We asked folks we admire to share one piece of conventional advice that they disagree with.

Izzabella Irwin: Dancer & Visual Artist

Any notion that being book smart will have any relation to your success in life is, in my opinion, a complete fallacy. While I think a traditional education enriched my brain, I would say many things I was taught do not have practical application to the pursuit of transforming my body of knowledge into a business. I was AMAZING at school, but for years, I floundered as an artist in the world because I had a gap in my education. At the root of the success of any artist is confidence and belief in their unique point of view. For me, I have moved closest to this feeling from the practice of mindfulness and meditation, rather than writing essays and artist statements. I learned how to write well about a point of view, but I did not learn how to practice and live that point of view. The ability to network at events, be in touch with the art scene and speak about yourself like you are a product, not a student is integral in succeeding in life. If you don’t sharpen those skills, you will limit your opportunities to show the world who you are as an artist. Read more>>

Antoine Martel: Real Estate Entrepreneur

One piece of conventional advice that I do not agree with is owning the home that you live in. The home was created by the banks and it was a product they created to sell another product which were loans. Then the media started picking this up and created what’s called the American dream. Where people move to this country and want to buy a house with a white picket fence and a dog and two kids. All of this is just a scam that was created by the banks so that we would buy more houses! People should only be buying homes as investments, then these houses would be considered assets and not liabilities. It is so engrained for people to want to own the home that they live in, but I disagree and think everyone should rent. Read more>>

Alabama Blonde: Costume Designer

I have a few… However I hear many artist’s, and often young artist’s, being told they can pursue their art – but to always have a back-up plan. I was lucky – as I was never encouraged by my parents to have a back-up plan, but rather to fully commit to my artistry, which I think is far greater advice. How can you truly succeed in you field of choice when you already have one foot out the door from the jump?. Read more>>

Tammy Pettigrew: Cannabis Educator & Advocate

One piece of conventional advice I’ve let go of is to “stop paying someone for the things you can do yourself.” That whole mindset is in the trash. I’m totally capable of running all aspects of my business, but I realized I was doing so to the detriment of my creativity, sleep, peace, and happiness. I’m not sure why, but there seems to be this special badge of honor for people who do it all and are successful. I used to strive for that badge until I realized how much stress was affecting my body and physically taking me out of the hustle. I’ve now surrounded myself with people who are strong or experts in what I need help with, instead of laboring on my computer for hours and coming out of the end of it frustrated and depleted. I now have more bandwidth to create, enjoy life, and rest. Read more>>

Alexis Molton: Actor & Filmmaker

One piece of conventional advice that I disagree with is probably “fake it til you make it”. I think being vulnerable in your truth and genuine in who you really are at any phase of your life or career in the long run is always produces a greater acceptance from people. I’ve struggled a lot with feeling like sometimes my personality type isn’t the best suited for the work I do or the industry I’ve chosen to be a part of. Maybe I’m not social enough, maybe I’m not willing to sucker up to the right people to gain opportunities, maybe I have to change parts of myself to be more like-able or acceptable. But the truth is as cliche as it is the things, people, and opportunities meant for you will be for you, and all you have to do is be yourself. Whole heartedly and genuinely. There’s a space crafted in this world just for you, but you can’t fit into it if you’re trying to be like everyone else. Read more>>

Jesse D Turk: Director, Writer and Producer

Often times people going into creative jobs are told to have a backup plan in case of failure. I’d argue that anyone I know who has succeeded has not had a real backup plan. You can have a day-job, a side-gig or side-hustle, a way to support yourself as you pursue your passion, but ultimately if you tell yourself you have this other option—one that is probably a little easier or more stable, chances are you will turn towards it. Everything you do, even that day-job, should be about learning and growing towards your ultimate creative goal and should allow for you to pursue that. Read more>>

Sika Lonner: Actor & Writer

I’ve never liked the phrase “no pain, no gain.” I mean, this concept makes no sense on a physical basis– pushing through pain without listening to your body is really quite dangerous. I commonly hear this phrase used in an attempt to motivate individuals who are struggling in one way or another. While I certainly believe hard-work is necessary to achieve one’s goals, I don’t think hard-work and pain are synonymous. Claiming that pain is the only way to see personal or professional “gains” is dangerous. It places a value on suffering that may inhibit people from leaving toxic, abusive, or otherwise unhealthy situations. Perhaps I seem melodramatic, but think of how often we judge ourselves or others for rejecting opportunities. If a person leaves a job due to a toxic work environment, they’re a quitter, they don’t have what it takes to make it in this industry. Read more>>

 

Zazu Moloi: Media & Marketing

The notion that you have to work “hard” to be successful is a piece of conventional advice that I disagree with because just because you work hard doesn’t mean you’ll be rewarded with success. From my experience working smarter is what will lead you to success faster than working hard. There are countless people who have graduated from an accredited college, good grades, good job, the whole bit that have their checks signed by a college dropout, Facebook, Microsoft, etc. Working “smarter”, creating systems, and putting the right people together is what will make you successful in business. A system is scalable, a system can run without you. Make the system, the work thereafter is relatively easy. Read more>>

Ruby Angela: Creative Director & Founder of killr

“Fake it ’til you make it” – Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that this is terrible advice that no one really thinks to debunk. This proverb became so strongly connected to “success” and how to succeed for people especially early in their career path or starting out on an ambition. Yet, people also face later on “imposter syndrome.” When I realized and was faced with this feeling, that’s when I realized it shouldn’t ever be about “faking it ’til you make it” it should instead be about “doing it ’til you believe it.” You have to show yourself and prove to yourself you can do the things you want merely by just doing it and tackling it head on. If you fake it ’til you make it, of course you’re going to feel like an imposter- you’ve been telling yourself you’re just “faking” the entire process. Then, once you’re “there” you feel like an imposter. You feel like you don’t deserve the achievement you worked so hard to get because the whole time, in your mind, it actually wasn’t real. Read more>>

Susan Ruth: Podcaster, Abstract Painter, Songwriter, Performer, Writer

I disagree with a lot of conventional advice. No one gets to write your story for you. It’s important to hear the stories of those who’ve gone before you, sure, but it’s still THEIR story. I’ve learned to follow my own ebb and flow. What worked perfectly for someone else may not work for you. You hold the pen. You turn the page. You write the story of YOU. Read more>>

Sada K.: Musician & Content Creator

One piece of conventional advice that I disagree with is that I have to stop pursuing my dreams and goals once I became a mother. I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing my boys along for the ride in my latest opportunities. Having them as my greatest inspiration has fueled an even greater fire in me to continue to dream big and work hard to reach my goals. I’m not letting up. I’m putting my foot on the gas! And hope to inspire others along the way!. Read more>>

Sadie Cannon: Music Artist

That practice makes perfect. I think perfection is very opinionated. A better phrase would be practice makes progress. Growing in your craft is all about baby steps and getting better day by day. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. We must work towards progress,​ not perfection. Read more>>

Kushal M. Choksi: Co-founder, Elements Truffles

“You should do enough research before starting your own business. Understanding your market is essential if you’re going to build a successful business” What I have discovered in my entrepreneurial journey is that all the studies, the survey, and the market research are strictly backward looking. It is like driving your car while constantly looking in the rear view mirror. Consumers don’t really know what they are looking for or acknowledge a need for a product unless the product is presented to them. When you believe in yourself and in your product you have the power to create the need. And your passion will support you until your product finds the right market. There is always someone somewhere waiting for your product. If I would have done all the market research before starting a chocolate business, I probably never would have started it. Read more>>

Kurt Quinn: Actor, Writer, Animator

Young people who are training to be artists are often told by their teachers “Life as an artist is hard. If you can do anything else, do that”. Ridiculous. Of course I could do other things. Everyone can do many many things. Everyone will do many different things in their lives. Read more>>

Monece Starling: Pie Baking Business Owner

Over time I’ve heard people say “you have to work nonstop in order to be successful” or that “if you are not struggling to make it you’re not working hard enough.” I don’t believe that to be true. There’s a time for everything. A time to rest, a time to work, and even a time to sit still. I believe in a mixture of strategically planning and setting goals. Success is the result of smaller accomplishments. You can work, but be intentional about it. And know what season you are in. Whether you have to sit still and take care of yourself or your family. It could be to plan without action. Or it could be to start implementing your plan of action. All in all don’t just work because you feel that’s what you need to do. Be purposeful with how you live. Read more>>

 

Chanel Hawk: Self Care Specialist

One piece of conventional advice that I disagree with is how society pressures college leads to success. It may, for some people… but I think success should only be defined by yourself- whatever makes you happy is what you should do, regardless of the status quo. Read more>>

Nicoletta Heidegger, MA, MEd, LMFT: Sex Therapist, Marriage and Family Therapist

Folks often tout the old adage that you have to love yourself first (before someone else can love you/before being in a relationship). In short, this is BS! Self-love is not a goal that we attain; it is an ongoing muscle that needs to be worked at. This type of personal growth is also not linear and is sometimes easier to practice! You, as you are now, are worthy of love, partnership, connection, and relationship. In fact, most of us heal through relationship! That being said, yes it is imperative to work on oneself, know our self worth, and not rely solely on others for our sense of happiness and validation. But, humans are social creatures and we need connection to grow and heal and this is a lifelong practice!. Read more>>

Madonna Refugia: Writer & Filmmaker

As a comedy writer, I don’t know much about anything. So it’s insulting when someone tells me to “write what you know.” What if all you know about is how to watch paint dry or when to replace a water pump on a Honda Odyssey? That’s not very exciting material to read, is it? And I’m not necessarily saying “write what you don’t know,” either — that could be catastrophic if you’re not the researching type. Instead, I like to tell myself: Write what heals you. Because only a handful of people will fully understand and enjoy a rant re: the drying times of matte paint versus a semi-gloss; but everyone can relate to wanting to feel better. The reason journaling is so easy is because you’re just pouring out your heart onto a blank page, processing complex thoughts and feelings. But why limit that crucial processing time to just journaling? Why not bring that into everything you write or create?. Read more>>

Renee Rodriguez: Host of the Our Perspective Podcast

“Life and career success is all about connections and networking. It isn’t about what you know, it’s about who you know.” I disagree with the emphasis that other people are at the crux of your success. It is true that without other people facilitating opportunities, we wouldn’t be able to take our success to the next level. However, I feel that this piece of advice insinuates that networking is more important than study and craft. This is something I heard often growing up in career driven environment such as L.A. I once believed this advice and felt the pressure to “network” and “put myself out there” in social settings- something that never felt natural to me. I’d see other people doing well with networking but for me, all of the aligned opportunities I received through people were ones that I did seek. Read more>>

Annie Firmi: Designer & Founder Serpenti Apparel

I was always told that you should follow the rules when it comes to your dream career. Go to college, spend years working for others and learning under them, and be patient. This advice though admirable for some people and some careers, was actually more hurtful then helpful when it came to me and my growth. I was fortunate enough to know from a very young age what I wanted to be, and the long path I took chasing it ended up wasting years that I could have used instead to my advantage building my brand. The moral of my story is that there is no “right path” for everyone, and that ultimately you should follow your gut and takes risks, regardless of what anyone else tells you. Read more>>