We had the good fortune of connecting with Samantha Stevens and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Samantha, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Risk is seen as a negative – something can go wrong. But we all know that sometimes we need to take a risk, in order to achieve a goal. I try to look at risk as a positive – if I take the risk, I will get the reward I seek. I am fortunate to be able to use hindsight to see the results of the risks I have taken. I hope that helps me make better decisions today and in the future. As a young person, I don’t think I realized how many risks I was taking, which is probably normal. I got involved in politics and political issues when I was in junior high school. My immediate family didn’t work in politics, I didn’t know much about the business side of politics, but I knew many people who advocated for their beliefs. They were my inspiration. One day in school, a classmate told me that I would not find a husband if I spoke out about politics and supported adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. At 13 years of age, I didn’t realize I was supposed to be looking for a husband. It surprised me to learn that others thought fighting for equal rights could harm my future. I decided my classmate was just a silly, mean girl and I ignored her advice. We take risks without even knowing it. As I have built my political consulting business, I have taken more risks than I can count. From doing volunteer work in school to choosing a college and internships, I thought working in industry that allowed me to fight for my beliefs made sense. I didn’t realize the challenges I would face. After a few years of working on political campaigns and with elected officials, I started to notice that my colleagues were moving on to “reliable” jobs. They wanted long-term employers who had a stable funding source and provided benefits. For many of them, the industry was too risky. Then I noticed than fewer of my peers were women because a male-dominated industry doesn’t change unless it’s forced to. I often wondered if I should take the path my colleagues took – find a safe, dependable job. Eventually, I opened a full-service political and government relations consulting firm. My biggest concern was asking others to take the risk of working for me. Would I be able to get enough clients to pay my team? Would we win enough elections to stay in business? How would I figure out how many clients I could handle at one time and still be successful? I think the actual work within politics and government has helped to teach me how to decide what risks are worth taking in my business. The work itself is full of potholes, unseen consequences, dumb luck, and surprises. Does Election Day bring an unusual rainstorm that keeps your candidate’s supporters at home? Does the proposition fail to qualify for the ballot? Does the legislator get arrested hours before the final hearing on a bill? I often think about finding a job with few risks so I have less worry in my life. But then I remind myself that I would have less reward. The best I’ve been able to figure out is it’s a balancing act. Like most of life. Moderation is important: take some risks, but not too many. Finding the sweet spot is the key.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I included this answer in the longer narrative about risk.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
For people visiting LA, I love to do a 1-road drive with them. LA has many long streets that can highlight all the different ways LA is diverse. One great trip starts on Ceasar Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights. If it’s winter, pause to look at the snow covered mountains to the east. Then travel west past Olvera Street and Chinatown to just north of downtown LA where it becomes Sunset Blvd. which will take us past East Hollywood which still has some of the “old Hollywood” charm. Continue west through gentrified Hollywood and its tourist spots, along the famed Sunset Strip, then it turns residential, assuming Beverly Hills’ mansions can be called “residential”. After crossing over the massive gridlock on the 405 freeway, look at the Brentwood mansions and give a shoutout to the one that belongs to our current U.S. Vice President. It is then just a few more miles to the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Here is to the women who fought for the right to vote especially the ones in 1917 who were imprisoned and force-fed after going on hunger strikes. As with so many others who for centuries fought for the rights of the powerless, these women sacrificed dearly for their beliefs. Today, we still fight for access to voting and to expand voting, but thanks to those who came before, our fight is easier.