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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?

Raiyah Elahi | M.S.c Exercise Physiologist, Teacher, Health Coach

To stay resilient no matter how hard it becomes, especially if you know what you have to offer others is beneficial.

When I started my children’s wellness enrichment school I was a scientist by academia and starting a company was nerve-wracking, as I was becoming an entrepreneur, I was scared.

I knew that a primary wellness school with healthy enrichment programs, could help in decreasing chronic disease and benefit a child’s long term health. Having no common business model to follow it was hard, I knew I had to stay resilient. I continued to meet with 100’s of other Founders/CEO’s, Companies, Incubators, Accelerators, etc. I remember being denied liability insurance coverage for my classes by eight insurance companies because had never heard of something like a wellness school for kids, I kept pushing. Luckily, a policy was created by an insurance company because the CEO loved the concept of a wellness school 🙂

Along the way, I have connected with so many great people who are on the same team for children’s wellness. Most of all its beautiful to see how children enjoy our classes and begin to build on healthy sustainable lifestyle habits.

Dennis Santiago| REA

Be there first, be good second.” – in our line of work 86% of people choose the first agent they interact with. First step to be successful, is to be ‘THERE’, then you can worry about being a good agent for your clients/customers. I think this quote applies to anything in life as well – life isn’t lived in a couch/desk/behind a screen, you can’t fake experiences. Go out, experience, do whatever needs to be done, then if it’s something you want to do more than once, work on doing it right and doing it well.


Renik Evelyn| Top Atlanta Realtor

Stop waiting for validation of associates, friends and family. Stop waiting on people to believe in you; your vision is yours. Believe in yourself and give it your best.


Jean-Philippe Gibson | Real Estate Investor, Journalist, & Entertainment Business Professional

Photo Credits: Photographer – Reunekiea Williams | Art Design Inspired by Karrianna Turner | Graphic Designer Jean-Philippe Gibson

Mentors and your environment are important.  Surround yourself with mentors and a team that sees you properly that also shares your values.

Maria Priestly | Latina Female Entrepreneur

There are a few lessons I have learned over the last 10 years but I would say a critical lesson that allowed me to grow my business was to learn how to delegate. Many times business owners believe they have to have their hands on every detail of the business and in reality, we don’t, by doing that we cant focus on business growth.  Having a great hiring process, training and ongoing training will allow others to do their job while we focus on other aspects of the business.


Sandra Isiguzo | Real Estate Broker by Pursuit| Mommy by Purpose|Chemist by Passion

In contemplative thought about my life and the start of a new year and decade, two lessons ring true 1. Regret: We might feel regret over past mistakes, wrong choices, or things that happened which we had no control over but had to live with. I believe that this feeling and the emotions that come with it, the processing, etc are all valid. But what robs us is when we lock ourselves up perpetually in that prison cell and stay in that same spot processing and processing. We’ve got to take the lessons learned, get past the fear and move on now with intention. Don’t stay locked in with regret. 2. Relationships – I am convinced that one distinct component of a truly wealthy life is the quality of relationships one has. The right relationships, if nurtured and protected, are a currency that will never lose their value. You can soar to heights unknown, conquer territories, build legacies, overcome your fears/foes and accomplish your dreams, if the right people are in your life. If they exist already, nurture, value and protect them. Otherwise seek for them and be sensitive and aware of their purpose when they appear.

LinkedIn – Sandra Isiguzo

Ashley Splawn | Manager, Premium Sales with the Atlanta Hawks & State Farm Arena

“Stop spending 100% of your time on 10% of who you are” – Sheri Riley

Linkedin: Ashley Splawn

Mike Russell & Jarno Russell | Founders of Anders

Importing products from Europe was a big challenge, there’s a ton of rules & regulations to navigate. But then finding that other people are as excited as we are about the stories behind the products you picked is great confirmation to trust your instincts. You just have to work through the difficult things to get to the rewarding parts.

ChefDPalmer | Personal Chef & Caterer

Perfect your Craft & Stay in your Own Lane. I’m my Only Competition & My goal is always to be better than I was yesterday.


Simone Chèrie | Justice Reform Activist & Nonprofit Advisor

Kevin D Liles

Relationships are a currency infinitely more valuable than money, and you can start accruing them the moment your career begins.No matter where you are in your journey, prioritize relationships! Help, support and align yourself with as many good people as you can –  it’s those people who will speak for you when you’re not in the room.

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that relationships are a currency infinitely more valuable than money, and you can start accruing them the moment your career begins. Our impact on people, not on the bottom line, is what ultimately shapes our reputations. To have an impact on people, you have to invest in them as readily as you invest in yourself. When you’re passionate about something it’s easy to chase it singlemindedly, and neglect to notice all of the great people in your current field of view. No matter where you are in your journey, prioritize relationships! Help, support and align yourself with as many good people as you can –  it’s those people who will speak for you when you’re not in the room.


Book | It Right Accountancy

The most important lesson I have learned in my journey so far is that good management and healthy relationships are essential to owning a business. Whatever you mismanage whether it’s business or personal, it will eventually be taken away from you. Likewise, If you properly manage other people’s assets and their company, you will eventually have your own employees. In short, what I have learned in my journey so far is that good management and healthy relationships attract resources.

Futography – Atlanta’s Trusted Photography Company

It’s all about personal accountability and growth.

Kelsey Daniels – Project Manager / Sales & Design Specialist

Kindness is the key.
Pinterest: @lamonluther


Destiny Bell | Fashion Mogul in the Making

The most important lesson that I’ve learned in my journey thus far is that mistakes are inevitable and absolutely necessary. For a while, I held on to the idea of perfection. I withheld on sharing amazing projects because I hadn’t quite amassed every detail.

I don’t want to confuse my message and discourage people from crossing their T’s and dotting their I’s because attentiveness is imperative, but if you’re check-listing more than you’re progressing, you’re causing yourself more harm than help.

We have to learn to trust that all of the hard work and thought that we’ve put into our projects will create the exact results we wish to achieve. Release your need to control and manage every detail, and breathe. Your art will speak for itself!

The Woman Behind Those Braids | Garyayana Mood/Luttie

The most important lesson I’ve learned through this journey is that you must be patient , be consistent & have faith. I try to put god in everything I do because I’ve came so far. After losing my father in 2018 due to sickle cell anemia it definitely put me in a dark space. I had no desire to do hair no more but my dad was always a hustler he never let this disease bring him down so I knew that I couldn’t let this disease do it to me.

Shifat Noor | Interior Decorator and Social Media Influencer

Definitely take that leap and don’t compare yourself with others. When my husband and I bought our home almost 2 years ago, I remember I would spend hours scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest looking for home decor ideas! I would peruse through countless accounts with beautiful photos of homes and think how fun it would be to share MY home decor ideas. But after seeing pages with thousands of followers and likes, I thought, why would anyone have any interest in me or my home? I felt intimidated. Intimidated by the beautiful homes, successful people, and it sounds silly to say, intimated by the likes and number of followers others had. So I decided that social media wasn’t for me and continued decorating my home for a whole year on my own.

About 5 months ago, I remember I had just put my kids to sleep after an exhausting day. I came downstairs and started cleaning up toys, vacuuming up food off the floor and getting the meals ready for the next day. I felt extremely stressed out and flatly asked my husband, “what am I doing for ME?”. Well that’s when our very long conversation started and he said, “why don’t you do something related to home decor?”. I looked at him as if he was crazy but the thought excited me. I mean, I was already working from home in my healthcare field but I needed something to get my mind off of patient files. And that was when it clicked…Instagram.

So that’s when I started this journey. As the saying goes, “you can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of yourself first”. I decided I wasn’t going to compare my chapter 1 with someone’s chapter 20. Everyone has a starting point but it’s up to us to take that leap! I posted a photo of our dining room and was floored by the amount of love I received on it. But I know that even if I didn’t get that initial positive reaction, I still would have continued because it was thrilling putting my work out there for others to see.

I continued to share my love of home decor by showcasing my home and also virtually taking my followers along with me when I went shopping. Now, several interior decorating clients, a good deal of brand sponsorships and over 13,000 (and growing) Instagram followers later, I am happy I started. More than anything, I’m grateful for all the internet friends I’ve made and for all the support I’ve received from family and friends. To be honest, I know now that it was never about the amount of likes and followers, it’s about me sharing my ever-evolving passion and being excited about it.

So the bottom line is, after a while we realize that true happiness comes from within and you’ll never get there if you compare yourself to others and you’ll definitely never get there if you don’t take the leap!


Sasha MaRi | Singer/Guitarist and Barber/Natural Hairstylist

The most important thing I’ve learned is to Love Self, first.

Once you are in a happy space and feel good about yourself and your choices, that will pour out of you naturally. If you depend on a substance, situation or person for happiness, then your happiness will only be temporary.

Love yourself a little more everyday by making changes, no matter how big or small, that you can be consistent with. Maybe it’s drinking more water. Maybe it’s stretching every morning you get out of bed. Maybe it’s letting go of what no longer serves you. Maybe it’s making time, once a week, for something you enjoy doing. Whatever it is, start somewhere. Spend some time with yourself and be more mindful. Pay attention to you and nurture that relationship.


Brian Mickens | Entertainments new Dual Threat in Stand Up & Film production

The most important lesson I’ve learned in this journey is to building relationships and remain persistent. There are a million people trying to do what you’re trying to do. What makes you different?


Antonio iwharper | iwHarperAirGraphic Custom Airbrushing

Its that we all have greatness in us but sometimes it gets misplaced by life but if you keep yourself around people that are focused just as much as you are your dreams and goals can always be achieved
Hard Work, Focus, & Timing will payoff.



Nakeia Louise | Owner Thirteen14 Apparel | Enthusiastic DIY Designer

Being a single mother of 3 and a business owner, you can say that over the past fifteen years of my journey I have learned so many lessons, every lesson molding me into the person I am today. Every day I strive to be a better person than the person I was the day before. The most important lesson I’ve learned by far is to never give up during the adversities. It’s hard enough juggling kids, ranging from ages 5-17, but to have a career fulfilling my dreams is a tough conquest. I have learned to trust that life has a journey for each and every one of us. As well as to trust this journey of mine is full of so many blessings and so much love. Even when there are dark days, trusting there is always light ahead.

Overall, I love sharing my designs and my story to help build Women, Men and Children’s confidence, self esteem and their worth in this world.


Rob Birdsong | Creative Producer

Stay persistent, stay positive. If the mind can conceive it and believe it, it can achieve it.


Thàhresa J | model and an aspiring actress

Modeling is not easy and there are those who will look to take advantage of you. In the beginning I allowed my enthusiasm to override my caution and unfortunately was involved with some people who were eager exploit my naivety. I am wiser now and if it’s one thing that I learned it’s that you must depend on yourself first, place the burden of your goals on your back and carry the weight of your dreams on your shoulders. Your dreams and your goals are yours, be selfish with them do not give others the power to deny you.

Thomas Kendall | Pilates Instructor

The most important lesson I have learned on my journey so far is to stay true to your authentic self while teaching. I have taught many Pilates classes and discovered that it is best to let your unique personality shine through. My philosophy as an instructor is to teach a class that you would be happy participating in yourself. The clients that enjoy your method of teaching will stay with you for that very reason.


Hitman Marco Business Owner and Artist | Producer

I’ve learned that if you want something in life there are no shortcuts . you have to work hard at any dream you want to pursue . Most of your supporters will be people you don’t know.


Alison Haselden | Actor & Podcast Host

Letting go of expectations and mastering patience has transformed the way I approach my relationships and career. Trust that you will arrive at who and where you’re meant to be. Beyond that, this year in particular I’ve learned the importance of infusing more play into everything I do.


Laikyra B | Model | Actress | Business Owner

The most important lesson I learned is do your research on the industry people , don’t always hop on every opportunity given to you , Some opportunities can hinder your brand . 

Khiry J. Morgan | Film Producer& Founder | Owner of WOKE Organics LLC

The most important lesson I learned in my journey so far, is that “Your daily routine, effects your long term goals.” and that you “No-one can see your vision through your eyes, only through your work.” | quote: “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”


Jeremy Simmons |  J Black | Producer

The most important lesson I’ve learned is that the genuine relationships you build with people in the industry are more important than anything. Networking & getting solid work completed is goal. I plan on being one of the go to producers in the industry along with a few other Co Producers I work with.



Kalyn Davis | Creative | Environment Lover, & Jack of all Trades

I have learned a lot during my journey thus far; I like to believe that everything happens for a reason. As such, I treat all events and relationships with meaning. I try to find the lesson in all things and experiences – good or bad. So far one of the biggest things I have learned is that every one’s path is different. It may seem as though we are all competing, but to be honest the only person you should be comparing yourself to is your “past you.” I have learned to appreciate my process and see beauty in my struggle, for it makes me who I am. In short, my journey has taught me to remain focused, stay humble, be kind, and choose happiness. I could go on forever though haha, I’ll ramble for years if you let me!


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