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What Makes Me… Successful?

According to a long-distance pumpkin shooter, a female carpenter, a professional Santa Claus and a few other experts in their fields

In this installment of our “What Makes Me a…” column, we asked six people what makes them successful. Turns out, it has nothing to do with how much money you make.

Carmel Johnston, 28-year-old crew commander of HI-SEAS (Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation): I believe what’s made me successful has been taking the opportunities presented to me. It’s meant spending less time with my family and friends than I like, but it’s also allowed me to do a lot of really neat things. So throw your hat in the ring for the craziest thing you can think of, and you just might make it through.

Brian H. Labrie, World Champion Long-Distance Pumpkin Shooter: I’m successful because I’m 100 percent confident we’re the most prepared team on the field at every single event we compete in. We prepare for every scenario and situation — becoming three-time world champs didn’t happen by accident. As Benjamin Franklin said: “Fail to prepare and you will be preparing to fail.”

Alessandra Conti, Celebrity Matchmaker: The biggest secret to my success is balance. I hear tales of so many failed entrepreneurs who work at all hours of the night, never sleep, cancel plans consistently because of work and lose touch with their friends and family. For me, I’d combust if I didn’t balance my time between work and play. On that count, I’ve realized that boundaries are vital to a successful business: Going out also has been an incredible asset to my business. I love going to brunches, fashion shows, red carpet events, birthday parties, etc., and the beauty of my business is that every time I go out, I’m meeting more and more people, which is a total asset to a matchmaking company!

Chad Boender, Kindergarten Teacher: What makes me successful is that I have a passion for teaching today’s youth to be successful and productive citizens. I hope to instill a love of learning by fostering creativity and independence, while allowing my students to explore and to investigate the world in which they live.

Greg Cook, Professional Santa Claus: A roof over your head, food to eat and some friends to share it with. As Santa, success is making sure all the children that believe in the magic of Christmas are happy.

Maria Klemperer Johnson, Founder of Hammerstone School Carpentry for Women: What makes me successful is not being afraid to screw up. And when I do, giving myself a minute to feel bad about it, then moving on to figure out the solution and learning from the mistake I just made. Success, for me, is also creating a life where I constantly have the opportunity to improve. I see success as a process — a successful life is a life where you don’t stop. However trivial or large the task is, you’re constantly striving to be better than you were yesterday.