Hard Work + Learning from Failure = Success …by Kathleen Cuce’


Last week’s advice came from someone who took action on an idea and found her purpose.  This week’s advice comes from identical twin sisters who took action on an idea and found their passion.  In 2010, Kathleen and Kristina Cuce’ went to an NFL football game and noticed that everyone was decked out in their favorite team’s gear from head to well, knee.  They spent the rest of the game brainstorming on how they could bring NFL footwear to the market. After months of hard work and intense negotiation, they launched their first collection in August, 2011.  Cuce’ Shoes now offers fashion-forward footwear and apparel for professional sports teams and launched a new line called VARSITY for college teams. I am inspired by their vision, work ethic, passion and dedication to creating designs which embrace both fashion and animal free products. Click on the following link to see more of their designs and I’m proud to present advice from Kathleen Cuce’ lovecuceshoes.com

 My twin sister and I founded our company in 2010 after going to an Indianapolis Colts/New England Patriots match up in Indiana.  We were looking for weather resistant boots to match our game day outfit and when we realized they did not exist, an idea was born.  We met with the NFL licensing department in NYC in November of 2010 and launched our very first collection in the Fall of 2011.  

We were not designers and did not have any background in footwear or manufacturing.  To say the first year was the hardest year of our lives would be considered an understatement. We had to learn and teach ourselves everything.  We made a lot of mistakes, many of which were very costly, but somehow, with hard work, perseverance and the grace of God, we are going into our 6th season with the Leagues.  

Albert Einstein once said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” This is a valuable quote…for many effects in life.

As business owners, we wish we could say that with time and knowledge things get easier.  Unfortunately, they do not.  Hard work doesn’t guarantee success either, but without it, you don’t stand a chance. There are no secrets to success; success is the result of hard work, learning from failure, and never giving up.  Work hard, play hard, and have compassion in all that you do!

What I Really Want to Say About Parenting is Nothing at All…by Sara Beth Roberts

IMG_9140 (1)I’d like to introduce my next contributor by telling a story about purpose, but more importantly, about action.  Sara Beth Roberts and I met for coffee to discuss some business about our neighborhood swim team which she headed up.  Our conversation quickly moved away from sponsorships to purpose, and now that our children were in school, what is ours? I told her I thought she should write and she looked at me with total surprise–like I suddenly had three heads. For me, this was a no-brainer as she would share other people’s blogs on her Facebook page, and her commentary on their work was a hundred times better than the author’s blog. I had no idea that writing was her passion and something she had studied to do, but got put on a shelf as many things do when our children are young.  I told her she needed to quit hiding under other blogger’s skirts and write her own because she had profound insights on parenting that needed to be shared.  What I love about this story is that she did just that-she took action. She started Mama Up to rave reviews, and soon after, was offered a job as an editor at Salem Media Group.  She didn’t just think about doing something–she took action and taking that risk has lead her to her purpose of not only being a loving wife, incredible mother of four, author, editor, and now helper of others as they fulfill their dreams of becoming published authors. I am proud to present her advice here and for more of her insights on parenting,  be sure to follow her blog mamaupva.

The longer I parent the more I realize that I really have nothing to say—I have no advice to give. When I started this journey with my first son, I read a lot of books full of ideas about how to be the perfect parent and raise the perfect children in the perfect community.  As my experience grew along with my number of children, I decided that parenting is a whole lot less about being perfect and a whole lot more about being present.  I decided that instead of holding truths with clenched fists, I would accept ideas with open palms. I decided that I didn’t want to be at the top, on some fancy pedestal, and I didn’t want my kids there either—not only is it lonely at the top, it’s a long way to fall when you finally do.

I decided that life is not a race with a prize at the end. Actually maybe it is, but I’m bowing out and so are my kids. I will not judge my effectiveness as a parent by how my children compare to others.

I am a firm believer that there are not 5 step to raising happy kids, but if I had 5 things to tell you, for you to hold loosely too, it would be:

  1. Your parenting will look different and that’s okay because your kids are different than other people’s kids. People are not watching you—they are too busy. If they are, they need to get back in their own lane. Parenting is not a competition—there is success for everyone.
  2. Avoid feeling the need to reach some sort of imaginary bar.  It was not set by your children, it was not set by your neighbor–it was set by you. We are all good at different things.  I am awful at remembering to practice times tables and sight words, but I am awesome at dancing in the kitchen. My kids are average at multiplication, but they know how to bust a move to Michael Jackson and Luke Bryan.
  3. Don’t ever say you won’t, because you will.
  4. Don’t judge another parent’s decisions because you don’t walk in their shoes (but you may have to one day.)
  5. Don’t judge your own parenting by your child’s success and failures. Hold loosely to both. The same hand that pats your own back when they make straight A’s, is the same hand that has to dry their tears (and yours too) when they make a really dumb choice. It’s a lot easier when you haven’t given some false illusion of perfectionism.


I know I said 5, but I can’t be trusted when words are involved, so here are a few more: Don’t expect your kids to make mature, adult decisions because they’re just kids. Practice what you preach. Say you’re sorry (a million times a day.) Show kindness to others. Live for more than yourself. Say yes as often as you can, but say no too.

At the end of the day, I want my children to love others more than themselves—that’s all. I know they will mess it up a thousand times, just like I do, but if they can keep coming back to it, if they keep working at it, I know they will find great success.

It Doesn’t Matter…by Dr. Ron McKechnie

IMG_0093My next contributor is well respected as a cardiologist, but he is even more respected for genuinely being the most positive person in the room.  He is an eternal optimist, has an unshakable faith, depth of character, and when you leave a conversation with him, you feel  interesting, funny, and well, just better.  He makes you want to ditch your curmudgeony ways and do some good in the world.  Knowing someone like this is a joy, but traveling down life’s road with his family as our forever friends is nothing short of a privilege.

This advice is important no matter where you are in life, but if you know a high school or college aged student, please forward or share because it will help them stay focused on what really matters.

It doesn’t matter.

I’m not sure when the mantra “it doesn’t matter” became apparent, but at some point I stopped sweating minutia and began focusing on the big picture.  Human life has many surprises, but besides knowing there is a beginning and end, I am prepared to experience the journey between those two endpoints.  Charles Wright, former poet laureate wrote in his poem Black Zodiac, “Take a deep seat, and a loose rein” and with this, I’ve learned to sit back and enjoy the ride.

This is not to say that fine details are unimportant, but earlier in life I was dizzied trying to achieve unnecessary, self-imposed expectations, while often missing the goodness of everyday experiences.  Fortunately, I have recognized that those past attempts for control were fraught with a buzzing level of stress, and that being present and opening up to the possibility of change generated unexpected rewards.

In grade school, I was a habitual control-freak, list-maker, and teacher-pleaser, yet not in an externally apparent way.  I was socially adept, academically involved and athletically competitive.  However, in order to prevent mental collapse & preserve my sanity, I typically prepared far in advance of all deadlines, regardless of the topic.   I still take pride in not procrastinating, but at that point in my life “it did matter”, and it was difficult to accept failure or last minute changes to a plan without a brain-based, Battle Royale.

It finally dawned on me when I was cramming for a post-graduate admissions test that my performance wasn’t a true measure of who I was, or who I would become and that I should be willing to give myself a little leeway.  I was confident of my career passions and recognized that poor results could negatively affect my future – but I no longer wanted to let that fear drive my motivation.  The paralyzing notion of failure wasn’t productive, therefore it shouldn’t guide my actions, opinions or future.

Please don’t misinterpret “It doesn’t matter” as apathy, but understand that it has reflected a centering concept that has kept me grounded.  Avoid falling into the trap of thinking there is only one possible, predictable outcome measured as “success” when facing a physical challenge, moral test, mental obstacle, career-path, academic test, life lesson or spiritual hardship and recognize that once you commit to your decision, you cannot perseverate on the variations of the outcome.  There should be no “what ifs”, “if only I had more time”, or “I wish I would have done it this way”.  Prepare to the best of your ability, then move on.   Thereafter, it doesn’t matter.

The Key to Happiness is Serving Others…by world renown photographer, Aaron Chang

Green Waimea









My next contributor is considered the creator of modern surf and ocean photography. He has appeared on numerous TV shows, was named one of the top five sports photographers by American Photographer magazine, and was a senior photographer for Surfing magazine for over 25 years.  He has traveled to over 50 countries and his work has been published all over the world in hundreds of books and magazines.

In addition, to being incredibly talented, he is also smart, because he married  one of my dearest friends, Erika Fichter, who is the epitome of  true beauty and kindness. Together, they are the heart and soul of the Aaron Chang Gallery, whose mission is to be a leader in the business community by adopting a servant’s heart as a strategy for success.

After you read his advice, please click on the photo to watch an inspiring two minute video which talks about how being a shy and introverted teenager led him to discover his voice through photography, and the accident that changed his life.  Take a moment to scroll down the gallery page to experience his visually stunning photographs that showcase our world as a works of art.

It is my true honor and privilege to share this advice from world renown photographer, Aaron Chang.

The key to happiness is serving others.   This profound bit of advice has been consistently at the center of our business philosophy and has become a core tenet to our business culture.  It is the heart of our extended philanthropic efforts.  It serves as the center of our employee training.  It has never failed us.

By having a servant’s heart and always looking for opportunities to exercise giving, more doors have opened to us than we could have ever expected, especially when compared to conventional wisdom in relation to building a business using traditional marketing and advertising strategies.  Serving others has provided tremendous rewards of good will and community support and created a true sense of joy in the work we do.  www.AaronChang.com