If I could go back to the early stages in my career I would tell myself, "Don't hesitate. Just do it"
I had the chance to work side-by-side with master chocolatiers in Tain L'Hermitage at Valrhona L'Ecole du Grand Chocolat. The way they handle their chocolate and the work they execute make it look like it is a simple game.
You need difficulties, challenges, obstacles and very long hours in order to learn creativity and responsibility.
Remy Funfrock taught me a sense of discipline and perfection.
Eric Bertoia helped me understand the concept of "saveur", which to me, means the importance of how something tastes overall. I have learned so many things from Chef Daniel Boulud and he's given me so much advice. He is "la grande ecole," always departing new knowledge and wisdom. He is a mentor to so many of the world's best chefs.
My team keeps me motivated during tough times related to work. We use a lot of humor to get through the day. Most of the time we are working very seriously, so when there is an unexpected joke or funny moment it really helps brighten everyone's mood and picks us up.
I keep my team inspired and motivated by always getting them involved in creating new desserts. They each have their own style and own creative talents, so I really tap into that and ask their opinions, which I think helps keep them motivated. I also like to send them to events and on stages so they can see and work with another chef, because that is good for them too.
Stay focused. Pay attention to what your chef tells you because it will stick with you. I still remember some advice that my chefs have told me in the past, and I find myself remembering certain phrases that continue to guide me.
I like to look at books and read new recipes all the time which allows me to continue to educate myself. But I'm mostly motivated by the memories and flavors of my childhood, which are the most important education for me.