We asked some of the city’s rising stars to reflect on what made a difference in their journey. We asked them to tell us about what they think the most important factor has been behind their success.

Chanel Minnifield | Actress, TV Host, & Vegan Influencer

Deadlines! Deadlines! Deadlines! Having deadlines has been the number one key to my success. It is so important to create a road map for yourself and give everything a deadline, so you can stay accountable and on track. I didn’t always use this technique of deadlines within my career and for many years I always felt like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. At that time I would describe myself as being on a treadmill, because I was doing a lot of things… I just wasn’t getting those things done. I can remember a time when it was the beginning of the year and I was writing down my goals, and I remember putting FINISH in front of all of my old goals. I remember telling my self that I wasn’t going to write down any new goals until I finished the many that I wrote down in years previously. I learned in that year to be an efficient finisher you must have a plan of action and that plan of action must have deadlines for everything. When I started working within a system of deadlines I started seeing finish lines, accomplishments, and I felt lighter. I felt as though I didn’t have this hug rock, called success, in front of me that I had to figure out someway to climb. Read more>

Christina Pellerin | Artist

There are 2 habits that stand out in my mind that have helped me to succeed. The 1st being determination, it’s really hard for me to give up on anything lol. Sometimes I whish I could give up but there’s something inside me that just won’t let me. I think with anything in life determination is key, not giving up and seeing things through to the finish. Whether it takes years or A-day I am always determined to finish what I started. The 2nd habit is positive thinking/mindfulness, what I’m saying to myself daily and being mindful of my thoughts. The minute I switched to that habit I saw a total 360 change in my life for the better. I started receiving the jobs and opportunities that I wanted due to right thinking. I know everything in life isn’t rainbows and unicorns but generally I’m on the side of the coin that the glass is full. I believe being positive has helped me to bring positive experiences into my life and bring more success as well. Read more>>

Jesse Johnson | Digital Artist

These are 3 of the key elements that have lead me to maintain a consistent level of growth of my brand and just life in general. Passion: This is the most important element. It’s the glue that holds everything else together, especially during the lows. Without a strong passion for what I do, it would have been really hard to get through the first several months of no sales and lots invested, but I believed in myself and my vision, and thus far it has paid off! Organization: You will go nuts if you’re not organized! My personal recommendation would be to download Microsoft’s “One Note” – a free software that works like a spiral notebook. It’s helped me to easily organize my ideas, tasks, and anything else business-related. Read more>>

Nick Lennon | Artist & Video Editor

I think my biggest habit is just being curious, always wanting to learn more. I guess it’s my way of trying not to be complacent. Also, might be unhealthy, who knows, but regret keeps me moving. I don’t want to wake up in five years and wish I would’ve made a song or a film or anything. That shit keeps me up at night. Not really, I usually pass out after watching a few episodes of Family Guy, but you know what I mean. That’s why I studied film, painting, and taught myself how to make music. And if you’re just making stuff people will notice, and if you’re good they’ll want to make stuff with you. That’s the most fun thing ever and that’s how a lot of my projects I worked on came about. Read more>>

Lia Beltrami | Producer, Filmmaker, Speaker and Writer

There are some healthy habits that have helped my success. Certainly the first is a strict rhythm in the day. As a woman, it wasn’t easy to build my career and take care of the family. I found it helpful to pace my day, never leaving behind: wake up at dawn, fitness, a good breakfast and then off to work and family. Meditation has also helped me a lot. To this I would also add the practice of tenacity and… “Never take no as an answer”. Read more>>

Dane Morck | Producer & Writer

I’d say I’ve always just loved collaboration, which in a creative space requires people to sometimes open up – which can be hard to do and that’s totally OK. I feel I’ve always tried to make people feel welcome, in whatever capacity that may be – whether it’s being a sounding board or just someone in their corner. We’ve all got experiences that differ from one another and that’s whats most exciting to me when it comes to story telling; where each unique perspective lends their own creative voice to build something special. Read more>>

Derek Harrison | Fine Artist, Oil Painter

Discipline has been the most important component of success. I still have a ways to go but nothing would get done if I wasn’t disciplined and committed. Read more>>

Neil D’Monte | Producer/Director + Artist.

I have a few habits that I do routinely that I feel helped me succeed. The first thing is waking up and making my bed every morning. Secondly, working out twice a day with cardio + weights. It helps me to stay focused. And finally, once I decide on making an idea come into fruition, I COMMIT to it. I don’t ever doubt myself, I just go for it!. Read more>>

Emily Isacksen | CEO + Founder of dressCODE

The habits that have helped me succeed the most are mindful meditation, daily fitness, and self-care rituals. I feel my best and deliver better work when I nurture my mind, body, and soul. Mindful meditation has helped me practice patience and control my thinking by turning negative thoughts into positive ones. Sitting still for 10 minutes a day allows me to stay in the present moment and focus on my goals. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by everything you have to do, but the mental clarity keeps me organized and helps prioritize my to-do list. Daily fitness makes me disciplined. I’ve worked from home for the past 3 years, so I like to plan my days around a workout class. I do everything from hot yoga, to Pilates, and spin. During that hour, I am able to release my stress and push myself to my full potential. I also love going on long walks in nature to brainstorm future features and come up with out-of-the-box ideas. The expansive sky lets my imagination free and makes me believe in the unlimited possibilities in this world. Read more>>

Scott Rinaldi | High fashion and runway photographer

My determination and drive to succeed at all costs. When I first got into fashion photography I was willing to arrive at the shows 4 or 5 hours before they began and stand front row center without moving. This enabled me to get the best angles and the best shots possible. You have to be willing to sacrifice certain things to get the job done on time. I would always go home upload my photos and start editing right away sometimes staying up till 5 or 6 AM even if I had another show the next day simply because I wanted to have the first completed images thus giving me a better chance at maximizing my exposure. Read more>>

Virginia Wagner | Artist

I have found that the most important thing you can do as an artist is to continue to make work. To make work through every season. And not just on your good days or when the muse visits. I’ve organized my life around allowing that work to happen – dedicating and prioritizing space and time. It’s a great privilege to be able to order my days in this way, but it also doesn’t take an enormous amount of resources. I recommend keeping your life as simple, small, and inexpensive as possible. For me, a full-time day job makes creating art impossible, so I work part time. Currently, I am a Visiting Instructor at Pratt Institute. Read more>>

Shein Mompremier | Actor

The first habit that comes to mind is my absolute devotion to the things that I want. When I decided to become an actor, I knew that I would need to commit to taking classes, learning new skills, regularly taking risks and accepting rejection, living in different places…basically having an unconventional but well-rounded lifestyle. Once I’ve decided that I want something, and I’ve asked the universe to give me said thing, then it becomes my duty to go after it. And the presence of this desire confirms to me that it is mine for the taking. Read more>>

Jennifer Melyan | Executive Coach & Body Liberator

Embracing Failure with open arms = my success. I know, it sounds completely counterintuitive, but learning to love failure has transformed my business and ensured my success. Before taking on this attitude with failure, I was always petrified about missing the mark. I was so stuck in making sure that I appeared to “have to together” that I missed so many growth opportunities. I would perform horribly, lose a client, and not learn from it. I wasn’t taking any responsibility. It was always some external circumstance, out of my control. And, guess what? I went nowhere. My coaching business was a a standstill. Read more>>

Chih-Yuan Chang | Graphic Designer & Photographer

I believe strong discipline in maintaining both mentality and physicality is the essential habit that benefits my success. Work out for a strong body influences more than just maintaining mental fitness, and it could hold up a strong mind, which makes me work efficiently and think clearly. Here are some ways I carry out to keep my habits: Firstly, I have been holding a daily workout routine for two years, and I would feel ill at ease if I skip. Too busy and too overwhelmed with to-do work were my excuses before I started this habit. No matter how busy I am, I spend at least half an hour doing yoga, jogging, or work out in the gym every day. If I woke up early and the weather is cozy, I will spend some time jogging around the neighborhood to start my day. If the weather is too moist or frigid, instead, I will choose an indoor activity such as yoga or work out in the gym. Workout every day provides me energy to handle the daily challenges. Read more>>

Matthew Del Negro | Actor, Podcaster/Author (10,000 NOs | How to Overcome Rejection on the Way to Your YES

In pursuing a career as an actor you quickly learn that you’ll be rejected many more times than you’ll be approved. Luckily, having come from being a student-athlete before I chose this path, I had been developing the habits of discipline and perseverance for over a decade by the time I was bitten by the acting bug in college. One of the things that was drilled into my mind from a young age, particularly by my football coaches, was that in order to be competing for a championship in November, you needed to dedicate yourself to conditioning and study of the game, as a team, beginning in August. I didn’t realize at the time that the double-session practices, where we would sweat and breathe dust in the humid heat of an East Coast Summer, were preparing me for the mental long-game that I would later need as an actor. In fact, many of the lessons I learned on sports fields have translated and allowed me to persevere during the many dry-spells I’ve faced as an actor over the years: showing up on time, being a good teammate, working on my individual skills on my own beyond team practices, studying film, conditioning. Read more>>

Obinne Onyeador | Current Programming Assistant

Honestly, asking questions, when you don’t understand. It may seem like an obvious one, but so many people don’t ask questions when they need help and ultimately end up messing up assignments or not getting anything done because they didn’t understand. It’s always better to ask and move on! Also, just having a positive attitude goes a long in the entertainment industry, People may remember a good interaction they’ve had with you, but they will Definitely remember a bad interaction. With the industry being so relationship-based, being nice goes such a long way!. Read more>>

YueTong Tsen | Layout and Prop Designer

During the past year, maintaining a daily routine has really helped me stay focused and excel. I start my mornings by journaling about the day before, reflecting on what I accomplished, and noting how I felt. My workday begins with checking emails and DMs, and then I hunker down to work on my projects or schoolwork. I like to bundle smaller tasks together, tackle them all in one go, and then focus on one art piece at a time. My day ends with a workout and watching TV or playing video games. Compartmentalizing my activities keeps me excited about every part of my day. Read more>>

Mark Elias | Actor, filmmaker

Daily commitment to my craft. You could argue that’s not a habit. But making a habit of finding material and working on it, daily, will help you elevate your game and be ready when the opportunity presents itself. But entertainment is a business and while that phrases loses meaning with as often as it is thrown around, the stark reality of it is that if you schedule your day between the craft that you’re pursuing and the administration involved (marketing, outreach, growing a network), then you are positioning yourself for success. The micro view of it then becomes, what / who are you targeting and for what path in your career? It can be constantly changing but visualizing a direction that you want your career to go in is the single most driving force in guiding your own motivation and success. Read more>>

TJ Shaw | Actor & Producer

One of the biggest habits that I feel has helped me succeed in my career would be to take calculated risks. I have come across a lot of people especially in the entertainment industry who are too fearful to take the necessary risks that you have to take in this business. You have to get past those fears and bet on yourself. Now, when you take those risks try to be as prepared as you possibly can. Don’t let the preparation paralyze you, but you definitely want to go into anything being the most prepared you can be and then JUST DO IT. Read more>>

Melissa Zugell | Dance Fitness Instructor and Clean Beauty Consultant

I believe that creating daily habits and sticking to them have helped me achieve success. Often, it’s doing the hard things even when I don’t want to. It’s definitely a process and requires dedication, but I believe anyone can do the things they want to achieve if they begin by cultivating a positive mindset, and adhering to daily habits that lead to success. Some of my daily habits include: waking up early to make sure my to-do list is in order, and get my thoughts focused; I make time to exercise even when I don’t feel like it; I eat healthy and nourish my body with proper nutrients and organic (mostly) whole foods; I try to keep to a sleep schedule; I do my best to surround myself with inspiring, thought-provoking company, and I find time for FUN!. Read more>>

Brandon Herman | Artist and writer

I break things down into “next indicated right actions.” I can get overwhelmed looking at the big picture of a project and never feel a sense of accomplishment. So, I think about what is the next immediate action to push something forward–a phone call, an email, some research? I use timeframes to help to clarify a next indicated right action. For example, I might ask myself: if I have ten minutes to push this project forward, how would I spend it? And I use small increments of time like ten minutes a lot. I find that consistently showing up for projects ten minutes at a time (say, ten minutes a day) helps me stay active, rather than waiting for that ever-elusive, uninterrupted multi-hour stretch of time we never seem to find. I’ve brought a lot of things to fruition just doing ten minutes a day. Read more>>

David Wappel | Screenwriter

Honestly, the most useful habit is simple: reading. And it isn’t necessarily about any knowledge I’m gaining from what I’m reading, but I find that when I’m following good reading habits, my brain is sharper. I read a lot for my job, so sometimes it’s tough to add more on top of it, but there’s nothing better than thoughtful fiction to keep me charged and excited about my own stories, and the stories of those I work with. Read more>>

Yves Beneche | Writer

Habits that I feel helped me succeed were self care. Working in such a competitive industry like Hollywood, you can get burnt out and crash hard quite easily. In order to keep myself balanced and to prevent burn out and anxiety, there are a few self care practices that I do either daily or a few times a week. The first, and biggest one, is staying active. I try to workout and do yoga 4-5 days a week. It helps me to release stress and anxiety. The next one is kind of contradictory to working out but making sure I treat myself to a good meal a few times a week (and trying to keep it healthy!) There’s nothing like a good, comforting meal to make you feel better. Read more>>

Stephanie Greenquist Sammi Lappin | Indie Filmmakers & Founders of Peridot Rose Productions

I think the biggest barrier indie writers/producers come up against when creating a project is pre-production. We have both seen so many projects end before they’ve even begun filming, because the rewriting, location scouting, spreadsheet making aspects of making a film are not always the most glamorous or the most fun. It’s also the easiest time to throw in the towel – it’s just the core team involved at that point, so you’re really only letting down yourselves if you decide the undertaking is too much, which is totally fair. But one major habit I think has propelled us forward, through those moments, is that we bring our whole selves to work, and communicate with each other on how we’re feeling around the work on a daily basis. Our working relationship lives in tandem with our personal lives, our day jobs, our families, and our other projects. We may schedule a one hour writing meeting while Steph’s kids are getting ready for school, or a brainstorm session late in the evening because we’re both way too wiped from other work to craft any dialogue. Read more>>

Carol Faw | Screenwriter

For myself, writing-wise, the key is routine. You have to create a writing schedule that you can stick to in order to not just have ideas, but finish them! A “bad” finished script is better than an unfinished one or a great idea. People want to read finished pieces so that they can see you have the ability to follow through on your ideas. For me that routine is three scenes a day. That could be three scenes that are two sentences of action, but either way I’ve reached my goal. Anything beyond that is a bonus. Plus, it leaves me with the energy to be excited about writing the next day. Read more>>

Eric Sin | Designer & Creative Director

I think the most important trait that I have that has been a critical part of my growth in every place I’ve been has been my ability to identify problems. Most designers come into situations with preconceived notions of what the issues they are trying to solve are or are simply too willing to accept that the person they are working with has prescribed the best solution possible. Getting to the root of things and asking pointed questions to help inform decision making has been the best trait I could ever ask to develop. Read more>>

Crystal Williams | Owner, The Balm Shop & Co.

There are three habits that I practice daily to encourage and maintain success in business. They are: patience, persistence and positivity. Sustainability in business cannot be achieved in one day, so you must have patience. Just like a seed planted in the ground, you have to sew into the business, water it, keep watch for anything around it that would hinder its growth and nurture it to maturity. The process of longevity isn’t easy, so persistence and positivity are key. If you stay diligent and focused, in time, you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Read more>>

Alex Rochestie | Founder of TV Free Media & Co-Founder of Spiro100

Organization and listening. While working for a cable tv network early in my career I was amazed when someone I worked with was given a promotion over other candidates I saw as a better fit. When I asked what tipped the scales, the hiring manager said the person was “super organized”. This led me to prioritizing organization in my life and has resulted in countless successes since then. In today’s world of media where one person is expected to do the jobs once done by several people, staying organized is the only way to compete. Being the most talented cinematographer, fastest editor, etc. is great but if you aren’t organized, none of it really matters.
Listening is so underrated. I’ve made a habit of going into most conversations or encounters with the goal of listening more than I speak and having a “Mamba mentality” to interactions. Kobe was notorious for interrogating friends with an insatiable thirst for knowledge he attempted to extract out of everyone he interacted with. Read more>>

Paul White | Managing Funeral Director

The single most important habit that I can attribute any of my success to is intentional, daily time spent in fellowship with God. There is something to be said about clearing one’s mind of all the anxieties and pressures that we experience on a daily basis that helps me recharge. But emptying myself isn’t enough. This only wipes the slate clean each day. It is in my prayer time (talking honestly with God) and in my studies of His word (The Bible) that has brought about the greatest inspirations and help in my times of need. No question. I try to spend 1 hour a day doing these activities. I have found that much prayer has brought about much blessing, little prayer brings about little blessing, and no prayer brings no blessing. Read more>>

Catherine Quirico | Actress & Influencer

As a person I am very self-critical. I actively work on my mistakes, looking to improve myself wherever possible. I hold myself to high standards and try my hardest to meet them. I have a very strong don’t give up attitude which allows me to keep trying. I keep positive by seeing myself improve. Read more>>

Matt Blankenship Jr | Musician

I stopped thinking of anxiety as “my anxiety”. I had a month of my life two years ago where I either had a panic attack every day, or took Xanax to stave one off. I was actively fighting it, and I ended up spending a ton of my time and energy in a fight I could not win. Any time I feel anxiety about having too much to do, or more to do than I could possibly accomplish in the given time frame, I first acknowledge the feeling. Usually it manifests in a physical way, in my body. I might feel like I can’t breathe. I might feel like my heart is beating off time. I don’t try and suppress any of it; I sit with that feeling for a second. I don’t identify with those thoughts. The phrase “my anxiety” has. as an anxious person, always bothered me. It’s not “my” anxiety – it’s just anxiety. I open the door for the anxiety to come in, and maybe give it a little boop on the nose, like “hi, it’s you again”. It wanders aimlessly through me for a while as I focus on breathing. Read more>>


Zuhura McAdoo | Creative Director and Art Curator

I feel like I’m in a constant journey of success just because “reaching success” is not linear. Everyone has moments of success and failure. Something I learned my sophomore year of college at Howard University was that you should never fear failure but embrace it because then you learn more about yourself and what not to do. Instead you should fail fast and fail forward.The habit of reminding myself that it’s okay to fail as long as I don’t dwell over that failure for too long. Allowing myself to see the bigger picture rather than obsessing over all the “wins” and “losses”. Read more>>

Shannon Magrane | Singer/Songwriter/Performing Artist

A lot of great ideas come to mind with this question however, one habit that is at the forefront of my mind is CONSISTENCY & DISCIPLINE. Because I run my own business I am able to make my own hours. I’m not going to lie, while it definitely has its perks, it’s hard for me to say no to distractions like my friends hitting me up asking me to hang out, the easy accessibility to picking up my phone and getting lost on social media, and wanting to watch just one more episode on Netflix (said no one ever). And if you’re like me, FOMO sometimes gets the best of you. During these times I try to reel myself back in by reminding myself of the long term goals and all the great life opportunities I would be able to accomplish if I just keep my horse blinders on and get the work done. Its great to spend time doing all of these things, however those are moments i use to reward myself, which leads me to my next habit: BALANCE. Read more>>

Molly Niles Renshaw | Pilates teacher and Owner of Phoenix Classical Pilates in Santa Monica

I’m all about my morning routine. Without it, I’d be lost in a sea of emails, requests from clients, admin work, kid duties, on and on. I’ve cultivated this habit of my morning ritual which is… 1- Wake up a good hour before my family (5:45am). I put on the kettle, splash water on my face and sit down to the glorious quiet of the early morning with my steaming cup of coffee. 2- For the next 30 minutes or so, I open my journal and brain dump onto the page. Write, write, write anything that’s bugging me, nagging at me, things I have to get done, how I’m going to do it. As my brain lightens, I get to write about what I’d like to accomplish, aspirations for the coming day, week or year. Read more>>

Zylia Knowlin | Published author, author coach, public figure and motivational speaker.

Some habits that have helped me to develop into the successful writer than I am today mainly has to do with remaining organized, positive, dedicated and focused on getting my goals. Utilizing organizational skill such as mapping out my year and or using semantic webs has really helped me to gain a strong handle on the look and feel of the way I want to shape my future. Additionally, by creating organizational systems has really helped me to make time for all things that are important to me. Read more>>