A great music legend died earlier this week. Tom Petty was not only a musician and artist in every meaning of the word, he was also an icon and beacon of light to many. I discovered his music during my college years and pretty much became the anthem of my youth. His music still continues to be one of my favorites. Though he may have physically left this earth, his memory and inspiration will live forever in our hearts and minds. And not only is it music, it is a way of life that truly encapsulates the “joie de vivre”. He was only 66, but he lived an amazing and more fulfilled life than most. Let’s take some life lessons from some of lyrics.

Song: I Won’t Back Down

Lyric: You can stand me up at the gates of hell but I won’t back down

Life Lesson: Never give up

This one especially resonates to me as I’ve lived it throughout my whole life. I’ve struggled with adversity since a young age and have worked for everything I have. Throughout my life I have never believed anything was impossible and continue to live that way. My personal mantra (was and is)–if you can dream it, you can live it. Though I chose one specific lyric in this song, the entire song is about resilience and the human psyche. No matter what comes your way, you need to focus on your aspirations and believe in yourself. Never take no for an answer. Be relentless. Be fearless.

Song: Free Falling

Lyric: I wanna free fall, out into nothin’ Gonna leave this, world for awhile

Life Lesson: Let go

Sometimes you just need to check out from reality to be creative, to regenerate or just do whatever you need to give yourself a recharge or reboot. Despite the way culture has transformed to this “can’t stop. won’t stop” mode, we all need a time out. If you need to relax, book a spa weekend. If you feel like you need to tune into your creativity, spend your day writing and drinking wine at a cafe.  We have all just gotten stuck in the same day in day out routine and need to do something spontaneous to give ourselves a jumpstart. Do something that pushes your boundaries. Life is about risks. Take one.

Song: You Don’t Know How It Feels

Lyric: Think of me what you will, I got a little space to fill

Life Lesson: Don’t care what other people think

Know this is so much easier said than done, but once you start focusing on yourself vs other’s opinion of you, your life and overall approach to life does improve. You become more in tune with what is important to you and what steps you need to take to get you steps closer to your life plan. When you focus too much on other’s thoughts and opinions about you, not only are you wasting time, but you are probably making yourself unhappy in the process. Now who has time for that?

Song: American Girl

Lyric: Well she was an American girl raised on promises; She couldn’t help thinkin’ that there was a little more to life somewhere else

Lesson 1: The American Dream

I did not fully understand the power of “The American Dream” until I started living in France. It has more meaning to me now than it ever has and I am more grateful to my parents for making the move and giving me the life I have. Growing up in a first generation immigrant family wasn’t always easy, but being raised in the U.S. has afforded me the life and opportunities I have today. There are people all around the world that dream of something better and America truly is the land of opportunity. You grow up knowing that your possibilities are endless and possess a drive that does not exist anywhere else in the world. Tom Petty, to me, is the personification and epitome of the American Dream. Being American is not just a nationality, it’s a mentality–a state of mind. Think more people in the U.S. would appreciate their lives more if they tried living outside of the U.S. for a few months. As one of my mentors always says, “Talent is everywhere. Opportunity is not.”

Lesson 2: Travel

As one of his most iconic songs, of course there has to be more than one life lesson. This lyric also speaks to the wonder of the world out there. It teaches us that we need to explore what the rest of the world has to offer. We are a world of different cultures and we can learn so much from each other. Travel has opened up my eyes in so many ways and has helped me enjoy life a little more by realizing what was lacking in my old life. It opens your mind to new experiences, ways of doing things and new people. So whenever you get a chance to travel, Just. Say. Yes.

Remember, Life is short. Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.

Song: Wildflowers

Lyric: You belong somewhere you feel free

Lesson: Be yourself

They say home is where the heart is and your heart is where you are happiest. Life is about the journey and not just the physical journey—the journey of self discovery. Always be yourself—embrace the quirkiness instead of hiding it, laugh when you want to, cry when you want to, dance like no one is watching. Embrace life and surround yourself with friends and people who appreciate that. I mean, think of your friends as your safe place, there should be no secrets in that space and if there is you should re-evaluate that person in your life. Life is too short to pretend to be someone you are not and it is way too exhausting to wear masks for different people. Tom always beat to his own drum. Take a lesson from Tom and Be Yourself … and be with people you can be yourself with.


  • Abigail Rogado

    Brand Strategist, Traveler, Guest Lecturer and Global Ambassador

    Abigail is the Founder and CEO of her own brand marketing consultancy and splits her time between NYC and Paris. She is also a Global Ambassador for Same Sky, a trade initiative that creates employment opportunities for women struggling to lift themselves out of extreme poverty and an Ambassador for France and the US for The Worldwide Network of Women, a global organization that strives to create equal opportunities for marginalized groups. Abigail is very active in social causes and is currently working with Upstream Cinema on the next phase of their award winning documentary, In Utero.