One of my favorite memories - not only within the context of sports, but in any context - was Darin Erstad securing the final out in the 2002 World Series, the first and only in Angels’ history. The first baseball game I ever went to was an Angels game, and at age seven, I became a huge Angels fan. From then until 2002, the Angels had never made the playoffs. The closest they came was ending the regular season in a tie for first with the Seattle Mariners and losing the one-game tie-breaker badly. I am not sure I will ever forgive Randy Johnson. The 2002 Angels team was not the most talented in baseball that year - the Angels didn’t even win the division - and not the most talented team per se the Angels have fielded over the years. But they had heart, guts, grit and great chemistry. They were filled gamers, from Erstad to Troy Percival (who was on the mound for the last out) to David Eckstein.

David Eckstein was the Angels’ starting shortstop, baseball’s glamour position. Yet Eckstein was the exact opposite of what one would envision a major league shortstop looking like and his play was anything but glamorous. At 5’6, Eckstein was almost an entire foot shorter than the premier shortstop of his era, Alex Rodriguez. No one would argue that Eckstein had a cannon for an arm and few would witness him hit the ball out of the ballpark. But he did all of the little things better than anyone. He played baseball the right way and extracted every once of his potential. If all players had David Eckstein’s work ethic and hustle, the game would be a lot more fun to watch.

I had the opportunity to interview David Eckstein’s other half, actress Ashley Eckstein, who is extremely accomplished in her own right, having appeared in many popular movies and TV shows. While I knew quite a bit about David, I welcomed the the opportunity to get to know Ashley and ask her about her journey and best advice. Here are some of the excerpts from our interview:

Adam: What are the best lessons you have learned through your career in entertainment that are applicable to those who will never earn a living in front of or behind the camera?

Ashley: I learned that life’s a marathon, not a sprint. I auditioned to be the voice of an animated character for 4 years before I was cast as the voice of Ahsoka Tano in Star Wars. I was rejected or recast for 4 years before I got my first big part. In Hollywood, they like to use the phrase “overnight success” but there are very few people who are actually an overnight success. I think the same can be said for any profession.

Adam: In your experience, what are the common qualities among those who have been able to enjoy success in your industry?

Ashley: When I think of successful people in my industry, I think of persistent, hard-working, hustlers. The licensing/retail industry is ever changing. The minute you become comfortable is the minute you are done. It’s a constant hustle for new opportunities and capturing new trends. I also find that the most successful people are the most humble people. My industry is a roller coaster and one minute you are up and the next you are down. You have to stay humble and hungry, otherwise you will be worn out by the constant ride.

Adam: What failures, setbacks or challenges have been most instrumental to your development and success?

Ashley: As an actress, I’m used to failure because it’s a profession where you fail more than you succeed. I grew accustomed to receiving criticism and learning from it rather than allowing it to shut me down. When I was first trying to get my company, Her Universe, a fashion brand for Fangirls, up off the ground, Lucasfilm told me “no” twice. However, I realized that they were telling me no to how I was trying to achieve my idea, but that they were not telling no to my idea. Oftentimes, we allow the word no to be a dead end. I look at the word no as hurdle that I just need to figure out how to climb over. Lucasfilm did me a huge favor by telling me no the first two times. I was trying to start my business the wrong way and it forced me to listen to their advice, go back to the drawing board and start my business the right way.

Adam: Who have been the biggest influences in your life and why?

Ashley: Growing up, my parents were the biggest influence on my life. My Dad was a Walt Disney World cast member and we grew up in Orlando, FL. My Mom was an elementary school teacher and she often used the Disney Parks as our classroom. They used the influence and inspiration of Disney to teach me that the impossible is possible and that if I can dream it, I can do it. We were an average middle class family and my parents were examples of how hard work pays off. Nothing was ever handed to us, we had to earn it. I later met my husband, David Eckstein, in my early 20’s and he transformed me into the person I am today. He taught me that the key to transforming my dreams and making them happen is to put others first and to have a purpose and mission bigger than myself.

Adam: What is something about you that your fans don’t know?

Ashley: My fans probably don’t know that I have a photographic memory with faces. If I’ve met someone once, I usually remember their face, even if it’s years later. Fans are often surprised when I recognize them when we meet again and they probably think I don’t really mean it, but I really do! I usually don’t remember where I met someone originally but for some reason, my brain remembers faces. However, I don’t have the same ability with names. Chances are, I’ll remember your face, but not your name.

The full interview can be found in Lessons In Leadership series in Thrive Global at

Adam Mendler