We asked some of the city’s rising stars about why they think they have been so successful and we’ve shared their responses below.

Sarah FitzGerald | Historian and Museum Curator

Curiosity is the most important factor behind my success. As a public historian, I work in the business of storytelling. Wanting to know the stories of the past and the stories of different cultures and backgrounds is what drives me to share diverse and fascinating history at Rancho Los Cerritos. As a curator, it is my job to listen rather than act like an expert on every topic I share with the public. By collaborating with people in my community to listen and share their stories, I use my curiosity to benefit the general public. Read more>>

Robert Mai | Composer

Communication, communication, COMMUNICATION. Along with my love for music, I’m deeply passionate about the art of film and storytelling, and while studying screenwriting in college I also took classes/jobs in directing, cinematography, acting, editing, sound mixing, and production design. As a script supervisor I had to communicate closely with all set departments and act as a mediator between them, the director, and the editor, so I was able to learn about every single aspect that goes into making a film, and how people of different creative background communicate with each other. I also learned the value of patience, kindness, and compassion; I’ve seen my fair share of tense encounters, fights, and screaming matches on set, and vowed never to lose my temper at another human being when de-escalation was possible. When I made the switch to composing, I was surprised to discover that I still use these skills every day while working hand-in-hand with a director. Read more>>

Lena Wolek | Ceramic Artist

Humorous, yet touching and sometimes profound in a way but always kinda whacky, my work is simply silly drawings of critters on ceramics. Patrons endearingly see themselves or their own pets—that really are just a self reflection anyway—in the cartoons. Being they are items used daily they are a constant reminder of that first joy upon discovering. A happy memory that is constantly rekindled, like a great song that gets stuck in your head that you still love to sing along with… Folks that collect my work value the idea uniqueness of things and are attracted not only to the specific drawing but the other singular characteristics in the ceramics. I am careful to allow subtle chance imperfections to happen that give pieces an individuality that can’t quite be specified, but is there, just like people or animals. I often hear stories about how this or that mug is their favorite and they can’t bear to have their morning coffee without it. There is no praise that makes me happier and propels me to go even further in the edginess and absurdity of the work that then feeds the circle. Read more>>

Maria Nyren | Graphic & Web Designer

I love being a part of the creative branding world! It makes me so happy knowing that through my designs I get to help people and companies become their best and grow. I think that is one of the most important factors behind my success. That I see my job as I get to help others and that together we will reach their goals. The strongest motto within my work is “Together we will create your dream brand”. I believe that working “with” the client is very important instead of just working “for” the client. Making them feel heard and a part of the process. That their voice matters and that together we will be able to create their dream brand. Read more>>

Dr. Lois Frankel | Executive Coach, Author, Keynote Speaker

Creating a distinctive brand based on my values has been the secret of my success. I know that there are many others who provide the same coaching and consultative services that I do. And I know that many of them charge less than I do. So it is critically important that I am known for being different from the others in terms of quality, client care, reliability, honesty, and consistency, Research shows that customers and clients will spend more on a brand that they know will add perceived value. I have always focused on ensuring the services I provide exceed client expectations. This happens to be consistent with my values of ensuring clients are well-served, are treated like human beings not just a “pay check”, striving for excellence, and exhibiting the courage to speak the unspoken. Good is the enemy of great in consulting. There are plenty of good consultants. I don’t want to be one of them. I act in ways that clients come back because they know I have their best interests at heart and value our relationship. Read more>>

Nilo G. | CEO

There is no question that the most important factor behind the success of Kapture Vision are the people who have helped shape it over the years. Every individual we’ve worked with at Kapture brings a different lense to how we create extraordinary experiences. Some are more logistical and analytical, others are super creative and risk takers. Ultimately, what makes us successful is our diversity; it’s the broad spectrum of imagination and talent that casts a very large and colorful net that our clients benefit from. Read more>>

Luna | Artist & Singer-Songwriter

The most important factor behind my success is mental. I believe I have million dollar ideas and I do the best I can with the resources available to me to make them happen. This mindset and work ethic has made all the difference. Physical and mental exercise like yoga, meditation and vocalizing routinely help me stay focused, motivated and disciplined. These activities stimulate my being in ways that inspire me to stay dedicated to my ideas and bringing them to life. Read more>>

Golareh Safarian | Visual Artist, Creative Director, Author, Entrepreneur, Mindfulness Coach.

What is success? Aside from the basic definition of achieving a purpose or reaching a goal, being recognized (or recognizing yourself) as a successful individual requires a set of prerequisites that are inherently mercurial and subjective. Depending on your personal understanding of the term, you may associate success with financial independence, public recognition and acclaim, gaining the respect of your peers, or all of the above. In trying to define my understanding of success, I have come to accept it as a rather illusive notion. As I sift through my memories and try to recall my mindset at different times, I realize that my definition of success has changed just as much as I have throughout my life. As a teen, I remember associating success with doing well in school. I was also into sports, and loved to run. The 100-meter sprint was my favorite event, so training for and doing well in races was another measure of success for me. Once I graduated from college, my notion of success shifted towards my career. Read more>>

Foreword Films | Team of Storytellers

At Foreword Films, we preach “Knowing your network.” This has been the single most important factor behind our continued success and growth! You may have heard the term “Grow Your Network” before. But the idea that you will grow if your network grows has its flaws. The size of your network might be important when it comes to business development, but when you’re in a pinch, will anybody come through for you? This is why we preach the concept of “KNOW Your Network,” because even if your network is small, if the people in it will be there for you no matter what, your network is much more valuable than you think. Who is in your network right now? Note their strengths, weakness, industries, etc. Are you investing time into a more diverse and inclusive network? Expanding the circles around you shape the perspectives that constantly move your business forward. Understanding your network and relying on them for helpful insight when possible is an immediate strength of your business. Read more>>

Kimberly Rosenberg | Founder of Virtue & Vixen

There isn’t one magic serum or lotion to create radiant skin is what I communicate to my clients. It takes the commitment of effort to consistently care for yourself with a regimen to create a desired effect. Oh, and patience! Similarly, the effect in business I’m striving for is success. The factors behind it are purpose, commitment, effort, consistency and patience. Read more>>

Eric Flores | Personal Trainer & Grappling Coach

In the “Information Age,” where everything is digital, we have access to so much; apps, social media, youtube, google, websites, etc. These are wonderful tools to help market and advertise a brand. Make a name for yourself and your business. Whether you are selling services, products, or both. When you are a fitness professional, you are the brand. You are the product. People are not just purchasing your services, but you in essence. You can be “killing it” online, have years of experience, impressive credentials, a legitimate education, unparalleled work ethic. However, if you don’t care about your clients, nor invested in them…they won’t invest in you. The most important factor to my success, is good old-fashioned referrals! I have had the pleasure of working with some quality people from different walks of life. When they know you care about them, they will want to take care of you by providing you more business, since they themselves are pleased with what you have to offer them. Read more>>

Nick Yahoodain | Licensed General Contractor of LA

I’ve found that the most important aspect in building my business is finding the right team to work with – truly detail oriented professionals who are highly skilled in their trade. Electricians on electric, drywall doing drywall, plaster doing plaster – we used people who have been working in their skill for years which gives us and the homeowner a better result rather than using jack-of-all-tradespeople. Also, open and honest communication with all parties involved in the project, from the homeowners and the architect and design team down to the labor workers – we are all a team. Everyone benefits when we have a mutual goal in mind. Transparency whether it is good or bad news, always be transparent with you team and your client. Read more>>

Ian Mark | Author, Actor, & Filmmaker.

I have an internal locus of validation. Many people struggle to judge their own work, their own worth, and look to others asking “is this good?” As long as I can remember, I’ve had strong opinions about what makes a good book or a good film or a good improv set, and I hold myself to those high standards. When I wrote Love from Amanda to Zoey, I wrote it for no one but myself– I wanted to see if I had it in me to create an entire novel out of scratch. As I’ve grown, the goals I’ve set for myself have grown as well. Yet still, the work I do is above all else for my own satisfaction. If I’m not happy with the end product, no one else will be. That internal locus gives me the strength and the confidence to fight for what I believe on any project, with whoever I may be in the room with. I don’t like to think of myself as having a brand– each project is different, each creative task requires it’s own sacrifices and priorities. If my aesthetic and input could be boiled down to a slogan, it wouldn’t be much of an aesthetic would it. Read more>>

Mila Shmurak | Creator of Bare Pits

We value our customers and with every order and product you can feel the love in it. We are always available to help answer questions and understanding that armpit care is a lifestyle you can feel good about with Bare Pits. When I noticed that there was a lack of natural deodorants on the market for sensitive skin and one that truly worked, my passion for true natural and organic products helped me create Bare Pits. I am a mom of 4 and my top priority is raising good kids and being a good wife. Part of setting the right examples for my family was growing this business and has allowed me to show them to follow dreams and not to give up even when you don’t have all the answers or something doesn’t work. I always keep learning and keep pushing. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” I stand behind this because when my idea for Bare Pits became reality I knew I was on a mission to help others. I love to help people transition to a natural deodorant, explain why and how to do it, understand what ingredients to look for and how to gain confidence again. Read more>>

Gustavo Santos | Drummer, Singer & Songwritter

We as a Band believe that the most important factor behind anyone’s success is something we call smart work. A lot of people would say that hard work is the most important, but lately we’ve seen a lot of people who worked so hard ended far from their goals. so constancy is something important about wokrk, but doing it in a strategic way and being aware of every step you take is something that can make time work for you. Read more>>

Chachi Prasad | Creative Director | Co-Founder

I believe my success is the result of a number of different factors, all working in unison to play an integral part in my success. So many factors are engaged from authenticity, humility, consistency, accountability, passion and drive. Call me old school, but keeping your word is a simple and important factor. They don’t teach you this in school but it’s one of the most important components, which is easy to put into practice. I’ve always kept my word with my colleagues, and clients, which has helped me build my business and my Integrity. Integrity is crucial in the sense that it allows individuals to place trust in you and your business. There have been times I have recommended our competition or an alternate source to clients because we may have not been the best source for that project. I’m obligated to advise any client what’s best for their interest. The same Integrity should also be applied to your sources and not just your customers. Without this, you cannot succeed or allow anyone to trust in you or your business. Read more>>

Shaun Chasin | Composer for Film, Television, and Video Games

The fact is, there are so many amazingly talented and skilled film composers working today. How then, can you set yourself apart from the pack? The answer that seems to be working for me is simple: consistency. My goal as a composer is to ensure the directors and game developers I work with feel like they’re always in good hands. They shouldn’t have to worry if the score is going to get done on time, or if the quality will be good. They should be comforted in the certainty that it will be great every single time. This trust is developed over time and I believe the consistency of my work is what allows the trust to be so firm and secure. Read more>>

Lauren Elizabeth | Pet Portrait Artist

The most important factor behind my success is the personal connection I form with my customers. As an animal lover and over-the-top pet parent, I can relate to the immense love and bond they share with their pets. What better way to memorialize that love than with a custom painted portrait of their best friend? I thrive on communicating and collaborating with my customers so that I really get a feel for their pet’s personality. I put a lot of focus on the pet’s eyes while I’m painting to really capture their spirit. I want their heart and soul to shine through when I’m done. There is nothing more fulfilling than being able to do what I love every single day, and it’s an honor to bring joy and healing to others through my art and love for animals. I’m grateful because my customers recognize that these portraits are more than just paintings; they also provide a place of love, joy, and beautiful memories that will last a lifetime on canvas. Read more>>

Lilliam Rivera | Author

I’ve always worked as a writer, first as an entertainment and fashion journalist. Freelance work is part of the norm when you are a writer. Now I spend my time writing novels, mostly for children. I love the work that I do. I spend a lot of time in this state of creating, of visualizing new worlds, and trying to translate these stories onto a blank page. It’s all I ever want to do even when it’s painful. But of course you can’t separate the creative side with the business side. Like most artists, I’m always hustling. It’s vital to know your worth, to schedule time for your art, and then for your business to continue to grow. Read more>>

Michelle Bongirno | Photographer

The most important factor behind the success of my business was taught to me when I first started. Most photographers would not share their locations, business tips or tools for editing. One of my college friends had started her photography business before we graduated and she helped me so much at the beginning of mine. This taught me to realize that there is enough work for all of us in any place we live. There is no reasons not to help a fellow starting photographer or business owner if you can. Community over competition is the way any small business should be run. We are all trying to be successful in life and business. I feel like this has been one of the most helpful tools with my business and my brand. Read more>>

Shaun Surgener | Actor and Life Coach (Peak Performance Strategist)

I tell people all the time you don’t have the be the smartest person in the room, you don’t have the be the most talented, but you do have the be the hardest worker in the room. You simply can’t outperform someone who has relentless dedication towards what they want. When I look back on some of the various successes that I’ve had– playing with a semi professional soccer team in high school, graduating pre medicine with a 4.0, moving to LA with $400 and no job to quickly investing in over 20 rental properties, building a successful business as well as investing in business while pursuing my dream of becoming an actor– the thing that has allowed me to prosper the most is that i’m VERY dedicated and I have this almost sacrificial focus to go after what I want. I’m willing to sacrifice A LOT for my dreams… I’m really not a super intelligent person, i’m not the most talented, but I promise I will work harder than you and will probably be more obsessed than you. The other factor is that I’ve always been obsessed with personal growth. Read more>>

Adam Frisch | Cinematographer and Winemaker

I think there are two ways to entrepreneurial success: One is to have a business idea that perhaps isn’s completely original, but work really hard at it and really sell that stuff doggedly .The other is to have a great idea (or design or whatever it might be), and elevate it that way – because it stands out. I’ve always fit more easily in the second category. Read more>>

Geoffrey Levitt | Fine Artist

Someone said I am a genius. Heinrich Schliemann said that talent is energy and perseverance nothing more. (He was the head archeologist that discovered the ruins of Troy). Someone said I am famous. But this has come with great effort and hard work. Training ones eye for the visual arts takes in my case a whole life devoted to art. My father said that my art was greater than his, Dad’s 37 year career in animation started as a background painter with Disney Studios in 1937. My potential as an Artist has been reenforced by many compliments and awards. But is an ongoing process even at 71. As each each day presents a new set of aesthetic problems to be solved in a two dimensional setting. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I asked my Wife when would we let up on pursuit of the goal of greater public recognition. Her answer was when you are famous. I continue to work at my art every day. Like any job I continue to show up. Read more>>

Caitlin Linden | Actor and Writer

It’s so easy to get lost in the day-to-day. Checking in and reminding yourself of what you wanted when you started your journey is so crucial. For me it’s that I will only be happy working as an actor or a writer. When I moved to LA it was because an old man (my ex) gave me a ring in Chicago and told me to meet him in California. This ring began to weigh on me, I hated it. I wanted to be an actor, not wither away because of an ancient golden band that was slowly driving me mad. And so for years I steadily made progress, a little at a time, I’ve almost been killed by 9 undead dead men who are always chasing after me, a big spider, and lots of sneak attacks by Andy Serkis. I’ve covered an incredible amount of ground for someone who doesn’t own a car, and you know what? When I check in with myself, my dreams have remained the same. Read more>>

Stephanie Gill | Family Photographer

My patience for working with children has really sets me apart from the average photographer. I always knew I was a patient person but after meeting hundreds of families over the years, I started to notice how they were aware of this even after only a few minutes of being together and they would comment about it. Having your family photographed is stressful enough, add in some cranky toddlers and it feels like you want to quit the second you get out of the car. I noticed how on edge parents felt as soon as they arrived, and I really wanted to be able to defuse that as quickly as possible. I found letting parents know right away its ok, and I mean that, its ok. We have to go with the flow and let me work my magic with the little ones. A few years ago I added in more cues and games for families to do during their sessions so that kids found it fun and it wasn’t a chore to stand there and smile. If a toddler is upset the session is at a standstill, so if I have to just sit next to them for a minute I will happily do that. Read more>>

Lydia Robles | Digital Artist + Creator

I believe one of the most important factors behind the success of my brand is putting myself out there to build genuine relationships with new people. I have always been a very quiet person who doesn’t like to say much, so this was definitely out of my comfort zone. As a small business, I’ve learned that people aren’t just going to be lined up to order from you as soon as you start up. It takes time and connections with people to get the word out about what you can really do for others. Read more>>

Shelby Castile | Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, Yoga Instructor, Founder OC Shrinks

I am a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, with a private practice based in Newport Beach. For over 20 years, I have worked with individuals and couples in Orange County, CA, to heal, restore and rejuvenate relationships both with one another, and with themselves. At the root of everything I do is a belief that asking for help can be the greatest act of love, for both yourself, and those you care about. I am honored to hold space for people, and help them, holistically, live their very best lives. In addition to my practice, I am the founder of Orange County Shrinks, a mental health networking group that believes that the best way to uplift professionals in the field is to provide space for connection, collaboration, and community. This all started as a passion project to create an online space for mental health professionals in Orange County to connect and find referrals, however it has grown into so much more. Read more>>

Christina P. Kantzavelos | Psychotherapist and Writer

A feeling of purpose is the most important factor in my success. My purpose is to be solution-focused with the goal of helping others. For example, the Begin Within Journal was born because a mind-body journal didn’t exist, especially for those moving through life with chronic illness. I, myself, needed a way to document my health, symptoms, mood, as well as my gratitude, with a practice of self-love and visualizations. Its creation has been a helpful tool for myself, and many who have used it. In addition, each month, I donate 10% to an organization that conducts research, advocates, or provides resources to the chronic illness community. It’s a way for those who use the journal to take care of others while taking care of themselves. True symbiosis. Passion may light the way in my creativity and success, however, purpose sustains it. Read more>>

Elexus “Let E. Tell It” Hunter | Indie Filmmaker | Writer | Producer

The most important factor behind my success is making my dreams come true. I believe we’re all created to fulfill our purpose for whatever it may be. You just have to discover it. Get in tuned with yourself. Once you find it, the hunger for making it come true is insanely addictive. It’s like, there’s no plan B or C. You got to take action. The success of my brand comes from my life’s journey and becoming my most authentic self. Being myself is the main factor for succeeding in this process called life. Read more>>

David Cardena | Dj / Producer

Our team. There are four of us making choices and decisions and we value everyone’s input and perspective. This type of dynamic collaboration gives our events a feeling of being vibrant and alive. Read more>>