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.

Bradley Bennett | Principal Pickle

Creating a business from scratch is a constant process of managing risk. You have to have a stomach for it, or else it can consume you. For me, the initial risk was simply starting a business which I had no background in. While I had a good amount of business experience from another industry that helped me in many aspects of starting a business, the food CPG industry was new to me. While I took some major risks to advance my own career in the software industry before this, it was nothing like the risks I would undertake to own my own business. I built this business from scratch without any outside investment. So, from the beginning I put my life savings, retirement and even my house at risk by spending and borrowing against that money to start the business. As we grew the business, every step involved taking on more risk to get to the next level. Read more>>

Kaitlin & Paul Kindman | Practice Owners & Licensed Therapists

Risk-taking permeates our life together. We believe that risk is essential to cultivating an enriching existence: to engaging your purpose, feeling true joy, and having meaning. A life without risk is playing it safe, which often means that the world remains quite small. Without risk, you don’t learn to challenge yourself or build resilience and courage. Yet when we push ourselves, we tend to have very meaningful and eye-opening experiences that shape our perspective. To be your authentic self, you have to embrace risk. We believe this fully and attempt to embody it in all aspects our lives. We bring this to our business by transparently communicating about the ways that we’re impacted by our clients, our work, and the world, as well as in taking a clear stand for our inclusive, anti-oppressive values. This opens us up to the possibility that our openness may alienate people or that others may judge us, think less of us, or be disappointed in us. Read more>>

Christian Bulich | Actor

I think risk is a normal part of all our lives. It’s nothing that should be regarded as a negative or positive thing if you ask me. Risk always surrounds us like some sort of invisible coat that we just don’t always pay attention to. We all take risks every single day, sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously. Every decision we make is connected to a certain degree of risk. Even the smallest decisions like “Do I go now or in 5 minutes?” or “Should I wear blue or green?”. Yes, I think even those tiny and seemingly unimportant choices could actually have an impact throughout the day. The only thing that differs here is the level of risk we take. And I think most people completely disregard the aspect of risk in their lives unless the outcome of a decision can change their lives on a higher, more important level. As a result, risk is usually considered as something negative or extreme than it actually is. Read more>>

John Joseph | Social Media Influencer & Entertainer

Being a social media influencer is all about taking risks. If it weren’t for risk, I wouldn’t have over 300,000 followers and over 35 million views and counting. My plan in life wasn’t to be an influencer. I have always been a singer/songwriter first and all of that changed in mid August when I decided to take a risk and upload a video talking about an old hollywood scandal involving Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor. I was told by multiple people to not upload the video as it was “old news” and I listened to my gut and took the risk anyway… It seems to have worked in my favor as I only had 160 followers when I uploaded the video. I now take risks everyday by uploading nostalgia based videos about your favorite celebrities. Read more>>

Neal Kumar | Actor & Producer

I have always been a person that thinks out of the box, and never wanted to be the same as everyone else. I would always question what was on the other side and always wanted to explore. Whilst working a great but soul destroying IT sales job I had an ephioney that if I continued down this path I would never find out where my life would go. I had always been in the creative field and decided to risk it and moved to LA. Read more>>

DYSON | Songwriter & Music Artist

Risk is the foundation of my career. I’ve been taking risks since I was 17. I left home to move to London with no money and no music industry contacts , but I always had this drive and felt that the risk would be worth the reward and that I’d just work it out. Risk is not the easy choice it’s scary and of course there’s always the chance that things don’t work as you had planned or hoped. However I’m a believer in things working out as they’re supposed to, and even when things didn’t go to plan for me I knew I was still one step closer to my goals. Taking risks makes me feel alive, I thrive on it. It makes me more focused and determined to make it work. Read more>>

Ashley Johnson | Photographer

Risks have had a huge role in my career. Deciding to quit corporate work in order to pursue a career in photography was full of risk-taking. You have to take risks in order to get things done. The unknown is what makes risks seem so terrifying. But when you want something bad enough you have to be willing to see risk as an opportunity for change and growth, instead of something to fear. If not for risks, I’d still be dreaming, and hoping for a fulfilling career instead of enjoying one. The freedom and happiness I feel are worth every risk it took to get here. Read more>>

Heather Hudson | Owner

Taking risks has been paramount and I would say the number one contributing factor to my growth both personally and professionally. Without taking risks, you become complacent and comfortable where you’re at, which doesn’t lend itself to reaching big, outside of the box goals. I can confidently say that I would not be where I’m at right now had I not taken some big, scary risks along the way! The journey that ultimately launched my career in wine started when I decided to take a big risk and study abroad in France in college. It was a challenge to live in another country, speaking another language and be away from family for so long. But it taught me a lot about myself, my character and strength and also led me into the world of wine. From there I continued taking big risks by moving from my hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska all the way to Santa Rosa, California to pursue a position at a winery in Napa. Read more>>

Linda Sue Price | Artist

My parents were both affected by the Great Depression and then surviving WWII. The result was they lived a very cautious life. While I was encouraged to go to college, I had no grasp of options. The program seemed to be–go to school, get married, buy a house and have children. I moved out of their house right after I turned 18. I didn’t know what I wanted to do other than I didn’t want to re-live their lives. I already knew what that was like and I wanted to see what else was out there. I started exploring in earnest—meeting new people with different lifestyles eventually hooking up with a group of artists. That felt good. I started taking art classes moved on to journalism and then an internship in video production. I had no idea of my path but was drawn to learning new skills. Most of the time I was terrified. There was no safety zone and most times I was the only woman in the room. I stayed focused on the task in front of me and did lots of yoga. Read more>>

Faviola Rivas | Filmmaker & Podcaster

I believe there is only one way to go after what you want and that is taking a risk. It’s terrifying to do what is true to you, that’s why the people who have taken risk are the ones who get ahead in life. Our fears start making up excuses so we can go back to comfort and not fail. That’s the beauty of failure is that it’s only helping you get better. I believe there are no excuses because people have made the impossible happen. Taking a risk has been a huge part of my life. Throughout my life I have learn the value of regret. I’ve also learn how not doing what you love is miserable, so might as well do it. I was terrified going into the film industry. Even though I was born and raised in LA, I didn’t know how to get in. They don’t teach you this stuff in school. My family didn’t understand what I wanted to do. They thought it was a waste of time. I had to make a choice either I could do something that was easy. Just pick a career and then get a job. Read more>>

Israel Rodriguez | Tiny House Builder

From leaving my home at 17 to travel abroad, to following a girl across the border in a 1969 VW bug (that I restored with my dad), to launching an import/export business with only $1500 invested and no day job to fall back on, to putting every last minute into designing and building tiny homes… every big moment in my life has come from taking a “calculated” risk, and it has fortunately paid off. When I graduated high school, I moved from Mexico to South Carolina for a gap year. I only knew 1 person there and had no plans of how I would spend my time. I just knew I wanted to experience something new. I took advantage of every day doing a little bit of everything – learning English, working, mountain biking, racing, and a little partying. I’ve always had the mentality that everything I do or learn will be handy in the uncertain future. Now as I look back, everything I was doing at that time “for fun” affected my professional and personal life since. Read more>>

Ben Wachman | Music Instructor

Calculated risks equal success. You have to be willing to become comfortable with the uncomfortable in order to grow. Now, it’s important that we never gamble more than what we can afford either. I’ve made the mistake of taking risks that weren’t calculated because I was young, wide-eyed, and somewhere in-between confident and reckless which I definitely had to pay for. It’s always a fine line between playing it safe and taking chances, but once you get use to yourself, what you can handle, and the nature of your business, you become more knowledgeable on what is possible and what is far fetched. I’ve learned from my mistakes and I now have tougher skin because of it as well as a stronger sense of self and my business. Read more>>

Chris Trueman | Artist & College Instructor

Risk has always been a part of building a career in the arts. In undergrad at the San Francisco Art Institute my apartment building burned down and with limited resources I couldn’t find a place to live so I slept at the school and a friends houses for three months until finally finding a spot, I was living day to day and gave everything up to make art. Moving to Claremont to attend graduate school was another leap of faith, you aren’t looking at an obvious career path after leaving school and there was little to no guarantee of financial stability. Around 2014 with a young child and second around the corner I decided to cut my teaching from three classes a semester down to one in order to focus on my studio with the gamble that I would be able to sell enough artwork to make up for the loss of income from teaching less. In each of these cases and many, many more there is always a calculation of risk vs. reward. Read more>>

Kristine Schomaker | Artist, Mentor, Publisher & Writer

Risk taking has always been a big part of my life. I have always felt that the answer is always no if we don’t ask. If we don’t start a painting or follow up or keep going, we won’t get far. Sometimes just the act of getting out of bed is a brave notion; but once we do, once we get up, take a shower, get on with our day; that is when the magic happens. Most recently, people have called me brave for posing nude for a project on body image and beauty. I am a plus size woman with an eating disorder and use my body in my art to share my struggles. While I was afraid and shy; I also felt that our bodies have been dictated far too long by societal standards set by men and tradition. I want to break those rules and have the freedom to be who I am without judgment or criticism. I understand that won’t happen in my lifetime but I feel that if I don’t share my art, my ideas; if I don’t communicate my message and change minds; what else do I have? I have also been a risk taker as far as careers. Read more>>

Keely Cat-Wells | Entrepreneur & Disability Activist

Risk-taking isn’t easy. And the definition of risk is different for everyone. For me the meaning of risk has changed within the past few years, risk used to leave the house, going to a restaurant, not sticking to a routine… You see I used to be sick before I became disabled it was almost impossible to do anything other than getting out of bed. I was just surviving not living. The risk was jeopardizing my health to do an everyday activity that my peers were doing so easily. Those days taught me how to choose wisely, how to measure opportunity and chance. When I had the surgery that saved and changed my life things became very different, as I regained my strength I teased with different life choices that were finally available to me, the next biggest risk I took was getting on an airplane to Los Angeles. Read more>>

Adam Campbell

Risk has been at the forefront of almost every decision I’ve made in my life. There is a person inside my head saying “you only get one life, this is a one in some made up -illion number, so do something special with it!” Don’t get me wrong, these risks are calculated risks. I calculate a risk as a really high or lofty goal that way should I not reach that goal I come away with a huge life lesson or skill that will help me with my next risk. Someone going to the same job everyday for the next 30 years is a risk. They are risking the opportunity to see the world, meet strangers who become lifelong friends, or starting a business. The risks I take are seen as “risks” when in reality they are just opportunities I take to have a more fulfilling life on my own terms. Read more>>

Cherie Benner Davis | Visual Artist

It’s considered common knowledge that choosing to be an artist, particularly a fine artist, is a risky thing to do–and it is, for any number of reasons. This choice is not for the faint-of-heart and sometimes not even for the most talented. What is required might be beyond what a person wants to give. For me this choice, this life, has the great reward of enabling me to do something that gives me meaning, satisfaction and a sense of purpose in the world. Early in college I was lucky to meet a mentor, a professor, who saw in me the potential to be able to do this thing called art–to be an artist. Fortunately, he also gave me a roadmap for how I might do it. After meeting that professor, I got this idea into my head that I wanted to study in Paris. I moved back home, worked two jobs and saved as much as possible. I found a school, and at the age of 21, off I went! Read more>>

Johnny Payne | Writer, Teacher & Director

My career has been one continuous risk. As a writer, I have tried to excel in many genres: novel, drama, poetry, essay, libretto, review. I’ve even written under the pseudonym of a Frenchman. I wrote in foreign languages. I change my style constantly. My brand is an anti-brand. Into my work as an artist, a teacher, and a program director (my ‘company’), I bring collaborations: with composers, visual artists, virtual reality. I am currently directing my own plays. The prospect of failure is always in view and if I fail, the fault is mine, because I created the risk. That has made me stronger and less afraid. It would have been easier and more lucrative to create an image, a style, and ‘stay on brand.’ But I find that boring and in the end, it would make me predictable and tiresome. The shock we’re all living through right now has punctured the myth of ‘anybody can be successful. Read more>>

Christina Pack | Floral Designer

The saying, “With great risk often comes great reward,” is definitely true when it has come to my life and flower journey. I feel that if you do not get out of your comfort zone and push yourself, you will never know the amazing things you are capable of. When it comes to taking risks with my floral career, I often try to push myself and take-off jobs that may make me feel uncomfortable in the beginning because it’s something I have not done before. It allows me to be more creative and usually the end result is amazing and it gives me more confidence in the end. Take the risk! Read more>>

Joseph Corella | Creator

I believe that in order to get where you want to go, you have to take risks. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. I won’t forget moving to NYC from AZ to pursue my dream of making it on Broadway. For me, it was absolutely terrifying to move to a brand new city with no friends and just a dream. However, I knew I had to task the risk and give it my best shot. My dream did come true of making it on Broadway but it wouldn’t have happened without taking the leap first. That initial step is the most important one. I’ve taken all these lessons with me in starting my own business with 567BROADWAY! I’ve had to take learn to listen to my heart and take risks at the right time. Following your heart is not always easy but in the end, it always leads you in the right direction. Read more>>