We asked some brilliant folks from the community to tell us about the most important lesson their business or career has taught them. We’ve shared some of those responses below.

Janelle Pietrzak | Photographer

Stick-with-it-ness, grit, persistence. Over the years, I have seen so many talented photographers give up when they were so close to success. It’s really sad that all that creative energy has been lost to the extreme competitiveness of the artistic lifestyle. Not to say that there shouldn’t be a level of competition with each other and with ourselves, as that is what drives us to improve and succeed, but I wish there was more acknowledgment of how difficult it is to be an artist. Not only do we constantly second guessing our own abilities but we are also endlessly being rejected by our peers and the outside world. Every artist is a pioneer, they are always forging new paths and that is a really difficult way to live, it takes constant work and energy. Read more>>

Josh Kopel | Restaurateur, Entrepreneur & Tech Pioneer

I’d argue that the most important lessons of my life are the ones that I seem to be reminded of again and again. Of those, my favorite lesson is to focus on the “who” and not the “how.” The last forty years have been a series of non-stop surprises both professionally and personally and I’m sure the same is true for you. At 16 years old, I had no desire to own a clothing line and yet, at 26, I owned and operated a men’s & women’s contemporary clothing brand that I had built from the ground up. At 26, I could never have envisioned that two years later housing bubble would burst and put me out of business. At 28, I didn’t dream of owning my own bar in Hollywood but, at the age of 30, I signed my first lease. Read more>>

Alex Segal | Co-Founder

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned while building Croft House is how to remain calm in the storm. Starting, building, and running a business is a whirlwind of ups and downs, and in the early stages of the company we were often swept up in each one. Running a business is always stressful, but this only amplified the problem. Learning to find a way to keep a sense of calm throughout these ups and downs has benefited both the business and my personal life. It has been a crucial tool for navigating 2020. – Alex Segal, co-founder of Croft House. Read more>>

Dia DuVernet | President & CEO

People don’t care what you know until they know that you care. This concept has been stated in many different ways, such as, “You can’t lead if others don’t want to follow.” Over the years I’ve learned to lead more from my heart, and not just from my head. Read more>>

Laurel Mintz

1. That everyone is faking it so you might as well shoot for the stars. Imposter syndrome is very real especially among female founders, but the longer I’ve been in business the more I realize that everyone has it, some are just better at hiding it. When I realized everyone was faking it, it gave me the confidence to be more playful with my brand, take more risks, laugh at myself and know that it’s not that serious. 2. Process is key. Knowing that you’re the expert is one thing but putting the proper processes in place to show that you are thoughtful, detailed and that your process it the right process to service the client’s needs is how you can scale. It’s also an amazing tool for vetting the wrong clients ie anyone trying to break or change the process. They’ve hired you as the expert so if they’re trying to change up your expert process that’s not going to be a good fit. Read more>>

Kim Esmond | Creator, Owner & Director of Dance Company

One thing I have learned even prior to starting my business as it pertains to business of any kind is that mainly people just want to be heard. Any business owner or company will tell you for every compliment you get there are ten fold complaints not because your practices are flawed, but rather people are more apt to provide negative feedback than take the time to commend someone on services well done. It’s just human nature in the fast-paced world in which we live. I have taught my staff from the time they come on board here to really connect with their families, build a trust between them so when and if they DO have an issue, they feel comfortable sharing it with you. This is a good thing because without the trust and sharing we cannot address the issue, it remains unseen or tackled and that person will take their business elsewhere. Read more>>

Tim Carey | Glass Artist

I attribute the success as I’ve had in my career to my commitment to the path forward. While my career path has not been a straight line, it has been a line with straight segments. Meaning, I have had major shifts in the focus of my work, but with each shift, there has been no looking back or second guessing. If I choose a new direction, I commit to it and chase it with passion and reckless abandon. Read more>>

Effie Tanji

If you have an idea, it belongs to you. You own it. Protect it, share it, cultivate it, but never ever give it away. If you feel like you need a partner, always hire an attorney and lay it all out on the table- no matter how uncomfortable or how expensive it might seem at the time. It will cost you so much more (financially/emotionally/spiritually) in the end if something goes haywire! Read more>>

Miyoshi J. | Entrepreneur & Fashion Designer

Being a business owner is a great experience and you learn many lessons as the whole entrepreneurial process is a new adventure. One of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is to not be afraid to step out and follow your dreams in spite of fear, lack of knowledge, experience or resources. If God has given you a gift or a talent and you seek Him for direction, He will open doors and lead you there. You may not see how it will all come together or even know how it will happen, but it will. Always set goals and celebrate your achievements no matter how small. After all, it’s one less thing you have on your “to-do” list. Along with this, I would say to not hesitate to seek help outside of myself as needed. Read more>>

Emely Solis | Dark Artist

I realized early on that the 9 to 5 / cubicle format was very stable, and gave me a regular paycheck, but did not fulfill me emotionally or creatively. When I started my business, I did it just to have an outlet for myself. It became clear, very quickly, that the more I made art that spoke to me, the more I sold. My business taught me that if I make art that directly reflects what I am passionate about, and what I find beautiful, the more my business grows. Read more>>

Adam Gharib | Director of Photography

The most important lesson that I’ve learned in in my career is having patience. Being a cinematographer takes a listening ear, where you have to communicate with your director and other department heads. Every single set you step on will have 1 or 2 fires for the most part. Having patience not only settles you down, but everyone around you. You have to step up and work with the blows. Remember we are not doing surgery we’re making movies and nothing is that serious where we have to freak out to get a point across. I believe we all have to stay humble in this field, because even with the highlights of your career, it can all go in an instant. We all can learn from others whether you’re an ASC Cinematographer or non union DP just getting started. Read more>>

Carrie Diaz | Owner & Confidence Advocate

You are capable of accomplishing more than you ever thought possible. Read more>>

Whitney Shannon | Founder

Always think outside the box and never be afraid to speak directly to your customers regarding your process behind the product. We are inundated with products online. What makes you stand out is what makes you unique. The fact that I am a professional dancer and fitness trainer is what makes my streetwear product and my designs different and in shooting those products with a dancer’s eye is what got the attention of Vogue,Glamour and NYFW. Had I taken the advice to shoot just on a white background with still products and models that were in static positions my brand would have not stood out from others. Take chances! just because no one has pursued the idea you are thinking of doesn’t make bad, it makes you innovative. Read more>>