a genius. In fact… it might have been her saying actually, so thank you Sis! haha) Inspiration and Ideas are everywhere and Doing for Doing’s sake is addictive, so it is IMPERATIVE that you learn how to listen to your OWN inner voice and knowing. That you learn to let the noise and nonsense swirl around you, ground into your Natura State – and just do your thing! (And hopefully have as much fun as possible!) I’ve wanted to be an actor since the age of 5. After cracking up at I LOVE LUCY for the first time – something in me was all lit up and I just knew. I pointed at the TV, told my Mom I was gonna do that one day, and almost 35 years later, I still am! I just finished a little stint on SEAL TEAM and hope to return next Season if the stars align around it. Either way – it was a blast and taught me a lot. Read more>>

Phoebe Rose Cruz | CEO & Lash Artist

I believe the most important lesson throughout this entire journey, is to live in the moment. My life has always been in such a fast-paced motion, I am constantly thinking of my next move. I’ve been so caught up on chasing my dream, there are times that I forget to cherish every moment as it is happening. I think within any business or career, its important to remind yourself the reasons of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it!. Read more>>

Natalie Cardenas | Founder of Santuario

The most important lesson my business has taught me is to normalize taking breaks. As a business owner we often feel the sense of responsibility to always be on and take on more than we can chew. Over working yourself does not equal great quality or happy customers. Over the past year I have learned by letting my mind take a break whether that be a day or a few days, has helped improved my quality and creativity. Every business has a different timeline and you have to come to terms that those timelines look different. Taking small/long breaks has helped my mind reset and gain inspiration and ideas by letting go. It is also good to walk away and come back with a fresh perspective and insight on something you might have overlooked. Read more>>

 

 

Scott Marshutz | Film Producer

Without a doubt, the most important lesson I learned very early in life–long before I started my business was: maintain good relationships with your financial institutions. Pay your bills on time and don’t over extend your credit. And this philosophy carried over once I launched my small production company in 2017. Prior to that, I started a small LLC, which was essentially a company for several products I was selling. It laid the ground work for what I’m doing now. With a proven track record at three global financial institutions, I have direct access to bankers and securities brokers who return my calls usually the same day, are willing to entertain my ideas and help me as much as they can. These relationships help me sleep at night and they are a huge part of why I’m able to do what I want to do now: produce films. Read more>>

Sonya Fichte | Art photographer

To have a balance! It was very hard for me to find a middle ground between work and enjoying life. I believe if you work hard, then you deserve holiday. But if you just holiday, or if you just work, you can lose yourself. Balance is the most important thing. Read more>>

LJ Jackson | Owner of Loren De Meche

Consistency is the most important lesson I’ve learned and keep being reminded of throughout this journey. I’m constantly learning that no matter what product I release, if I stay consistent when putting in the work, that product will sell. Any amount of energy I put into the business will work for me in my favor. It won’t come easy but as long as I show up for myself every day, it’ll all pay off. Read more>>

Rachel Currence | Actress, Model & Real Estate Investor

The most important lesson that my career has taught me is resilience- in both of my career fields: acting as well as real estate investing. I have had many hurdles thrown at me and I’ve been knocked down but each time I stand up; more wiser and stronger than before. I have never let anything keep me down no matter how big or impossible the problem seemed to overcome at the time. My failures were not losses but lessons and I like to consider myself as “failing forward.” Had I not tried new things, I would not have learned and I will not allow fear to keep me complacent or mundane. I have bounced back from everything that was meant to destroy me and I appreciate the newfound strength and coping skills each feat instilled in me. Through it all, I like to consider myself coming out of everything as humble, thankful and open-minded. One of my favorite quotes is: “egos trip but the humble doesn’t stumble.” Read more>>