There is a wealth of academic research that suggests that differences in risk appetite are at the heart of differences in career and business trajectories. We wanted to go beyond the theory and ask real people from the community about their perspectives and experiences with risk and risk taking.

Carol J Gomez | Trauma Therapist/LCSW, BIPOCQI racial justice organizer, Clinical Director Program for Torture Victims

Hmm…. I never really considered myself a “risk taker”. Risk-taking conjures allusions of danger and recklessness. I fancy myself to be pretty measured – not going mountain climbing anytime soon! 🙂 This question you posed, though, has prompted me to consider that maybe “risk” has played a seminal role, but I never quite framed my experiences and choices in that way. Read more>>

Cindy Shea | CEO – Mariachi Divas Inc. Founder and Trumpet Player of Mariachi Divas established in 1999.

Risk taking has been what has driven me in my career from the beginning. Deciding to start an all female mariachi band in 1999 as a gringa (Irish/Italian American) jumping into the Regional Mexican music world was not as welcoming as I hoped not would be. I was a 25 year old trumpet player who had already spent years in college studying Music Ed at Cal State Fullerton University and also Jazz Performance on a full ride scholarship rewarded by mentor Arturo Sandoval (trumpet extraordinaire. Read more>>

Angelica Tan | Artist & Accountant

Taking risks is the key part of living! I also believe that taking risks is how to become successful in whatever you want to be. Because the only way that you can get to where you want to be, or even move forward, is to ask, “what if?” To me, the biggest “successes” in my life were being able to obtain opportunities that progressed from goals in my aspiring career. One of the quotes that I live by is “luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky,” by the queen, Oprah Winfrey herself. I find that the best opportunities actually come from taking the smallest of risks, such as simply identifying your dreams. Read more>>

Emily Bonosoro | Wig Designer

Every step along the past 14 years has involved different phases of risk. As I think back it is definitely the driving force in change and growth. To gain more experiences to make me a more well rounded artist and business owner has been so valuable. I don’t think I would obtain these goals, nor will I continue to unless there is some risk. Risk in trying new things. Risk in knowing when to change things up. Risk versus reward. Dealing and reacting to risk when it you fall. Practicing getting back up and evaluating the next risk you take. I must continue to practice and remember that risk has become apart of this adventure. Read more>>

Shawntay Dalon | Actress – Writer -Producer – Poet.

Well, I think where I am and also where I am not, is a result of my risk taking. Me moving to L.A meant I had to give up my gated midtown apartment, that I loved. I let go of my own to move into a place with eleven other strangers, sleeping on a bunkbed. Some folks thought I was crazy. But I believed. Moving to L.A meant looking at my bank account and knowing that, there’s a very good chance that those funds could be gone in a matter of six months, unless this dream panned out. I got a job washing dishes at a restaurant to make sure I stayed above my bills. But because of my Faith in God, I had Peace. Because I know who got me, I know who lead me. So I believed no matter what happened, it will work out. Now- I have my own apartment. And my work is my career. My passions. You gotta take risk. Read more>>

Ruby Wang | Concert Pianist and Music Educator

I believe risk taking is crucial to success. Fear of failure and venturing into the unknown hinders one’s ability to learn and grow through taking risks. Embracing risk-taking strengthens one’s will to achieve his/her dream(s) and keep going no matter what. Being ignited by such passion and motivated with a zeal to reach new heights in one’s career can be very empowering and exciting. Every time I have taken a risk in my life, I learn something about myself and grow immensely as a person. I learn about how far I am willing to take extreme measures or make necessary sacrifices in order to attain my goal. I overcome my fears and set new and higher standards for myself. Read more>>

Mario Casalini | Music Producer

I have taken a huge risk pursuing music as a career. My passion and love for music has always out weighed my fear of failure. I had no back up plan. Knowing what I wanted to do with my life (producing music) was the biggest gift I had, but at the same time it was and will always be a gamble. All I’ve ever wanted is to have the freedom to do what I love everyday. I am finally at that point, and now sustaining my success has presented a whole new set of challenges, fears, and possibilities. Risk is a huge factor in my life and career, but now I am dealing with new risks as my life goes on and I grow as a person. In my life there would be no reward without risk and vice versa. They coexist within me and my story. Read more>>

Travon Morris | Publicist

Over the past year, I have learned the importance of taking risks. Something that I have learned and has helped me push myself in areas that I would not have before, is to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. I started my Public Relations company ( BrandbitiousPR) as a misconstrued 23 year old, scared of what people would think about me and about my brand. Stepping into an industry with thousands of professionals at such a young age was extremely uncomfortable, however that feeling is what motivated me. Instead of being scared of what others would think and comparing myself to my peers with years of experience, I changed my attitude into a willingness to learn from those that were better than me. Read more>>

Michelle Manire, CMM | Event Producer & Strategist, Virtual, Hybrid and In-Person Events

My philosophy is if you don’t take risks you don’t grow. The way I measure if a risk is worth taking is by identifying what is the best and worst thing that could happen if I take the risk. If I’m willing to accept either outcome, then I go for it. Some successful risks I’ve taken were being the first woman general manager for 2 major hotel companies, sight unseen I took a general manager’s position with a hotel in California. Most recently due to the Pandemic I totally pivoted my company from producing in-person events to virtual events. We called it “Flex Courage”. The ability to face reality and “grow” through it not “go” through it. Read more>>

Hassan Galedary | Founder of Feed the Streets LA

I’m an active risk taker and have found that every chance I don’t take is an opportunity and new experience missed. This works in all aspects of my life. Risk and fear go hand in hand. You have to be willing to deal with the consequences of failure before you make a risky decision. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen. I want to jump into new experience with two feet whether I’m ready or not and see what happens later. Some would argue that it’s not logical or the most intelligent. My father is not a supporter of risky decision making. I’ll give two examples. In January 2020 I set out as a FTS volunteer to Northern Iraq (Kurdistan) on a humanitarian aid mission. Read more>>

Enzo Cellucci | Actor & Filmmaker

If something is scary, there’s a good chance it’s exposing you in some way. That discomfort is where we believe art lives, you can spend your whole life trying to please everyone – or you can make something honest and personal. When you create from a place of fear you compromise yourself. We love entertainment for entertainments sake, but there’s a formula to it, it’s created for mass consumption so it can’t be too irreverent. In art we have the opportunity to communicate questions, thoughts, feelings that are impossible to communicate purely in regular conversation. We want to deal with the contradictions and messiness of our personal experiences and share that through film. A lot of people won’t connect with that at all but for those that do connect, they’ll connect on a much deeper level. That’s the goal. Read more>>

Sallie Keena | Writer, Director, Actor

I think risk is an essential part of being a creative! Most of the best decisions I’ve made, which felt aligned with my curiosity, the person I wanted to become, and the future I wanted as a professional creative, involved an uncomfortable amount of risk. I think listening to and following your gut, whether it’s moving across the country, creating something you’re not 100% sure how to do, taking that vacation to a new country, or wearing the glittery caftan to the party, is coupled with risk, and is part of the joy of being alive. Read more>>

Claire Wong | Designer & Digital Media Artist

I believe that risk taking is one of the most essential aspects needed for success in my career. Without risk, there is no failure. And without failure, there is no growth. Taking risks has allowed me to become better in my craft and artistry. I have been able to explore new medias that I may have never discovered if I did not take risks. I came into my program at USC with a background in design. I did not have an understanding for any other types of digital media or industries at the time. Read more>>

Blake Armstrong | Artist

I think just about anyone will tell you that most great successes in career and life require some level of calculated risk. For me, I moved to Los Angeles from a small town in southern Illinois when I was only eighteen years old. I had never visited, I had no clue what I would do — I just knew that my love of film and art couldn’t be satisfied where I grew up — and thank goodness my parents understood that too. That risk reaped the reward of a major head-start in the film and TV industry before I was even old enough to drink. Read more>>

Rise Powell | Actress+Tv Host + Creative Entrepreneur

The Risk Factor is something we will all experience, the main question is … Will YOU take the leap and risk it all? Well for me the answer is pretty simple and has always been “YES!” the moment I risked moving to NYC at 18 years old with $100 and 1 suitcase was the moment my life truly began and I stepped into my POWER. While chasing an Acting + Hosting career with no back up plan, may not seem ideal to most. I saw no other future, taking that risk has allowed me to live freely and happily even when the going gets rough. I’ve learned there are many pros and cons that comes with risk taking… Read more>>

Tulsi Bagnoli M.A. | Vedic Astrologer and Teacher of Yoga & Meditation

I would say that risk taking has been an integral contribution to most success i’ve experienced in life both personally and professionally. Since I was twenty I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life in service to others and with that came the thirst to make what I love what I do for a living. I’m a firm believer in the perspective that there’s no such thing as a failure or mistake if one can learn from the experience. With the odds against me, I set out to teach yoga and meditation professionally and knew deep down that the journey would be worth it, no matter how long it took. Read more>>

Trish Lanae | Braider

I think risk taking is one of the most vital components when it comes to starting a new endeavor. If you never take risks, you’ll never know if something will happen. Growth comes from being uncomfortable. You either take that risk and get out the situation or stay stagnant in the same place wondering “what if?”. One of the biggest risks I’ve taken recently was quitting my full-time job and becoming an entrepreneur. Read more>>

Dawn Williams | Actress | Model | Artist

This is such a wonderful question and it came up in two different sessions I did with two completely different spiritual healers. In March of this year (2021), one of the healers told me that the spirit guide she channels informed her that I need to reassess the way I feel about risk; that I also don’t take enough. She informed me that I needed to take more risk in ALL facets of my life for the outcome will never be life-threatening and nor will there ever be negative repercussions. The other healer who was reading my astrological chart had told me almost the sameeee exact thing months before (July 2020) Read more>>

Mauricio Jimenez Villarreal | Singer Songwriter & Rock Star

Well, I think comfort is the true enemy of humanity. Which is funny because that is all we look for in life. I mean, comfort is great and rest is important, so I get the appeal, but when we live in comfort, our lives become stale and murky. We miss out on life. I think thats the beauty about taking risks, and why we have things like mid life crises, and spontaneous hair cuts and hair dying, and tatoos random trips to random places. I think as humans, we know we need to seek discomfort to have a taste of what life has to offer. There are some that make a habit out of it and those who only seek it when things start to get too repetitive. Read more>>

Emiliano Mazzenga | Film and Media Composer

Taking risks has played and continues to play a fundamental role in my career and in my personal growth in general. For instance moving abroad in order to fulfil my dreams and reach my highest goals was a bold decision that is paying off so far. Of course nothing comes easily, but seeing the incredible outcomes of every risk I have taken, is good encouragement to jump into the next one. When I compose, I always try to keep in mind the importance of taking risks. Stepping out of my comfort zone and experimenting with new sounds and musical solutions often helps me discover new musical territories that I wouldn’t have explored without that mindset. Read more>>

Lillani “Dizam” Moran | Dj, Executive Producer for Feird.TV, & Founder of Astrocast

Standing still is boring! And that ain’t me! Listen, I’m your typical L.A. chick – DJ, a TV producer and writer. Seemingly I did all the things you’re supposed to do when living in LA. I was in these streets! But there were some things missing. Meaning. Purpose. Clarity. If I kept on keeping on I would have been striving for clout, recognition, and dollar signs. Ego based desires. In 2015, I said, “fuck it”. Read more>>

Julie Greene | Intuitive Business Consultant

Risk is everything. But I think risk goes beyond the obvious choices and decisions we make both big and small everyday. I think the biggest risk that one can take in business is being authentic. It takes an enormous amount of vulnerability and courage to be authentic, especially in business. In my opinion there’s no other way to get to true success without the risk of authenticity. Read more>>

Johnny De Jesus | Audio Production Engineer/Beat Maker/Songwriter

Trying anything in life requires taking a risk. The biggest risk I took was 9 years ago when I decided to leave Dominican Republic and move to the US to study Audio Production without really knowing life here. I took everything I owned, which was a half a suitcase of clothes and a broken Blackberry cellphone and no job security. I was terrified and just knew I had to do this no matter what. I was able to put myself through school while studying and working both full-time. Basically, no social life whatsoever for the next 4 years. It was another sacrifice I was willing to make. Read more>>

Christina Hanks & Jacob Fraijo | Co-owners of Pavé Bakery

There’s a lot of risk taking in our lives and career choices in the food industry. Every time we take a new opportunity, we consider the risk but realize that if there’s no risk involved, there probably isn’t an opportunity for personal growth. When we take a new step, we are generally leaving a position or restaurant or city that we’ve grown accustomed to or comfortable with. Returning home to Los Angeles, after not working or living here for over 6 years, and starting a small business during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic is probably one of the bigger risks that we have taken. Read more>>

Denise Cherrington | HR/Content Creator/Winemaker

I’ve never been much of a risk taker, I’d rather play it safe. However as I got older and more successful in my career I realized that if I wanted to go further, risk was a must. Starting my own business was the riskiest thing I have done to date. I like to have all of the answers and know what will be coming my way. With a business there is no telling what could happen even with hard work and dedication. However I’d like to think of this venture as me reverting back to childhood. When we are children we don’t over think, we just do it with no fear. Read more>>

Renato “Ren Amor” | Creative & Dance Fitness Instructor

Risk is scary, risk is unpredictable, but risk is always worth it. Bad or good, it is an experience, something you learn from and something you can use to propel you forward. Without risk, my career or life would be non existent. It would be at a standstill, unmoving, unhappy, and unmotivated. My personal life path has always been a risk considering the structure I was raised in from my culture. I grew up in a full Mexican catholic household as a gay latino male who pierced his own ears when he was nine years old, dyed his hair, and lived against all male gender stereotypes I grew up learning. Read more>>

Michelle Monroy | Ice-Dye specialist

Taking risks could be scary, I mean there are so many “what ifs” that go through your head. My brand was born during a pandemic, when we were all learning how to work from home, pulling 8 hour shifts. It definitely took a tole on me mentally. Dyeing textile (tie-dye) was my creative outlet. It was my peace + quiet during that dark uncertain time. Little did I know I had found my passion. I devoted my off time to this new craft. I learned new techniques, researched on the origin of some these techniques and went all in. All in to the point where after a few months, I made the decision to dedicate my FULL time to my brand. As I type this, I’m reflecting on that day, a year later and how happy I am that I took that risk, I made the decision to drop it all for something that truly fills me with so much joy. Seeing all the love and support my brand is getting makes everything all worth it. Read more>>

Christopher Moore | Golfer

One of my favorite quotes is “you never know how far you’ve gone, until you go too far”. This has been the mantra I’ve lived by over the past few years. Taking risks is the only way you can evaluate anything in your life. I did not love golf until I bought some clubs and just went to a driving range. While taking a risk can end up being a failure, that failure can be used a learning opportunity to better yourself or the situation you are in. Read more>>

Cassey Kuo | Storyboard Artist

Despite being someone who is very risk averse, I wanted to talk about how it played a role in my path and life up until this point. For the most part, I’m a creature of habit and routine. However, I started to realize it was those times of pressure and change that spurred on incredible phases of growth. Looking back the scale and reality of those “risks” weren’t anything crazy, but for me and my maturity at the time of each “risk”, it felt like my world was at stake. Read more>>

Allison Baver | Actress & Multi-Hyphen Producer

In sports, acting and investing in my company risk has played a huge role. We don’t take risks because we fear something, usually that is the fear of failure. When you remain confident in the things you can control and recognize that you can’t fear the things out of your control then risk taking becomes more comfortable. My rule of thumb is it’s the risk you fail to take that is a risk in itself and that is the bigger risk. In my career as an Olympic Short Track Speed Skater, the goal is to the skate into the corner as fast as you can and come out of the corner even faster. If you don’t go into the corner as fast as you can, you risk loosing. If you go into the corner at top speed and fail, at least you failed trying. Read more>>

Linda Quach | Salon Owner/Hairstylist/Artist

I’ve always felt like when risk were not taken, you become complacent after awhile and than you lessen the ability to grow. In order to grow and move forward with anything in life-whether it be career or personal the outcome will always point you in a direction that you are intended. For example: I took a huge risk starting my own business right at the start of a pandemic, however I had a lot of very supportive family and clients. I always had 2-3 back-up plans before I decided to take a big risk. I’ve had my ups in downs but they have either become some really hard earned lessons, a stepping stone, & most importantly have become very rewarding in many ways. Read more>>

Tori Puente | Artist & Photographer

I think accepting risks is absolutely essential, particularly in creative pursuits. Until I was out of college, I’d been made to believe photography should be an orderly, formal kind of art. And while there’s a place for that style, it wasn’t me, and I wasn’t really getting anywhere trying to pursue that direction. Once I was in a more experimental environment and started using the Holga, it clicked. But even after that, it was baby steps to get to what works for me now. I was still trying to market my work in the wrong way: traditional products for an untraditional method. Read more>>

Kelly Corsino | Rock Star Realtor!

I feel the pull is strong enough, I go big on “risk.” I put the word “risk” in quotes because I believe that letting fear talk me out of doing something when everything inside of me is telling me to do it, is the biggest risk of all- and it RARELY pays off. In back of the word “risk” is the word “trust.” So basically the real question is, “do I trust myself and do I trust life?” I have taken MANY risks in my life and more often than not, they have paid off MASSIVELY.  Experience has taught me that the risks I didn’t take have brought me the biggest regret, so in the end, I would rather throw caution to the wind and do the scary/exciting thing, rather than let the moment pass and wonder what might have been. Read more>>

Rachelle Pila | Fashion Designer & Digital Creator

Risk taking to me defines either an opportunity or a lesson. Stepping into my dream is the biggest risk I’ve taken for my future. I knew my passion is something that’s not easy to accomplish – not a promised financial success. But I chose to live my life of taking the risk to follow my dreams instead of living with regrets. There were moments where I feared into being in the spotlight – like taking in leadership as a fashion show coordinator, having my work critiqued, how I should presenting myself as a professional, & the list goes on… But the challenges made me stronger & shaped me the person that I am today. Without having to take those risks, I wouldn’t have had the guts to start my own fashion business. So I’m extremely grateful that the risks paid off in my future. Read more>>

Ahnist | Recording Artist

Risk in my mind is a delicate necessity. Song ideas or live events come up all the time that range in success. The only true guarantee from them is experience. Ultimately, that risk of gaining experience influences me to commit. I use the word delicate because risk forces moments in the dark, so to speak. Be it performing to a crowd accustomed to a different music genre or traveling several states on a paper thin budget to promote your music. Read more>>

Cindy Bru | Film Producer

I look at risk as a necessary element in attaining pride in your success. I had early opportunities to take on job positions with comfortable salaries and financial stability, but that could never satisfy me. I’ve never been the type to settle in comfort. I love to gamble, and stand by the “the bigger the risk, the greater the reward” mentality. I chose the film industry at a young age and knew it wouldn’t be a cake walk, but with determination, persistence, and a ton of resilience I’m doing what I love and I’m my own boss. I make movies for a living, the movies I want to make. I’m living my childhood dream. It’s pretty remarkable. Read more>>

Tim J. Lim | Film Director / Writer

Risk: it’s such a scary word, but also one of the most essential elements to finding joy in your career and life. Not to be cheesy, but you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I really do think that risk-taking and risk management are such art forms and essential to keep that balance. For me, when I get into a situation that could really be a risk, I’m most definitely a list-making individual. I really weigh out the pros and cons as a starting point, but not as the deciding factor. And when I say a list, I truly make a list on paper. Read more>>

Tonjie Reese | Founder & Director

Risk taking is the ability to push past fear and hope for the best. That’s how I was able to make pivots in my life and career. Moving to Los Angeles was one of my biggest risks. Although I had a great job and enjoyed my life, I felt unfulfilled and knew there was more opportunities in other places. I left my job and starting working at my father’s small business while also working part time at a shelter. Within a few months I landed a job at a national dating violence prevention organization, which was a catalyst to starting eleven24. Read more>>

Alex Ritchie | Artist / Songwriter / Producer

My whole life has been about taking risks. I came from humble means and had no resources coming into the music and entertainment industries so risks were inevitable for me. I’ll admit, sometimes I’ve bit off more than I can chew, and I’ve been in hot water more than once as a result of taking big risks. Even so, I always made it through somehow. Though risk has led to some of those scarier situations, it’s definitely brought more positives and big results than it has negatives. I could not be where I am today without having taken all of those risks. Sometimes you have to take big chances — otherwise, you’ll never be able to reach the heights you dream. Read more>>

Callie Laquidara | Maternity & Family Photographer

Take the risk and never look back. I think the idea of a risk is your heart calling out to you and telling you to do something and your brain wanting you to weigh your options, keep you safe. Trust your heart. I’ve listened to my head my entire life. I’ve made good choices, responsible choices. I graduated from high school, then college, then worked 9-5 for someone else for almost 15 years. The saying “I’d rather work 80 hours a week for myself than 40 for someone else” resonates with me. I took a risk and started my own business at the beginning of Covid and I have never looked back. We have been taught to think we need to be at certain milestones at certain ages throughout our life. Your heart reminds you that isn’t true. We are all on our own paths, our own timelines. So take the risk and trust your heart. Read more>>