Are you a risk taker? Do you think you have a stronger appetite for risk relative to your friends and family? We asked some folks from the community about their approaches to risk and have shared their thoughts below.

Kim Estes | Emmy-Award Winning Actor

Part of life is risking what is available for the exploration- that is the price to pay. Read more>>

Jesse Alvarez | Founder & Co-owner

Few people would question the value of risk and what it entails. Risk is the number one factor as an entrepreneur that determines your state of mind for growth and success. There’s a moment that happens right before you make your decision, where your business/career timeline flashes before your eyes. That initial gut feeling doesn’t last long and you mustn’t turn away from the obvious answer or option. Whether it’s to excel the business at a high cost, doubling down on an opportunity or even as simple as deciding the next direction. These moments are critical for what may come next of your career to help you succeed. Your success doesn’t live within regret on how things could’ve been, it’s the moments of risk taken that got you to this point. As a grooming company, one of the biggest risks we’ve taken is inventory (high volume production). When developing our products, our research and development goes beyond what the label reads but what is going to set the brand and work ethic apart from others. Read more>>

Yuelin Zhao | Film Production Designer

I just started to professionally step into the film world as a production designer this year, and that probably has given you enough clues of how risky my career will be. But there have been a lot of back and forth before I am really comfortable taking risks. If you are from an Asian family like I do, you know how your parents would always want you to have a stable life and a steady income. Indeed, it feels nice to be “safe” – you enjoy a cup of coffee before going to work from 9 am – 5 pm, and you could always spend a nice weekend to hang out with your family. But working as a film fellow is completely different. Sometimes you are called at 5 am every day and you lost your entire weekend building a set, and of course, there are days where you overwork yourself for 19 hours for a passion project. I was afraid of taking risks for a long time after graduation. Maybe the quarantine made me feel too safe in my shelter – I thought I was fine and did not want to step out of my comfort zone. The result is just that I have learned nothing in these three months after graduation, and I was completely out of energy doing anything. Read more>>

Katy Chen Mazzara | Financial Coach | Former TV Producer, Doc Filmmaker & Journalist

I am a poker player, so I would consider myself a risk taker. There’s a saying in poker, that “it’s not about the cards you’re dealt. It’s how you play your hand.” I find this true in poker, as well as in life, and I love people who can turn nothing into something. I’m also a financial coach, so part of what I do is understand a client’s base risk tolerance and see if it’s coming from a true place or if it’s just coming from fear. When I think about risk, I am not thinking about jumping from a plane. Instead, I think of it as putting myself out there, asking for what I want, and applying for the internships, jobs, and opportunities that I may not always be 100% qualified. My dad is someone who doesn’t tolerate a lot of risks. He wanted me to go to a state school and study engineering or something to do with computers, like he did. However, I knew that the path he thought was “safe” and “secure” did not instill passion and motivation in me. So, I traveled across the country, to study Journalism, Documentary Filmmaking (and subsequently Art History) at New York University, and it was bliss. Everyday, I took risks, and they paid off. Read more>>

Jacob Peter | Musician

Most people that I know in LA (myself included) have left our hometowns in an attempt to “make it”, whatever that means nowadays. And while it’s been extremely difficult at times, emotionally and monetarily, it’s without a doubt the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve been able to grow so much in a very short amount of time, meet other amazing artists, and play music that I would never have had the opportunity to play had I stayed in my hometown. As an artist, risk is also built into personal expression. There is no way to truly express yourself without risking something in the process. Will people like this? If people hate this, what will that do to my emotional state? What does my art say about me as a person? Will any of this even work out? Beyond that, taking risks in your art is usually the thing that propels it above the rest. Radiohead’s “Kid A” is album centered around risk. Imagine being the top rock band in the world and then putting out a proto-electronic album. Suffice to say, it worked out. So my advice is to take the risk. Because without it, the only “r” word you’ll feel is regret. Read more>>

Bri Beats | Music Producer & Songwriter

I always dreamed of moving to California but once I started becoming serious as a music producer, it became clear it would be important for my career as well. I would listen to other producers talk about how they got to the position they were in. Everyone had the same advice “Move to a city with more opportunities and network”. I spent a year saving and preparing to drive across the country. Everyday leading up to the moment I packed my car the excitement continued to build. The first hour of the drive is when I started to get nervous and think “Am I really doing this?” Once my nerves settled I began to get excited again. Since then I never once regretted my decision. I was told over and over about the opportunities being greater than I could imagine, but I truly couldn’t fathom that statement until I experienced it for myself. Within the first month of living in L.A. I landed an internship at one of my favorite producer’s studio. Since then there’s been countless opportunities that I never would have had if I didn’t take that risk. Most opportunities for growth will involve taking risks and I enjoy the challenge. Read more>>

Arlenys Buckelew | Producer/Social Media Coordinator

My life has been all about taking risks whether it was the adults in my life making the decisions for me when I was younger or I making the decisions when the time came for me to make them. First, at the age of 13 my dad made the decision to bring me to America to New York from the Dominican Republic. Leaving all my friends behind and coming to a country in which I was not familiar with the language. Once I arrived here, after overcoming many challenges whether personally or with career choices at the age of 16 I decided to pursue the film/tv industry once I graduated from High School. Sure enough did 2 years at a college in New York but then it was time to transfer to another school for my bachelors degree. I wasn’t sure where to go, what to do, and after searching on a web I found Columbia College Hollywood located in Los Angeles California. On January 2014 I applied to enroll on September of that year. I honestly had to idea of what I was doing or didn’t think on the steps that would come after that because in my mind I was not going to get accepted or so I thought. Read more>>

Stacy Beckly | Actress/Kickboxing Coach/Nurse

Taking risks is scary but I learned very early in life that when you take risks you grow and more times than not you get what you want. I never want to be left wondering “what if” so if there is something I want I go after it with fierce determination. I set my fear aside and do it anyway. I am also very determined and persistent (sometimes to a fault for instance when I need to leave a relationship sooner than I actually do, lol) and not giving up allows me to persevere in very difficult situations. Read more>>

Vanessa Rivera | Visual Artist & CEO of Artsy Kidss

My whole perspective behind taking risks is that I don’t want to die and regret not taking a risk. Having to live with the curiosity of what could have been if I took the risk seems worse to me than “failing”. I thrive at the idea of a risk like riding a brand new rollercoaster ride. For me, taking risks is what has given me success and allowed me to experience some of the highest moments of my life. It’s really exciting to me. It can get scary but the thrill is always worth it. Read more>>

Marianna Israelyan | Financial Analyst and Realtor

My greatest achievements have come when I took risks. Thirteen years ago, after getting my Master’s Degree in Economics in Russia, I decided to take a risk and come to America for freedom and opportunities. I made my way with a few stumbles. I persisted in improving myself. I’ve learned to go outside my comfort zone, to overcome my shyness and invest in my education and future. I try to employ a little humor during difficult times. Dealing with the uncertainty that goes with taking risks builds character in people. Taking risks doesn’t mean succeeding every time; your failures help you grow as a person and improve in. Read more>>

Meghan Marsala | Floral Designer & Macramé Artist

Taking risks has not always been easy for me, but it has been an essential part of my growth as a small business owner and as a working artist. Not every risk I have taken has led to success but I believe that failure is a part of the journey to success and learning more about yourself. This pandemic has forced me to take some of the biggest risks thus far in life and in my career. For over 10 years, I have worked full time as a floral designer for weddings and special events in Los Angeles. My success and livelihood has revolved around large, once-in-a-lifetime celebrations. Last April, with the onset of COVID-19, everything came to an abrupt halt, all weddings were cancelled and I found myself without work, like so many others, especially those who are in the event industry. I was forced to take a giant risk to figure out what to do next. I needed to dig deep to stay afloat and find new ways of expressing myself creatively. Read more>>

Maja Jacob | Filmmaker & Director

One of the things I always ask myself is: What do I have to lose? My answer is : NOTHING! If you don’t try you will never know if you will succeed. I spent 15 years in Vancouver BC working in post production and building relationships but I felt like my career was at a standstill. I took a risk by packing up my life and relocating to Toronto ON in order to pursue directing. I was finally starting to make new connections but then that all changed when the pandemic hit. It was a major blow to me and the entire film industry. Instead of sitting at home doing nothing I decided this would be the perfect opportunity for me to finally sit down and start writing my screenplay. 9 months later I completed my first solo screenplay! My goal is to shoot the film in 2021. Read more>>

JoJo Guevara | Storyteller & Entertainer

I truly believe our greatest accomplishments as human beings have been from the results of taking risks. I personally use it as a sort of muse for my art, my career moves, my relationships and partnerships, and my overall life journey. That’s not to say we’re 100% successful from every risk we take, in fact one could argue the majority of risks you take will fail; however, the ones that don’t, and you actually beat the odds, THOSE are the winning risks that make all the other ones worth losing. I see it as an opportunity to be catapulted into a greater space, out of our comfort zone, and forces us to face our fears and doubts in order to witness and experience the impossible happen. One example from my own experiences, was when I took the biggest risk of flying to Canada by myself for 3 days to audition for Cirque Du Soleil. I continued with that wave when I fortunately got booked for a temporary role and had to fly out to Saudi Arabia in 4 days notice, quit my job, move out of my rental room, put school on hold (which I was 1 semester away from receiving my degree). Read more>>

Spencer Ward | Sound Designer and Developer

For me risk is a natural part of personal and professional growth. It is a foundational element of learning. If we are not willing to take risks, are afraid of embarrassment, and are not in an atmosphere conducive for experimentation then we lose the opportunity in life to learn and discover what is around us and in turn reduce the potential of making positive contributions for society. 

As a freelance audio engineer I work across different platforms and mediums. When there is a high expectation and a limited amount of time involved in a given project there is a necessary amount of risk involved initially. It is part of my job as my own boss to narrow that window as much as possible with all of the information I can reasonably acquire before executing those tasks and communicate to those that need information whether it is a reasonable request or not. No two jobs are really the same for me. Being aware that changes and anomalies arise is crucial for myself and the people I work with. Narrowing tasks, increasing error handling identifiers, practicing, research, and creating redundant systems minimise this problem of risk and failure of execution drastically. Read more>>

Julian Kay | Illustrator, Animator, and Artist

For me, when i think about risk I’m thinking more about my relationship with failure. One trait that I think all successful people have in common is Tenacity or “Grit”. They don’t give up. Ever. Failure is the greatest teacher of all. The archetypal “wise old man” didn’t get to be the wise old man by skipping through a field of daisies. He tripped and fell then got up, over and over and over again. With every failure, you learn a lesson, you take that lesson and apply it to your next endeavor. Success is inevitable. Pretty much everything awesome in life comes with risk. No risk, no reward… or my personal favorite, “No guts… No glory”. Read more>>

Yoon su Lee | Animator & Instructor

I have learned that risk or crisis in our life is not always negative. Whether you overcome or not, you get at least one life lesson from that. I admit that myself as the one of the person who is really obsessed with stick to my plan, however when I look back my career, the plan I set up initially never came true in the moment I thought. In fact, the results of taking the risk made my network more stronger, re built self esteem and allowed me to be more flexible in my overall life. In my case , the point when deciding to move in La about 4 years ago, that could be said a huge risk taking experience. Not just I had to leave all my family and friends in Korea, I had to start all over from the scratch as an animator. Even though studying and working in LA was one of my big dream, at that moment I had suffered from mental disease that came from living so competitively in work place and struggle with family trauma. So it was my dream that I used to think it would never happen and I couldn’t dare to take such an opportunity. But here I’m in LA, surrounded by wonderful people I met in school and couple of work place, who always inspires me and teach me how to live my own life. Read more>>

Shaun Chen | Composer, Conductor, Violinist

By regularly kicking myself out of my comfort zone and shifting that equilibrium, I force myself into situations in which I have no choice but to learn and adapt. This approach has helped me steer clear of the complacency that might result from homeostasis, and find new ways to develop my creativity and thrive even amidst suboptimal circumstances. As a musician, I feel that it is this impetus to innovate rather than conform, that results in the most fruitful and fulfilling of collaborative relationships. With every new artistic partnership, I have experienced the special brand of magical synergy that is birthed when one comes together with adventurous minds of different artistic backgrounds or cultures to create a work of art, fusing the unique perspectives we have brought to the table to explore what we want to say together, honing our skills in the process and inspiring even more artistry in ourselves, and more importantly the listeners and viewers privy to the experience. Read more>>

Elymie | Singer | Songwriter | Producer

I think taking risks are a necessary part of life and my career. If you play it safe and follow everyone else than it’s hard to grow and find your own unique voice. For me, taking risks in music did just that. I knew that not everyone would be into my music but putting myself out there in a vulnerable state gives me an opportunity to share my perspective for people who do like it and do get it. They can experience something that’s uniquely mine and they’re able to relate to it in their own way. Another risk that I’ve taken recently in my music is being sort of my own producer. I used to only write the melody and lyrics but leave the rest of the creative direction to someone else. Now I’m exercising my producer chops each time I work on a new song and try out new ideas. Sometimes they work and sometimes it goes so horribly wrong. Honestly, that’s the fun part though. Just coming up with different sounds and giving different instruments their own vibe within the song and working as hard on that as the melody and lyrics. Read more>>

Alina Hayes | Ceramic Artist

The world of ceramics can sometimes feel like a very small, purist niche. Some artists make the same style of work for 30 years. Shifting gears from pottery to sculpture was scary- especially since most of my follower base was used to seeing functional, glazed pottery. Ultimately, I had to stay true to myself and follow the move my work was taking. As a result, taking the risk propelled my work into a wider art/design market. Read more>>

Shenika Newton | Canna-Baker/Canna Grower

If you have a love for something that makes you happy no matter what obstacles show your behind! I believe in diving head first if you are really passionate about what you do . Don’t hesitate or waste time doubting what you know in your heart will work and it will work as long as you stick to your passion . As for me , my love for cannabis and cannabis baking/growing has been a challenge however I strive to be best of the best in all aspects of cannabis. Read more>>

Dr. Kathleen Riley | Pianist, Researcher, Author, Show Host, Director for Performance Arts at Awake TV Network

Risk taking to me means listening to my intuition and making choices that align with my passion and purpose, most times outside of the expected “box,” I pursued a PhD in piano performance at New York University, not with the intention of becoming a full time concert pianist, rather with the desire to explore my inquiry into ways to teach musicians how to listen more intently. My choices led to fruitful next steps, but not the ones many would see as the norm. I’ll expand more upon that later. I finished my doctorate 20 years ago, and January of 2001 began the most important trajectory in my life. My curiosity about why there were so many misuse/overuse injuries and debilitating performance anxiety and depression among performing artists led me into post-doctoral studies in mind/body and biofeedback. In 2003 my work at the Miller Institute in NYC led to an article in the New York Times and Scientific American. Read more>>

Adrianna Kinal | Artist

As an artist, the risk is always whether people will love my work enough to purchase. It’s essential to take risks. Even if my idea fails, it pushes me forward as an artist and as a person whenever I take action. Read more>>

Jordan Joseph | Artist & Writer

I believe that risk have played such a grand part in my life and career up to this very moment. For with every decision you are leaving what was for what it is or what could be, and when you incorporate all you are with love and your dreams you then change your reality. We are truly the creators of our world and our lives we live. With that being said taking a risk for what you dream about to go against what the world may want you to be or try to make you out to be that in itself is taking a risk and stepping outside the norm. You are love, and choosing that can be a risk in itself every step of the way no matter how difficult the decision or test. Read more>>

Mert Olcav | Personal Trainer & Online Coach

Whoever is willing to do what others won’t can achieve great things in life by trying, taking a chance. Risk taking has played a major role in my life.Throughout my journey in US as a foreigner I had to work harder than majority to have the competitive edge and excel in my career. In order to do that, you have to knock all the doors, show yourself, be present and most importantly take necessary risks if you want to have a successful career in a competitive city such as Los Angeles. Taking risks is not only about finances but its also about our decisions, controlling our pride/ego and going against the norm. Read more>>

Michelle Terpstra | Sales Coach + Strategist

The best opportunities are messy. If you wait for everything to be perfect, you will miss the opportunity. As a sales coach, I see this all of the time! It is actually a subconscious self sabotaging behavior to look for perfection before going all in. I see this present itself when clients first come to me with a list of things that need to be done before they take on their first or next client. Having everything perfect is an endless unachievable cycle and so do only the essential and then jump in to get those clients. The best news? The more clients = more revenue = ability to hire = working on making things “perfect” much easier. When I first started my business, I took on a full roster of clients and built my curriculum alongside those first few clients (which made the program even better!). Had I waited to have the curriculum for my program completely done, I would have missed the opportunity to grow my business rapidly. As Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, says “Rarely are opportunities presented to you with a yellow bow on top… opportunities, the good ones, they’re messy and confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.”  Read more>>

Jarrell Pyro Johnson | Actor, Musician, Director, and Entrepreneur

So much of my success has been founded in risk. I believe individuals avoid risk due to fear, fear of failure, fear of the unknown, etc. Without significant risk their can’t be significant reward. Embrace the fear, take the risk. Read more>>

Mandy Fabian | Filmmaker

Mine is a strange career, because it’s almost 100% risk. Pure chaos. Even though we try to make some sense of it, it’s still so random and unpredictable. Every time I make a piece of art…I’m a writer, director, filmmaker, performer, singer/songwriter…a maker basically, every day, however that shows up. And it’s always risky. Someone won’t like your favorite thing you’ve ever made, you’ll work for months on something that everyone loves, but it won’t sell. You’ll land an opportunity better than you could’ve imagined, or sell something you like, but your team doesn’t get along. It reminds me of that saying, “You want to make God laugh, make a plan.” But I think I love the pure possibility of risk-taking. This could go badly, or it could go really well. Because getting comfortable with not knowing, to me, isn’t just the key to being a creative, it’s the key to being happy. It’s actually my job to try, no matter what. To stare down the incredible odds and keep my heart open and be authentic. That’s made me a better friend, a better artist, a better mother. It’s also wildly uncomfortable. Read more>>

Dalton Portella | Artist

Embarking on a career as a fine artist is fraught with risk, you throw away any sense of lasting security. The alternative is suffering a life of servitude to some other master and turning your back on the gift of creativity. Read more>>

Eric Mellgren | Sound Therapist & Health Coach

Most of the decisions i’ve made that were leaving comfortable sitautions behind have always led to opportunity or learning experiences. There is always value in taking risks. Maybe you get exactly what you expected or maybe you’ll learn something that helps you to grow. Either scenario I have found to be very successful. So sometimes to me it doesn’t feel like a risk. Taking myself out of the “comfort zone” is something i have made a point to do. I’ve changed my perspective on how i look at opportunities, so to me there isn’t much risk at all. There was a time when I was afraid of what i was leaving behind. A corporate lifestyle with a comfortable living. It wasn’t feeding my soul. I knew there was more for me to do. I was risking my comfortable lifestyle for something that was unknown to me. Starting your own company that brings a service which is not that well known. I just knew that if i follow this path i will bring excitement back to my life by following what i’m passionate about. I had to believe in myself. Now i see that’s not a risk, it’s an awakening. Read more>>

Chloe Pourmorady | Musical Artist & Educator

It is very rare in the music industry for anyone to hand anything to you. No one is going to hand you an audience, no one is going to hand you an album, no one is going to hand you a sold-out concert, and no one is certainly going to hand you your talent, craft, or songs. I learned very quickly when I got into this that I had to earn all of it. I’m glad nothing was handed to me because the taste of receiving from deep earning is oh so sweet. I was always dedicated to the vision of sharing my music for wide audiences and after lots of meetings, emails, phone calls, trying to get help from labels, agents, etc. I could not wait around anymore, so was forced to make that vision come alive on my own. I produced my own concerts, brought in my own audiences and sold out a number of shows. It was always a risk. You never know if anyone will show up, but they always did. Risk is not so frightening when you combine it with faith; trusting fully that no matter the outcome, all is good and all will be good. Read more>>

Kwajalyn Brown | Actress

I was not traditionally been someone who was comfortable with taking risks or changing much in my life. Although I was really bored, there was some comfort in knowing what each day would bring and that everything would be ‘in place’. When I began to really get serious about acting, though, ‘comfort’ went out the window! I realized that if I wanted to be successful, I would have to let go of predictability and put myself out there and allow myself to be vulnerable. While taking different risks for my career has not always been easy, I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made so far. If I hadn’t taken the risk to leave corporate America in order to pursue my passion, I would not have been available for the amazing opportunities I’ve had to work on a lot of awesome projects with some of my favorite actors. If I hadn’t taken the risk to be vulnerable, I would not have learned so much about myself as an actress and as a person. I’ve grown in ways I never thought possible and, if I had a choice, I’d do it again – only much sooner. Read more>>

Max Margolin | Cinematographer/Camera Operator

Risk-taking is a large and important part when navigating the freelance world. Some see it as decision making, but I see deciding between jobs as taking a risk. Some of the hardest decisions I’ve made throughout my career have been deciding between two jobs or deciding if I should take the one job at all. Is it worth my time? If another job came up, what are the odds it would be better than this one? Would I be upset if I took this job and a better one came along? I could go on and on about the questions I’ve asked myself. One job can make or break my career, more make than break. If you navigate to a good shoot and meet one person, that one connection could lead to 30 other shoots. You just don’t know, but you can try to put yourself in the best position to make good odds. At least that’s what I try to do, it’s challenging and often feels like taking big risks. I think more so than not, the risks have panned out for the better. Taking a lower paid job that may be more challenging has often led to better connections, or at least the ones I want to make. More risk, more reward. Read more>>

Aragna Ker | Artist and Adaptive Art Tool Designer

There is no certainty that anything will work out, yet we must ultimately surrender to that decision. Risk is about trusting the process and allowing the journey to unfold in front of you, which will eventually dictate the next steps to take. As I reflect on the various stages of my life, I can totally see how 2 stages of risk taking has played a pivotal role both in my life and career. At age 5, during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, my mother and father had to make a choice: either to stay and endure the brutality of the concentration camps or escape and risk their families lives. They decided to flee in the middle of the night, into the unknown, walking miles across the treacherous terrain, persevering through the thick jungles and finding refuge in the borders of Thailand. Ultimately our family found a church to sponsor and in 1981 and we immigrated to America, landing in the suburbs of Southern California. It wasn’t until years after grad school and struggling as an artist was where my life started to change. After bouncing around from various jobs, I knew I had to make a choice toward finding some financial stability that include health benefits. Besides being an artist, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Read more>>

Scott St.James Cardona | Artist & Fabricator

I’d say that taking risks has played a very important role in my life. I remember when I was younger I didn’t really want to do much but stay inside and be a recluse and paint. My parents bought me a skateboard one day to encourage me to go outside and enjoy life. I started out in the parking garage and soon wanted to cruise faster since my backyard wasn’t cutting it. I grew up on Echo Park Avenue and if you ever been on that particular avenue you can drive up and be on a gradual incline until you reach the end. Id skate to the top and try to go as fast as I could to the end where Echo Park meets Sunset Blvd. I’d take the risk and sometimes make it down in one piece but other times I would wipeout and stumble home battered and bruised. Tomorrow I would try again because it was worth the risk every time. I started doing this so often on my way from Sunset Blvd back to the top of the hill that I started meeting and talking to people on my way up. Read more>>

Brian Shackelford | Director, Writer, Editor, Producer

I have a very intimate relationship with risk taking. As a black indie filmmaker, everything I have accomplished is because I was willing to take the risk. I have been told more times in my career what I would not or should not be able to do then I have been encouraged to succeed. In fact, if I had not taken the risk I have in my filmmaking career, I would not be a part of this article. I have always described myself as being very comfortable having one foot one solid ground, and one foot right on the edge. Sometimes that foot that was on solid ground is dangling in the air, but the other foot never leaves the edge. The edge is a very uncomfortable place for a lot of people. Some like to visit, but not many like to stay for any amount of time. My comfort on the edge comes from the mere fact that it is the only way I was able to get anything accomplished. It comes down to that same old question. “How bad do you want it?” I think of risk like this. How much of a chance am I willing to take on myself. Read more>>