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?
Kristen Olson | Entrepreneur & Documentary Film Producer
I’ve learned so many important lessons so far. Here are two:
The most important career advice I’ve taken is: follow opportunity and eventually the path will intersect passion. I was at a time in my life when I knew I wanted to work in film, but didn’t know how to get started. Eventually through the work I was doing in marketing, I met the right people to help me make a transition into film.
Be the Talent
One lesson I learned through producing major music festivals: it’s best to be the talent. We spend so much of our life gaining skills and practicing the requirements of our jobs. We should not only fulfill our job duties, but more importantly we should choose to gain skill sets which allow us to be viewed as, “talented.” We should make time to be creative, take lessons and perfect an art. Eventually, those skills may provide a more rewarding career path.
Lee Moroz | Colorado Tough
It truly is a journey and not a destination. Work hard, be consistent, be a good person, be a good listener, everything is a learning experience and most importantly enjoy the ride.
Zoe Hudson | Cosmetologist and Free Lance Photographer
The most important lesson I’ve learned in this life journey is to always do your absolute best and you will always end up in the places you were meant to be in. Keep moving forward and don’t give up!
Charles Schoenherr | Educator | Angler
Throughout my years as an educator, I have learned that patience is the best thing in stressful situations. Patience even bled its way into my life as fly fishing. Learning that the best way to handle any situation is calm actually gave me the opportunity to ask fo my wife’s hand in marriage. We had hiked into a familiar fishing spot, thinking that the trail was a large loop, turns out it wasn’t. What was supposed to be an afternoon of fishing, quickly turned dangerous. We were in a canyon that had zero cell service, and even less people. When it started to get dark, and my girlfriend (at the time, wife now) was panicked. We had almost no water left, no food left, and now it was getting cold. This particular area was known for its mountain lions and we even heard one scream. When all hope was thought lost, we found the top parking lot, found the road down to our car, and made it home safe. If it weren’t for the patience I learned that day, I wouldn’t have my Wife, or maybe even my life.
BRI BOWLIN | ARTIST AND CREATOR OF PIPIT & FOX – KIDS ILLUSTRATIONS
Be yourself. I think I am still learning this – daily. I see other artists who I admire and compare myself to them or try to emulate them, but it isn’t until you settle into and embrace being YOU that you find your own artistic voice, your unique drive and passion. I love sharing my art with others if it brings them joy, but ultimately I create because it is who I am.
Ursula Ibarra | Denver Native | Realtor | Momprenuer
I started my journey in real estate nearly a year and a half ago. My background prior was in telecommunications/project management but I was craving more, I wanted purpose (and flexibility to be more present with my kids) real estate has given me that purpose with every client I meet! I love the interaction and getting to know each person/family background/goals to find the perfect home that fits their needs.
The most important thing I’ve learned thus far is to trust in my OWN process and continue to learn daily! I’ve endured highs and lows but thankfully I’ve been lucky enough to have great mentors and managing brokers who have guided me, answered and explained any and all questions that arise so I can apply them to my own business structure and be the best agent to my clients. Looking forward to a successful 2020!
Marina Ladonko | knitting handmade designer
My journey is challenging) I just moved to the USA half year ago and it was not an easy decision.
I feel like I started a new life and my major lesson is Do what you can and just let things happen; believe in the best for you and it will come ..
Dawn Williams | Founder & Chief Experience Officer of VenuHub.com
The most important lesson I have learned thus far is to follow your intuition, and live by The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz:
“Be Impeccable With Your Word.
Don’t Take Anything Personally.
Don’t Make Assumptions.
Always Do Your Best.”
Links would be:
Joshua Zelcer | Colorado Real Estate Broker w Keller Williams Integrity
From my experience, my progress is a direct reflection on the work that I put in. There’s not a day that I don’t wake up and make calls at 8am. If I slack off and don’t get business it’s completely my fault. When I have a $10,000 month it’s because I worked hard and deserved it. The business I’m in is competitive and if I don’t follow up with a client or l make initial contact, someone else does; and I lose. I didn’t get into this business to be second best so everyday I work hard and spend time studying to become a better broker.
True West Hats | Hand-crafted Hat-makers making custom, one-of-a kind hats
Your business is only as good as your outlook on life.
Brian O’Connor | Founder of Terrace Creative | Visual Storyteller
It comes down to What You Do, when your head hits the pillow at night. You can talk about an idea, contemplate where to begin your journey, or you can wait for the ‘right’ moment in your life to start.
I learned very quickly that when you begin to make choices and habits around what makes you uncomfortable, doors to opportunities and relationships open up left and right. Facing the uncertainty that inevitably presents itself when taking risks, is what has allowed me to branch out and grasp what is important to me when it comes to business and relationships. Listening, conditioning a positive mindset daily, and being open-minded as the journey unfolds. Cheers to everyone out there getting after it.
Julie Kim | Foodie and Marketer at Thai Kun in Golden, CO
Everything in life you have control over. If you don’t like something do something to change it and if you can’t change it, then change the way you think about it. Mindset is everything.
Brian Grace | Head Brewer at Thirsty Monk Brewery
The most important lesson I have learned so far is to keep looking to learn something. Meaning that if you stay stagnant or don’t learn from your mistakes and triumphs, then you cannot truly be successful or stay successful. There are always lessons to learn and if you aren’t paying attention, you are in danger of falling behind and becoming irrelevant.
Christina Cookson | Headshot and Portrait Photographer
My journey of working full-time as an attorney to building my own successful photography business has been incredibly rewarding and, at times, daunting. Being an entrepreneur means being responsible for your own successes and failures, and realizing that you get back what you put in. The key is to ride out the inevitable periods of disappointment and keep your vision and goals clear. All good things will follow.
Christina Coblish DC | Boulder Chiropractor and Founder of Colorado Nourish Boxes
The most important lesson I’ve learned might sound strange but stick with me: You can find a neighbor no matter where you are or no matter how long you’ve been there. I’ve learned that people are kind and generous and it doesn’t matter if you have lived next door to them for 10 years or if you’re buying a jar of hot sauce from them at a farmers market. Generally speaking the people of Colorado, in particular, are wonderfully open and welcoming people.
I moved to Colorado just 2 years ago, and despite feeling like a stranger in a new state, I’ve been l welcomed in as I were family. Sometimes that’s with a large gesture, or sometimes with a simple smile with genuine eye contact which can speak more words between two strangers than most words could cover. I’ve started both a healthcare office as well as a subscription box company that connects colorado artisans and their products to more people. And the largest lesson I learned in these endeavors is that people are inherently good and willing to help a complete stranger, which is the best gift you can give to someone who needs it.
Kimberly Siegel | Vintage Curator & Boutique Owner
The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey so far is to not give up. Sounds a bit cliche, however, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across challenges I wasn’t sure I could handle. And because I truly love what I do, I pushed through those challenges. Sometimes with the answer and sometimes I winged it hoping I’d get it right. And even if I didn’t get it right the first time, I just kept going. And with that I kept growing little by little. Mistakes are okay, it’s how we learn. And it’s empowering to know now that no matter how many times we feel the wind knocked out of us, or feel frustrated or even feel like just can’t get it right…as long as we keep going, we keep growing.
Jenn & Amy S. | Queer Adventures
When you are the only one like you in the room, that is an opportunity to change hearts and minds. Be an example for those who come after you. Representation Matters.
Steph McCauley | Unbenched Creator
Everyone is looking to be apart of something bigger than themselves. Going through life alone makes it so much more difficult. When people have an outlet to be themselves and are surrounded by good people who want similar things, magic happens. I’ve watched person after person get out of their comfort zone and make huge strides into becoming who they want to be. We love playing games, trying new places around town, giving back, and listening to each other speak. Unbenched has allowed me to see how important it is to surround yourself with all kinds of people. It is so important to hear other people’s stories and learn from those around you. Life is a team sport, so have fun with it.
Devin Chapnick | Poka Lola Bar Lead
My entire professional career has been within the beverage and hospitality industry. Few attempts have ever been entertained by me, even when I felt the least satisfaction from a particular job. I believe that has to do with my absolute need to create and delight. Hospitality is a noble pursuit, what we provide people is valuable and adds to the net good in the world. It took some time for me to see why I felt so strongly for this industry, but when I reflected on what brought me joy, it became easier to deal with the day to day struggles. When your intentions are more defined, the unnecessary noise dampens.
Matt Joshua | Geometric Artist
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is that it’s ok to be your own worst critic. I’ve found that if I create something that I personally love, there is a really good chance that it may speak to someone else as well.
Elise Roth | artist and educator
The most important lesson I’ve learned during my journey so far, is to just show up everyday and make something. Sometimes the results aren’t pretty, but I still work through the process and share what I come up with. This is my third year of being engaged in my own daily art challenge, and the structure has helped me focus and develop a clearer vision for the type of art and business that I want to create.
Mike and Heather Yeager | Husband and Wife Upholstery Team
With each new project brings new experiences. Meaning, even if two projects are similar, they are still incredibly unique due to the fabric, the style of the furniture, and the desired end result.
Logan Aal | Realtor & Attorney
Soul-care is the most important thing you do; when your soul is unkept, when you are not spiritually “right”, everything else falls apart.
Kim Bauer | Realtor in Colorado and Florida
My mantra is seize every opportunity. I thrive on new challenges. Life is to be lived, not sitting on the sidelines watching it go by. By letting yourself be uncomfortable, good things can happen. This photo is a prime example. I am a Realtor, not an actor, yet I was asked to audition for this national commercial, and I got it! I had to improve in front of casting directors and a production team. Talk about taking me out of my comfort zone! Without taking that risk personally, I never would have gotten that amazing experience, not to mention all of the other experiences that followed. Positivity breeds positivity, and it’s a lesson I practice myself and teach my children. I always welcome new opportunities – bring it on!
DENISE OSMON | OWNER, CURIOUS MOOSE VINTAGE
The most important lesson I’ve learned along this journey is the need to continue to grow as a person. I’ve always been an outdoorsy gal, and I started hiking in my late 40s to stay centered, present, and healthy as I was building an online vintage clothing and home décor business called Curious Moose Vintage. Life is filled with surprises, twists, and turns—not unlike the trails that wind through the ponderosa pines in the foothills near my little town of Berthoud. I’m out there exploring two to three times a week (weather permitting, of course!).
The business has me tied to the computer most days. Keeping up with the online shop and managing the social media channels can be a struggle at times. Technology changes faster than I sometimes like, so I often hike to keep my head clear and my mind open to new ideas. It’s always a challenge out there on the trails, but a hike never fails to give me a fresh perspective on life. I love learning about Indigenous art from around the world. I love sharing what I find with my online community friends. I’m always growing my knowledge.
Football Coach Lou Holtz once famously said, “In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow.” That quote has had a great influence on me through the whole course of my life. Personal growth is everything, so I look forward to reaching, learning, and growing always. Sometimes it’s on the trail. Sometimes it’s online. But there’s always something to be learned and something around the next corner.
BetaRay | Reggae/Rock Band
Don’t ever be so focused on your goal that you forget to have fun!!
Kym Terribile | Owner, Wax Crescent LLC
The most important lesson that I have learned on my journey so far is that I need to speak my truth. Confrontation is incredibly difficult for me, and I often hold things back because I am afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or coming across as too demanding. Running a small business has taught me that the best way to handle an uncomfortable situation is as soon as possible, and with complete honesty and integrity. When confrontation is unavoidable, I always try to handle it with grace and understanding.
Vince Coleman | Bison Leatherworker and Mountain lifestyle Specialist
Don’t take any profession or hobby with too much seriousness. Enjoy the ride and have fun. Cherish the gifts you have been given, and inspire others to create and do the same.
Erika Donaghy | Painter and Ceramic Artist
I started my art business in September 2019, and the most important lesson I’ve learned so far is to just do the thing. Whatever leap you are about to take, you will never be completely ready so just go for it, you can learn along the way.
Sara Wilhelm | Colorado Native | Mom & Realtor
Life is short. In December 2018 I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. I’ve always lived from a place of abundance rather than scarcity, but the past year has really made me realize how important every day is. It’s easy to get bogged down by the voices in your head and the pressures to compete, especially in the real estate world. I’m more focused on intention & making every day amazing. Don’t wait to do “that thing”. Do it today! I’m also less focused on comparing myself to others and more focused on connecting and coming from a place of service. You never know what another person is going through. If I can help make one person’s day better in the smallest way then it’s a good day.
Warren Wood | Founder & CMO of Elevated Seltzer
Honestly, this whole company my brother and I built has been a giant lesson in of itself. Being the First Established Seltzery, we have had to react and change on the fly. In addition, we are able to pave our own path and experiment with unique ways to use and create our product. That comes with its trouble as well as some things are giant hits and some are busts. With that said, the most important thing I’ve learned is that it is important to maintain an equilibrium. What I mean is that when things are going amazing, you should respect and appreciate those moments. On the other hand, when things take a turn or go bad, you should react and improve those moments.
Jill Rossini | Founder FIXY Makeup
Patience. Ever since I started designing my product, every step along the way has taken much longer than I expected. I wanted a product that people would love so I had to put in the time to make it right.
Kate Whipple | Realtor | Broker Associate, CME, CNE, GRI
After selling real estate for over 16 years, this profession has taught me the importance of serving clients at the highest level helping to fulfill their dreams. It is also a valuable platform to bring people together to give back to their community. Donating your time whether it is volunteering, monetary or through a random act of kindness, utilizing my network to help others to thrive and grow is one of the most rewarding parts of this profession.
Larry Nix | Singer | Songwriter | Entertainer
In my experience, connections are what matter most in life. If you haven’t reached your goals you think you deserve it’s likely you just haven’t made the right connection yet. Be patient, work hard, stay focused and the right people will find you. …and also, sound body, sound mind. Lots of exercise and water, with a healthy dose of a rock and roll lifestyle can help you live right and possibly forever. I’m also only 36 years old, so what the hell do I know.. Maybe ask these questions again when I’m 96.
Taylor Hassebroek | Photographer & Graphic Designer
I think the most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is to keep grinding even when you feel like you can’t or shouldn’t. There are days when every creator does not feel worthy, including me. Push yourself creatively, and do not get too comfortable with where you are. Then you’ll grow as a person, an artist and a business owner.
Trish Garber | Madre Coffee lover & enthusiast
The biggest lesson we’ve learned so far is to know who your ideal client is and who it isn’t. As the business has grown we had a hotel that was looking for 2oz bags that would be individually packaged and ground, to have in each of their hotel rooms. This is a cool hotel downtown and we would love to work with them. Though the numbers looked great, the labor and tedious nature of filling 150 small bags and grinding each couple weeks ultimately wasn’t the model we wanted to build. We love the large supply business, and we get to offer delicious Colorado roasted coffee to big groups of busy workers. Also learned you don’t have to take every meeting!
Bridget & Jim | Cofounders of Postcard Foods, I-70 Food Outpost
Whenever possible, put your phone away during dinnertime. After a year of planning, we launched Postcard Foods this January and we are currently planning our wedding in October. If we let it, every conversation between us could be about food costs, to-do lists, and expenses, but we are trying really hard to treat dinner as a moment to connect with one another. We hope that our food helps provide that same moment for our guests. By offering travel inspired shareable meals to enjoy in the comfort of your home or home away from home, Postcard Foods encourages its customers to gather together and unplug, without the hassle of the grocery store or expense or resort food.
Jamie Fontana | artist works
If you want to be skilled at something you have to put in the work. Simple, but so true!
Party Liquor | Here for all of your beverage needs
Every event and client is different, so it’s important to be flexible with all of their requests to ensure they get exactly what they’d like.
Sandrine D’Andrea | Certified Herbalist
The most important lesson that I’ve learned in my journey so far is that “in order to evolve and reach happiness, we need each other.
Britt McGaughan | Candle Maker| Owner & Digital Project Manager | Integrated Producer
The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey so far is to stay true to my vision and brand. I started my company to create high-quality, sustainable, eco-friendly candles. It’s been easy to get lost in the beauty of other products and focus on the limitation of available 100% recycled materials, but I stay committed to my vision. I create because I love it and I’ve learned everyone’s vision is different and one is not better than another. When the path gets rough, I remind myself that there are people who pay money to just watch other people play video games and then I realize we all have something to offer. Colorado is full of amazing makers and I am proud to be a part of it.
Perlita Osuna | ER Nurse
The most important lesson I’ve learned would have to be is to take the risk. If I didn’t take the risk of leaving my small town in Arkansas and travel the country for 2 years, I would not as happy as I am now. It has led me to the most amazing friends, taught me so much about the world and more importantly, myself.
Logan Schenk | Commercial real estate broker & Food Fanatic
I’ve grown up in the generation of the social media takeover, from Instagram to Facebook to twitter and everything in between. These different social media platforms are a great outlet for expression, but at times comes criticism, a false perception of reality, and judgment. It can be hard not to reflect on others’ opinions and to compare yourself to others. But the further along I’ve come in this little journey called life, the more that I’ve realized that these perceptions don’t matter.
I am passionate about food, I spend just about every weekend trying a new restaurant(s). My personal Instagram and Snapchat used to revolve around all the different places I’d try, and everyone told me that I should just create a food Instagram- but the fear of the judgment held me back for so long. Finally, I put aside the worries and created a page dedicated to all of my eating, and I’m happy I did. I post what I want when I want- it’s not about the followers, the likes, or making myself out to be a certain way. Its just food, simple as that.
As cliche as it is, others’ opinions don’t really matter and it may have taken an Instagram page to realize this, as silly as it may sound. This isn’t all about social media, but rather what it taught me. It’s okay to be genuinely yourself all of the time. Judgment may happen, but who cares? As long as you’re doing what you enjoy, do it to the best of your ability and be proud of yourself!
Stacey Elizondo | Family and Lifestyle photographer
I have learned to be true to my passion and have confidence in my style and my business. It is easy in photography to allow the clients to control your sessions, your style, and even your pricing. However, over time I have learned my own style, how I want to interact with clients, and what capturing their memories is worth. I love seeing my client’s eyes light up from their images and knowing I was true to myself in every way in creating them brings me as much joy.
Chloe Conradi | Fiber Artist & Founder of Libertine Crochet
I’ve learned to trust my instincts. Too often I second guess myself about what “the market” would want, but success comes when I’m creating art that’s true to who I am and what I want to make. If I’m passionate about something, it’s probably the right path.
Sarah Collins | Lucky Locks Founder
The most important lesson I’ve learned on this business journey is to never underestimate the magic of what can happen when you pour yourself out to build something that brings you joy and is an expression of your truest self. Putting my love of photography, design, magic and humans together — I have created something that uses up every ounce of energy I have, but I end my day feeling full of love and gratitude. Full because I hear of my customers feeling lovely and noticed for months and months after receiving our services. Full because my Partners are being empowered to run their own successful businesses, are gaining confidence, providing for their families, and making quality connections with their communities. Full because these sparkles make others smile when they see them and make others fearlessly initiate a conversation with a stranger about their sparkles, then move on to something deeper. As humans, we crave connection with each other, and our little strands have forged so many connections. I couldn’t be happier that this path chose me and I said “yes.”
Ryan Jelken | Executive Chef and Sarah Rozema | Director of Marketing and Sales
The most important lesson we’ve learned as a growing local company has been how essential it is to stay connected in our community and to listen to our clients’ needs! We tailor our dishes regularly to meet individual needs – to compliment wine & beer pairings, vegan or gluten free foodies, or daring and creative dishes! We all have a different sense of taste – our goal is to design something tasty and artistic for each person that comes to us. Eat well, live well. – Sarah & Ryan
Natalie and Jill | The Stitch Sisters-Crochet Artists
We have learned to be patient and find continued inspiration from those around us. While we let our business grow slowly, we continue to work on things that excite us. Finding the balance between business growth and creativity has been our greatest lesson.