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.

Cameron Duckett | Actor, Musician, Writer & Mixing Engineer

My focus and consistent practice. Natural talent never wins out. The successes I’ve had in my career didn’t come from my natural gifts but from focused practice in my craft. I don’t care how talented you are, nothing can replace good old fashioned hard work. Read more>>

Angela Kazanchyan | Calligrapher & Lettering Artist

Constantly improving myself in different realms of my life has given me the opportunity to stay focused and be a perpetual learner. Weather it’s picking up a new hobby and going crazy with it or striving to always give it my all in everything I do, has proven to be an effective way for me to stay motivated. Read more>>

Russ Gooberman | Professional Improviser & Technical SEO Expert

Understanding your level of risk tolerance. As a former semi-pro poker player, I was able to develop a relatively high risk tolerance in my early 20s. In Hold’Em, a 75% chance to win before the flop is as good as its going to get — and that means, on a relatively sure thing, you will still be outdrawn one out of four times. Understanding that if you have the right habits, you’ll win out in the long run, even if you take some unexpected bad beats along the way. Risk tolerance is, in part, tolerance of failure. Failures are inevitable and necessary. Read more>>

Cooper Harris | Entrepreneur

They say small, daily habits build the foundation of your entire life – ultimately leading to either your success or your failure. I believe this is true – long-term endurance and a disciplined schedule have been the keys to my success. Once I was able to fully commit to my business, I decided to follow a strict regimen which included waking up at 5:30am, doing a quick workout, and then working until about 8pm each night. I did this every day for 3 years straight, until this schedule became a way of life — not only was it something that I enjoyed, but something that has rewarded me with true achievement. Read more>>

Christian Deneá Ellis | Chef & Caterer

The habits that I feel helped me succeed was continuing to learn not only cooking skills, but also skills to help me build my brand. I learned how to make graphics and take eyecatching pictures for my website and social media. People notice my special touches just because I continued to grow my skills. Read more>>

Ryan Ramirez | Music Artist

The most important habit I’ve created is to follow my power list every single day. The power list was developed by Andy Frisella, an entrepreneur who runs the business/lifestyle podcast “The MFCEO Project”, which I highly encourage you to check out. The power list is a list of 5 critical tasks that you HAVE TO complete before the day is over. The critical tasks should be related to an overall vision or goal you are trying to achieve, so in my case they’re usually related to music creation and building my career as an artist. The whole point of the power list is to create discipline through an organized framework which you have to follow every day. Read more>>

Brent Laffoon | Yoga Instructor & Teacher Trainer

I think more than anything the habit that has most helped me succeed is the habit of cultivating a positive outlook. Some days it comes naturally, but inevitably there are times when the obstacles life throws our way can seem like “problems” or “bad news.” Having a conscious practice of keeping an open mind and choosing to see opportunity in less-than-ideal circumstances has enabled me to turn disappointments into discoveries, pain into growth and confusion into understanding. Read more>>

Aakash Raj | Cinematographer

I think for me I never work hard for success, instead I always strive for perfection and gave priority to my growth as an artist and a human being. Even though my approach towards perfection has changed in all these years, the core idea of creating something true to yourself and not thinking about it bringing you success remains the same. Being successful is never my goal, my goal is to always grow as an individual and an artist, gathering as many life experiences and going through different emotions and experiencing different feelings. Read more>>

Ross Victory | Author & Music Artist

Discipline and rest play a key role to the successful completion of projects. Writings articles, books, and songs is very time-consuming. Sometimes writer’s block feels like it will never go away, but for me, I do not write when I do not feel inspired. When I’m tired, exhausted, or overwhelmed with trying to make an idea, character, or melody work, I take a rest. So the biggest habit is to listen to my mind and body and give myself a lot of space to fully execute the creative process. Great things usually take time and cannot be rushed. Read more>>

Cyndee Whitney | Jewelry Artist

All success requires risk and risk can be mitigated by seeking out and developing relationships with mentors. Not necessarily a long-standing formal mentorship with assignments and scheduled meetings, but a skills-focused process that serves to scaffold your professional or creative development that brings you up to a new level of proficiency. Perhaps you know of someone who is a master of product promotion or development, or someone who can attract strong teams or partners to expand their market. Read more>>

Zee Najarian | Transformational Speaker & Clarity Coach

There are two habits that I can say have helped me succeed. First, I stay the course. There is power in staying. Often times, we give up way too soon. In working with women for years, one of the questions I get asked the most is how do I know which passion to follow? I always say, you need to stay the course to know. Pick one and keep at it. Not giving up is how you win. There really is no other secret to success. And second, I always stay in self-integrity. My word is all I have and it’s as good as gold. People that know me know that if I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it. Read more>>

Dawna Lee Heising | Actress, Martial Artist & VP

I am never satisfied with the status quo, and I am always trying to improve in all areas of my life. I am always striving to learn more to become a better mother, daughter, wife, grandmother, actress and all-around person. To continually improve takes hard work, dedication, education, meditation and drive. Many years ago when I was attending U.C. Berkeley, I was assigned a book called “The Psychology of Winning” by Dr. Denis Waitley, and I have always followed the ten principles of positive self-awareness, positive self-esteem, positive self-control, positive self-motivation, positive self-expectancy, positive self-image,, positive self-direction, positive self-discipline, positive self-dimension, and positive self-projection. Read more>>

Alice Austin | Singer, Songwriter, Musician & Massage Therapist

Self-care. If my day starts off with meditation and exercise, the ideas I have are clear. The quality of mental and physical focus from these disciplines have really helped me generate inspiration, a sense of ease, positivity, and the ability to tune into people and situations effectively. I only meditate 10-30 minutes per day and exercise 1-2 hours per day. It used to seem like a sacrifice, in that I thought I’d have less time to work and achieve daily goals, but now I see how much more focused and productive I am during working hours. We all know this, and it’s so simple. Read more>>

Alan Gurvey | Lawyer & Talk Show Host

There is essentially one overall habit that includes numerous subsets under the same heading that I think is the most important underlying element to my success…and that is discipline. Discipline is only a habit when you practice it time and time again under different circumstances. For me, its developing a pattern of behavior that I have used in all aspects of my life. Examples include always being on time, always following through with what I have said I would do, doing things that I really don’t want to do without complaining. Read more>>