Zarela Martinez’s Rules for Becoming a Success

1. Develop an identity, a style that will be instantly recognizable and that carries through the different facets of your career or product. My first catering teacher told me this. She was referring to my cooking style, but I’ve followed through on it in my writing and television work, too.

2. Develop a career plan, an ultimate goal. But in the mean time…

3. Set small, attainable goals that further your career and build confidence.

4. Take chances and calculated risks. I opened my restaurant Zarela in 1987 with $20,000 working capital. I told all the purveyors who had worked with me before that if they believed in me, they would stock my first order free and if they didn't I would never buy from them again. To this day, I have never sold one Corona beer at Zarela.

5. Always deliver. Do the best job possible so people know they can count on you.

6. Surround yourself with good people and be clear about what you expect. Then let them do their jobs, always praise them and always compensate them for extra work.

7. Be informed, stay up on current events and developments in your field.

8. Build your brand and make your product known, donate services and participate in events that will reach a large number of people.

9. Stay on message so people will know what you stand for. My main message is "My mission is to make my culture known and understood."

10. Develop relationships with the press - they will help get your message out.

11. Reinvent yourself every two years so there's always something new to write about you. Publicity is a symbiotic relationship—they need stories you need coverage.

12. Always send thank you notes to everyone, for everything.

Zarela Martinez blogs at You can also check out her how-to videos on YouTube.