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What’s the Most Important Lesson You’ve Learned Along Your Journey?

Every twist in our story, challenge we face, and obstacle we overcome is an important part of our story. These difficulties make us stronger and wiser and prepare us for what’s ahead. As we grow and succeed we may imagine that soon the challenges will fade away, but in our conversations with business owners, artists, creatives, academics, and others we have learned that the most common experience is that challenges never go away – instead they get more complex as we grow and succeed. Our ability to to thrive therefore depends heavily on our ability to learn from our experiences and so we are asking some of the city’s best and brightest: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?

Jessica Shepherd | Web Developer

Never, ever, ever quit on your dreams. When the going gets tough, and it will get tough, keep going, even when everything is telling you to give up. Always persevere and keep taking steps forward. Even the tiniest steps add up to something great over time. Then, in a month from now, you’ll be able to look back and feel a feeling of success like no other!


Toni Mascaro | Mompreneur | Owner of Untame Collective

When my parents named me, they should have made my middle name “challenge”  because somehow, they always find me. Or maybe I’m attracted to them. Or I kinda really love them, either way, they have made me who I am today and I enjoy working with people to conquer them together. Friends, family, businesses (my sassy 6 year old), I’ve always found the right balance of “subtle chaos” to make things happen. I’ve worked in the restaurant business my whole life so a fast pace is all I know, and thrive off of.  I’ve been promoting where I work for years and it comes naturally (“You have to try the Ramen Noodle night on Mondays or you’re not living”. Making the switch into promotional/marketing side of the business felt easy. I started focusing on social media marketing and how I could utilize that for the growth of the business. Yes the decision was hard (who’s paying the bills?) but when you love what you do people are attracted to your vibe and it becomes a business. Introducing: Untame Collective. badass marketing for bad ass small businesses! So now I am an entrepreneur, creating my own path, which has been SO rewarding. I get to help a multitude of different businesses evolve and grow. I love every minute of it, and so do they. At Untame Collective we take all those challenges and turn them into tiny adventures and build them into holy crap moments for your passion, your side gig, your new career. The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way is biggest challenges become the best opportunities so the more the merrier.

Joshua Killeen | Storytellers, telling your story through cinematic photo and film

I would have to say that the most important lesson that I have learned personally throughout my journey in the wedding industry is to not only let the clients choose you, but choose your clients. In wedding and lifestyle portraiture and film, having a great relationship with your clients is key. Making sure that your personality and style fits their vision will make for an amazing experience from start to finish!

Susan Alexis Estby | Higher Education & Garden Mom Vlog

The most important lesson I have learned is you never know what someone else is going through. It goes back to the golden rule “Treat others as you want to be treated”. That bad interaction you have with someone could be the worst day of their life, try not to take one bad interaction to heart or judge to harshly. In the same way work to bring joy into the world. A very simple way to do this is by saying “Good Morning”, “Hello”, or simply complementing someone “I like your shirt”. Those small gestures have gone the distance in restoring my faith in society. If it is the worst day of someone’s life and you acknowledge their existence and are nice, that one interaction can help to rebuild them.

Antoinette Soto | Fitness model |  influencer and entrepreneur

I’ve learned in my fitness journey, is to always have a positive lookout on my body image. Stay focus through thick and thin and always challenge myself.


Yolindi and Carealee de Gouveia | The two gals

I fervently believe that it takes a village to raise a child and a community to build a business. Supporting those around us as we grow is an integral part of our business. We are building a strong network of people that we can mutually help and attaining success together is so much better. As we grow as individuals by helping others is an amazing part of our journey.  I recently discovered the incredible power of becoming “present” in each day.  Not worrying about the future and not being held back by the memories of the past, but being formed by a vision of ones future.  This creates such a state of peace and focus and truly creates a wonderful environment for creativity and opportunity to be the best version of ones self.    By Grace and Gumption – Yolindi   

Kaiden Bensinger | Tempe Middle School Science Teacher

I have learned in my life that there is not an instruction manual or a guide to what it means to be a human, change, learn, grow, explore, and make mistakes. It’s the journey that matters most.


Tyler James | Hairstylist and Co-Founder of Social Citizen Haircare

Setbacks are necessary for progress.

Joshua Robison | fitness enthusiast who’s life was forever saved by the gym and drive to become a better human

Always try to be better than you were yesterday! There are set backs, bad days, and down weeks but never forget why you started and what your goals are in life. When you reach them set new ones!

AJ Vargas  | Personal Trainer & WBFF Fitness Model Pro

Moved to Arizona from Puerto Rico in November 2017 when the hurricane Maria disaster stroke the Island. The most important lesson that I’ve learned in my journey so far is to be grateful. Having the opportunity to start from zero in a place with so much potential and opportunities has given me the benefit of successfully being able to do what I’m passionate about: Helping others achieve their fitness goals while bettering themselves and fulfilling their best lives. For this and much more I’m grateful to be where I am and I’m just grateful to be alive.


Matty Steinkamp | Award Winning Filmmaker

I think the most important lesson I have learned in my journey is try to wake up each day with as much positive mind set as possible. That it’s a new day and a new opportunity to make the life I want to have.

Dr. Al | Chiropractor | Health/Performance Coach & Podcaster

Life is Relational.  If you love God, love others and love yourself you will find intense meaning in your life.

Chayle Lynnea | Dancer and Choreographer

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is that your satisfaction should lie in the work it takes to accomplish your goals, not simply the goal itself. Whether it’s personal, career, fitness, or your relationship, you reap the true benefits from the journey itself (super cliche but so true).


Mallory Porter | Writer & Creative Director

The most important lesson I have learned in my journey so far is to truly (madly, deeply) fall in love with yourself – be it through alone time with yourself, therapy, saying “no” to others for your own well being, etc. – because then the tough decisions we all must make in life, the world, and the people in it will make a lot clearer sense. We have many soulmates in this world through friendships and relationships and family, but you are your most important soulmate. Take care of that person.


Kelsey Ayers | creator of The Ambitious Desert Queen

I have learned numerous lessons within my journey thus far when I started my blogging career! The Ambitious Desert Queen is relatively brand new as I decided to follow my dreams this year on March 19 th , 2019! Before I begin to expand on my lessons learned, I thought I would start off and give a little background of what my blog entails. I have always had a love for fashion, golf, and sharing my daily lifestyle choices. Stating this, it is the ultimate reason as to why I chose to create a positive and creative outlet for myself to showcase the things I love and be able to relate to be a role model to women! So now that you have gained a little insight as to my WHY for being the author and creator of the Ambitious Desert Queen, I will now inform as to what I have learned thus far!? For starters, being a blogger and especially just starting out I truly feel you are NEVER at the stage where you fully know everything in this career field. Stating this, if I had to put everything I have learned thus far into ONE word, I would say PATIENCE. You may feel patience is an aspect in your life that you may do well with, but when it comes to actually growing your OWN business, you are on a WHOLE different level. It easy to get caught up in numbers like Instagram, or maybe you may catch yourself studying for long hours trying to figure out what you can do better, or how you can gain better engagement, ETC. You might occasionally find yourself comparing or asking your self how that person got to where you are trying to obtain or better with your business? Honestly, I can keep going on, and on writing about everything you may encounter, but the most important lesson is, PATIENCE. You have to realize success does NOT happen over night, you have to work for it. If you truly LOVE what you do whether it is golfing, blogging, ETC., you must have PATIENCE, because at the end of the day you will SHINE and be successful if you give your self a chance and be YOURSELF!

Lisset Cuevas | Makeup Artist & Beauty Influencer

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is that failure is absolutely necessary. I feel like there is so much pressure to be perfect and to get everything right the first time. When I first started my journey I was very misguided and I would find myself comparing myself to those on social media, not realizing that I was comparing myself to the best parts of others life’s and to those with years of experience. I was setting a bar that was impossible to reach; I guess I insisted on learning things the hard way. It was only through my shortcomings that I learned that every failure would lead me to where I am today.

Makeup by Lisset

Kayli and Evan Norris | Newlywed Plant-Lovers and Aspiring Plant Shop Owners

We’ve been married for 8 months, loving every second of this “honeymoon phase”! Our plant collection started well before our wedding, and we’ve learned a lot about growth along the way. Nowadays, a lot of us are out of touch with nature, especially those of us in big cities. That’s a big reason we love houseplants; it reestablishes that connection by bringing nature indoors. Styling with plants completely changes the vibe of a room, turning a home into a sanctuary. When growing a plant collection, it’s tempting to buy every plant you see and love. This can result in buying plants you may not know how to care for, putting a plant in a spot where it can’t thrive, or ending up with too many plants that you don’t have time to maintain. Taking the time to understand what a plant needs helps you to respect the plant and truly appreciate its beauty. If given the right conditions and care, a plant will grow and thrive.  There’s a relationship metaphor in there somewhere!


MRT Design, LLC | Architecture | Interior Design | Facilities Management

It’s cooler in the shade.” – Akram Rosheidat, Architect, Principal, PhD. Outdoor Comfort & Sustainability

Shenal Hooks | Artist & Owner of MGB

The most important lesson that I’ve learned, and continue to learn, is that there is no right or wrong way to do anything. All that matters is that you take action, which will lead you to building your knowledge and experience in your field of interest. I notice that when I try to make sure things are absolutely perfect, things either take too long to complete or don”t get done at all; resulting in a missed opportunity. Overall, you’ll never know, if you don’t ever try.


Shoshana Leon | Corporate Communications | Writer and Creator of Foodie Fo Sho

I’ve always had a passion for food and wine, and Arizona’s thriving culinary scene. In addition to my day job in corporate communications and freelance writing, I decided to launch my own site and brand, Foodie Fo Sho, as a resource for local foodies covering news, events, restaurants and chefs in the Phoenix area. I’ve learned that it’s important to take the time to focus on something you are truly passionate about because it is very rewarding. The support I’ve received from the culinary community has been amazing.

Lorraine Barker | Fashion Designer | Stylist | Artist

Keeping positive through everything is something I’ve had to learn. I’ve faced and will face many challenges while growing my career, but as long as I stay positive and keep moving forward, I will be successful in the end.

Durrell Hearns | Author | Comic

My most important lesson from my journey is to keep going. Never give up just reassess.

Tania Leyva | Owner of  Fun Size Creations by Tania Leyva

I think that in my journey the most important lesson that I have learned is to give myself room. While growing my business I’ve learned that sometimes you can set a goal and put a date by which you want to meet this goal. However, with the unpredictability of the business market you’re not necessarily going to be able to reach your goals by the date you want. You can try but it just might not happen. The thing about having this type of mentality is that when we don’t accomplish goals by our set date we tend to go into a ‘I failed’ mentality. So I personally have learned to stop viewing things in this traditional sense and to just give my self that flexibility and room. Room to grow. Room to mess up. Room to take my time. Room to see things with a different perspective. Room to be me. I still set goals for myself but instead of setting goals that have to be reached by a certain date, I set goals that just get me to a certain place of growth, for example ‘Sell $300 in product.’ Once I do that my goal I accomplished. It’s just a more positive way to look at things in my opinion.

Justin Coldiron | Founder of Shnacky, an on-demand snack and drink delivery service

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is to expect to make big mistakes. They’re fixable, so stressing about them doesn’t do any good. Make mistakes, and be happy to have the opportunity to learn from each one. Oh, and don’t forget to keep going; move past those mistakes and keep your head up!


Yvonne Nicole Nunez | Owner, XOXO Creations

Rosy J Photography

The most important lesson I’ve learned in this journey is to just GO FOR IT and do it with CONFIDENCE! ! If you have goal, a dream, an idea…run and just go for it! I created my Etsy Store and Facebook business page 3 years ago and did nothing with it. I sat on it for 3 years. I regret not having more confidence in myself to start sooner. Imagine where my little business would be now?


Meagan Johnson | Love of a Family

Meagan Johnson

Perspective! As a photographer I’ve learned this means that the subject is situated apparently for the style of photography: stance, positioning, angle, and even attitude. That I’m making sure my settings are appropriate for the lighting and that the focus settings are address. Doing all of these things while keeping in perspective the stress the subject may be feeling from getting ready for the shoot or anxiety for being on the other side of the camera. I’ve learned to keep things as light hearted and stress free as possible so that it’s an enjoyable experience for all. Perspective has also played in my personal life while having a photography business. Family is important to me so I do everything I can to keep that into perspective and try my best to work when my family isn’t already planning to be together.


Xochitl Avila your Rocky Point Wedding & event planner

Don’t give up, learn trends, styles, travel and read. That is giving me every time more knowledge to be able to connect with clients and attract the right ones to me. At the same time, keep studying and updating my knowledge based on design. After 7 years doing full time destination wedding and event planning  I’m still leading with service, integrity and a passion that not everybody has, to further my commitment to provide the best event to my clients.

David Rink | Hairstylist

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is to find your joy and happiness from within. No amount of money or material possessions will fix or heal you. Once you fully understand this and accept it, that is when the real self work/healing finally begins. You see instead of looking for outside sources to confirm or validate you, you begin to find it and all you’ve ever needed from within.


Kandis Palmer | Realtor

Mindset is everything. The conversations we have with ourselves can make us or break us. Our thoughts determine our emotions and mood, which influence how we feel about ourselves and how we deal with life. When we change our mindset, we change our life.

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