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?
Romulo Avendano | Photographer & Master Printer
Over the past four years of my journey I have learned so many lessons, I left my born country looking for a better opportunities for my family. The path has not been easy, we had to learn a new language, new customs, new house and make new friends.
When starting from scratch, for the second time in your life, you see things further and impossible to achieve, however, it is at this moment where you draw strength from within yourself and demonstrate how strong you should be.
I’ve learned by far is to trust. Not just to trust in others or trust in myself, but to trust that life has an opportunity for every one of us, trust that I am in the right place in the right moment where I need to be, and to trust that I have everything we need.
Patience, this magical word is part of my daily path. I learned how to wait thanks to the photography, it was my hobby that became my current profession. This exploration of the overlooked helps me engage more deeply with where I am in space and time. My goal is to make photographs that draw viewers into the now. A focus on details keeps us in the present; it stops us from fretting on the future or regretting the past.
Be kind, grateful and humble is part of the learning. Not too many people believe in these moral values but no matter what the situation becomes nothing can beat the power of kindness. Grateful is the essence of our existence and if we sustain it we can make tremendous impacts in the lives of other people around you. Humility embraces contentment and simplicity. It doesn’t need to have the nicest or be the best. Humility puts relationships before the need to be right.
I strongly believe that it is the attitude that is at the origin of every single positive thing I have ever done to be right here, and of every positive thing that has happened. Fail, success, luck, opportunities, relationships, love, connection, it all comes for a simple lesson. Failing is absolutely necessary, the prospect of failure makes reaching the finish line so much more rewarding. Failing is a must-have lesson.
Joan Cruz | Master Barber
I think my biggest lesson in life, more than anything is appreciation, we always should work hard for everything we want in life, put a lot of passion to it, believe in yourself, and build a better future, but the most important thing is to enjoy the ride, and appreciate everything we have today, your job, your family, your friends, people that care for you, because life can completely change overnight, and we’re so worried about tomorrow all the time that we completely forget about today.
Roberta Guerra | Owner and Founder of The Authentic Brigadeiro
The most important lesson I have learned so far is to be grateful. Life has its own twists, things can become more complex, and opportunities come and go. We need to educate ourselves, be prepared, have plan A, B and sometimes C. We need to take actions and also some risks, and we are always learning from experiences as we grow. Still, when I finally learned to be truly grateful for every moment and person in my journey, it has become the greatest source of my energy. It is what drives me forward and what makes me joyful every day.
Quade Kirby | Freediver & industrial engineering student at the University of Miami
As a college engineering student and sole proprietor of a radical new Spearfishing company, I’ve started to delve into the stresses of what will soon become the reality: Exhaustive deadlines, high expectations, and a million distractions with little to no prior experience of any form. Many of us become swallowed by our own daily routines or lack thereof. There’s moments where I want to throw all I do off of my balcony and just move to an island— Yet all that fear, second guessing, and self criticism (I will always be my own biggest critic) melts away when I freedive. Nothing is more humbling then the sound of the eerie crawl on the ocean bottom at 80 feet of water. Everything becomes so fluid and tiny you really can’t think of anything but to just gaze in awe. Freediving is something many consider but few take the leap to truly delve into. It can be expensive, scary and takes a lot of guts, like taking a driving course and then stepping into a formula car. But I love it. It has taught me what I deem the most important philosophy of my life: you’re either all in or all out there is no in between!
Antonio Chavez | Photographer | filmmaker and content creator
I think that the most important thing for me in my professional area is the world of audiovisual production is an art and as any art must have that eye to know how to capture that moment and that the content you want to make is of excellence and quality, full of details and be as detailed as possible to be able to make a good and eye-catching content, it is not about taking a photo or a video and already making a valuable content with excellence and quality
Instagram saved is the most important platform to be able to make content since it is the right place which for us producers can show and make known our work and make our profile a curriculum and thus let you know.
Juan Medina | photographer | content creator
One of the most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is keeping some for growth. We never reach a point for success because it’s endless, always room for improvement and growth. My journey visually starts to show as you go back to and see results. I have always looked at growing my understanding on life so my best practice was to surround myself with likeminded individuals where together we can help each other thrive and excel.
Arnaud Ferlin | chef and owner of Amour de Miami
We never stop to learn and discover new things everyday for that working in this indistry it’s a real passion.
domaselo.com | freshly baked bread delivered to your door
Your product is as good as the last delivery. There’s little margin for error and customers expect consistency, even when they buy something artisanal (and not machine made).
Alex Telleria | Partner @ Prime Meat Market
There’s no instruction manual when running your own business. Business plans are great until the business opens, and then it’s all about identifying issues, adapting and fearlessly executing solutions. In the customer service industry we’re in, our goal is to make the experience an unforgettable one for our customers, and sometimes that means doing things my partners and I hadn’t anticipated when we started the business. It’s challenging, but also extremely rewarding.
Brandon Gil | Entrepreneur & CBD Marketing Expert
One of the most important lessons I have learned on my journey is to take action in the face of fear or uncertainty.
Everyone gets scared, everyone has self-doubt, and problems arise without a clear solution.
Those who stand out are able to take action regardless of what they confront and make adjustments along the way.
Michael Wiesenfeld | Florida Realtor | Freud Group Co-Founder
It’s hard to pin-point one thing in particular, but I came to understand with time the butterfly effect throughout your life journey. How an event or encounter that seemed totally insignificant at the time, ended up bringing along, years later, your significant other, your biggest business deals and so on. Sometimes you plant a seed without knowing it or without any expectations. Which is why I believe it is important to always meet people in person, not always have a reason for it or a strong pre-set judgement or opinion, do things you believe in, be involved with your local and business community.
Along with that thought, I believe that life is a giant puzzle. You collect pieces throughout your journey, but not necessarily in the sequence that would allow these pieces to connect right away. Sometimes you collect a piece of the puzzle that would connect with another one you collected 15 years ago. It’s key to keep all these pieces safely in a corner of your mind so that you can remember you have them down the road. If you don’t remember, then your puzzle may be left incomplete or not as big as it could have been.
Lais Lopes | professional Dancer | model and actress
The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey so far is the need to prioritize what’s important. As a mother of a beautiful girl, I’ve had to balance personal life with pursuing my dreams and passion. Although it’s been challenging at times I think I’ve done well in making sure that both have their place in my life and for that I am truly blessed.
Lauren Diaz | Content Creator
The most important lesson I’ve learned on my journey so far is to remember to have fun. It’s important to not get too caught up or worried about comparing yourself to others, just enjoy and be present in the memories you are creating.
Gisela Maria Andres | Freelance & Speak Miami Photographer
The most important lesson I’ve learned in my journey is to embrace who you are. I once believed that you gain confidence when get better at doing what you love but the reality is, its when you make connections with people by doing what you love. When you express yourself creatively, its not only healthy but it really allows others to see who you really are. Making these creative connections throughout my journey has been very healing to my heart and soul. Its showed me how important it is to love yourself.
Gelsandra Guzman x POSH PALMA | Fashion Stylist, Blogger and Influencer
The most important lesson I have learned so far in my journey is to always have clarity and be determined about the “”direction”” of your journey. It’s so easy to let yourself go, get into too many projects, without keeping focus on what really keeps you passionate and motivated. Be clear, consistent, and stay on track with your direction. The universe has funny ways of working “”for”” you and opening doors/opportunities when all you give is great vibes and positive energy. Thank you to all you Boss Ladies!”
Elizabeth Micheli | Brand Stylist & Web Designer
I’ve learned so many wonderful lessons throughout my journey but the most important lesson has been to believe in yourself. When you let doubt and fear stop you, you will never reach your full potential and be able to see what you’re fully capable of doing. Five years ago when I decided to start my own business, I believed that if others can do it, so can I. Five years later, here I am, grateful that I took that chance on myself. Anything is possible when you believe in yourself. You’re not always going to have a huge team supporting you, you have to be your own motivation and biggest fan.
Cidnee Gray | Professional Runway/Fashion Model
Staying true to yourself.
I know people hear this all of the time but when I actually experienced it first hand, it caused multiple life changing moments.
As a model, we are told how to dress, what we should look like and numerous things that define who we are and our brand. When you are young, you sometimes listen to everyone that has an opinion which is completely confusing. I’ve had people tell me that I should lose weight, others say I am too skinny and should gain weight. People have told me that I am too goofy, others say they love my personality. At the end of the day I needed to figure out who I wanted to be. I chose the goofy, skinny and incredibly social woman that I truly am. I am not ordinary and nor will I ever be. I refuse to fit the old fashioned stereotype of how models are self centered, shallow and vain. Anyone could easily be reconstructed by this industry, with all of the pressure and money, it becomes challenging to remember who you are. You really have to fight that urge to succumb! Be sure that once the spotlight is turned off, you are able to have peace with yourself and your decisions. Keep in mind, when you are authentic you will experience love and genuine friendships because your energy will attract others like you.
From the fingers of an outgoing, out of the box, true supporter of self love and positivity…..
Island boyz conch Shack
Experience take time it doesn’t happen overnight never limits yourself what others tell you and believe you the best of what you do.
Dr. Jay and Liseth | Founders of Soulmates for Life where “soulmates are created, not found”
What we have learned is that modern love and relationships are complicated. Consider the impossible situation we put relationships in today:
What we expect from relationships is at an all-time high.
What we expect from ourselves and our skill and capabilities at knowing what you actually have to do to love someone is at an all-time low.
The range of choices and access to alternative ways to meet people’s needs given the advent of social media and digital titillation is now unlimited 24/7.
All, embedded within a model of relationship that tells us “one person for everything” to meet all of one’s needs for a lifetime.
What we have learned is our focus in the culture is wrong. Too much energy and focus is spent on finding the “”right”” person rather than becoming the “”right partner””. We don’t “”find the right partner”” to be in a relationship with; We become the “”right partner”” capable of loving another human being which is actually a complex, advanced set of skills and practices. And, becoming that partner takes time, attention, self-development and a commitment to evolve so that our capabilities to love are higher than our expectations and entitlement to have what we believe we have the right to in love and relationship.
“The quality of your relationship is determined by the quality of your commitments to invest what is required – daily – to make it Exceptional.
And, an Exceptional Relationship can only happen inside the integrity of your time, energy and presence to the one you claim to love”
Dr. Jay and Liseth
SoulMates for Life
Wanderson Souza | NASM certified PT and Group Fitness Instructor
Always believe in yourself. Your journey will be hard and you may have many barriers, but every day is a new beginning and you can always learn something new to improve yourself. Your body is your vehicle, so treat it well and it will take care of you. It can take you to places that you can’t even imagine.
You can motivate the people around you, and these days with social media, you can even motivate people on the other side of the world.
My tip is: Inspire and be inspired.
Diana Villarmarzo | Wedding Planner + Stylist
The most important lesson I have learned in my journey is to not be influenced by photos one sees in social media. Find whatever inspires you, channel your creativity, and watch the magic happen! At the end, people are going to think your crazy anyways.
Danielle White | International Phlebotomy Staffing Agency CEO | Educator, and Founder of National Plus Size Appreciation Day on October 6th
I would say the most important lesson that I’ve learned in my journey so far is self accountability. You have to be willing to do the dirty work and understand that patience is a virtue. Anything that you want enough can and will happen if you’re willing to put in the work. Shortcuts will always come back and bite you. Don’t be afraid to get advice from a specialist we all aren’t great at everything. If you’re not the best in accounting hire one, need help with organizing hire someone. It’s okay to ask for help.
Sharelle Hall | Professional: LMT, RYT, Reiki Practitioner | Casual: Holistic Concoction Creator | Yoga Vibe Curator | Bodywork & Energywork Medicine Woman
As a Bodywork & Energywork Practitioner of over a decade, I am often looked at as a “Healer”. I used to claim this title, proudly, and saw myself as a Healing Arts Professional capable of doing just that. Now, as the term “Healer” is becoming more popular, Ive steered away from calling myself one. I feel one of the most important lessons I’ve taken in this journey has been that I cannot successfully “heal” a client who isn’t also willing to be the Healer. The body has a natural inclination to heal itself, and I am the guide. I am not a Healer. I am a body and soul orator, communicating (through massage and energy Medicine) what’s needed for your body to effectively heal itself.
Sophia Carolina Alexander Rovirosa | Visual Artist
During my first solo-travel experience my rock climbing instructor saw how driven I was to climb up the “Barbarian” trail. As a competitive scatterbrain, I just starred at the beautiful piece of rock trying to figure out how on earth I was going to get to the top. It was until he reminded me of the saying: “ if you’re living on the edge you might as well dance” that each experience in life is really all about taking the risk in order to conquer the right groove. As a growing visual artist grooving with time is the only way I know I will get to the top.
Gasen M Pierre | Owner and Lead Photographer at Photos by Gasen
Through all the experiences I’ve made in my journey thus far, I’ve realized that one of the most important things is to be authentic and honest with yourself and others. Keeping it real with yourself is essential for growth because it brings humility along the journey. The world loves when they can connect and relate to someone. Being who you are and letting that reflect through your brand certainly makes you vulnerable, but there’s greater strength in being authentic than presenting yourself as someone you’re not…the latter is exhausting.
Transparency (with limit), honesty and authenticity are key for anyone who wants to make an impact in this world.
Alina Escarpanter – Founder of Marlie’s Dog Walking and Pet Services
Throughout my journey this year I would say the biggest lesson I have learned and the best advice I can give is to stand firm in the unexpected. To have faith that when all seems to be crashing down, what is actually happening is the path is being cleared for you to move forward; towards a better life; to help you seek out what is truly meant for you. With my path being cleared, I decided to take a different approach to the typical 9-5 life. I had been so structured to that life that it was literally sucking the life out of me. I realized that starting a dog walking business was perfect for me. Without hesitation I started the business and it has become my best adventure yet!
Allan Vargas | Managing Director at 4DV Marketing Agency
Be honest, don’t lie and be a good man.
Karen Huggins | Fashion & Travel Blogger
The most important lesson I have learned in my journey as an entrepreneurs is that failure is a natural stepping stone to success. Failure used to terrify me and think about things so many times that I didn’t end up acting. They key to starting a business is to have passion, act and get stronger when we fall; only in this way we succeed.
Elizabeth “Liz” Ortiz | Hair Artist
The most important lesson I’ve learned so far about my journey is acceptance. In a world where likes, comment and shares determine someone’s self-worth it is important to accept yourself for who you are. No matter where you are on your journey. Once you begin to accept and love yourself for who you truly are, Life will begin to shine in a different light because you’ve found it at the end of your own tunnel.
Matteson Koche | Third-generation Miamian | Urban Planner | Bagel truck owner
Do what you want, not what everyone else wants.