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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?

Nuzzly Aldana

Every move that we make it will always be to better ourselves as a company like moving forward to bigger goals. I have also learned that quality speaks louder than quantity and we want people to love it and for the product to speak for itself.


Dissidence Distribution USA | distribution company of freestyle scooters

Alone we go faster, together we go farer”. We work to support the core scooter community and push it to a next level.

Vy Tran | food photographer

The most important lesson that I’ve learned in my journey so far is always create for yourself and push your limit is a photographer.

Antonia Magana | Coordinator at Kaiser permanente- Fashion|Creative Director for Still Blooming & Aileen Magana – logistics coordinator at Samsung – photographer|creative director for Still Blooming

The most important lesson we’ve learned is self acceptance . If it’s getting behind the camera and having confidence in yourself or believing in what you’ve captured takes great courage. Today’s media is ever growing and can make you feel unworthy if you lack confidence. What we have learned as individuals is that accepting who you are is just as important as what you can bring to the table.


 Stella Lane | Interior Designer & Artist

While I haven’t been on this small business journey for long, the most important lesson I’ve learned so far has been to stay true to my own style and what I believe in. My business is rooted in helping others achieve anywhere from an education in Malawi to a pretty apartment in the U.S., so remembering that has been essential. It would be so simple to increase prices and make money quickly – which honestly can be tempting as a young entrepreneur – but is just not who I want to be or represent.

Matthew Iske | Founder – Your Truth Foundation 501c3 & Geeked Communications

There comes a point in time where it’s nearly impossible to really tell what is true about oneself and what is not.” All change, growth, healing, and achievement is the product of having the strength to have difficult and painful conversations with ourselves. In honesty, I have learned far more in my journey than can be written here. Most of these things are only clear when looking back, but equally so, things that I wished I would have been able to be aware of earlier in my life. Early in my life I found myself growing into a person that was completely unaware of what they wanted to be or who they were. I grew up a shy kid who always looked different and was bullied often. This created a void in me that craved fitting in. To be worthy, I felt I had to have experiences and traits that would make me seem desirable even if they did not actually exist. I felt I had to twist the truth or create new ones. Before long I lost track of what was actually truth versus the “truths” I had told others. I have found it is possible, and even preferable for humans to create narratives and realities that allow us to spend our entire lives never actually addressing what most desperately needs our attention. Fear of abandonment was the creature that lured me into this house of mirrors. A path that never truly allows us to see ourselves because we are so worried about how others might see our reflection. I deluded myself away from real growth, love, and connection with others, but most painfully from myself. This realization gave me a gift, it sent me on the hardest and most important quest of my life. A quest to be able to tell myself the truth about the things that I had done, about the things that had happened in my life and how they affected me. This is the only way we can accept, heal, and re-frame our brains. We can re-frame who we are as people. I still hide. Everyday the urge is there to hide from something I don’t want to admit to myself. There are always things that I want to appear better than they actually are. But the only way anyone can grow is by being brutally honest internally. We must find the strength to look towards the pieces of ourselves we don’t like and accept them. The most beautiful piece is the realization that it is never the “thing” that we can’t accept that is causing us pain. Nothing is anything until we make it so. It is our judgment of it, how we are “supposed” to feel, what others might think etc. This is my lesson, but it is also my plea. If we are able, even if only for a short period of time, to look at ourselves non judgmentally. The emotional hit can be taken out of our thoughts and memories. The pain becomes just a “thing”, the good and the bad with a new perspective can be just “things”. Without the emotional charge we can stand outside of it rather than in it. We can start to take some control and decide how we feel about these “things”, rather than letting the world or our story decide for us. And from this perspective we can, in some cases for the first time ever, learn to accept what has happened to us, where we have been, and who we were. It is this acceptance that allows us to begin to choose and take control of who we want to be and what we want to do. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF.


Ana Cottrell | Baker & Owner of Alecrim Cookies and photographer

We are on this planet temporarily, so be kind to yourself and others, smile, laugh, love, forgive…be grateful, honest and generous. Do things that make you happy, dream big, take action every day to achieve your goals. Never stop learning, you’re never too old to start something new. And have fun along the way!

 Ciara B | DJ (techno)

The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey so far is to just be yourself! Don’t let anyone or anything hold you back from the things you want to do in life. It sounds so cheesy but it is so true.


Julie Black | co owner (From the left) , Esthetician Camille, Tara – Spa Coordinator,  co owner Caryn Kirchhoff-Herrera,  Jillian massage therapist and Liz massage therapist

The biggest lesson so far for me (Caryn Kirchhoff-Herrera) would be the importance of strong leadership.  This is my second business, but my first with employees. Being a strong leader with a solid base of communication and openness is so important. For me (Julie Black) the most important lesson that I have learned, is that every day is a new learning experience. Being an attentive and patient leader to our employees is key to the success of a great staff. This is my first experience as a business owner and it has opened my eyes to the complications and rewards that go with my position.  

Media Melanie | Broadcast Sports Stage Manager & Social Media Consultant

I’ve learned a lot on my journey so far, but one of the most important lessons is to always give yourself the credit you deserve—because you DO deserve it. 

Michelle | sports journalist from Mexico

What I’ve learned from this trip was to administrate better my money, and eat a lot of food from different cultures. I was born in San Diego but raised in Tijuana, Baja California.


Shawna Scott | Realtor, GRI and Anna Marie Barnard | Broker Owner

Trust the journey and ENJOY it!!!

Natosha Daoust | Model & Mom

I’ve learned that it’s important to stay true to who you are no matter what. Don’t be afraid to be different, be real and don’t have fear of being disliked.


Brian Wildman | Custom Woodworker

The most important thing I have learned in my journey so far is how to manage my time. With a wife, family and a small business, time is very important. So I have learned to multitask and be efficient. For example, I can glue a piece of a project together, while it’s drying, I can prep for the next step. When it’s done drying, I can move on with the project and not skip a beat. Always think ahead on what I can do, so I don’t have any down time.


Alex Garcia | Good times hanging out with good company in the pacific north west

Recently, I picked up a film camera and started to shoot film after years of shooting strictly digital. Shooting film has taught me to think more simply towards my photographic work. Instead of focusing on having the best gear or the “sharpest” photos, I’ve learned that it’s important to focus on the moment, observe your surroundings and everything that is unfolding in front of your eyes. It has made me realize that photography isn’t about creating the perfect image, but rather capturing genuine moments!


Raelonda Greenoge | Real Estate agent & Fitness Enthusiast

Not to have doubt in what I am doing, have a vision for my life, stick to the script and never give up! execute the plan!


Aimee Carvalho | Mixed Media Artist

I’ve learned that mistakes aren’t all bad. Some mistakes are happy mistakes. They may not go the way you planned, but you can still appreciate the direction they took you. Or they may reveal a new method or a way of creating a new texture. Some mistakes teach you a lesson. Through a series of carefully planned mistakes (and plenty of online resources), I learned many of the mediums I now know. But I’ve also learned that there are still things I don’t know. And there will always be. And that thirst for knowledge is what propels my work forward.


Paul Nathan | Nacu Bridge Barkada Founding Member

Paul Nathan Nacu

Soccer has no boundaries. It doesn’t have to be played on a grass pitch. It doesn’t have to be about drills and practice. It doesn’t have to be divided into teams based on skill, age, or gender.  It can be played everywhere, anywhere, with anyone.


Aleyna Jones | Writer | Yoga Instructor & Vintage Fanatic

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is that you have to love yourself at all times. Even when things are hard, you must look within to find your inner light.

Joshua Alkire | San Diego Personal Chef

Years ago I learned that my job was more fun and the food more exciting when menus are unplanned. I gather my clients requests and head to the markets with a clear mind to accept the seasonal bounty on hand.

José Alvarado | CEO | Owner Visionary Media Corp

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned so far has been that, there is never a perfect moment to take action! If you feel it in your heart and you have the will to see it through, regardless of your circumstances you CAN achieve great things!

Ron Ohler | General Manager

To never underestimate the power of team work.


Stephanie Diaz | Certified Massage Therapist

The most important lesson I have had in my journey, is to always protect my energy. There are so many things in this world we can not control, but we can control how we respond to certain situations or people. If I don’t feel that 100% F*CK YES attitude towards it then I don’t want anything to do with it. How we feel in the time we have is the most precious thing in this life, everything else can come back to us other than time. Protecting my energy has given me the opportunity to grow into a better massage therapist for my clients and my community, making myself the best possible version of me.

Brooke Feldman | Whole Life Coach

Self love is not selfish. I’ll say it again for the people in the back: SELF LOVE IS NOT SELFISH. It is healthy. It is empowering. It has the power to transform the relationship we have with ourselves and, ultimately, I believe it can heal the world. How I learned this lesson? Well, that’s a beautifully juicy story for another time. 

Shane Jones | Professional BMX Racer | Influencer

Be patient, create opportunities and embrace the struggles and success along the way, you’ll remember those more than any others.


Brian Mircheff | The Crafted Cups owner/maker

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is to have fun with the Crafted Cups.  When it feels like work, it becomes stressful and I get burned out.  In those times I take a break until I feel motivated to work on the project again.  Most of my best ideas come from these breaks. 



Kyle Panganiban | Photographer

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my photography journey is that you just have to go out and shoot. Practice has been the key ingredient for my progression as a photographer and it’s really fascinating to see how much I have improved from when I first started. I have so much more to learn and actually doing it is the only real way I am going to continue to do so.


Maddy Miller | Holistic Health & Women’s Coach

Show up for you because no-one else can do it for you. When I started showing up for myself and stopped living the life others wanted for me that’s when life became really freaking magical. The key is to believe in yourself wholeheartedly and have unwavering faith in your abilities. When we play small we miss out on opportunities, experiences, and miracles this life has to offer. Life has a beautiful way of unfolding when we show up for ourselves consistently and follow what truly lights us up.


Raul Ramirez | Mexican Designer & Entrepreneur

I think that believing in yourself and always looking for ways to improve has been the most valuable lesson for me. It is extremely important to stick to what you want to do and having the guts to take risks.

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