By: Tawanda Carlton, PR Account Executive

No matter what level of experience you have or success you have achieved in your career, a pioneer mindset is necessary. This was one of the many key takeaways from Kevin Gillespie, owner of the acclaimed restaurant Gunshow, at a recent Creative Mornings session.

A former participant on Bravo’s Top Chef in 2009, Kevin’s restaurant, Woodfire Grill, was critically acclaimed yet severely struggling at the same time. The light from Woodfire Grill eventually dimmed, but Kevin resurfaced with a new concept in Gunshow.

Even with all of the national recognition, Kevin shared keen insights on what it means to truly pioneer in any industry, especially one of the creative sorts. In his case, he “forged” a new path more than once, and this path has led him to his current success. Here are some interesting concepts he revealed about navigating the road to success:

You will have to work harder than anyone else, and you must make sacrifices.

When you choose a non-traditional role or career, often you will have to put in more work and make more sacrifices because the only way you will be successful is if you put your goal first. If you want to rise to the top, you have to give a concerted effort to get there.

You will have the vision; others will not.

There is a lot to be said to go off and do something that hasn’t been seen or done before. Kevin had a vision of what he wanted his restaurant to look and feel like. Investors did not agree and therefore, did not invest. Despite the lack of investor support, Gunshow went on to set a new trend.  The restaurant is perhaps the only restaurant in Atlanta where the dim sum-style menu changes nightly and diners get to interact directly with the chefs creating their dishes, all set to a heavy metal soundtrack. So what does that mean for a creative? Dance to the beat of your own drum, at all costs.

Never forget where you came from.

In the creative line of work, you can’t ever be boastful. You must continue striving to get better and remember the road it has taken to get you where you are today.

Courage is about turning your fear into fuel.

Kevin spoke of what true courage means for creatives to succeed, “It’s not about not being afraid. With being a pioneer, courage is a requirement. The mistake people make is thinking courage implies fearlessness, and it’s the total opposite. Courage is the point in your life where you’re terrified of your own failure and yet you push through it and find a way to overcome…courage is one of the cornerstones of being a pioneer.”

The main cornerstone of being a pioneer? Having faith.

As a PR/Marketing professional, you must have thick skin. In most cases, you build this over time. What becomes the determining factor of one’s success is the ability to conquer the doubts that hold you back, and this means developing a “pioneer” mindset and attitude. In Kevin’s discussion, he spoke to this directly, stating, “You must have faith. Faith is like a door deep down inside of you that you have to open. It’s the things you’ve made sacrifices for.”

Kevin’s morning words of inspiration left this lingering thought: is your career a destination or a journey? If you are aiming for longevity and success, you will have many pit stops, detours, successes, and failures on the path to your goal. A pioneer mindset allows you to develop, launch, or introduce new ideas, processes, plans at any stage. Don’t accept what others say is possible; instead, find your own answers.