Deciding to work for yourself is often cited as the best decision folks in our community have made. Hearing the same response over and over led us to ask them about the next best decision folks have made and we’ve shared their responses with you below.

Darren Haruo Rae | Director/Cinematographer; Co-Owner of Roann Films LLC.

The biggest decision I’ve made in my career is to stop saying “yes” to every job. Working 60-70 hours a week is a large portion of your life and it means you have to make sacrifices. It’s easy to forget about everything else going on in your life. Filmmaking is a blue collar job and takes a toll so you need to be willing to take a step back and take a breath. I love filmmaking, I will never do anything else, but there needs to be a balance. I see so many people who are afraid to turn down work. Before they know it, years have passed. They made a lot of money, but every single person I’ve talked to says if they could do it again, they would do it different. Making a conscious effort to take breaks has made me particular about what I work on. If I am going to spend months on a project, it should be something that I am excited about. Don’t get me wrong, I still overwork myself constantly, but that is because I am telling stories that I am passionate about. Read more>>

Weecho Velasquez | Artist

Surrounding myself with hard-working individuals has really helped me focus my energy towards achieving my artistic goals. Seeing my peers work hard on their work has been really motivating and incredibly inspiring. Read more>>

Juan Diego Patino | Session/Live Drummer

I think the most important decision I made for my career as a freelance drummer, has been to not allow myself to be solely influenced or motivated by the monetary compensations offered in recording sessions or live shows…I always try to do my best and treat each opportunity with respect regardless of how big or small the compensation is. Read more>>

Layli Samimi | Artist, Conflict Transformation Consultant & Mother

I believe the single most important decision i made that contributed to my success was that i made an unwavering commitment to always be true to myself. meaning, that i have always followed my interests, passions and dreams, and haven’t been able to fake anything else. when i was younger this posed as a problem, because there were a lot of things i was meant to do that i just didn’t want to – attend all my classes in high school, study to take tests, go to a good college, etc. – all the “shoulds”. but i never could hack it – doing what others expected of me, in the way they wanted me to – i had no desire to do things for other peoples happiness or to fulfill some sort of expectation. growing up in this way, it was always very clear to me what i loved and what i didn’t. i firmly believe that this characteristic honed my ability to identify what it is that lights me up inside, makes me feel alive and fills me with joy and excitement. this commitment to myself further has deepened to me making a deal with myself that i’ll always strive to live in my purpose. Read more>>

John Metcalf | Pottery Studio Owner

Selecting the best team I could assemble. I think just as important (if not more important) as “what I’m doing” is, “with whom I’m doing it”. Read more>>

Juicy Queen CoCo | Visionary Entrepreneur, Spokesmodel, Fashion, Art and Lifestyle Tastemaker

Deciding not to care what other people think – I think a lot of people get caught up in the opinion of others and it can stifle our growth and the ability to boldly walk into our life’s passion and purpose – When i gave up caring about others opinions it freed me up to be do and have whatever I wanted- unapologetically. Read more>>

Mia Mormino | Singer/Songwriter

Not attending college. That is hands down the most important decision I’ve made that’s contributed to my success. I grew up in a very cookie-cutter, picture-perfect, town and where you went to college after high school was disgustingly competitive, primarily amongst the parents. To me, going away for 4 years and then starting my music career didn’t make much sense. Would I have had a good time? Probably. Considering my career path as a musician, would it have been a bit of a waste. Probably. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for education and if you want to be a doctor, that doesn’t mean you skip med school and “figure it out”. But when you’re choosing an artistic career, such as music, the most valuable asset you could obtain is experience, not a degree. Read more>>

Eugene Santiago | Chef, Amateur Farmer

I believe one of the most important decisions I made was defining what “success” means to me. By doing so, it helped shape my journey of what it actually takes to work for myself. It definitely contributed to helping me remain humble and happy throughout the process. Read more>>

Elizabeth Daniels | Photographer

In my 20s, I was finding it hard to break into photography as a paid profession I got to the point where I thought I’d never pick up a camera again. I took a job In photography that had nothing to do with shooting what I wanted. Photos of restaurants for a company that no one knew at the time. How would this help me get anywhere? The decision to take that job altered my life and built my career. It also led to lifelong friendships. Read more>>