One of the most important lessons we learned is that our lives and our businesses will teach us along the way. We don’t need to know everything on day one because the challenges we face on day will likely be ones we are already equipped to handle. As we overcome challenges we get better and better and as the challenges increase in difficulty so too does our ability to tackle them.
We asked members of the community that we admire to share important lessons their business or career has taught them and have shared some of those responses below.

Tiffany McFadden | Actress, Singer & Creator

Don’t be afraid of risk, allow yourself grace, and know that the word “no” is a full sentence. The entertainment industry is always shifting, so it’s tough trying to stay in the know without feeling some sense of self-doubt. It’s easy to get swept away in all of the reasons why things could possibly not work out. But your self-drive has to be stronger. Your gut instinct and motivation always needs to be stronger. What’s for you is for you, you know? I’ve learned to trust that. Read more>>

Cyazon | Electronic Music Artist/DJ

To never quit making music, even at your lowest points in life. I recently went through one of the most difficult times health wise in my whole life. I was on the verge of quitting because I did not see any enjoyment or fulfillment from making music a few months ago. Now that things are a bit more stable health wise, I can slowly get back into making music again. What has helped me is taking one day at a time as well as doing one thing at a time. I have found that there will always be moments in life that set you back. It’s a matter of how quickly you get back up and running again. The process of getting back up has already begun for me. Read more>>

Thomas Eggensberger | Composer & Orchestrator

That routine is everything. I think about this quite often, but I have come to a point now where I plan out my days almost by the hour which really allows me to get the most out of my days. It’s important to stay aware of all the things that are going on in life and to be able to plan them in / make them part of the plan. Personally, I use a whiteboard for this to lay out my weekly schedules and what I want to achieve per day. This schedule rarely changes and I always know what awaits me on any day of the week and what needs to be done an achieved. Read more>>

DeMarco Smith | Filmmaker, Historian & Entrepreneur

Take a leap of faith and shine yo light. You could really be the one to save us all. Knowing that and providing a much needed perspective to the world that’s missing and filling a void that the youth need to played a part in our future as well. Taking risks, adjusting, being strategic in your entire approach from the marketing, promo to the presentation. Knowing how to sell to people without selling. Knowing how to strategic market your product and know that the world need yo voice and yo light. Make sure you learn and master the craft, the business, skills, the game and the industry. Know that you might have to take a risk and go hungry for weeks to invest your last dollar into changing your life and give you the opportunity to do so. You can’t do that from being comfortable. The leap to your next life required you being uncomfortable with being comfortable. Covid taught us once again the importance of building communities and touching people without seeing them in the digital age. Read more>>

Clarissa Serrano | Digital Marketer & Entrepreneur

The most important thing that I learned from business and career is that you have to trust yourself. Trust yourself. Trust your gut feelings, trust your intuition. Trust the process. Trust that you have the ability to find the answers because you will have to take action in what you believe in. As an entrepreneur, this is it. This is the job. As an entrepreneur you wear so many hats, and people look at you for the answers. You ought to be sure of yourself 1000%. You need to trust yourself and know that you will be able to get through these obstacles and challenges that come your way. Cause let me tell you, they come when you least expect it. And you need to be able to trust yourself enough that even though you might not know the answers, you know that you will be able to find the right solution. Read more>>

Olivia Jacobus | Pre-Professional Ballet Dancer

Although my journey and career constantly presents new lessons and challenges, there is one lesson that I carry close to me throughout any situation, and that is to take everything one step at a time. We all have goals, and no matter how differently they may vary, thinking about our future tends to be stressful and a seemingly large undertaking. Focusing on what you can achieve in the present moment is not only rewarding, but is somewhere to focus all of your hard work and attention. Winning the small battles slowly chips away at the bigger ones, making it easier to achieve what you have planned for your future. When I started to incorporate this idea into my everyday dance training, the overall quality of my work improved, and so did my mood, confidence, and mental strength. Read more>>

Emma Gabay | Founder, Creator, and Food Enthusiast

Sometimes we don’t need to know what tomorrow will look like today. It might be scary. But the opposite of fear is discovery. The most growth and personal development will happen during these treacherous times. Acknowledge the uncertainty. Seek the discomfort. Embrace your own journey. When you’re facing the inevitable hardships, it’s worth remembering this bit of navigation advice: “there’s no such thing as a yellow brick road.” It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the distance of your goals that we forget the joy that can be found in the journey. Our goals might not make sense to others, they might seem too far to reach for, they might be so small that it might not look like a goal. As we take steps along our journeys, there’s a certain joy to be found in the mistakes we learn from and the skills we develop. It’s worth taking the time to stop and enjoy these discoveries and allow us to be captured by the world. Read more>>

Jeannette Villarreal Hamilton | Photographer / Director

I grew up extremely introverted and shy, along with some pretty low confidence. When I discovered photography, I knew I had a lot of work to do to succeed in this field. I wanted so badly to go against my nature and be outgoing and a go-getter. So I turned my camera into my security blanket – I pushed myself into events, gatherings, or any social situation I was interested in and made myself approach people. I made sure to take on every practical job or opportunity that came my way, no matter how socially uncomfortable I was. It was super awkward, I was nervous, I fumbled. A lot. It got a little smoother every time though – my skills grew, and my confidence improved enough to keep going. Photography introduced me to new people, places and things. This was huge for my self-esteem and sense of self. It gave me the courage to ask for jobs and opportunities, that I knew would never show up on my doorstep on their own. I grew in my career but most importantly, grew into the person I wanted to be. Read more>>

Laura Tu | Marketing Graphic Designer & Founder of Mini School

I’m Laura, a marketing graphic designer by day, an artist at heart, and a builder of brands for small businesses by night. My love for the arts runs the gamut from eclectic home decor, vintage fashionwear to the most decorative art deco architecture. In my opinion, a fulfilling career or business comes with many lessons, and all of them are equally important. The most important lesson in my career is to always keep learning on your own terms even when your current position seems stable or when it lacks growth. No matter how busy your work gets, there is no such thing as job security even if you are a skilled and desirable designer, you’ll never know when there will be a change in the company structure that will leave you left behind. So always take care of #1, and that’s you. Read more>>

Emily List | OC Pom Rescue Cofounder & Animal Advocate

In my years of dog rescue and working with fellow animal advocates, my greatest lesson is to have empathy and patience. Myself and others see these dogs at their worst and the whole process of earning their trust and showing them that they are in a safe place can be very difficult emotionally. But seeing them transform and do so well in their new home makes everything worth it. Empathy is key to understanding how they hurt and how I can help them feel comfortable and happy. Patience is key because nothing happens over night, but it takes time and effort. Not every dog that I foster is the same, and my approach to training and comforting changes with each dog. Read more>>

Kudisan Kai | Singer/Author/College Professor/Owner of Vocal Music Evolution, LLC/ Podcast Host

The most important lesson that my career has taught me is that I have a voice, I have something to say, and I deserve to be heard. My story is unique to my own experiences. It is ok to be different. I am not a “one-trick pony”. I can do several things well, and should pursue my aspirations. It is never too late to take chances. As things change, continue to find your place in the “mix” with your integrity intact. Never worry about the “how”. Know that if you desire it, desire is just God’s way of tapping you on your shoulder, alerting you to listen and keep your eyes open for what is about to come. Desire is reality in motion. Sometimes, you have to give in, but never give up. Giving in is simply surrendering to the Universe, allowing its power to take over. Stay focused. Be patient. It will happen. This may be several answers to this question, but hey, that’s my answer. Read more>>

Alex Winkler | Film Composer & Songwriter

To me, it’s about recognizing that, most likely, the person you’re working for knows something you don’t know yet. And it’s your job to be humble enough to learn what that might be. As a film composer, your job is uniquely different from any other type of composer, songwriter, or arranger. Whereas an individual artist or songwriter is accountable to themselves and their craft first and foremost, a film composer is one member of a very large family necessary in making a film. You are the one who, at the tail end of a sometimes-years-long process, is supposed to help breathe life back into a film that your director may be sick of looking at for the thousandth time. After months of criticizing their own work, testing it with audiences, and having to fight with their producers over every little decision, you’re the one who should bring optimism back into their lives. Their movie is AWESOME, and your music is there to remind them how worthy their script was to be made into a real, live motion picture. Read more>>

Dianna Ippolito | Director/Writer/Producer

As a film director and screenwriter knowing a little bit about about a lot of other peoples jobs has been very beneficial. I can have discussions with composers and colorists and sound designers and casting directors and so forth much more easily now because I know how the process works, what kind of time and creative vision goes into their jobs, and why certain people end up rising above the rest. This can also be applied to film distribution. Over time I have leaned more and more about the decision making involved in buying and selling a film, which helps me be a better producer especially for my own projects. Knowledge is power. Read more>>

Dr. Jeff Rocker | Celebrity Therapist

The most important lesson I have learned as an entrepreneur is that “your network determines your net worth”. Building your professional circle can open many doors for you if you put yourself in the right positions to meet people. Also, I recommend every person who is interested in having a successful business learn the importance of branding and marketing themselves. There are too many resources out there at the tip of your fingers that many people fail to use. Also, another lesson I learned is that do not miss on an opportunity of a life time because of life circumstances. Just find a way to make it work and do whatever it takes to reach your goals. Its ok to create your own lane to greatness. Read more>>

Shaila Paredes | Brow Artist

Throughout my 18 years of being an Esthetician, I would say the most important lesson my career has taught me is that people will seek an artist because of what they’ve seen or heard regarding their talent, but they return and become a regular client because of how you make them feel through your positive attitude, work ethic and the talent and artistry you apply to fulfill their needs. Read more>>

Loata Toki | Singer-Songwriter & Musician

I’ve learned a lot of lessons during my career. It may be small now but the good and bad have prepared me for any obstacle that might come my way. I’d have to say when it comes to my career the most important lessons I’ve learned would be forgive and forget, to love yourself, believe in your craft, and always be the original you! They may sound cheesy…but it’s true. I say this because at times closest family and friends will doubt you, talk bad on you, and sometimes even turn on you. But the best way to handle that is to “forgive and forget” because in the end you will benefit growth wise, emotionally, and mentally. Especially, when loving yourself. This is an important factor when taking on this kind of game. Like most, I’ve always felt the need to continuously compare myself to others, be hard on myself for the littlest mistakes, and I’d always been so confused about who or what my identity was as an artist. This made it extremely hard on my mental health and made me question a lot about myself. Read more>>

Patricia Govea Villaraigosa | Social Entrepreneur

I have been working with indigenous communities for eight years. These communities live in very remote locations, without access to education, opportunities for jobs, and health services. Frequently they suffer from discrimination and segregation. Working with these indigenous communities has been one of the biggest lessons in my life; honestly, it has been a personal growth. I learned that: They live for being Happy and not for being successful. They are united for one dream, to maintain their tradition, family structure, and celebrate who they are. Read more>>

Keyana Ri’chards | Filmmaker & Social Media Director

With the sudden surge of pandemic-related career uncertainty running rampant all across America, I was reminded of an important career lesson – not to put all my eggs in one basket. Seemingly, life will create a way to remind you of the areas you’ve become too comfortable in, by shaking up your reality. So, aside from being a filmmaker, I dived into the field of information technology working as a Social Media Director. Because of this career move, I was afforded the opportunity to work from home during the pandemic, while growing and nurturing my first child –Montana Kortez, born Christmas Eve 2020. I believe we have all been guilty of putting off that career or business idea because it conflicted with work obligations. No one could have guessed that a virus would surface in 2020 to test the career security of people across the world. I definitely want to encourage those interested in an information technology career to pursue it now!. Read more>>

Josephine Law | Multidisciplinary Designer and Boba Connoisseur

The most important lesson my career has taught me would be to keep learning. I always thought I just need to finish school, get a job, and that’s it. No more learning, you’re set. But that’s not the case at all and I’m so glad it’s not. I learned we should keep growing by learning new skillsets whenever we can. And those skillsets don’t necessarily have to be something that’s related to your field. It could be business management, coding, cooking, baking, dancing, or anything really. This will allow you to gain new perspectives, inspiration, and opportunities from areas you never imagined before. It also makes you a more valuable asset, helps you to adapt to the ever changing world, and it’s fun. Read more>>

Ariel Pisturino | Professional Opera Singer, Teacher, and Artistic Director of the unSUNg Concert Series

The most important lesson my career has taught me is to be my own advocate. Read more>>

Shauna McGarry | Writer, Storyteller, and Community Arts Teacher

No one but you can determine your limits, and no one but you carries them. I had a boss once, an artist writer director, who proudly never worked a day in a conventional setting. She knew it wasn’t for her, she had to strike out her own path. And if she ever did find herself in a job that confined her, she quit. Meanwhile, while I wouldn’t call working in a television writers’ room as an assistant conventional, I stayed in such jobs for seven years, and then I became a paid staff writer on a show that wasn’t my voice or my humor. It was the opposite: a sitcom about a 50-something hornball. The tone was archaic, the jokes were often sexist and racist. I took an opportunity to work on it because writing jobs are extremely hard to get, but I knew it wouldn’t make me feel great or result in work of which I was proud. Yet, I stayed with that show through my contract. Three years. Unlike my former boss, I had never quit a job. Read more>>

Jahlil Swan | Fashion model & Actor

The most important lesson my career has taught me is that being patient will always get you places stress free. What I mean by that is if you spend your time worrying if things will go right or wrong.. or if they will happen at all then you are waisting precious time in your life to be doing something else. Sometimes you have to let things go and just be patient and wait on it for it to circle back to you at the right moment. Read more>>

Archita Mandal | Archita Mandal | Entrepreneur & Filmmaker

To achieve one’s goal, passion is necessary but not sufficient; grit and purpose are what fuel the engine of passion. This is the most important lesson that my career has taught me. When I had a corporate leadership role as my day job, and I had just finished a year of executive education at Stanford University, I was motivated to write my latest released short fiction “The Nair House”. This was my passion. But I had two children to raise — one just a toddler –and a corporate job to keep. I realized then that if I had to see my passion become a reality, I would need a lot of grit and determination to be able to direct and produce the film. My purpose was not just to make a film: I wanted to tell a story that mattered to me, the South Asian community and finally create good art. Read more>>

Kristen Daniels | Actor / Singer / Dancer / Artist

I know it sounds cheesy, but one of the most important things that my career has taught me is to never give up. It’s a lot easier said than done. SO much of this business is surrounded with rejection, and pushing through those low moments can be difficult. It’s never easy to not get the part you really wanted, or to mess up an audition, only to think “if only I did *this* instead.” There have been a few times in my career where I felt discouraged and thought that nothing was going my way. But through the years, I have worked on really pushing through those moments, which often end up leading to something I never would have expected. Many times, the part that I was dying to get is not the part I was meant to do at the time. Either because something came along that ended up being so much better for me, or that I was able to make a certain connection to someone in another show that ended up leading to something else. Read more>>

Kenyatti Hellum | CEO Of LashKandii

The most important lesson I learned from my business is that there isn’t a such thing as an overnight success. A business is like a baby. You have to constantly feed it and take care of it for it to grow. In the 3 years I’ve been in business I learned there’s always something to do! Along with that I learned that it’s really a journey and everyone’s journey is different. Read more>>

Melanie Jay | Artist, Musician, & Music Producer

Pursuing music as a career has taught me two immensely important things. The first being patience; I remember as a listener of music and fan of so many musicians, I used to think, “wow, that’s so easy!”. Why don’t they release music more often? You just make a song, right? Well, now that I’m on the other end, I’ve realized there are so many aspects no one talks about, and there’s a lot of waiting, especially when collaborating with other individuals. To add to that, the creative process sometimes takes more time than you’d initially think. An added level to patience that this career path has taught me is nothing tends to be as instantiates as it looks. When observing others’ career success when it seems they’ve won the views lottery, in reality, there were years behind that “blow up” in their career. So I’ve learned that I have to be extremely patient in every aspect, and it actually makes every small success that much better. Read more>>

Cha See | Lighting Designer for Stage and Environment

The important lesson of solidarity, unity and community. Having these three elements made my pandemic and theatre life so much better. I remember my first year here in America eating a dollar ramen from the bodega and me and my best friend would check in on each other how the other one is surviving. Looking back, I thought that is what community should look like. So I co- founded See Lighting Foundation. We have built a community of immigrant theatre artists trying to make change in the toxicity of the theatre industry. Read more>>