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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?

Garth Conroe | Colorado Marketing Photography

Never underestimate the power of persistence and passion.


Colorado Punk Rock Army (CPRA) is run by Andy Hidahl, Lala Vigil, and Phil Deeds (Skabones)

Our first year of growth was tedious and me (Skabones) felt like giving up many times along the way. We believe in the power of Colorado’s music scene and that faith/persistence pushed us to to keep going. Our growth has since tripled and CPRA has established itself as a game changer in the Denver music community.

Jon Swartz of Black Ink Art

I think the balance of perseverance and patience is very important when trying to accomplish something. Not everything happens as we may expect, and it’s important to know when to push and when to wait and see how things fall into place.


Christian & Ashley | Husband and Wife team behind @hungryhungry_hipsters

The most important lesson we have learned on our Instagram journey so far is to not lose sight of why we started our page in the first place: date nights! We moved to Denver and wanted to get to know our new city, and what better way than through food and time spent enjoying it together. We started getting pulled in a lot of different directions and quickly realized how important and precious our date nights were to us for the health our relationship. We have had the pleasure of meeting so many passionate Chefs here in Denver who have exposed us to some of the most delightful culinary experiences we could ever imagine! Getting lost in conversation with your partner over a glass of wine and an incredible dish is what we have the most fun doing, and we hope to convey that to our audience with the wish that everyone can enjoy a similar experience for themselves.

Danny McGee | Creative Director | Filmmaker

Over the past few years I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the most beautiful places on planet earth. From the highlands of Iceland to the top of mountains in Switzerland to beautiful coral reefs in the South Pacific. And ironically the most important thing I’ve learned on that journey is that where you are doesn’t matter – it’s about who you’re with. No matter where you are in the world or what you’re doing, as long as you’re surrounded by good people you’re going to have an amazing time.

Some of my favorite memories are from when we were dealing with the worst conditions. I remember a couple years ago some friends and I were traveling around Iceland, and Iceland is insanely expensive, like $30 for a hamburger expensive… So my friend and I literally just ate ramen noodles and plain rice for 10 days. And slept in the car… haha In the moment it was tough, but we were all in it together so it’s so much fun to look back on. Really glad I can afford to eat proper meals when I go there now though haha


Alex Liberati | Owner | LIBERATI Restaurant & Brewery

Close to everything is achievable if broken down into little pieces. If you attack projects one small bit at a time, you’ll be able to conquer the world. 

Kaylee Pott | Realtor | RE/MAX Professionals

I don’t see what I do as true “sales” – Buying a house is a personal experience where I have to get to know my clients, what’s important to them in their daily lives, and matching them to an area, neighborhood and home that fits with who they are. I’m not selling them a home, I’m helping them find a place they feel most comfortable, where they can live and be happy and safe. Similarly, listing a home for sale is a difficult transition for most people, they are leaving behind all the memories they made in that house, so my job is to make the transition as easy as possible and market the home in the way they view all the best parts of it.

Pete Lardy | AMGA Certified Alpine & Rock Guide

There is no substitute for mileage in the mountains.  Gain experience with stepping stones and don’t rush to bigger objectives without proper mentorship.

Aruna Rao | Professional Fine Artist & Oil Painter OR Colorado based Landscape Artist & Oil Painter

As with anything in life, I think passion and perseverance count when it comes to succeeding at something. When I started my career back in ‘96, I had no connection to arts and worked in the IT industry. Though I had always cherished the arts, I had no formal training as such. It wasn’t until 2013 when I decided to get my MFA purely because I loved painting and was eager to study and know more about the process of creating fine art. Not only was I able to successfully complete my art education and transition to a completely new field but am now on the path to pursuing art as a full-time career. I feel fortunate that I am able to do what I love. What I have learnt through my journey are that any success big or small ultimately lies in following your passion, in creating better work and the best work you possibly can and being joyful in the process. I think that If the efforts are focused, the results will follow eventually.

Megan MacGregor |  Owner | Esthitician at Denver Brow Lounge

The most important lesson I have learned in my journey this far is to always have goals. Making a list has always helped me. Writing down your goal along with your reasons behind your goal shows your intention, plus it always feels good to check something off a list ;). I have been in the industry for 11 years and one of my main goals in life was to be my own boss. My dad was his own boss and I always admired that. He seemed so happy because he was in full control and had more freedom. I saw that and wanted that at a young age. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to build up a clientele to then feel secure enough to go out on my own, create my own business and be my own boss. It didn’t happen overnight but I got there eventually. I never gave up because it was on my list and I really wanted to check that off. I still continue to strive for more and so I continue to make goal lists. Some are easier to achieve than others but if you want something bad enough, you will make it happen.


Adriana Giorgetti | Social Media Specialist

Entrepreneurship can feel a very lonely ride, very few people understand a business owner’s problems. Find your support group and stick to them like an octopus. They are a rare breed.

Grey Grimm |  artist | bartender

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far would have to be learning to listen to my gut. As soon as I stopped pretending that I wasn’t an artist (insisting for years that I needed a more steady degree and career—even studying evolutionary biology) the doors to my creative passions swung wide open and opportunities came in left and right. The quote that sticks with me is “if money wasn’t an issue, what would you be doing?” Trust your instincts, that little voice that keeps nagging, once you start listening, there’s no telling where you’ll end up.

Katie Bullen | Runner and vegan foodie

I would definitely say that the most important thing I’ve leaned on my journey so far is to be grateful for every step you take towards your goals. I think that we can get so caught up in a world of comparison and numbers that we loose sight of why we began journeys into health and fitness in the first place. Making gratitude a habit has made me feel so lucky for every run and find a new love for healthy foods! I encourage everyone to take a moment to appreciate the people in their lives and the amazing things their body can do 🙂


Harry Catsis | Tattoo Artist

Creativity requires room to move and grow, and for a truly creative person to thrive, the need for growth and learning never stops. Change and progression can be scary and painful, but it is a vital necessity.

Cara Elizabeth | Singer-Songwriter

The most important thing that I have learned on my journey through music so far is that it is powerful and okay to feel. Vulnerability is not something society should shame us for! Once I expressed my emotions through song, my confidence was able to blossom.


Liz Layne | Yoga Instructor (RYT-200) and Life Coach

The most important lesson I’ve learned is twofold: first, to trust my own innate guidance, the inner wisdom that combines intuition with my own mind/body/spirit’s experiences. Second, tapping into this and listening deeply so that I can connect with knowing exactly what’s best in the next moment. Meditation, restorative yoga, and yoga nidra are staple practices in my life in order to access this connection. I am at my best when I can commune with and use this guidance to live in each present moment rather than allow myself to get caught up in the past or the future.

The Pink Team can find your dre home, but Pink Realty Swag is great for any getaway or vacation

The most important lesson learned so far is to be authentic in all you do.


Jon Hartman

Don’t be afraid to value time, it is the only commodity that matters at the end.


Danni Lanni | Tour Manager & Artist Consultant

I’d say that the biggest lesson I’ve learned from being a woman working in the typically male dominated music industry, is to remember to remain strong, resilient and empowered by all of my experiences. There have been multiple occasions where I arrive at a venue and am ignored by a male promoter when attempting to go over the show logistics or wrap up at the end of the night. There are basically endless instances of sexism and very rarely to they yield some kind of positive end result. At the end of the day for me, I use any of those moments as a reminder to continue to work hard and not let gender be a reflection of my work ethic and my goals.


Karl Taylor | Explorer | Writer, & Marketer

I think one thing I’ve learned along the way is that we don’t always have the best ability to see how what we’re working on in the moment contributes to our life in the bigger picture. That’s why I think it’s so important to really put all of yourself in what you’re doing at any given point in time. You’ve got to be present. Being able to say that you really gave something your best effort, just has a funny way of making the anxiety of the unknown a little less frightening.

Roman Tafoya | Photographer & Social Media Marketer

The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey so far is to create as many opportunities as you can, and exploit them like crazy! Seize them if you have to and do not look back. If your output is high, you have more chances of achieving your idea of greatness. Put in the work and happiness will follow. 

Calee Wilkinson | Tattoo model and photographer

Be proud of who you are. Be proud of what you do each day. Be proud of your own accomplishments. Be proud what makes you different than the person next to you. If you don’t take pride in yourself, and what you do, no one else will.

Everyone has something different to contribute to this beautiful and complex world. Be patient and forgiving with yourself. Trust the process.


Karlie Kahl | Art Director + Interior Stylist

We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. – Thich Nhat Hanh
One of the biggest lessons that I’m even still working on daily is to slow down with life. We’re constantly consumed with the next thing, or the last thing but rarely recognize the present. To slow down and focus on how to be the subject, not the object. You are experiencing life. Life is not experiencing you. To have gratitude in everything and recognize ways to help others be grateful and graceful with life. And when all else fails, buy another plant and talk kindly to it.


AJ Finney | Stand Up Comedian | Lover of Jam Bands | Volkswagens,and outdoor adventures

There has not, nor will there ever be a time when being kind is the wrong answer.

Danielle Espinel |  Canna-Author | Canna-Chef Latina & Canna-Patient

Stay strong, and believe in yourself. Try to learn some thing new everyday about the plant and share that knowledge; and be patient. Even though cannabis is a medicine that has never killed anyone and that may improve people’s lives, we are always going to be judged by somebody. We have a long way to go and we would only persevere if we stay together, if we help each other and if we keep each other educated. We should not act as an industry; we should act as a community.


Andrew Kolczynski | Musician and Designer

The most important lesson I’ve learned so far is always be open to learning new things. Instead of saying “ I wish” that I could do this or that, I say “I’m going” to learn this or that. I’m learning to always have positive reinforcement. I tell myself it’s okay to make mistakes. Most importantly, always be humble.

Rachel Abrams | Selling Software | Cooking Healthy Food

Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you enjoy experimenting with food, cooking is better than baking. It’s easier to add more salt, fat, acid or heat to something you’re cooking than adding more flour or liquid after something comes out of the oven.


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