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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?

Stephen Konopka | Go Getter | Dreamer | Fighter

If you were to get any advice from me which 1 would you chose to be the most important lesson for you? Maybe you can combine them? Have Fun!

1)- Show up to a shoot prepared with a positive outlook! ie: All your geer with backups! Bodies lights lenses batteries cards and or film, and most importantly,,, your SMILE!

2)- Make a plan and stick with it but at the same time be receptive! Changes may occur, stay quiet, look & listen, specially on an outdoor shoot when you have to be more concerned about lighting and composition because when outdoors these are not a certainty and change rapidly, either one will make or break the shot so timing or “planning” is everything!

Ultimately you’re the one in charge! Nobody else is pushing that shutter button but you! What your pictures turn out to look like will be the difference between professional or amiture hour. It’s up to you on how far you go and there’s always something to learn if you’re willing.

I’ve been shooting for 40, 45+ years and I’m still learning something new and looking forward to seeing how it’s done better, so it’s easier for me! I’m sorry there isn’t just 1 lesson I can give you to make “Magic” happen because I’m still learning.

TreLee | Singer | model | actress

I’ve learned that everyone has the same fears.  You can either let that fear kill your dreams or choose to overcome.  I consider myself to be a late bloomer, but I am happy about what I have been able accomplish thus far.  There have been so many things that I kept myself from doing because I was too afraid to stand out.  I will continue to move in silence with my wife by my side, still on my journey.   I have accomplished some pretty great things. My biggest accomplishment yet, my sons Marqaun and TraMar.  Love you boys!  My mom told me that there are so many things in life worth fighting for, make sure you are number 1. Thank you, mom (Faye Forrest).

“Live your life for you, and everything else will fall into place.  – Me”
Everywhere: @mstrelee

Samantha Kade | Actress & Producer

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is that listening to your gut is always the right answer. The soft voice in your head or that rapid flutter of emotion have your best interests in mind. Listen to them. The second lesson is take the time to reflect and marvel on where you are in life and what you’ve accomplished. Be in awe of yourself for a minute. Enjoy a little dance of joy that your hard work is paying off even if it doesn’t always seem that way. You probably are someone’s success story and don’t even know it. If I may, just one more nugget of wisdom, don’t give all your energy to people who give you nothing in return. Please. You will thank me one day.

Dr. Vernet A. Joseph | Productivity Strategist | Ambassador | Veteran | Speaker

The most important lesson that I have learned along my journey is to never take things for granted and appreciate the relationships that you have. In life, all you have are unique opportunities for growth, but you must acknowledge and take advantage of them. Nothing is impossible unless you stop trying to achieve it. I have been blessed to have many successful roles in my life from serving my country on and off the battlefield as a military officer, to being a serial entrepreneur in multiple industries, to being an international speaker, and author of 25 books to include 5 bestsellers; and so much more. It’s an honor to live this life. I just want to say thank you to every person that I have been privileged to encounter throughout these years. Many of you will say that I have empowered, impacted inspired or motivated you but honestly, you are the ones who have blessed my life. I recognize and appreciate that relationships are the best currency in the world. My challenge to all of you who may be reading this is to live your most productive life to the fullest and on purpose.

Isai Guerrero | Mortgage Broker and Family Man

Photo credits: my 8 year old daughter

I recently made the transition from a Big Box Lender to a Mortgage Broker because I am able to help my clients purchasing or refinancing a home with better pricing, more loan options, easier qualifications, and all of this gives me the time to serve the local community. The most important lesson that I have learned during this time is that journeys cannot be done alone. They should be done with a small group of role models, mentors, and people who share similar values. By surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals, one has the ability to scale, develop, and have a good time while doing so. The journey then becomes a passion and passion always leads to success. For anyone who is having trouble locating role models, I would start by identifying the places/companies that they admire and share similar values, following them and their leaders, and reaching out to them proactively and eventually ask them if they have time to share their stories with you (perhaps over coffee). Be curious and most importantly ask them how you can give back to them – even if its just sharing their content.

Chuck Jentlie | Sunset is a great time for a hike at Sabino Canyon in Tucson

Patience and kindness.

Jason Johnson | Social Sensei | Life enthusiast | nightlife industry | entrepreneur

Never stop working, never stop learning, and make sure every day that you’re better than you were yesterday.


Khris Dodge | musician and owner of Khris Dodge Entertainment

Khris Dodge Entertainment

The most important lesson in my journey is also the mission of our company: “do(ing) good things with good people.” Surround yourself with good people and good things inevitably happen. You could be working with a technically-proficient musician, but if his or her attitude isn’t right, it’s a soul-sucking experience. There’s no joy in it. If you work with people that are kind, thoughtful, and mindful, it makes all the difference.

Davin Lavikka | owner | commercial photographer and artist

Being in this business for over 25 years taught me one very important lesson. My work and work of my artists is very specialized. I had to learn that it’s ok to share my secrets, my processes and my methods. It’s better to build a following educating those around you verses holding everything back. This builds a special appreciation. It gives your cause more purpose educating your clients and followers. They can’t appreciate something if they don’t know what it takes to create it.


Dr. Kelly Lupo | Naturopathic Doctor

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far in my journey as a Naturopathic Doctor and small business owner is to trust the process and have faith in yourself. When I decided to start Scottsdale Premier Wellness, I was completely out of my comfort zone, but I knew that was the only way I was going to grow as a physician and entrepreneur. I definitely had my doubts at the beginning and would constantly question my decision to start a business from the ground up, but when I saw my first patient and helped her start her health journey, I knew I had made the right decision. Not many people can say that they wake up every day looking forward to their job. Because I took that initial leap of faith, I get to do what I love, which is to educate and empower women to look and feel their best.

Randi Still | IT Product Owner with a side of  ‘bakin’

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to trust in myself. This can extend to baking after a full IT workday or committing to an order by a particular date or to be a vendor in a particular market. I ruined more batches of cookies by trying to force myself when my heart wasn’t in it. When you need a break, take it. Set lofty goals and when you want to hit a goal, push for it. When you are excited about a big deal going right, enjoy the moment. Also, listen to those you love and trust. My family and friends have been an amazing support on this journey.

Lauren Brown | Social Media Marketer & Owner of Lolo Digital Services

In my journey as an entrepreneur, the most important lesson I’ve learned so far is trust the process. I left my job as an educator to start a business & I became so stressed out that I couldn’t focus on the big picture. I felt like I might fail. Taking a step back to just trust the process has helped me in many ways! You won’t be perfect at what you do the first few months Everything takes practice & you just have trust yourself and the process.



Maria Atkins, RPT, MBA | Pediatric Phlebotomist | Business Owner | Innovator

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is to avoid attempting to conform to something that’s not meant to be.  When I first started to my business, I wanted to do everything to be like your traditional lab.  One day it dawned on me that even though I perform the same task, I could put my own spin on it.  I have since added stickers, coloring pages, plushies, and t-shirts to create an engaging experience.

By creating an atmosphere where my patients see themselves as an active participant, it makes getting bloodwork a positive experience when it was previously scary. It’s now educational and fun with a name and a face!  It’s relaxing and kid friendly!  I have taken the anxiety out of what was once a scary procedure and changed the overall experience!

Brenna Benson | Salon Owner & Custom Airbrush Tan Artist

You have to be willing to take risks to achieve success as an entrepreneur. And you have to love what you do. It is simple and cliche, but so incredibly true. I am fortunate enough to have lived that for the past 9 years. I moved to AZ from Chicago and had to completely start over. I spent 8 years building my custom spray tan business and one year ago, an opportunity presented itself and my friend and I opened our own beauty salon concept together. Never planned on owning a salon, but sometimes you have to just say YES and accept the challenge. The rewards are SO worth it!

Katri Morrison-Goulias | The Scottsdale Blonde | Arizona Lifestyle & Experience Blogger

Kaleb Hendrix

I’ve learned a lot about putting myself out there and being my most authentic self. It’s easy to get caught up in portraying the perfect life or making people think you are the perfect poised person, but people are inherently attracted to genuine connection.

When I first started my blog I attended a women’s leadership event that focused on authenticity. That experience has really allowed me to explore who I am on my blog and portray my real personality. I’ve learned that authentic engagement is much more powerful than a fake persona and that putting yourself out there in an sincere way attracts authentic followers. 

Jen Dahar | co owner of Inspired Fitness | fitness instructor & Electrical Engineer

In my fitness journey, the most important thing I learned was to truly love myself and the life I live. I never worked out to look a certain way. The main reason I worked out was to relieve stress. I found the healthier my lifestyle, the less stressed I became. I needed that release to balance my life. Through the world of fitness, I found the missing piece I needed to balance my mind, body, and soul. It taught me to love myself unconditionally and to appreciate all that my life has to offer and to live it to the fullest.

Maya Hinojos | Small Business Owner

As a small business owner, a valuable lesson I’ve learned is, I can’t do it all myself, and I must learn how to ask for help. When I started my business, I got carried away trying to control every aspect of my retail store mainly because I was trying to save money. However, there’s a point where I burned out and couldn’t give my business my best performance. As a result, I learned I needed to surround myself with a team that shared the same vision and values as me. A successful business is built by an empowered team that can accomplish anything and everything they’ve ever wanted.


Nicole Porter | Your Party Porter | Concierge Services and Itinerary Planning

The most important lesson I’ve learned on this journey so far is that community and coaching play a major role in my success!  It is very challenging and time consuming to be a start up business.  By sharing my journey and surrounding myself with like minded people, I continue to grow and learn everyday!  I had to invest in myself first and build up the courage and confidence to go out on my own!  It’s been transformational and I’m so excited and passionate about my business and the vision of my future!

Falynne Miller | Digital Marketing Consultant | Wife and Dog Mom

Katie Stewart,

To be patient! The past six months have been a good wakeup call and I’ve had to learn to be extremely patient. The material part of starting this business like making a logo, designing a website and creating social profiles to promote myself were relatively easy to get done. However, the real reward comes from taking the time to meet other entrepreneurs, cultivating new business relationships, and learning from my failures. The most challenging and time consuming obstacles are the ones that will really guide you towards success.

Evgeniya Barbosa | Pilates Instructor

“You can’t control anything except the way you feel. When you feel good about yourself and the life you are living, you can manifest great things”.

Beau Horner | Chiropractor

The biggest lesson I have learned so far is despite those setbacks and challenges to stay committed to the business plan.  And express gratitude for family and friends every day! 

Sara Gomez | IT Professional & Multimedia Designer

Don’t be afraid to go after your dreams, they’re waiting for you to take the first step. 

Alison Waidell | Moonlit Media | Logos | Websites | Graphics

We have clients that come to us from all over the world – all with different ideas and visions. And the most important thing I’ve learned in my journey so far is to be patient and listen. Listen to their ideas, listen to their dreams and aspirations. Learn to be patient with them because, for most of our clients, this is their first big jump. And most of them are going all in!

Being able to do that as they are starting out is what makes their vision come to life when we create for them – that is the process that we have to never lose sight of. Because the process is the core of our design. And my ultimate goal is to provide the client with a memorable experience and a successful project.

Amanda Tarasar | Eyebrow specialist, Hair stylist & Makeup artist  & gluten free foodie

Makeup: @vividritual Hair: @misprimz_hair_mua Photo: @whitedesertphotography Venue: Red Rock State Park, Sedona AZ Dress: @lulus

Giving myself space to be imperfect. It’s so easy to compare ourselves to people on Instagram and forget that it’s all just a highlight reel.  I try to be as real as possible with my followers and my clients because it’s relatable and I want women to have a safe space where they know they can chat with me without being judged.



Leilani Vazquez | Disney Adventurer

For me, the most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is that you’re not going to please everyone. What you decide to do in life, you have to do it for yourself and not for others. Don’t base your decisions off of what other peoples opinions are because sometimes those opinions are wrong and whatever decision you are making can ultimately be the best decision of your life. I’m living my life for me and if I make a bad decision, then I learned a great life lesson.


Tatum  the director, photographer and videographer

Carter Petit

For being a nineteen-year-old working freelance video and photography, it can be stressful. I started working when I was sixteen, and I was quickly given many opportunities that were out of my comfort zone. Through those experiences, one of the essential tips I learned was to pretend like you know what you’re doing. I began to implement this into my daily routine when I realized how much value it had. This simple quote gave me the strength and confidence to throw myself into new experiences even though I might have felt I didn’t have the resume. Working in freelance, there will be moments you will be nervous if it’s the first wedding shoot or first photoshoot, but it’s important to push on and pretend like you know what you’re doing.

James Stamsek | Photographer

James Stamsek

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is to enjoy it for myself. Don’t focus on likes, followers, and shares. That will only bring about pressure to push content which will cause degradation over time. Instead, I photograph solely for my passion and love for it. Nothing more…nothing less. And I believe that this is conveyed through every image I choose to share.


Joseph Arreola | US Army Veteran & Photographer

The most important lesson I’ve learned throughout my journey is that, it doesn’t matter how difficult life becomes, never give up on what you love. The only thing you can do in life is prove yourself, day in and day out, in the end, actions are louder than words.

Jess Santos | Landscape & Astrophotographer

The most important lesson I have learned from my journey has been: Make time to enjoy the experience. As a landscape photographer it is easy to get caught up in getting the perfect shot, missing all the natural beauty around us. For me it has become far more important to enjoy the journey and that perfect shot will come along with that.


Megan Beardsley | Illustrator | Artist

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that “mistakes”, “failures” or bumps in the road should not be feared, but welcomed because they shift your perspective, are the catalyst for learning something new or can throw you completely off course where you discover a path you never knew even existed.


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