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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?

Vanessa Kelly | Owner of Function Pilates Studio

As a business owner, the most important lesson I have learned in this journey is persistence.  There are seasons we go through that may reflect negatively in our energy putting us in uncomfortable situations, but we have to remind ourselves that this is only making us stronger, wiser and patient.   If we stay persistent, and  remember why we started our dream in the first place then the journey becomes that much more rewarding.  It is important to celebrate each victory, big or small, because being a business owner never gets easier. However, with time and experience it becomes about how we handle the highs and lows.  I have had to be very honest with myself that what is meant to be will as long as I stay true to what I believe and not give up.”  – Vanessa Kelly, Founder of Function Pilates Studio 

The Hairsmith Company |  A mother-daughter owned boutique salon

The beginning of this industry can be a little scary. There are a lot of discouraging situations that can make you want to run!  We’ve learned that going through the scenario honestly and professionally with your client gains way more respect than trying to be the ‘right’ one. Clients appreciate and respect HONESTY not honestly. And when you’re open with them, they learn to trust you and can turn into forever clients. Finally getting to a place where they are some of your best friends really makes sticking it out through the hard parts really worth it!

Robbie Cannon | Professional Magician in Arizona

I’ve learned with Integrity and Hardwork anything is possible.  

Molly Nelson LE

As I’ve worked with patients, I have learned that everyone wants to look and feel their best. I can do treatments to enhance my appearance but the true beauty comes from the inside. I feel my best when I use a holistic approach to beauty which includes; exercise, good nutrition, hormone optimization, stress management, proper sleep and aesthetic treatments.   

Jacquelyn Phillips | photographer | venue owner | author and magic maker

Most important lesson: it’s all what you make of it. Want it to be good, have a good attitude, want to grow- make yourself uncomfortable, want to make change- get involved, want to help others- ask. Your  impact is more than just the carbon you are, if you make something of it.

Simple Massage | Mobile Massage,  Phoenix, AZ

Simple Massage, LLC

Since the beginning, we have approached each session with professionalism, empathy, and compassion, which our clients appreciate. By making it part of our business model, we’ve learned we can bring each client a unique experience by providing a great service and improving their way of life.

@simplemassagellc @SMPLMassage  

Alyvia Ferrel | owner and CEO of Wish Entertainment LLC

Jana Ferrel

Follow your dreams no matter how impossible they seem and share your dream with the supportive people around you.  When I was young, I always dreamed of being a princess and as I got older I kept notes of ideas I had to create my own entertainment company.  I shared this with my mother and she said, “Why not start your business now?” I thought I would have to wait until I was older to start my own business.  Road blocks will always exist,  don’t wait for the perfect moment to start. Start today, no matter how small your effort and share your passion with the supportive people around you.  Keep doing this and one day your dreams will become reality like mine did. 

Rosa Montiel | Artist | owner We Facepaint LLC

Barbara Gallado

So far I have learned to keep my head up and to try my best every day. I love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for anything, but after years of experience you learn the important to have a system in place and to follow your own rules. When you work for yourself is easier to get lost in the tasks of the home and trying to juggle both can be a struggle following your own rules can make such a difference. making time for your business as well as your family is key to success. Another thing I have learned over the years is the importance of teamwork. I have a team of artist and I’m blessed to have such support from all of them, they make my life easier and I wished I had learned earlier in my career to surround yourself with people who want to see you succeed and drive you to be better. 

Jordan Anderson | Father | certified surgical technician

The most important lesson I have learned so far? That life isn’t fair. And it’s not just unfair to me but to everyone. Everyone has a story, a battle, a lesson to be learned. Through my fitness journey I have seen first-hand the benefits of dedication and commitment through hard work and discipline. Which is something we can apply to all aspects of life. I would want nothing more then to encourage and help people with there journey hopefully I can incorporate my passion and love for fitness in to a career one day .


Nikki Earlee | Model and Esthetician

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far….Just be yourself. No matter how people may view you or judge you. No matter how weird or awkward, unconventional or alternative. Just be you. Because it’s honestly too much of an emotional and mental strain, to try and be anything else. People will see your authenticity, your silly smile, your anxiety induced awkward dancing, questionably humorous jokes and they will either love you or laugh at you or let’s be real, both! But they’ll see you as your true self, and in a world full of very unapologetically fraudulent folks, that’s one of the greatest gifts you can give.


Dallas Bobryk | Miller High-end custom trim carpenter and woodworker

The most important thing I’ve learned on my journey is with patience and practice comes perfection. You need to be patient for things to come together and practice to have the skills necessary to bring everything together how you want.


Jenny Kaufman | Photographer  Fashion | Music | Events and Awesome People

XPOSED CAPTURE Model Credit: @mr__booger Event Host: @reimaginemestudios

The most important lesson thus far into my photography adventure is to consistently surround myself with creative and supportive people. The industry is saturated and standing out can be a challenge so I approach each subject/client as a work of art , Collaborations are important.

NEVER underestimate CreativitY because it always shows up with a handful of “what-ifs”


Christina Schofield | Doctor of Physical Therapy | Certified sports and Conditioning Specialist and fitness enthusiast

The most important thing I have learned in my journey so far is to be flexible and to expect continual change! Just like flexibility in the body helps build resiliency, so does flexibility in business.  I have never been “business minded” nor was it a goal of mine until recently to have my own business. I have had to learn from the ground up and flexibility has helped me to build, and continue to build my business so I can do what I love. The most important part of my business is treating patients the way they should be treated, not being afraid to break the mold of standard treatment, and to fight for what is best for the patient.

Brittany Harris | Sock fanatic and owner of Audacious Sock Wear

I know it’s kind of cliche to say but CONSISTENCY really is key! Your business is your baby and just like a child, you must invest time and effort and speak life into your business. Stay focused, stay positive and keep grinding even when the road gets tough. And lastly, it’s okay to sleep with your socks on…it’s actually pretty comfortable.

Kiarra Flores | Valley High School Student

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far in my journey is to never let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Nobody should be able to determine how far you go or what you can do. You have to make that choice on your own , and if you really want it you can do anything. As a teenager it’s hard being constantly told what you can and can’t do , defy those standards and rules and trust me you won’t regret it.


Vince Roscoe | Personal Trainer & Investor

The most important lesson I have learned on my journey so far is that you have to trust the process and enjoy it. You have to really be willing to go through everything possible to make sure you not only get the life you want but the life you deserve. It’s imperative that you have patience and remain consistent through all the ups, downs and obstacles. Get up everyday, make it happen, play to your strengths, face your weaknesses, keep God close and never be afraid to get your hands dirty. Keep going by any means necessary. Most importantly, as cliche as it may sound ALWAYS believe in yourself, you’re never wrong!


Derek Funk | construction artist | master of all things wood

Life is too short to say no to opportunities  that open up doors to endless possibilities. My work travels have brought me from Minnesota to Arizona and Arizona to Colorado now back to Arizona. The excitement of the journey and the challenge of every aspect keeps me humbled.

Jonathan Mike, PhD, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT*D, USAW, NKT-2 | Professor in Exercise Science and Sports Performance | Strength Coach | International Published Writer | Author & Speaker

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned on my journey is to take calculated risk, be consistent and persistent in your actions and put in the work, and put yourself in the position of being involved with the right people and positive influencers and supporters. Nothing of real value comes easy, so embrace the struggle. You can’t do the same things and expect change. You have to transform your mindset and upgrade your habits and always get to the next best version of yourself.


Taylor Gooley | automotive photographer

Most important thing I’ve learned so far about trying to advertise on social media is that you can’t pay attention to likes. If you know your product is good, have confidence in it. As likes don’t determine your quality of your product.


John Bates | Owner and Operator of Ryde-N-Shine Auto Detailing

When I started this business, I learned to do what others were not willing to do like walk in the heat and instead of stuffing flyers in doors, I actually knocked on doors and started the conversation. Through my journey, the most important lesson I’ve learned is compassion because it is not always about the money. Connecting with a client and getting to know them means a lot to me because for us, it’s about the relationship we are building because every client becomes family to us. We take the extra time to listen because that extra 5 minutes can change a clients day and exceed expectations. Compassion can be applied to any field if you’re willing to connect with people and show them the true passion.

Cole Seefus | Film/Digital Photographer | Writer and Wearable Art Designer

Trenton Woods

If your personal art resonates with you – meaning that you focus on bringing what resides in your mind’s eye to life – then it will resonate with others as well. Do not compromise a unique vision for the sake of marketability. 

Robert Altshuler, Esq | Realtor® | Founder & Managing Partner of Valley Luxury Partners

Scott Foust

Play the long game. Life is more like chess and not checkers. You need to see a few steps ahead and not solely focus on the challenges of the moment.

Grand Avenue Pizza Company | old-school pizza parlor offering creative specials in downtown Phoenix

In this business you have to maintain a good sense of self reliance. Be persistent, resilient and strong. And when you find good people, you try your best to keep them around.

Erika Flores | Journalist | Host | Grief & Secondhand Fashion Blogger

Growing up in a small town, my main source of entertainment was reading and writing. There, I found a passion and knowledge that taught me about the world beyond what was presented to me in Kearny, Arizona. I was able to set high aspirations and step-by-step goals. I worked towards those goals never once giving up.

My parents, who passed away ten years ago, always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. My mother would add, “Lo único que no puedes evitar es la muerte.” —> “The only thing you can’t do is escape death.” Ain’t that the truth! Everything I’ve written on my blog is inspired by them. They’re advice and life lessons have become my inner voice. Whenever I challenge myself to take another step in my career, I tell myself, “I can and will do this.”

The other piece of advice my parents gave me growing up that has helped keep me on the right track both professionally and personally is to keep toxic people and toxic environments at bay. This lesson has helped me a lot with my mental health. It’s also influenced my decisions on where to work and who to collaborate with.


Carolyn Morrison | Interior Designer + dog lover

It feels like my journey has been a long one, with many twists and turns. I’ve had a lot to overcome.

One of the best things to happen in my life is to have found my career niche almost 20 years ago. ​With all the challenges of being self-employed, my Interior Design business has enabled me to grow into the woman I always envisioned ​becoming. I’ve experienced a lot of happiness bringing beauty & harmony to my clients’ homes, while helping them to express their unique individual style. There is nothing like the amazing feeling of creative accomplishment.

​Summer 2019 has been all about launching a new Design package specifically for Airbnb hosts.  I’m offering a service to design and stage spaces rented out by home owners or property managers on the Airbnb platform. Whether it’s a consultation, an upgrade or a full re-do, I’ll help hosts get their rentals beautifully photo and guest-ready. Great photos and chic, stylish rooms mean more bookings! For a reasonable investment in this simple, easy design package, it’s a win-win all around. I’m finding it very exciting to evolve my brand to the new markets and opportunities opening up around the globe!

The second great thing in my personal story has been sharing life with my dogs. ​I’m a ​longtime supporter of animal rescue ​and have volunteer​ed for ​shelters in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

I’ve always adopted male dogs because I’m really all the girl my house can handle! My boys have shared all my up’s and down’s, listened to me laugh, stayed beside me when I cried. They’ve given me true and loyal love. I couldn’t imagine ​being without those little guys. ​It’s a wonderful thing to see once-homeless dogs blossom as they begin to feel safe, happy and loved.  ​

When I look at these 2 threads of life weaving in and out through my journey, I see my search for purpose and meaning, a great desire to create and live in beauty, ​the success​es and failure​s, beginnings and endings. I would say what ties it all together… the most important lesson I’ve learned so far is:   resiliency.

I often refer to ​these words which never fail to keep me strong, ​resilient and determined to live my dreams​:

​Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Mary Oliver

and ​these ​ones ​really say it all…

​Never, never, never give up.


Legami® | Jewelry,  Legami – Make Your Unbreakable Bonds Visible

Despite how cliched it may seem, the most important lesson we learned in our journey so far is that Honesty Is The Best Policy. We do our best to be honest and open with our customers and we always remind ourselves that the people and the bonds between people are the inspiration for Legami. Making it a two-way street, embracing our customer’s honest comments, needs and wishes only to make their meaningful bonds visible, is truly the notion and vision of the brand.

Brandon Badrick | Owner and artist

I’ve learned a lot of lessons on my journey as a business owner, some being incredibly hard ones. The most important lesson I’ve learned and that I continue to learn on a daily basis is how to continually grow professionally as an artist and also a business. I have to keep up constantly with anything social media as far as my understanding of best times to post, engagements with my audience and so on… It can be very stressful at times especially since I am not tech savvy but I have to adapt and I have to figure it out.  If you want to achieve, the only way to do it is work for it. You must be relentless, unswerving in your devotion to reaching your goals, and harder on yourself than anyone else. You can’t be upset with goals you didn’t reach by the work you didn’t do. I apply these lessons and ethic in all aspects of my life.


Taylor Agny | Lettering Artist & Calligrapher

I’ve learned that running your own business means making the tough decisions and sometimes having rough days where it seems like there is no end in sight. But through it all, seeing your clients’ reactions makes it is more than worth it!

Arlo Dizon | adept photographer & aspiring digital artist

At the time of writing this, I’m a couple of weeks away from being 600 days since I picked up a camera. And so far, the most important lesson I’ve learned throughout my journey as a creative is the importance of creating opportunities for yourself.

I have (YouTube) videos to thank for the methods I use when I’m out shooting, as well as the specific know-hows when it comes to mastering the style of editing that I’ve gravitated towards, and yet, I feel that if I never reached out to others on the same plane of creativity, I would still be taking pictures only when my friends and I would go on adventures, or whenever someone needed me to.

By sliding into numerous direct messages (DMs) on social media, I’ve fostered my involvement in a community I felt connected to. I’ve asked for tips and tricks, to be mentored, to collaborate, to second shoot at a wedding – basically, I reached out to learn from the best. While not all of them said yes, I owe the small successes I’ve had (like the business I now run with my friend Justine Grace) to the ones that did. Most critically, I owe the monumental growth I’ve had as a photographer to the simple but colossal act of trying. By trying, I’ve taken full reign of my life, creating opportunities I never would have encountered otherwise.


Arielle Lemke | dancer | teacher | choreographer

Lawrence Fung

I have learned that it does not matter who you are or where you come from, if you work hard to chase your dreams, good things will come. If you love it, it’s worth it.



Lisa R Baker | REALTOR | Mom | Volunteer Community Advocate

The most important lesson I have learned in my journey so far is don’t be afraid of an opportunity. It’s easy to pass up a chance at something you’re interested in out of fear. Perhaps you feel you aren’t quite ready, it isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, or the timing isn’t perfect. You never know where life may take you, and you never know where an opportunity may lead you. It might broaden your path, or change it in a way you never dreamed possible.

So, have a plan, do the work, and when opportunity knocks, answer it!

Rufio O’Hair, P.H.D | Passionate Hair Designers

As a Licensed Barber and self taught colorist I have learned that you Don’t ever let being the UnderDog dictate your passion for your path, but let the trials and lessons of this journey define you as a TopDog.


Tamara Cato | Pastry Chef and Cake Decorator

Delaney Cato

The most important lesson I have learned in my journey so far is that once you have identified your passion, channel that natural energy and excitement it brings you and apply it towards making your vision come to life. Hard work is inevitable so when you have made major strides to achieve your goals do not let a single thing get in between you and that vision. We should all seize the opportunity to create our own happiness.


Alex McCoy, BSN, RN | Nurse Mentor and Coach

The most important lesson I have learned so far on the journey is to embrace the small obstacles and focus on the experience not the details. It can be easy to get hung up on the day to day struggles but in the end it is the big picture that counts.

Brad Prose | Home Chef & BBQ Enthusiast

Have an open mind to new ideas and outside opinions. There’s no perfect steak, or smoked brisket, or taco. The world is so diverse and there are countless ways to cook. There are definitely some general rules, but being open-minded has allowed me to explore and discover brand new ways of creating. Throwing away my biases was so freeing, I’m now able to comfortably step outside “traditional” and create brand new things with confidence. The beauty of American food, is that it is limitless with options.  Once you open your mind and embrace that you’ll find ideas flowing to you faster than you can write. 

Amber Weaver | Makeup & Beauty Pro

To always let my faith be bigger than my fears.


Courtney Daniels | Cosmetologist

So far in my journey I’ve learned as a cosmetologist people come to you with not only hair issues but life problems and with that your not only a cosmetologist but a friend to same one who needs it, a coach to someone who needs a little more motivation, or just someone whose there to just listen. The relationship you build with your clients is so important and more of them last a life time.


D.C. Banks | Influencer

I’ve learned many lessons throughout my journey. The most crucial one that grasps me most is don’t be afraid to fail.  No one is perfect and no one ever will be. We have to fail to progress and grow which in return will enable us to succeed in the future. I’ve failed countless times, but each time I failed forward. I have been to the bottom of the bottom because of failure, but since I am aware that God has a plan for me I proceed to keep positive energy flowing which in return helps me remind myself that the only way from the bottom is up. Optimism, perseverance, and resilience are the keys to overcoming failure to becoming successful!


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