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?
Tanzania H. Daniel | Realtor
I’ve learned that my business is not as much about sales as it is about building relationships. Although my goal is to assist buyers and sellers with finding the perfect home and/or selling their homes for top dollar, included in that is to provide service so great that my clients feel like family long after the transaction is over.
Nakeia Homer | Writer | Speaker | Mental Wellness Advocate
The most important lesson I’ve learned was inspired by a quote from James Allen. He says, “”circumstances do not make you, they reveal you to yourself.””
That meant the world to me- a black girl from the projects, born to teenage parents, struggling through childhood trauma.
To know that none of that would determine who I was in this world but instead reveal who I really was, changed my whole view on life, struggle, circumstance, and everything else.
I rejected every statistic about growing up in poverty, having teenagers as parents, being exposed to addiction and violence…
From that point on, whenever I was met with something difficult, I asked myself who I wanted to be in that moment- and that’s what I became. Instead of looking at things as just circumstances, I accepted those things as part of my story. There’s something powerful about the concept of story because every one ever told has a beginning, middle and end. There is an author, characters, and plot twists. One chapter can look completely different than the next…
I see my journey as a story, circumstances as part of that journey, and myself as the co-author in control of the characters and prepared to handle every plot twist. And, who I am in this chapter can change in the next. A new and improved version of me is being revealed at every turn.
My journey has been dope and so is my story.
Now I spend my life teaching other aspiring women to embrace their personal stories and use them to become better in life and business.
The lesson has evolved into this:
Behind every dope woman is a set of circumstances that gave her no other choice.
Behind every dope woman is a story only she can tell.
When you see a dope woman, trust, she gotta story to tell.
Dope Woman. Dope Story. Period.
Colleen J. Nolan | Actress | Corporate Consultant | Gluten-free foodie
Always be yourself… and don’t be afraid to be a little extra!
J. Bailey | Comedic Singer | Songwriter
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is that it is just that, MY JOURNEY. I can’t be consumed with what other people are doing. Nor can I stress about what I haven’t accomplished yet. My goal is to remain focused and inspired to do what I love to do. I am right where I need to be in order for God to do what HE needs to do through me, right now. And that’s good enough for me!
Ramon Harper | Zest~N~Thyme Custom Cakes and Catering
I’ve learned that failure isn’t fatal, it’s the courage to keep going that counts.
Malcolm The Mayor aka Malcolm Bush | Warner Records – National Director Of Mixshow Radio
Always keep your word and your reputation clean. People will always want to do business with you.
Rishay Ford | Multi Certified Lash Stylist
The most important lesson I have learned is nothing happens overnight, you have to put the work in to get the results. I’ve learned that you are your only limit.
Kalonji Allmond | Photographer & Filmmaker
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is to keep God first and to be patient. It may seem like nothing is happening but remain patient and take the time to hone skills. It’s a marathon, not a race!
Ranata | Creative | Photographer | Designer and Blogger
The most important lesson I have learned so far is to be my authentic self in all aspects of my life. There will always be someone doing what you are doing, but your uniqueness is what will set you apart from the competition.
Jeff Sudmeier | Freelance Photographer
I’ve learned two important things:
1. Photography is not always about the equipment.
2. No matter what you’re going to fail, get over it.
J La Trina | Spokesperson Against Domestic Violence | Advocate for Lupus Survivors & Single Parent Advocate
I’ve learned that it takes time to heal from the inside out.
I’m a domestic violence survivor, Lupus survivor, and single parent, now turned Spokesperson Against Domestic Violence, Advocate for Lupus Survivors, Single Parent Advocate, Community Leader, etc.
I suffered for 12 years in an abusive relationship that I hid, due to pride and embarrassment because we were in the church. His favorite thing to say to me was, “you’re just another pretty face!”
I was told by him that I was nothing and would never amount to anything, all while I encouraged and did everything that I could to support him.
I was abused physically, emotionally, verbally, and financially. I will not say that I did everything right because after a while, I did retaliate.
It was during this abusive relationship, that I was suffering from Lupus flare ups the most. You see. I’ve had Lupus for 28 years now.
Lupus caused my face to become disfigured and raw on the inside of my mouth with ulcers down my throat amongst many other things.
After the divorce, I took 15 years off from relationships to find out the “why’s.” Why did I allow this to happen to me? Why did I retaliate the way I did?
I went through therapy/counseling. I started better eating habits. I began a holistic journey by focusing on myself from the inside out. I began having colonics done to reset my body. I let my hair go back to its natural state and color.
After the 15 years were up, I celebrated by having a 50th Birthday party by inviting 50 Single Mom’s to receive FREE services that included, hair styles, make overs, food, messages, gift cards, clothing, psychotherapy, and words of affirmation. The event was called, J La Trina presents, “Beauty From the Inside Out.”
I shared with them my journey to becoming an overcomer. I wanted them to know that they were more than just a pretty face. You see, I didn’t want them to have to go through what I’ve gone through and I also wanted them to know that if that’s where they are now, there is hope.
I am the Program Coordinator for the Single Parent Society at Fulton County Community Action Authority (FACAA). I also serve as the Program Assistant to the Vice President of Programs & Services.
All of this has taken time… It takes time to heal from the inside out and none of this has been possible without God.
Larnell Mays | Portrait and Landscape Photographer
The most important thing I have learned in my journey is “Get comfortable being uncomfortable and any success worth getting takes hard work and determination” the world can be a scary place so if you’re not striving to be better or learn new things then you will be left behind because the world is moving so fast with tech and all of the marketing we get slapped with daily can truly make people mute to your brand or work so always be working even when no money is coming because you will strike gold one day. Another lesson i have learned and still learning is to create a great circle of winners and believers around you; it’s very hard to elevate alone and it’s even harder having friends who don’t believe in you around you all day draining your dreams, i suggest surrounding yourself with people doing the same thing as you and really have a vision or people who already are where you want to be and truly learn from them and stick with them because you guys together can go far.
Deanna Rice | Owner, Elva Mae Boutique
The first thought that came to mind when asked this question was vulnerability. It’s such a scary word for so many people, including myself. That means I have to be open to rejection, confrontation, and negative feedback. However, what I’ve learned especially in this past year is that vulnerability can lead to honesty, with myself and others, building of deeper relationships, creating opportunities, and the ability to receive LOVE. I’ve operated out of this immense fear of putting myself out there, allowing myself and my talents to be unseen and I got comfortable in my hiding place. There has been a significant shift in my attitude towards revealing my true self since I launched Elva Mae with my partners in 2018. I’ve realized that I was not only doing a disservice to myself, but I was also doing a disservice to other women who needed to hear what we had to say, to experience the Love in our brand, fueled by my grandmother, from whom the brand received its namesake. She told me that “it takes courage to love, to be kind when people are being rude to you, to respect people who have mistreated you.” I had never thought about vulnerability in this way before. I thought it was a weakness, a way for people to see how they can hurt me. It’s not been an easy road by any means, and of course I will experience the negative aspects of being vulnerable throughout my life, but the practice of vulnerability and receiving the benefits of it, far outweigh the cost.
Innocent Amara | Multi-family housing wellness expert
Wellness is a long term journey that needs to be seeded and watered daily.
Eddy Rioseco | Pilates Instructor and Mayofascial Release Therapist
The most important lesson that I’ve learned in my journey so far has been to treat each client’s body as a new, unique treasure. No two bodies are alike and each one deserves the respect and patience in order to heal and get stronger. People learn differently and react to physicality in their own unique way. Trauma is always stored in the depths of our physical temple and accessing it becomes a lot like a treasure hunt. Once discovered and revealed, layers and layers fall away and clients return to their anatomical alignment and arrive at a meaningful level of physical self awareness. Each person you meet is a teacher and a gift.
Evan Small | Visual Artist and Printer
The most important lesson I’ve learned from painting is to do what you can’t help but do. Trends come and go, but if you consistently work with this in mind your work will stand out because of it.
Follow your dreams, or you’ll spend the rest of your life working for someone who did.
Alexis Rivera | Artist | Art Instructor
The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is hustling a positive attitude and most of all the love of God will give me the power to get through any obstacle.
Kijana Davis | Financial Services Advisor | Landscaper and Founder of Guiding Light Foundation
I would say the most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey as an entrepreneur is to always be confident in what you’re doing. It’s believing that if God gives you the vision for something, He will equip you with everything needed to bring that vision to fruition. My journey started 6 years ago with my husband, as we started our landscaping company. I knew nothing about that industry, but I knew we were never going to work for another corporation again, God willing! With hard work, determination, and lots of studying/research we’ve built a successful business. And a little over a year and a half ago I got into the Financial Services industry. Again, it’s something that was brand new to me, but it’s so needed for our families, friends, and our community!! I now have a business that I help people protect their income, plan for their financial future, and also provide a business opportunity for those seeking to make some additional money! When I got started I knew nothing but I was determined to learn and grow. I knew by me doing so I could give my clients the best service. Serving those around me is also extremely important to me. In addition to my businesses, I also run a nonprofit organization – where we empower young girls and prepare them for adulthood. We’ve been able to send four girls to prom over the last four years. My motto in business is “when you help someone else win, you’re already winning.
Custom Signage – Foamcore Board – Designed and Printed by @mozepd
Understanding there is no secret to balancing it all. You must handle each task individually to give it what it deserves. From there, you’ve done what you can without unrealistic expectations and the consequences of overextending yourself.
Selby Hill | Co-Founder and Yoga Teacher
While this isn’t a lesson that we had to “learn the hard way,” the most valuable thing we have learned thus far is that the team is everything. We were very lucky to have a strong community of teachers and staff from the very beginning, and our business wouldn’t be what it is today without them. For leadership, it’s important for us to have a team we can trust, rely on, and believe in, but even more so, it’s invaluable that each of our team members is surrounded by a positive, loving, and supportive team as well. A team doesn’t just have to support the business – they have to support each other, and I’ve learned the true value of that over the last few months. We can’t wait to grow that community when we open in Westside Atlanta next month!
Corey Marcum | Founder of EZ Sports Group, LLC
The most important lesson I have learned throughout my journey so far is to continue serving others. EZ Sports Group is built off the reputation of being able to provide opportunities for players on and off the court. It is my duty to make sure our clients are prepared for life after sports.
Rishawn Felton | Fashion stylist | Philanthropist
The most important lesson I have learned is to always remain humble and never burn bridges with anyone.
Robyn Davis | Home Decor and Lifestyle Blogger
The most important lesson I’ve learned is to remember “Why you started”. For me, I’ve always loved home decor. I can remember when I was 11 I used to rearrange my room and then take pictures of it. I sought so much joy in that process. Fast forward twenty something years later and I’m still doing that same thing. Finding your passion and remembering why you started is the most important thing that I try and never loose sight of.
Ashlee Chane’l | Fitness Trainer and Atlanta recording Artist
I’d have to say that the most valuable thing I’ve learned on this journey, is to BELIEVE IN YOURSELF! These days it’s so easy to get discouraged through Instagram, etc. But the key is to always bet on you! Those 1000 no’s could lead to that single “YES”, and it may take 10 years!! Never give up, keep striving, and always push the be better than you were yesterday!!!!!
Matthew Schwartz | Singer | songwriter | producer and sales coordinator for Terminus Tees
Make sure at the end of the day your soul is full; that the ratio between what you’ve given of yourself and what you’ve received from the world and others leaves your soul full and happy!
Reggie Dolo | Recording Artist | Songwriter & Fitness/Fashion Model
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is that though money is a necessity, it doesn’t always bring success. Your hard work, consistency, and network can make one’s passions become a reality. It’s not only about “who you know’ but also, WHO KNOWS OF YOU.
Myles Jackson | Certified Personal Trainer & Inspirer of People
Create your own happiness.
If it is one thing my journey has thought me this far it is that happiness is a choice. It cannot be faked, attained by monetary gains or material wealth. When genuine, it cannot be hidden, for true happiness is like a light that illuminates a dark room. When you choose it, your happiness becomes a light driving out darkness from the world.
In my line of work, there is no one trainer that is “better” than the next. We all have different skills, abilities and outlooks that set us apart. I learned a long time ago that what set me apart for other trainers was my ability to create an experience and build a connection with my clients like no other. In hindsight, it is because of my understanding of happiness that I’m able to do so.
Happiness is a combination of things. But it is my belief that in order to attain true happiness a combination of these three key principles must be present. Gratitude. Confidence. Leisure.
Gratitude meaning it is most important that you remain grateful at all times. For every experience and every opportunity. Period. In every moment, good or bad, there is a lesson to be learned. Be grateful for having learned this lesson. You are now better and smarter for it. In tough times this key point is even more valuable for the sake of your mental health and sanity. When these tough times arise, remind yourself, life is not happening to you but simply happening. Around you and about you. If you choose to be grateful for the opportunity to live in the moment, you will be making a step toward choosing happiness. Regardless your situation or circumstances.
Furthermore confidence is the ability to believe in yourself, stay steadfast to your goals and trust the process. No matter the challenges you have faced or the obstacles lying ahead. When you humble yourself, let your intentions be known and submit to the universe, your desires will have no choice but to manifest. Maybe not according your your plan but according to that of the stars. So be patient. Don’t compare your path to others and instead walk your journey. Stay focused on your goals and tune out any background noise that may cast doubt on your mind.
Last but not least, be leisurely along your walk. Yes, looking back to reflect on the past and forward to plan the future are two important traits. But even more important is the ability to live in the now, enjoy today for what it is and take in your daily present which is this moment. Celebrate your small wins and take an extra second to enjoy spontaneous moments. You only get one life. When you take the time to embrace every moment, release the pain of the past and the stress of tomorrow you open yourself up to live in the moment.
So, when you make the choose to live gratefully, confidently and leisurely, you are making a choice to live happily. A choice that no one can make for you. A feeling nothing can give you. Once you attain it, you become a light perforating the darkness in the world.
TerryAnn Phillips | Fashion Entrepreneur and Fashion Influencer
Be patient and trust the process there is no such thing as overnight
success. We live in a time where people want instant gratification and
there in no such thing. Anything worth having worth working hard for
and don’t come easy!