Slow down and take time to reflect on where you are in relation to where you’d like to be, both professionally and personally. This could be done by taking a daily hike with your dog, unplugging every evening, talking with a therapist or beginning a meditation practice to help assess where you are. Finding the right resources and what works for you is all part of the journey.

Have you ever noticed how often we equate success with more? Whether that’s more products, more profits, more activities or more accomplishments, we buy into the belief that we have to do more to have more to be more. And that will sum up to success. And then along comes The Great Resignation. Where employees are signaling that the “more” that’s being offered — even more pay, more perks, and more PTO — isn’t summing up to success for them. We visited with leaders who are redefining what success means now. Their answers might surprise you.

As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Donie Yamamoto.

Vital Pet Life is a California based, certified WBENC woman-owned business, featuring clean and sustainable pet wellness products. Ranked number 348 of the 2021 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America, Donie Yamamoto founded Vital Pet Life in 2017, after moving to the US from the Philippines in 2011. Vital Pet Life’s mission is working for animal advocacy in the healing and support of rescue animals.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today?

Moving to the United States from the Philippines in 2011 and losing my dad six years later shaped the person who I am today. Being a young woman entrepreneur in the Philippines was daunting. I began with very little capital and family support. In our patriarchal culture, it was frowned upon for young women to become entrepreneurs. Despite this pressure, I opened my own clothing store. As a new business owner, I learned communication and managerial skills while overcoming the challenges of being a female entrepreneur.

When I moved to the US, I had to make the difficult decision to close my store. Unfortunately, my transition to Los Angeles was anything but smooth. No longer financially independent or a business owner, I felt lost. Fate intervened when Kyle and I began dog sitting a mischievous terrier named Tuxedo. First, we watched him for a week, then a month and then he became ours!

Tuxedo had itchy skin issues and I began researching natural solutions to relieve his discomfort. When I gave him a specific type of salmon oil, all his symptoms cleared up. I began sharing this Wild Alaskan salmon oil with my friends for their dogs and the seed for Vital Pet Life was planted. Reflecting back, I’m reminded that the most challenging times are often the most transformative moments in our lives.

My dad was my anchor and rock. The stability and positivity he gave me growing up helped me see the good in the world. I drew inspiration from how he navigated his early childhood struggles. He was protective and worried I’d suffer as he did. He tried to steer me away from being an entrepreneur because of the obstacles he thought I’d face. This is ironic because whenever someone tells me no, I tend to lean in. I’ve always been a curious and tenacious person who rarely takes no for an answer. Despite my dad no longer being here, my connection to him is still strong. I credit him with teaching me to surround myself with people who are positive, cultivating a supportive environment and believing in myself.

We all have myths and misconceptions about success. What are some myths or misconceptions that you used to believe?

When I grew up, I believed that success meant accumulation of money, objects, followers, likes, and the fear that you may lose all that you’ve gained. The consequences of this misconception consisted of physical pain, stress, comparison, resentment and fear.

How has your definition of success changed?

I no longer equate success with accumulating and being attached to things and people. I don’t worry about what people think of me or look for others’ approval. When I started Vital Pet Life, the stress I felt with every obstacle or negative interaction manifested in painful skin and stomach issues. I repeatedly went to the doctor, took medicine and yet found no relief. I realized I needed to slow down and address my health. Vital Pet Life was growing quickly. My husband Kyle and I handled every aspect of our formulating, production, sales, and marketing while working out of our apartment.

I joined a neighborhood Pilates studio and began creating a self-care practice. Every day I worked on integrating my wellness rituals with building our brand. Vital Pet Life’s tenets are to heal and provide wellness support to other pet families, which I can’t do if I’m suffering from anxiety and physical pain.

I began setting boundaries to create a more balanced life and mindset. Taking small steps toward my goals while not feeling overwhelmed by the big picture. Not surprisingly, my physical ailments began clearing up. The last two years have been humbling and taught me how to navigate stressful moments while not absorbing negative energy. As an inherently positive person who’s suffered hardships and personal losses during the pandemic, I’ve tried to make peace with uncertainty. Staying grounded when my only constant is change is now what keeps me moving forward in a positive way.

When I think of what success means today, it couldn’t be farther from my old definition. I’m successful when I’m of service helping house homeless dogs and healing pets with my products. My heart is full when I think about the work we’ve done.

The pandemic, in many ways, was a time of collective self-reflection. What changes do you believe we need to make as a society to access success post pandemic?

It’s time to strive for connection and taking care of ourselves and each other. Initially in 2020 when COVID brought lockdowns, I spent most of my time speaking with our customers about order delays or questions. Oftentimes they told me about a sick family member, their pet or shared how they’re making it through the day. Despite the fear and uncertainty of those early times, these conversations gave me hope. Talking, sharing and listening, helping others in the pandemic can make us feel better about ourselves and the world.

As a country, we began to talk about and understand the importance of mental health awareness and removing any stigma associated with it. Covid-19 is an unprecedented experience that has rocked us on an existential level. We need to continue to work towards accepting and normalizing therapy and openly discussing our mental health in order to access success post pandemic.

What do you see as the unexpected positives in the pandemic? We would love to hear a few of your stories or examples.

As 2021 arrived, I asked myself what is my role in the pandemic? How can I be part of the solution? I spent much of 2019 and 2020 doing R+D for our new Mobility product. As a conscientious pet wellness company, our mission is to design our products responsibly, with as light a footprint on the planet as possible. With a 2020 PEW Research poll showing 63 percent of Americans believe climate change is a serious issue and 2021 IBV Research that the pandemic has intensified consumers’ focus on sustainability, I reaffirmed my commitment to focus on greener solutions.

We’re all looking for answers about how to be successful now. Could you please share “5 Ways To Redefine Success Now?”


Slow down and take time to reflect on where you are in relation to where you’d like to be, both professionally and personally. This could be done by taking a daily hike with your dog, unplugging every evening, talking with a therapist or beginning a meditation practice to help assess where you are. Finding the right resources and what works for you is all part of the journey.


After taking time to look inward, reframe how you interact with the world. Oftentimes we seek approval from others, and judge ourselves harshly when we don’t live up to someone else’s expectations. By cultivating self-acceptance, you replace outward judgment with trust in yourself. Every day I try to eliminate negative self-talk with positive words of encouragement and compassion.


Redefine your definition of progress, obstacles, and what it takes for you to remain positive while moving forward, within these new paradigms. By creating a more personalized roadmap for success, the path will not be as daunting, as it’s yours alone. My daily mantra is to remember that it takes one step at a time to move toward my goals.


Now that you’ve taken time to reflect and update your goals and roadmap, it’s time to reconnect with your authentic self. In a world dominated by social media telling us to be or look a certain way, unplug and look inward. I’ve found peace by no longer buying into the myth of perfection. Perfectly imperfect is my aspiration.


Cultivate your sense of purpose. What are you passionate about? Is there a cause or goal that you’ve always felt strongly about or promises to make a difference? Growing up in the Philippines, it broke my heart seeing lost and stray dogs roaming my community. Today, I’m proud that the core value of Vital Pet Life is working directly with local rescue shelters to find forever homes for homeless dogs.

How would our lives improve if we changed our definition of success?

If we changed our definition of success, we could find deeper meaning in our lives, be less frenetic and more focused on empathy rather than judgment. We could look to each other as a support system, with love and compassion.

What’s the biggest obstacle that stands in the way of our redefined success? And what advice would you offer about overcoming those obstacles?

The biggest obstacle that stands in our way is fear. Fear is the root cause of why so many chase the myth of success. They fear the judgment of others if they “fail” to achieve. Fear can also be the cause of miscommunication and misunderstanding. If we listen to each other and have a dialogue with an open mind and heart, we wouldn’t fear being judged. Open and respectful communication is crucial for transformational change.

Where do you go to look for inspiration and information about how to redefine success?

I lean on a support system of fellow women entrepreneurs, as they’re always redefining success and personal growth. Whether it’s my Tory Burch Foundation Fellows, or women of WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council), I try to surround myself with like-minded people who are strong, bright, wise with whom I connect. My body work and Pilates group reminds me to stay grounded and continue to practice equanimity. I also love taking Masterclasses and listening to podcasts on my hikes with Tuxedo.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she or they might just see this if we tag them.

I would love to share a meal with Julia Wainwright, the ever wise and dynamic e-commerce force. She’s a trailblazer and has redefined age and what success means. Her pivot after led her to create a new paradigm in the luxury consignment industry.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find more about me and Vital Pet Life at and follow me on Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.