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?
Suzie Tremel | Textile Artist
The most important lessons I’ve learned on my journey is to keep pushing myself to try new things and don’t be afraid to take risks. Risks can be successes or failures but either way they will teach you a great deal.
You will grow immensely from having had those experiences. Always try and push yourself outside your comfort zone.
Abby Vetter | minimalist jewelry designer
The most important lesson my work on Trilliant has taught me is that it’s necessary to travel outside your comfort zone in order to succeed in anything. As a natural introvert, running festival booths as well as my online store for Trilliant forces me to put myself out there for others to see what I’ve created. Most importantly, it offers my two young daughters a different perspective on me aside from just being mommy. They come to festivals with me, helping to carry gear and even chatting up customers. My hope is that they see how an idea and a passion can become a reality if you put in the work.
Lily & Luna | Antique Dealer & Historian
When you follow your passion, the work is joy and the people you meet along the way are true kindred spirits.
Aya Mackhoul | The Atlanta Foodie @atl.foodz
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far, is to be genuine. Not just with blog posts, but with everything in life. When you’re genuinely doing what you love to do, everything else just falls into place.
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is that we are all at different points in the journey, so if you can’t compare yourself to someone on step 20 when you’re on step 1! You never know how many steps or how hard someone has worked to get where they are, so you just have to push yourself to be better than you were yesterday.
Jessica (Jet) Houston | Jewelry Designer & Creator
The most important lesson that I have learned on my journey so far is that you have to have patience in all aspects of your business. There are many ups and downs as a business owner requiring you to trust the process. No matter what obstacles you are faced with always stay positive and never quit.
Amanda McCabe | quilt designer | pattern writer, and occasional woodworker
Stay true to your own style of creativity, and do only the things that bring you joy.
Stephany Glassing | Abstract Artist
To date, the most important lesson I’ve learned through my journey is respecting the ebb and flow of life. I became paralyzed from the waist down due to a car accident when I was 19. For 35 years I’ve lived my life using a chair to get me from point A to point B but I’ve never let it be who I am. Throughout the journey, going from being a carefree teenager to an adult in a split second, the greatest thing I’ve come to realize that what is happening in my life at this moment may not be what I’m dealing with either 10 mins from now, a day from now, or week from now. I’ve learned to respect the ebb and flow of what life deals you and fortunately I’ve been able to use my artwork as an outlet to what I am feeling on any particular day, or moment. I’m not sure if this is part of aging or part of my journey as dealing with things no one wants, or expects, to have to deal with but I’m very grateful I’m at a point in my life where I can respect what happens, or doesn’t happen, and know that in the end it all works out how it’s supposed to work out. My artwork is a direct outpouring of what I’m going through. Sometimes I work on a piece for months, other times I create and pieces just flow out of me. A good balance of respecting the body and mental state at all times. I find myself, mentally, going to the beach (a place not easy to get to anymore) so a lot of what I do reflects the beachy vibe. Other times, it’s just the movement of color, shape, and lines.
Mark Haddad | Designer and Artist
Experiencing serendipity does not need to be a passive occurrence. My greatest inspiration comes from reinterpreting accidents and mistakes.
Kelly Rose Wilkinson | Graphic Designer & Art Director
Never be complacent. If you let yourself settle you’ll never find out what you could improve about your situation. And trust your gut. If you know there could be enhancements made, speak up. It may seem counter intuitive, but the goal isn’t really to reach your goal, it’s continuous improvement. So once you reach your goal, reassess and set another. Growth can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it’s so completely necessary.
Patrick Bonsu | Designer & Illustrator
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is to trust your instincts. And that goes for what you want to learn, what do you want to work on and ultimately who do you want to be. All those play a key factor into your work. This is a second part of that answer, but listening to what you hear when you ask yourself those questions is half of the journey. The other half is embracing what you hear.
Leah Atkins | Interior Designer
The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey is to be confident and let it show. Don’t doubt yourself. Take the next step, no matter how much it scares you!
The most important lesson that I have learned is that collaboration and communication with other instagrammers has helped the most in my journey so far. I have learned so much from other local accounts.
Liz Seymour | Noonday Collection Independent Ambassador
It’s never too late to try something new – and in the process discover entirely new things about yourself and your capabilities. We are constantly evolving, and if we’re doing it right we’re improving with age!
Briana Fountain | Designer & Wellness Blogger
The biggest lesson I have learned in my journey is to invest in myself and explore new avenues for growth. These two things are the key to blooming in both my professional and personal life. Professionally, this meant learning to hone my craft as I began trying new ventures for my wellness blog like Facebook groups. It also meant trying new things personally like pole fitness classes, eating at new restaurants, and making new friends. You grow through what you go through, so every new opportunity is a chance for growth.
Joshua Saunders | Artist and Automotive Data Analyst
Search for what makes you special, unique and different from all others. Anything is possible with unique talent, hard work and passion. Always take the opportunity to serve others with your abilities because you never know what kind of impact you can make on a persons life.
Amy Michelle | Mixed Media Artist
Creative expression is so good for our health… mentally, emotionally, physically. And to remember how blessed I am to share my gift with others. I’m touched every day from people I meet or hear from because of my artwork. It’s an amazing feeling when I create something that brings joy or peace to someone else that may be going thru a tough time…or it just makes them smile! Truly a huge sign and reminder that this is my calling… xo
Muneer Awad | Criminal Defense Lawyer and owner of Stony Cigars, a local Cigar and CBD store
There are no mistakes–only lessons. This mindset discourages sulking, and encourages reflection…and often times my best reflections go hand in hand with a great smoke.
Larry and Emily Johnson | Food Truck Owner/Operators
The most important lesson we’ve learned is to be flexible. Don’t be afraid to change a menu item if it isn’t selling. Be willing to cater to the demographics of where we’re set up I.E. kids options, boiled peanuts or soft pretzels at a brewery or healthier options when doing a corporate event or movie production. And don’t turn free advice from others in the industry. You never know what good ideas are right there around the corner.
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
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.
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
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.