Credentials? I was home schooled, shot a lot of photos, studied hard, did debate, and was part of a few choirs. For what it’s worth, I think to “succeed” in your passion, you really have to love it more than anything (plus, I still don’t think I’ve fully succeeded…I don’t think you ever can). For me, that was photography. Late nights experimenting, skipping parties to edit a job, emailing photographers whose work I loved, etc etc. There’s no magic bullet.
I have a tendency to use C1/Vibrant a lot and also the F/Mellow series. No real formula, though. I also adjust the intensity and other basic edits after playing with those filters.