We’re heading to San Francisco this September and we wanted to profile five women doing incredible things in the San Francisco/Oakland community. This series, SF LEADERS, will celebrate the work of trailblazing women and showcase how they’ve inspired others in their community and ours. The fourth woman in this series is Lucy Litman, Photographer & Food Stylist.

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What does being a good leader mean to you?

To me it means leading by example, and empowering those around you. Some of the best leaders I have worked under have motivated and inspired me to work harder and provided opportunities to challenge myself. I think being a good leader also means that you don’t have to use fear or negative tactics to get something done—it’s all about finding those positive things that drive people to accomplish their tasks.

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For you personally, have you found that leadership is innate, learned, or both?

Personally, as someone who is very introverted, I’ve had to learn a lot of my leadership skills. I tend to be quiet in group settings, so I’ve had to teach myself the confidence of speaking up and trusting my own opinion and voice.

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What is some advice that has has helped you get to where you are?

One of my old bosses said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” That has really stuck with me and I’ve always tried to surround myself with people who I feel like I can learn from and who will inspire me to grow and accomplish more.

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What do you admire most in others?

Honesty. I’ve always admired people who are honest and open with me about my behavior and work—my biggest pet peeve is people not telling me if I’m doing something that annoys or angers them and then being passive aggressive. Giving people feedback is really tough—but extremely necessary in a professional setting.

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How do you balance drive and ambition with gratitude and being happy with where you’re at?

This is honestly something I struggle with. I rarely take a moment to practice self-love and congratulate myself on all that I’ve accomplished—I’m always focusing on what’s next and what else I want to achieve. If you have any tips, please send them my way!

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How do you measure success?

I try and measure it from goals I set for myself and stay away from comparing my success and achievements to others. Every few months, I’ll write out some short and long term goals and then assess how I’m doing based on of my progress.

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What are you still working on that you haven’t quite nailed yet?

My technical skills. I’m pretty much self taught when it comes to everything creative. I’d love to learn more about photography, photoshop and videography. I’m currently trading skills with friends. They’ll teach me an hour of design, and I’ll teach them an hour of content and social media strategy.

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What are three things in life you need in order to thrive?

Lots of water. Seriously. I’m known for always having a water bottle in my hand, I’m obsessed with being hydrated. Goals—I find it hard to motivate myself and push through tough times if I don’t know what I’m working towards and hope to achieve. Creative inspiration—whether that be from a walk around the neighborhood, a visit to a museum or traveling, I do my best work when I’m feeling inspired by the world around me.

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Words you live by?

You do you. It’s my guiding principle. Don’t focus on what other people think of you/your work/your actions—if you believe in it and if it makes you happy, do it. I think in the world of social media we get caught up in likes and comments and how people respond to photos of our work and ourselves. All that should really matter is how our work makes us feel.

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Wisdom for other women striving to be leaders in life?

Don’t put others down to get to the top.

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Lucy Litman
Photographer & Food Stylist

i. @lucialitman