A big part of making decisions is determining what our actions and choices have been inspired by. So we asked decision makers from the community to tell us about what they are inspired by.

Gena Rynae Smith | Artist & Entrepreneur

Inspiration for me comes from so many different things. To be honest, I could find inspiration in almost anything whether it be from a conversation, food I’m eating, or a fond memory. The process in which an idea comes resembles a fire, it begins with a spark, but all it takes is one spark in a forest to ignite an inferno. What started as a tiny speck of light over time has the ability to become something grand and hot. My artwork has been just like that fire, when I first began painting I was so afraid of what others would say about my art. I passed up many chances to share my work not even realizing that I was robbing myself of the opportunity to become a better artist through those experiences. At that time I was telling myself that I wasn’t a good artist so, why would anyone want to see my art anyways. There were so many times in my life where I just got fed up with my own crap and just made a decision to change. One of the most vital skills I had to learn in life was the lesson on how to talk to myself. Read more>>

J Werkz | Rap Artist & Audio Engineer

There’s two things that keep me pushing. The first thing is Family. My daughter and my Partner aren’t the reason I started in music, but they’re the reason I won’t quit. They make me want to really push to the top and create a better life for us. The second thing that keeps me going is wealth. NOT the traditional idea of wealth. Im talking about Long money. Generational wealth. I want to create a Kingdom for my family & have multiple properties, investments, etc that keeps my family fed and Happy for a long time to come. Not the kind of wealth that most rappers want, diamonds etc… That long Term comfort and Financial literacy. Read more>

Sasha Perelman | Experience Creator, Thought-Leader, Author, Poet + Storyteller

As a creative and entrepreneur I find inspiration comes in many forms. My biggest source of inspiration is my family. My parents fled from the former USSR in pursuit of a better life. Throughout their lives they faced a lot of adversity and anti-semitism as Jewish people. Opportunities to succeed and live a peaceful life was bleak. Their resilience and tenacity to create a better life for their children motivated them to risk losing everything in hopes of achieving that. As the first one in my family born in the US, I’m often reminded of their courage to push beyond uncertainty and hardships – knowing that on the other side of darkness is light. It drives me to move forward in the toughest moments. It reminds me to be grateful for my freedoms and appreciate the beauty of life. As a storyteller and experience creator, I am compelled to share about their experiences in the USSR and their immigration to the US. I’m currently working on a novel that I anticipate will one day turn into a film. I truly believe their story is not only timely but an opportunity to create a legacy for my family. Read more>>

Anna Kaskeeva | Actress

I get inspired by people, by people who make difference, who pursue their dreams in spite of everybody telling them “no”. Those are the people who make history. People like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Sylvester Stallone, Vin Diesel, Tyler Perry, Steve Harvey… they didn’t stop when everybody told them that there no roles for them because they are too dark, too light, too latino, has statter, has face paralysis… They stopped to create something new, to show the world who they really are. They are talented people. And nothing else matters. And when I look at them and their success, I think to myself that I can do it too. Read more>>

Maja Trochimczyk | Poet, Photographer and Music Historian

Inspiration comes and goes, like the whimsical Muse that appears and disappears at will. On a bright winter morning, I drove into the mountains to take a perfect photo of the snow on the hilltops, but it was melting, so my drive turned into a quest, and then into a poem… I call these types of short poems “freeway poetry” – refining them in memory makes driving fun – much better than road rage, I can assure you! Mountains, ocean, gardens, birds, trees – are an endless fount of inspiration, especially in the sunny California, still exotic to this Polish-born, immigrant poet. The light is so dazzling here, so vibrant – different, than further up north. I’m also a photographer of roses, petals, leaves and sky… I capture to keep what I love, the most intense experiences and impressions of this fleeting world, and the endless light hidden within. After my Mom died and the stories she told me about her life under the Soviet and German occupations during WWII started to get all mixed up in my memory, I wrote them down, the best I could, as poems, and a book “Slicing the Bread” (Finishing Line Press, 2014) was born in a month. Read more>>

J. Character | Recording Artist, Model, & Producer

I am inspired by truth. Truth and the process of searching for it, as more and more knowledge makes its way to my ears, my eyes, and then my mind, feels like genuine freedom. The journey of truth itself is inspiring because it has an interesting path in this present world. Truth as a vibration, a feeling, and an inner knowing, can be felt and tuned to re-build positive foundational perspectives of life. Being able to intertwine ancient truths along with newly discovered truths into my life, my art, and my business is the most exciting and rewarding journey. It sharpens the adaptive traits and hones in the mind, making an extremely captivating roller coaster ride of the human experience. Truth seeking as a model and recording artist allows me to build a healthy influencing energy and to maintain the historic authenticity of hip-hop. Prior to a record label centralized music industry, the art form thrived on talent, authenticity, and spreading knowledge of whats happening outside of the upper class point of view. Read more>>

Marian Partee | Playwright, Lyricist, & Librettist

My collaborators inspire me. Writing can be a solitary endeavor, so I work with others whenever I can. It’s exciting when other writers present ideas that never would have occurred to me. It’s especially rewarding when I find long-term collaborators with whom I can work on multiple projects (like composer Christina Whitten Thomas). I love writing for specific performers, too. The characters become multi-dimensional to me, and the performers give helpful feedback on what is working or not for them. Christina and I recently wrote a song cycle for soprano Rebecca Sjöwall, and the process was a joy. Read more>>

Michala Grønkjær | Designer

I am really inspired by juxtapositions! Natural versus unnatural or feminine versus maskuline. I like to play with traditional juxtapositions in order to either find a balance between the two or put them up against each other to create a clash in perception. This especially shows in my current fascination for fusing old vintage into newly contracted pieces and shapes. Read more>>