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?
Steve Niedringhaus | Owner | Operator of AB & E Logistics | biker and family man
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is to ensure that you communicate! It is something that you need to do very well and very often. Developing relationships on a personal and business level is how you survive and flourish in both realms of your life – period. A great relationship is something you have to work for. It’s not an automatic gift given to you. Trust me – My wife and I have had to work very hard on our relationship through our 25 years of marriage. It’s not easy work but the gifts a great relationship provide keep you in the game. It keeps you coming back for more and forever working to make it even better. The key to this is communication. To me, It’s no different in business. I provide a service and like most industries it’s highly competitive. You have to set yourself apart and the best way I’ve found to do that is to build relationships based on great communication. I basically complete the same tasks others do in my industry but I take it a step further. I talk to all levels of personnel at the customer any chance I get. I try to build those relationships from the person loading my trailer to the CEO of the company who happens to walk out while I’m loading. I want to ensure they know my name, my companies name and the service I provide and try to get to know them on a personal level. It’s not always price that brings in clients. It’s how they remember you when the next time for them to call on your industry comes up… You want to be that face and personality they remember!
Harlan Bowling | Designer | developer | photographer and full-time traveler
I think the most important lesson I’ve learned (and am still learning!) in my journey is to be authentic and to open your heart and mind to the experiences of others. No one gains anything by keeping everything to themselves, and the willingness to share experiences, creativity and vulnerability with others offers both of you the chance to learn and grow. Sometimes I can wear my heart on my sleeve a bit too much, but I wouldn’t trade those deep moments I’ve had with people because of it for anything.
Alissa Fletcher | model/cosplayer
To go with the flow. Work hard but also remember everything happens for a reason.
Sydney Kurtz | Data Analyst | Rise Nation Instructor, & Dallas Fitness Ambassador
Perseverance is absolute key. If you set your mind to it and don’t give up, whatever goal you want can be achieved. There are no great successes without failures.
Kerry L. Gipson Jr. | Comedian KG or “Komedian KG™
During the start of my career on this journey, I’ve learned that standup comedy is a small group of entertainers that has been growing rapidly due to internet and social media. Every day a new stand out talent is discovered. I’ve learned that social media has changed the way standup comedy and how comedy is portrayed to it’s audiences and viewers. As this rapid approach to spotlighting talent via social media is occurring, you must be adaptable with keeping up this change, creative and innovative with your ideas that will allow you to go the distance in your career. Stand-up comedy isn’t like any other career in entertainment, the level of difficulty to rely a story, message, and/or joke from your personal point of view will always cast judgement and opinion from others. Being able to expand your routine will help overcome these challenges as a standup comic. Change is inevitable in the career of entertainment and performing arts and you have to remain humble, stay focus on your goals, learn the business and soak up and filter all advice as you go. Never be afraid to learn and innovate new ideas!. Dallas, Texas is growing with new talent in every genre of entertainment and performing arts, and will someday be one of the world’s premiere go to places for pursuing entertainment as a career in the near future.
Gigi Davison | Hair Stylist, Makeup Artist & Aerialist
The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey so far is that I am the creator of my own path; and take advantage of opportunities… they always lead to more.
Wayward Coffee Co. | Mobile Craft Coffee & Community
We’d say the most important thing we’ve learned so far, even though this is all new to us and we have a whole lot of work to do ahead, is that you have to just go for it. Each of us has had a dream at some point to start their own coffee business and we had to just take that passion and drive and finally do it. It has all come together in such a cool way and we’re real thankful for it. We’re so stoked about this and we want to make it the most unique, meaningful, genuine thing ever and bring so many other people along for the ride with us.
Neil Kenner | Coach of Movement, Mindset, and Holistic Lifestyle
I resigned from my job as the SMU Women’s Assistant Tennis Coach in May of 2018 to embark on what I defined as a “Learning Journey,” so the lessons have been coming in literally nonstop. If I had to pick just one lesson, I would say that the ability to have patience and maintain self-belief throughout the journey has been the biggest. To expand on that, there are a lot of people out there who urgently strive to fill their schedules as quickly as possible. That may be the perfect protocol under certain circumstances or at a particular stage in life, but doing just the opposite has been my recent approach.
When I first started coaching, I said an emphatic YES to everything. My schedule was completely packed with private lessons, groups, tournament coaching, event planning, and anything else a tennis club could offer. I prided myself in taking no days off. After all, I was making pretty good money for a young single guy, developing a solid reputation as a coach, and gaining a crazy amount of experience in very little time. In my five years coaching at T Bar M Racquet Club, I must have experienced the equivalent of 15 years when compared to most. It was nonstop, and everything I did lead to growth.
A decade later, I find myself in a much different position. Rather than viewing a full schedule of lessons as a symbol of success, I now consider it a growth-stunting trap. Time is the ultimate item of value to me now, specifically having control over my own time. Sure, there are compromises that sometimes need to be made, but leaving enough open time and space in my schedule is what has allowed me to make this dream journey a reality. For much of the past year and a half, I chose to use that time to LEARN as much as I could from the resources that I felt were most applicable. Later on, I began shifting my focus more into digesting and then organizing all the new information into a form that made sense to me. Then more time went into applying this stuff into my own practice and combining it with what I’ve learned throughout my career. Just now am I at the point where I am ready to CREATE – which is what I love to do. One of the few things that I love more than creating is being able to SHARE my creations with others as a means to help improve lives, so the ability to begin doing so has been incredibly fulfilling.
Spending lots of my current time in creation mode and now getting a taste of sharing is only the beginning, and none of it would have been possible without PATIENCE. Had I panicked and begun filling my schedule with lessons again, I would most-likely not have had the time and energy required to achieve my bigger goals. So yes, PATIENCE has been my most important takeaway – and unwavering SELF-BELIEF has gone hand in hand with it.
Chris Mendez | Realtor®️ & Dog lover
In my journey, I have been able to learn that everything is possible if you set your mind to it. It may sound like a cliche, however, we are capable to achieve great things in life if we develop our mindset and put it to work. You are the one that can make it happen. Your mind is a dream and goal achieving machine.
YOUR DESTINY is dependent on your DECISIONS.
Chidimma LaQueen Nwosu | Blogger/Influencer
For as long as I can remember I have always been the chubby girl who was shy and lacked confidence. I let people’s opinions of me tell me who I was. I never really knew who I was and this persisted into my adult years. After college a couple years ago, I decided to take on a healthier lifestyle and with that I lost weight. A lot of people think this would be the end all be all and you’re automatically happy, but more often than not, this is not the case. I still struggled a bit with my identity. Sure, my self-esteem went up, but I still was not internally happy and still lacked self-confidence.
A little over a year ago, I moved to Dallas from Maryland to attend chiropractic school. Usually when you move to a new area, it is a chance to start over and meet new people. This was very hard for me and immediately felt out of my comfort zone. I retreated to myself and for the first time in my life I felt homesick.
After the holidays and a few life changing moments, I decided that I need to get to know myself and really portray how I want the world to see me. Thus, began my selflove / body positive journey. I was terrified in the beginning, but in order to achieve the goal I set out I had realized that with uncomfortability comes strength.
After a while I noticed that my vulnerability allowed me to own and embrace everything that makes me, me. Not only that, I also received messages from women saying that I have encouraged them to do the same. Knowing I have helped at least one person, is by far one of the best feelings ever! Society loves to tell women what we should be doing, from an outfit you shouldn’t wear because of your size to what lipstick you shouldn’t use because of your complexion. But when we come together to support and empower one another the sky is the limit. We can be any shape, size, or color and still run the world.
In my 26 years of living, I have never felt so empowered and confident. This is not a one and done journey, life is ever changing. I look forward to the changes to come and will continue to share. If I can do it, you can do it too. Accept yourself for who you are first and everything will fall into place. There is so much more beauty in life when you change the narrative into something positive.
Lessons I’ve learned along the way is that regardless of what I do, I won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay. Whoever or whatever is meant for me will always be for me and no one person can take that away from me. I also learned that the tongue has power. Speak to yourself with kind and positive words because what you speak is what you create.
BRYSON PRICE | Music Producer & Artist
Balance in life is KEY. You see a lot of musicians rise to the top, then fall off the map a couple years later. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. I’m still a long way from achieving my goals, but I’m taking my time and doing things right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in! I’m putting forth my BEST effort and giving it all I’ve got, but it’s possible that I’ll never “make it.” Music is my passion, but I feel that the most important thing is my spiritual health, physical health and my family. Slow growth is much more sustainable than overnight success and I’m working hard towards my goals every single day. There’s no shortcuts..I’m making the best use of my time, grinding day in and day out, while making sure that my life is balanced.
Bryan Valadez | Visual Artist and Determined Individual
The most important lesson I have learned in my journey so far can be best described with the word perseverance. Throughout my years of painting I have come across personal challenges such as critical self reflection of my abilities, wondering if audiences will react well to my work, or even questioning the probability of being able to make it as a visual artist.
Although in these instances it has always been the act of striving to move forward despite any difficult situation, which has allowed me to grow. If there were doubts about my skills as an artist, I would push myself to become better with practice. If I wondered how people would react to my work, I would suggest to myself to keep working because I am making art to express myself. If fear of not being able to achieve success as visual artist were to arise, I remind myself that I’m devoted to achieve my goals and in fact I am hungry for success. With that in mind could I come to a conclusion and maintain constant progression. A vital lesson not only evident in my journey’s past but also applied to whatever I approach now.
Cameron Taylor | Visual Leader & Photographer
That it is okay to not be in the same place as everyone else. With access to social media we tend to compare ourselves to our peers and even people we have never met. With things such as age barriers, financial differences and overall different circumstances it’s not fair for anyone no matter your social stature to put yourself against someone else or to bring yourself down cause you may not “be where someone else is in life”. It’s honestly a huge self love thing that I had to learn the hard way when for so long I thought I did love myself and was happy where I wasn’t and to find out I wasn’t in my mid twenties was a huge and rattling wake up call. I have expanded my time to utilizing social media to not just post about my life, granted I do that haha, but to also have conversations with people, make friends online and to unplug every once and awhile. The self love you have for yourself is so huge and I’m still learning each day on this journey called life how to get better and better at it.
Dr. Ragan Brown | Educator | Author | Self Care Influencer | Travel Specialist, and
Life as a Self Care Influencer began by me posting various positive quotes on my Instagram and Facebook page. Soon it developed in a career that affords me the opportunity to help others go from chaos to calm. Early in life I knew my gift was encouragement relatability and relief. However it took a while to come to the realization that being a light when others see darkness is truly part of my assignment. Many days there are battles and struggles with the idea of am I truly cut out for this journey. There are days when leads and sales opportunities happen and then there are days when you are pulling your hair out. Honestly, I question myself almost everyday. However every no, detour, and under construction. One of the most important lessons of this journey is that it multifaceted, which is a beauty all by itself. As an entrepreneur, you develop strength, that you didn’t know you possessed. Another important lesson on my journey is that it simply is a journey. It’s not a race or a destination. Although we feel that we should go with the crowd, on the entrepreneurship journey you must take “the road less traveled.” roadblock has some sort of lesson attached. Overall faith keeps me focused. Traveling through life as an entrepreneur is multifaceted. There are several layers to maneuvering your business. I wouldn’t say you completely master it, because you are always learning and growing from various situations. This journey has also led to multiple collaborations. From book anthologies to lifestyle photo shoots to commercial advertising and speaking gigs to help empower young women. These past few years I have realized how multifaceted and This entrepreneur journey has helped me to be a risk taker. Often times, I have to take a risk on investments that don’t yield monetary returns. Because of this, I have gained business buddies, and people who are just as passionate about my success as I am about their success. As a risk taker I have also invested in various projects and businesses in an effort to have multiple streams of income aside from that I recently embark on a new journey as a travel agent to further stress all things self-care. Almost every other day, I just want to give up as I continue to hone in on my niche. In the beginning, things were simple because I remained in the academic coaching box. As life became a whirlwind, opportunities were presented which required me to have a business growth spurt. My support system of family and friends remain a fixture for me as they keep me centered and grounded. The Lord has also connected me divinely to like minded individuals to propel me, push my buttons, and hold me accountable. As a business owner, I’m most proud of my growth, versatility and willingness to learn more. Sometimes it appears as the stars aren’t aligning, but when I revisit the core of why I chose an entrepreneur journey. I thank God over and over for choosing me to complete these assignments and bless others.
FB: Ragan Brown
Christopher Jenkins |Personal Trainer and Nutritionist at Grizzly Fitness and Herbalife nutrition
I use my journey to get through everything in life. The most important lessons I’ve learned in my journey is to first have faith and trust God; Even when I couldn’t see or understand. Proverbs 3: 5-6 states, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” I’ve learned that it takes motivation and dedication to achieve your goals. Philippians 4:13 states, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” This is my motto because without God giving me the strength, this weight loss would of been impossible. It took much encouragement from my Pastor Calvin Wortham, Patrick Jefferson, my entire family and church family, and my brother and coach Alsce Crocker.
Facebook: Christopher Alonzo Jenkins
Myda Chapa | DFW realtor with Coldwell Banker Apex
One thing I have learned is to always keep an open mind and just go for it!
Makya Love | Computer Science Engineer & Aspiring Model
The most important lesson I have learned as a young model is that my journey is unique and far different from other aspiring models. It’s so easy to get distracted by others’ journey and their success. In the beginning of my modeling journey I used to dwell on the progress of other models around me, instead of focusing on my own progress. Later down the line, I learned quickly that the more I compared my journey to others, the more distracted I was from fulfilling my own journey 100%. So, keeping my eyes steady and ahead on my individual career path has been the most important lesson learned thus far.
Jacky Alberto | Hairstylist & Online Boutique Owner
The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is to stop fearing and overthinking, just do it. For the longest time I’ve had several ideas, goals, and dreams but I found myself fearing the “what if it doesn’t work out” and being very self critical with my own work and ideas that I allowed that to become paralyzing in my journey which just kept me stagnant. This year I’ve learned to just take a leap of faith and trust God. I believe he places these thoughts, ideas, dreams, and passions in our hearts for a reason. If we don’t go for it then the years will just pass us by and we are left with regret of things we wished we would’ve went for. I’ve gotten a taste of what “shooting your shot” feels like with some of my goals and dreams and I’ve built momentum from that, it’s definitely been one of the best decisions ever!
Madeline Reid | Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey of capturing life moments, is that every single person has a different story and a different way of expressing their story! The best way to capture people’s individual moments in the way that highlights their story best is to actually get to know your clients. Ask them about their life, what they do, where they work, what are their interests? what keeps them going? When you know someone for who they are rather than “just another client”, you are able to capture their story in a whole new way, and the photos end up being so much better!
Ashton Danora | Capturing Purpose Through Lens
This year has been really challenging. Throughout this week, I really had to sit down and think about what I learned about myself through the journey of 2019. What stood out the most is learning how to be present. I am always planning for the future and I tend to forget about, for the lack of a better word, the “now”. I used to be so focused on tomorrow’s agenda, or a week from now…and I would miss out on the blessings and opportunities of the present. As this year has flown by, the last three months of 2019 will be dedicated to seizing the moments that come to me.
Cynthea Thomas | Entrepreneur & Jewelry Designer
A lesson I have learned is to never compare myself to others. By doing this I don’t progress to where I want to be and it’s not a great place to be in. I am unique in my own way and I want to spread joy and love through what I create during my journey.
RJ Monae | Fitness Coach
The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is, “”You have to change to grow and to grow you have to change”. I think we all expect change throughout our lives. The mistake many make is that we don’t change personally. We hope to be the same in every area of our lives and not realizing that a different version of “”YOU”” is required. The key to change is “”YOU””. I learned that about seven years ago and begin to put pieces of my life back together.
I had to learn things don’t always happen the way we want them to. We tend to give up then accept things as they are. The action of not accepting leads to depression, weight gain, health issues, and stress levels. Don’t be hard on yourself; embrace every mistake, failure, disappointment, and heartache. I have been in health and fitness for about seven years. I officially started fitness coaching about four years ago to coach people through the process of change and becoming the best version of themselves. Many already know what to do; they need someone to guide and educate them to make the best choices for their lifestyle needs.
I have been a mentor and coach for 14 years. I have dedicated my life to help others become the person they’ve always wanted to be. My health, fitness, and lifestyle have taught me no matter what area or stage you are in your life, change is required. In the past seven years, I have worked to claim my independence back. Now, I want to help others to reclaim theirs through health and fitness because it’s never too late. “Don’t be afraid to change, be afraid to STAY the same”.
Christina Curas | Digital Marketing for snack startup and healthy recipe creator
Be true to yourself, your beliefs and your passions. If others don’t agree with you that’s okay, you can’t please everyone. I’ve learned if you share authentic content that you are truly passionate about you will reach others with the same passion. That’s what community building is all about. I prefer to do that in all aspects of my life. As humans, we are all influencers in some capacity and it’s our duty to share authentically, not solely based on compensation.
Tiffany Hayes | REALTOR & Author
I’ve learned to change the way I measure success. Someone once said, “Success is not to be pursued; it is to be attracted by the person you become.” I must become the solution to someone’s problem, then and only then will I truly be successful.
Landis Dorsey | Artist and Family man
In my journey so far I’ve learned that patience is vital to the growth process no matter what your situation may be. A saying that my pastor uses has helped me “Life’s a cinch inch by inch.”
Olivia Delancey | Certified Nurse Practitioner & Aesthetic Injector
Throughout this journey, I’ve learned how important it is to listen to my clients. Each person is different and understanding their individual concerns is priority. I build relationships with my patients, helping them feel comfortable discussing their wants, needs, and even their insecurities. I like to have a clear understanding of what my clients are seeing in the mirror. This way, I can create a customized treatment plan for each client, boosting their confidence while keeping their results natural and undetectable.
Vanessa Blanco | Salon General Manager by day & Aspiring Cake Artist by night
Never give up. I used to stress myself so much with trying to work full time, be a mom full time, and baking/decorating cakes. Thinking that I didn’t have enough time to do it all. So much so that I had even considered giving it up. But With patience and practice you learn how to balance. I now know the tricks to breaking up different parts of the cake making process up in to multiple days so I don’t stress like I used to. Now its enjoyable like when I first took my very first cake decorating class!
Sebastian Yancy | MMA Fitness Trainer & Co-founder of Non-Profit Sweat 4 Service
I’ve learned that in life you must do what you love. Too often do people drain their souls away doing what they dislike daily & gel as though they don’t have time to do what they are love. But if you can figure a way(& there always is a way) to make what you love benefit you, your soul will be energized to do & create more happiness & success. & to give a way to share that with others, is a gift spawned of love that everyone can receive.
Rocio Zapata | Home Baker & Cake Decorator
The most important thing I’ve learned is to have a clean working area and be kind and respectful with clients. One more thing would be to always give good quality, presentation, and lastly good flavor for the product. In this business of pastries we never stop learning, we will always learn new things to improve.
Kristen Vollinger | Believer in the strength of a new day and its noms
First things first, I must state anyone who says, “I forgot to eat today”, absolutely makes zero sense to me. Not sure if I am envious of their free thinking and lack of time spent planning their next meal or if these are just deeply sad souls. ha. joke. Okay. So What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your journey so far? I believe it is key to stay true to your WHY (why are you doing this?) and asking yourself this question often. To help reach your why and stay focused, I try to surround myself with what I want to see more of in the world, especially on social media. When posting my own content, I want to be excited about it and not have it based in a belief of what is expected of me as a food blogger. I believe the message in return is more genuine and interesting. If I start posting what I believe others want to see, then I’m not being true to myself and my passion. I will not be favored by all, yet I wont have lost sight of the reason why I started this journey. We will never live this exact day again, so let’s celebrate it with some delightful tastes.