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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?

Jesse Salas | REALTOR | Hiker | Foodie & Boater

We live in the greatest city. Go out and enjoy it. Savor the journey!


Derek Scott |  Functional Fitness & Nutrition Coach

Be consistent. It’s more important than setting a big goal and a having perfect plan. If you need to lose 10 pounds, focus on the next healthy meal. If you need to build more muscle, focus on the next great workout. Then, repeat. Everyone wants extreme results – whether it’s excellent health, excellent relationships, or a thriving business. But it’s important to avoid extreme actions or over-planning. Focus on that next, small action step. Forget perfection. It’s the repeatable, consistent daily habits that yield the greatest results.


Bri | Fitness Influencer

The trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more. When I was a child, my mom drag me along to a personal development seminar where the presenter nonchalantly uttered, “I know what I know, I know what I don’t know, and I don’t know what I don’t know.” This statement has molded my journey at a scale unlike any lesson I’ve learned as an adult. Because of this, I strive to be open minded, I don’t let my curiosity dwindle, and I’m never quite satisfied with my current level of knowledge.



Johnny Gillespie | Fascial Stretch Therapist & Strength Trainer

You’ve got to learn more, to earn more.” – Charles Poliquin “The moment I began to invest more into myself and prioritize my education, that is when my business took off. I continue to make my education the priority and learn something new every single day.” 

Katy Yeager | Speaker and Wholeness Advocate

The most important lesson I have learned in my journey so far is to be more concerned with staying in the lane of my purpose and calling over obsessing on the timeline of my goals and accomplishments. I have seen my journey take pivots, twists and turns, but it did not throw me off or even tempt me to quit because I know what I am called to build, and what my purpose is. No failure, road block, or discouragement can tamper with my calling- because its uniquely mine and not anyone else’s!

Scoop Slyman | Yoga Teacher | body worker | healer

You are your most challenging & valuable project you will ever undertake. Doing the inner self work can be frustrating and even scary at times. Taking you through so many emotional ups and downs as you work through your internal blocks and turmoils. But nothing will bring you more liberation and success than choosing to stay committed to the process of your own self work.


Eric Portalez | photographer

To me the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you have to be patient. Things don’t happen overnight (usually). Especially with photography. Learning the subtleties of composing an image. Or editing that nice sunset you got out at La Jolla. These things take time to learn and your photos might not look like how you envisioned them. And that’s what you have to be patient about because it can be discouraging.

Jillian LaDow | Director of Education

Maestro Music

How to successfully convey the impact of music education in our schools and to our diverse communities. We strive to support  all San Diego County children by providing quality music education programs. Our mission is to empower young minds in the  development of life-­‐long skills through music. We believe in the powerful impact of music and its foundation in childhood  education. Visit us to help music impact your community. 

Jonel Romero Javinal | your friendly neighborhood artist

Throughout the 8 years of my tattoo experience the most important lesson I’ve learned so far is that everyone has an important story to tell and is wanting to present it some way or another. One of the ways being through the expression of permanent body art also known as a tattoo. Whether it’s a story just for them to relive or for the whole world to know. Regardless if it’s a small, simplistic piece or a large, complex piece, every tattoo that I’ve done has a special story/meaning behind it. This story could derive from a very pleasant life experience or a heart breaking one. Whichever the storyteller wants to tell. It’s a story that will forever live on with the specific person who wears them. As an artist who specializes in line work, geometric, floral, modern Japanese and Polynesian tribal I do the best of my abilities to highlight certain aspects of people’s lives through pieces of the highest quality that they can talk about for generations. When people come to me with design ideas they usually explain why they want to get the tattoo in the first place. They tell me certain aspects and experiences of their lives that mean the most to them as well as the important people who surround them. This is where the creative process begins. I accumulate everything detail that is required to make a perfect design for that person. A quick example is that one of my dear clients who wanted to get tattoo that was symbolic to motherhood since she recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She wanted a design that would capture all of the emotions she felt during her pregnancy as well as after she gave birth so that the memory will always live with her. She then gave me a few details of what she wanted to incorporate into the design and with that I was able to create a piece for her that she absolutely loved. Her reaction was unforgettable. Her face lit up as soon as she looked in the mirror. It gives me great joy and pleasure when I see the reactions of my client’s face as they gaze into in the mirror. They see that their stories are engraved in them through the final product. Just knowing that I’m able to give them great joy despite all the pain and suffering during the actual session gives me great satisfaction. It’s mind boggles me to see how the process progresses. It all starts from an idea, to a quick rough draft sketch, then to reality on the skin, which will forever live on as the person lives to tell the story. It’s a very humbling experience that continues to drive my ambition as an artist. All in all, I’m really proud of the work that I’ve accomplished over the last 8 years and I really appreciate those who understand all of the hard work, time and dedication that comes with the process of getting a tattoo. Knowing that I’m able to make some sort of difference in people’s lives, even though it may be minuscule, is the most rewarding thing on my behalf. My journey has just started and I will continue to do what I do best for those who seek for it. Much love.


Simmi Israni | College Student | Travel & Food Blogger

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is that it’s never too late to start something new! We often let the fear of being too old, too late, or too inexperienced get in the way of trying something out. Whether it’s taking that dance class, going on that solo trip, baking something complicated, or even just calling a relative – do it! You don’t have to be an expert – you just have to take the first step. 

Megan Goddard | Pilates & Barre Instructor | Wellness Blogger

I’ve had many lessons of realization on this journey, but what stands out the most is knowing that passion, empathy, and authenticity can be our greatest power when combined together. It’s so important to be passionate about the work we aspire to do in order to explore all of the possible ways to make it happen. If we are not willing to go into overtime, then it’s simply not meant to be. We all have a journey we are riding on, so it’s also necessary to act like a helping neighbor or friend in every road we cross. I’ve learned there’s certainly a strength when we make it about team work rather than solo work. Empathy has taught me the most about people because it has opened my mind to different perspectives and experiences. Thus, it’s important to have the courage to show up as our authentic selves when making connections. It’s not always easy, but it’s certainly worth speaking up for what we believe in. These are the key ingredients I focus on because it pushes me to wake up everyday ready to face any of the successes and failures that come along with my journey.


J. Anthony Chisholm | Artist & Bartender

Most important is the intangible power of wisdom; comes from failure. Remember those mistakes and learn from them, so you don’t repeat them. Also stay humble, have the right amount of pride and accept humility; with that, stress drifts away and calm comes into play.

Personal Blog-OMGitsChiz
Business Blog-Anthony_Chiz

Teddy Winfield | mixed-media artist & disability activist

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned so far is to use the precious creative energy that I have to create and collaborate with my peers, as opposed to comparing myself and competing with them. I think a lot of creatives waste time feeling inadequate compared to others, while others feel the exact same way about them! It’s important to remember that art is subjective, and that wherever you’re at in your journey is good enough.


Dee | SAHM and Freelancer

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far is the importance of taking care of myself both physically and mentally.  As a mother, it can be easy to forget your own needs because your focus and dedication is towards your children’ needs and growth.   It doesn’t make me, or anyone, less of a parent taking a break or asking for help.  I feel grateful to have a great support system that encourages the breaks and reminds me that it’s okay to take them.


Jamie Danielle | Realtor with Compass

Hanna Claire Photography

The most important lesson I have learned so far is not to give up. If you believe in something go for it with everything you’ve got. Take chances-  and do the thing you think you cannot do. You will live a fuller life and will have no regrets later on.

Angelo David Russo | Mixed media artist

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is to paint like my life depends on it. I’ve applied this approach to my work this year and feel that I am not only creating my best work, but also learning the most as a result of it. The only way to evolve and improve, is to push yourself beyond what you believe your capabilities to be, and work through the challenges that present themselves. 



Machalla Breanne | Student

One important lesson I have learned that the only person who’s happiness should matter is your own. So why live your day to day life trying to be like or impress someone else?


Erin Sloan | Portrait Photographer

Through my journey as a professional photographer, I’ve learned that it’s so important to be true to yourself and your art.  For every person that doesn’t like what you offer, there is someone that will. When people hire you, they want to see your vision represented, not what you think they want.  So if you have a creative (or crazy!) idea, reach for it.

The DJ -“DJ OSO FLAKO” Marcos Galaz and The Photographer | (Lalo Gomez) of the photo

I used to try and live up to what people expected out of me. I Tried to be somebody to make more friends. It wasn’t until I accepted who I really was inside that freed me. Now I realize my small circle is all I ever really needed.
-Marcos Galaz

The Most important lesson (so Far) has been to work with what you have, focus on yourself and just start. It’s easy to get stuck comparing yourself to others and wishing you had better equipment, telling yourself  “I’ll start once I acquire that new camera” as an example. Its not always about having the greater gear, it’s about what you can create with the tools you already have. Your creativity is what can set you apart which is why its important to focus on yourself and see that you start and finish every project.
-Lalo Gomez

Randee Stratton | Restaurant | Retailer Tenant Representation Broker

Doing the right thing never goes out of style and follow your instincts, they are going to be right.

Skye Susalla | Photographer

The greatest feeling, passion that I discovered
From my travels is how important our family and friends are and will always continue to be .
When My guy, Joe and I were in Italy last summer we were able to go to Matera to meet His Italian side of the family .  Not only were they gracious, funny and extremely endearing, but made us feel like we had known one another . For a lifetime , which only family can do!
Now our families have multiplied instilling a renewed LOVE and appreciation for ALL!


The Urban Renewal Project | Hip-hop/Jazz Band

We frequently talk about the idea of “missing the forest for the trees” as it applies to creating music, maintaining personal relationships, and managing work and finances. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in daily affairs and start making all your decisions based on the factors that happen to be affecting you in that moment, but that kind of approach just results in treading water and heightened levels of anxiety. Arguing over the volume of the snare drum on day 3 of mixing, or passing on a really cool performance opportunity because it doesn’t pay as much as another recent show. Always remember why you’re doing the things you do and what your long-term goals are. If something is serving the ultimate purpose, then it’s probably worth it!

Andrea Rogers | Licensed Esthetician

There are 1,001 people around me that do the same job as I do. How do I stand out?
Know your gifts! Strengthen those gifts! Lean into your instincts and do not be afraid to put yourself out there! You will find your people, and your people will find you!

Sabrina Cyrus | Model & Concept Artist

Surround yourself with GOOD. That means listening to music with good messages, reading inspiring books, and nurturing healthy relationships with people who lift you up.
When good things in life became my norm, it was difficult to keep toxic people and negativity around. Does your environment challenge and inspire you? Are your influences guiding you to be the best version of yourself?


Ryan Manalili – Singer/Songwriter from Oceanside, CA

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is very well represented by the Italian phrase, “Ancora Imparo”. A phrase meaning: Yet, I am learning.
There is always room to learn, there’s always room to grow. I learn something new everyday, whether it’s in terms of music, or just learning something new about myself. Once you accept the fact that you are, and will always be a student, you will build a healthy relationship with others and more importantly, yourself.


Barbara Lisowski | Former Biologist recently Ignited Artist

The most important life lesson I’ve learned is to listen my intuition and not allow the opinions of others affect me, especially as Art is subjective and can be very personal.  At the end of the day, do what you know is right, follow your dreams and do what you love, let go of guilt about being an Artist.


Samantha O’Brien | Realtor®

As I go forward in my journey as a Realtor, I cherish the opportunity to pass on what I’ve learned to my clients so that they can find their dream home and build wealth. This motivates me to learn more about the industry daily. I’ve never had such a passion to soak in as much information about a topic as possible and an important lesson I’ve learned, is that while I’m teaching my clients about real estate I tend to find that I’m also learning lessons from them about personal interaction, family and how people who aren’t exactly like me live their daily lives. I love the fact that I get to meet new people every day and learn a little bit about where they come from and what they do and they inspire me daily.


Carly Lynch | CarlyCosmetic Makeup Artistry

The only thing that stood between me and my goals were excuses as to why it wasn’t the right time. There is no such thing as a perfect time you just have to trust yourself and seize every opportunity.


Nicolas Luna | Taco Lover and Insurance Broker

Don’t lose touch with your existing customers. I know we need to continue to grow as a business, but keeping a customer is easier than finding a new one. Providing great services and always keeping in touch (without being a salesperson) with your existing customer base will always work out in the long run with referrals.


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