While it’s inspiring to read high level summaries of success stories, we think it’s just as important to learn about what drove the success and made it possible. We’ve asked some of the brightest folks we know to open up about what they believe was the most important factor behind their success.

Wini Lao | Brand Photographer

The most important factors behind my success is to network and be kind. I remember the first few clients who paid for my photography services. I didn’t have much on my portfolio, but I was kind and they hired me because of my passion. I built my portfolio from those first photo shoots and kept sharing my work with people I meet. This grew my network and have connected with brands like Adidas, Levain, Elemis or Peloton. Read more>>

Jay Kaufman | Cinematographer & Camera Operator/AC

Keep moving. It’s easy to look around and compare yourself to others, but it’s not going to do you any good in a creative business. Everyone moves at their own pace and just because you might not be on the same level as someone else doesn’t mean you’re not doing the right things. In the same way that you look at someone with envy, someone else is probably looking at you the same way. Make things you like, that you feel passionate about and stop trying to copy other people or look down on your own work because it’s not like someone else’s. Just keep moving forward, keep trying to develop your own style, keep pushing toward getting better and don’t worry about anyone else. Read more>>

Dalel Snider | Floral Curator

She didn’t set out to be a florist. Dalel Snider was really looking for a way to support her two teenage sons and her new husband who was just diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Despite having a Master’s Degree in Marketing and Communications, Snider was rejected by several corporations who didn’t want to take on an employee with so many family burdens. Knowing she could do anything she set her mind to, she set out to buy a business. Read more>>

Hannah Hong and Mollie Cha

At the core of our brand is our friendship! And, a huge part of the success of our brand has been remaining authentic to ourselves and prioritizing our friendship. We always said that if we had a successful business but we were no longer friends, then we failed. So we always make sure to check in with each other and make our friendship a true touchstone in our brand and business operations. Read more>>

Matthew Santos | aka MA/SA, two-time Grammy nominated musical artist

Originally, my response to this question was a seven paragraph exposition on why perseverance was the most important factor to my success. Only after crafting this multi-pronged argument did I realized that this wasn’t the whole truth, and that a deeper layer was being overlooked. Read more>>

Sean Dick | Director of product development and sales

Making a “Flavorful not Painful” line of sauces and rubs. While others were going hotter and hotter, we focused on flavor and making sure that we made a quality sauce that could not only be used as a condiment that wouldn’t take over a meal with too much heat, but, that you could cook with our sauces and that they were friendly to the majority of people. Read more>>

Min Hee Oh | Biofunctional and Cosmetic Dentist

The most important (and most challenging) factor behind the success of Avenue Dental was cultivating a positive team culture. At Avenue Dental, we take our hiring very seriously; having a team that understands the mission, vision, and core values of our brand is paramount. With a team that is aligned and can work together like a well-oiled machine, we are able to provide a perfectly curated dental experience for our patients. Read more>>

Steve Vernetti | Owner Vernetti Restaurant

My staff is the most important factor behind our success. You can fill the larder with the best products available, build the space with the most opulent furnishing and promote the brand from coast to coast but without the dedication, loyalty and respect of your staff you will never have success. Read more>>

Alex Hallerman | Artist Manager

Passion. Music is this gray area between professionalism and friendship where I think passion separates people. I’m an avid fan of each of my clients and I’m grateful to be able to work with such talented individuals, let alone be entrusted with decision making throughout their careers. We get excited when we hear ideas whether they are full demos or just voice memos. To us it hasn’t been about the certain number or statistic, most of the time it’s really boiled down to just making incredible music that we hope other people will appreciate. Read more>>

Teresa Eoff | Floral Designer

The success of my brand is built on authenticity and trust. I want my clients to trust that I am not only capable, but passionate about the designs I create for them. My goal has been to create a business where I can be myself as a designer and be fulfilled by my work. Read more>>

Trey Money | DJ & MC

The most important factor behind my success and the success of my brand is my love for music and love for people. I got my love for music from my family. I grew up in a household where I would listen to three different generations of music. I was in the band in middle school and parts of high school. I was always around music and involved in it so it made sense. Read more>>

Milla Istomina | Ceramic artist

As a ceramic artist, every piece I make takes me weeks to complete. A process, during which a lump of clay is transformed into an object, is so deeply intimate, I am amazed every time somebody else likes it. The idea that people choose my pieces, appreciate my effort, interpret every item I make in their own way is the reason I haven’t given up. Read more>>

Eugenia Chung | Owner and Stylist of E2beauty, LLC

Most of the success behind my business and brand has come through faith and the support of those around me. As much time and work I have put into this business, I still hold onto it lightly knowing that every good thing that has come out of this has been gifted to me. Read more>>

Carolina Alvarez | Producer, Podcaster, & Actor

With Femme Regard Productions, we are most importantly here to help independent filmmakers grow and pursue their careers while highlighting the voices of women in the industry by the films we make and with the guests we have on our podcast, Femme Regard Podcast. Read more>>

Genesis Lugo | Aspiring Storyboard Artist, Indie Comic Book Artist, and Freelance Artist

I think what helped me grow successful was putting more of my stories out there. I have recently decided to start publishing my own stories. I usually just posted snippets or illustrations alluding to a grand epic story I wanted to tell. I was then taught to tell short stories by my Professor for my Senior Short Film class. In that class I learned the power of telling smaller stories. Read more>>

Tommy Lennon | Artist / Singer

I think that a truly successful artist or brand is one that is able to remain genuine while reaching as many people as possible. People talk about artists and companies “selling out” when they start creating art in newer or trendier realms, but I don’t think that updated style necessarily indicates that someone has given up on their original vision. Evolution is natural, so it’s most important for me that I hold on to what I genuinely love and stand behind as I grow and change as an artist. Read more>>

Director Fonzy | Film Director & Producer

This is a great question! The most important factor behind my success has to be me making it a point to make my projects stand out. As a director, I’m always thinking “how can I make this scene catch people’s attention” or “what can we do to make this shot look different”. Even with my overall projects I typically will take an unconventional approach. This isn’t always easy. Sometimes thinking outside the box may land you too far left but, this is a risk I’m almost always willing to take in order to truly capture the audience. Read more>>

Tishelle Ogunfiditimi | Interior Designer

My network has been and continues to be the most important factor behind my success. Without strong relationships it’s incredibly difficult to be successful as an entrepreneur. Personal relationships and even acquaintances have led to clients, collaborations, industry level access, and new vendors; which are all important to run a successful business. So it’s become my own personal charge to not only serve my clients, but everyone that I encounter, because people are truly the most valuable investment you can make into your business. Read more>>

Lindsay Miller | Pastry Chef & Owner of “A Little Salty Pie Company”

I think the most important factor behind our success so far is that I just make things that I think would taste good, but I do it in a fun exciting way. I think the pretzeled crust puts a fun new twist on a classic dessert, but even without that I think the key to a successful baking business is finding the fun in whatever you’re making and staying true to what you think will be extra yummy. Also booze. When in doubt, bake with booze. Read more>>

Andrew Steven | Amateur explorer, expert coffee drinker, and podcast maker

In 2018, I tricked myself into losing 100 pounds by telling everyone I would backpack over 200 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains (and creating a podcast about it). The only thing was, I had never been backpacking in my life. I liked camping, but I had never spent any time in the backcountry. Read more>>

Shell Martinez | Entrepreneur & Design Junkie

Community has been a pivotal force behind the success of my business. I’ve never been alone although for the first few years I was the only official employee. From the start of my business my friends have showed up for me. Over the years they shared their skill sets, volunteered their time for special events and projects, gave me access to their networks and cheered on through all the ups and downs. I am forever grateful because I know so much of the support has open doors for my success. Read more>>

Shawnee Badger | Actor, Model, Activist, Artist

What I would say has been key to my feeling successful are my determination, drive, work ethic and also how much care I try and put into what I do and how important it is to me to prioritize others in my art. In both my acting and in starting Dig Deep Theatre, my theatre company, it became important to me to take matters into my own hands. I was not going to sit around and wait for opportunities to come my way, especially during a pandemic when opportunities are in short supply. Read more>>

Aaron Kellim | Pop Artist

I love this question, because often times we don’t get to see the backend of an artist’s success. We just see the talent, and assume that a cool melody or great vocal performance got them where they are. I’ve found that the most important factor in my own success has been how I treat people that I work with. Read more>>

Scott Frenzel | Content Creator

Experimentation. I starting creating content on TikTok at the beginning of the pandemic. It was this platform that was quickly growing and it felt like a now or never moment. So I downloaded it. I knew I was an entertainer at heart, but I hadn’t really found my avenue for entertaining. I started making pretty simple, lip sync videos, but then I started to branch out more. Read more>>

Ashley Isrow | Entrepreneur

I believe kindness and superior customer service are pivotal to the success of any business. I always lead with giving exceptional customer service and firmly believe that treating people well is the easiest way to build a successful brand, business and reputation. Read more>>

Tyre Mills | Filmmaker – Photographer – Video Editor

The most important factor in the success of what I do is passion. Passion fuels everything else. I know this because there have been other endeavors that I once pursued in life, and while I liked doing them, the passion wasn’t there and I could feel it. My passion for what I do today won’t allow me to quit my craft, no matter how many times I may fail at it I cannot let it go under any circumstances. God continues to reveal more for me in this path daily, and he instilled this passion for film and Photography in me as a calling. Read more>>

Brandon Jay | Talent Manager/Tv & Radio Host

The most important factors to creating success without question involves a crazy drive, passion, determination and work ethic. Identifying your brand and understanding how others may view your brand is essential to one’s success. Continuity of a brand is also very important. Read more>>

Ana Victoria Esquivel | Make-Up Artist

The most important factor has been the fact that I do not see a future where I do not achieve my goals. Instead of telling myself that something wasn’t possible, I ask myself, OK but how else can I possibly get from point A to point B? There has to be another way, there has to be another way. I always force myself to think outside the box and find another way even if I do not know the answer immediately. Read more>>

Rigo Obezo | Actor

I feel that the most important factor behind my success is following the golden rule. Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you. People forget how important it is to be kind to others. Having a great attitude, being a people pleaser and treating others as superior to you goes a long way. Read more>>

Naaman Smith | Music Producer

The most important factor behind my success is catching my audiences attention with my sound. I strive for my sound to be different from other producers so that the average listener is caught by surprise , wondering who they are listening to. Read more>>

John & Krystal Hines | Co-Founders Experiences Created

The most important factor behind the success of our brand is continually creating memorable experiences for not only our clients but for everyone around us. We feel that creating exciting and memorable experiences is one of the most important things in life, whether it’s individually or the ones you share with your friends and family. Read more>>

Nic Violets | Artist + Entrepreneur

I would say consistency. A lot of people with sour attitudes about taking the path less traveled are ones who tried themselves but gave up too soon. Sometimes you’re inches away from striking gold, and you don’t even know. I’ve been consistent with creating music and my own person brand for around 10 years now, and I’m still nowhere near where I want to be; yet I’ve never thought about stopping. Read more>>

Esther Wu | Technology Professional, Tik Tok Queen, and DJ Next Door

Persistence and resilience. Learning how to be a DJ was a tough and intimidating grind. It’s easy to look stupid and make awkward transitions between songs. Everyone’s a music critic and wants their song played. And just like everything in high-tech, the tools keep evolving. It can take more time than you’d think is sensible to learn how new software works. Read more>>

Latisha O’Connor | Psychotherapist

I think the most important factor behind my success is grit. I set a goal and I grind away until it’s achieved. I am passionate and persistent about showing up in my commitments, big and small, and following through on goals. Read more>>

Mark Todd Osborne | Senior Colorist / Founder @ MTO Color inc.

Top Level Creative Artistry on every job, no matter the budget. Smart, consistent workflows and being friendly. Read more>>

Berk Karaca | Actor

Wow, this is actually a very good and complicated question. Mainly because I believe there are a lot of different factors behind my success that I had to learn by myself and carry with me along the way. The real challenge here for me was, not having a mentor. Thus, I had to find my own values, purpose, and a definite plan. I had to start building and becoming an asset from the scratch. Read more>>

Kevin Kao | Father & Music School Chief Culture Tone-Setter

Culture – it contributes to both the types of teachers we attract (and stay) and also the type of families that join FreshStart. The 3 main pillars of our culture revolve around humble joy, a growth mindset, and positive mentorship. Humble joy is first because without it, the other two can’t exist. Without humbleness there is no growth and without joy there’s no positive mentorship. Read more>>

Zhen Chen | Film Sound Designer

I would say, paying attention to details would be the most important factor.In my opinion, what distinguish a great sound designer and a normal one would be how detail can you go. Sometimes an extra layer of wood creaking or rumble could makes the whole scene different. Read more>>

Moni Garcia | OG Juices

Being REAL. Being genuine has helped my business flourish these last five years. I love my business! I have learned that the more I do and the more I am confident in my product the more customers love it too and trust me. It’s all about connection and energy so being well with self first is key! Be you and success will come. Read more>>

Dr. Sophia Khousadian | Educator, Consultant, Co-Founder of G.L.O.W. Conferences

If I had to pick just one, it would be discipline. There are different aspects at play here; such as, self-regulation, a growth mindset, consistency, determination, resilience, passion, empathy, conscientiousness, openness to experience, adaptability, patience and various social skills, but discipline is what has allowed me to move forward in my career and to be successful. Read more>>

Pretty Sister | Artist

I never quit. that’s something that was engrained in me growing up wrestling, boxing and playing football. Never punk out, don’t be a bad loser, learn from your loses (which i had ALOT of ) and keep going. Also my branding is very specific and honest. i grew up in LA and was ripped away and forced to live in Toronto for 2 years. When we moved back i kissed the ground. that’s where my big boner for LA comes from. I think that’s what people connect to most. Read more>>

Ravi Roth | LGBT Travel Expert and host of GAYCATION Travel Show

Kindness. In the Queer travel space, you can have a million followers and subscribers, but if you aren’t a kind human, no one will want to work with you, take your advice, or respect you. As a Queer travel creator, I have garnered tremendous respect amongst my peers for my authentic kindness that shines through on everything I do. Read more>>