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.

Duncan Dimanche | Wedding and Travel Photographer

Deciding to do weddings ! It’s one thing to be a photographer but being in charge of someone’s most important day (other than becoming parents probably) is one heck of a job. And on top of that I also shoot with 70 year old vintage radioactive Russian lens with manual focus. But it does pay off because they do have very unique flares and character to them that you don’t find in any other modern lens. And for my last wedding in France the couple LOVED the ones shot with the Russian lens and asked for my photos like them. For a wedding in Hawaii I spent 600$ on an underwater housing and bought a white dress for the bride to go in the water with it. I also had to really push the couple the day after the wedding for us to go out in the water for sunset to grab some stunning images and it was all very worth it! Read more>> 

Jessica Childress | Artist, Singer, Songwriter & Composer

I think some level of risk is so important in life, in general. For me, as an artist, risk comes with the territory. It feels risky to be vulnerable and authentic with your music. It’s always hard to take a leap of faith, but in my experience, it’s worth it. Read more>>

Lauren Belknap | Photographer

One of the hardest things to do is to take a risk. When you are shooting a wedding and you literally do not get any re-do’s, taking a risk is 10x harder. But when it works out, you feel 10x more rewarded! I make sure to get the basics first. Knowing you have a basic staple frees up your brain to get creative! For me, the best way to challenge yourself into risk taking is to ask yourself, “is this complicated?” If the answer is ‘no’ then I rack my brain on ways to complicate it just a bit. Can I change the light? Can I change my positioning? Can I add a reflection? Can I add an element to help tell the story? Figuring out a way to complicate something simple is what will set you apart from anyone just getting by with the basics. This question often comes with a feeling like you’ve been punched in the gut, you have to get up and push and fight past any negative thoughts you are telling yourself. Read more>>

Belinda Philleo | Wedding & Portrait Photographer

Risks are what make growth happen. Nothing extraordinary has ever come from simply sticking with the status quo, so it’s important to think creatively and be willing to take a calculated leap into the unknown from time to time. Not all risks that we chose to take will turn out how we imagined, but even those “mistakes” are incredible learning experiences that get us moving in the right direction for the next step we take. Some of the most innovative creators and business owners in history experienced epic fails at times, but their willingness to get back up and try again, to take another risk, is what made them successful in the big picture! For me, starting a business back in 2010 was a huge leap. I was blissfully ignorant of how little I really knew both about photography and especially about running a business at the time, but I really wanted this. Read more>>

Dylan Lipari | Business Owner & COO

Learning to deal and manage risk is maybe one of the most important characteristics in a business owner. Risk is terrifying and unfortunately that never changes. Their has never been a major risk I have taken since i have been a partner in Superare Fight Goods that did absolutely scare the hell out of me. Didn’t stop me from taking it and making it happen, but getting over and through that fear is absolutely necessary. Risk to me is growth. If it doesn’t scare you its usually not the biggest of the steps you can take. By no means do i mean to make poor, risky decisions, but to enter in to the unknown within your space in a calculated (to the best of your capabilities) manner. No matter how much you plan or how many times you go over the potential issues their are always problems you cannot foresee that occur. Read more>>

Cliff Beach | Musician, Podcast Host & Record Label Owner

A ship is safest at the dock, but it will never fulfill it’s purpose if it does not life anchor and set sail out to sea, which takes risk. Now it needs to be a calculated risk, you don’t want to go on a fool’s errand. You need to bring the boat close enough to the dock to make the leap, or you will end up in the water, and could possibly drown when being too risky. In my life and career I have had to take several risks. Currently my latest single Black Moses, forays into politics and social concerns which I do not normally address in music. It even uses the ‘N’ word. Some people may love, some may hate it and some may be offended but as an artist you have to no be afraid to say something fearing what others will think. Read more>>

April Renee | Certified Massage Therapist

Risk. The word is a little scary. Why? It’s a word used to describe and action, state or occurrence. Typically to expose to a hazard or danger. Business risks usually involve financial profits and uncertainty which can be extremely stressful, however without risk there can be no reward. Cliche I know, but had I not taken the leap to quit my job and pursue and education in a field I was unsure of, I would not be where I am today. Helping other people on their wellness journey and making a living doing so! Read more>>

Kurt Boomer | Wedding Photographer

Risk is an interesting topic and is one that has taken up a good amount of thought process for me over the years. Interestingly, I feel that among my peers, I seem to an outlier. Perhaps I’m just a worrywart or perhaps there are some tangible risks with being in the wedding photography world. In the big wide world of wedding photographers, you can divide everyone up into three broad categories. The first being the entry-model, low-budget world. This is where you start, gain experience and hopefully move out of. Weddings are many times based on the lowest pricing and couples know that simply asking for discounts usually works. Then comes the mid-range world. Photographers here have a more established portfolio and set of skills and pricing tends to be higher. Read more>>

Chris .R. Notarile | Writer, Director & Filmmaker

My entire career has been one big risk. I have been flying by the seat of my pants without a safety net for the last 16+ years, learning as I go, and trying to get from level to the next. I feel that if I didn’t have everything always riding on the line, I might not try as hard as I have. I think knowing that my fate rests entirely in my hands, and that I don’t have anything to fall back onto has kept me striving forward. So yeah, risk has been a key player in what’s made me the filmmaker that I am. Read more>>

Phil Otto | Founder & Creative Director


I’ve noticed a pattern in my working life, where roughly every five years – I get bored and re-invent the studio. I did not know I was doing this, but I have realized it is a response to trends and adaptation based on conversations I am having with my clients. Friends have always asked me why I am still jumping off cliffs. I don’t see it as a risk. I see it as an essential re-invention. It reflects my living situation, where I have moved many times over the years – I always learn something new that I take along with me. I need that. Every place has something to teach me, and it underlines my realization that people everywhere are the same at heart. Read more>>

Crow Jane | Musician & Makeup Artist

I think being smart about risks is always a must and to take a smart risk can be very beneficial. Sometimes the risk either just involves the possibility of failing or someone saying ‘no’. But if the opportunity presents itself when they say ‘yes’ and it means it can do life changing things or fulfill a dream. It’s definitely worth the risk. Let’s face it we all have to get use to failing. I have done plenty of ‘risk taking’ and when it has worked in my favor it has changed my life dramatically. It was a risk for me to try out for bands but I did it anyway and I have played with some musicians I admire because of it . It was risk for me to send rockstar department heads in the film industry a message saying I want to work for them, but I did and I have worked on amazing film/tv sets because of it. Read more>>

Lisa de Marignac | Mindset Master Coach & Mental Fitness Leader

The first thoughts that pop into my head when I think about risk tasking and the role it’s played in my life are the “Big” risks I’ve taken in my life. What’s so interesting about all of these is the thread that consistently weaves through all of them: these were times when my intuitive voice broke through my monkey mind so loudly that making the “risk-taking” decision came from a place of ease and flow. Leaving a “good” job in my early 20’s and making a choice to pursue a dream career; saying “Yes” to love at first sight when I was 24 years old (happened to be something I didn’t believe in) and moving across the country to merge my life with my soul mate’s… we just celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary this month; taking a break from that dream career to travel around the world for a year. Read more>>

Candace Hanna | Personal Stylist & Speaker

I think risk is an essential part of life. Without risk there are no great stories, great memories, or great successes. I also believe that risk must be calculated to the best of your ability, but it isn’t really a risk if everything is completely mapped out. I’ve taken a few risks in my life. The first being leaving California for New York City. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, but had always wanted to live in New York, so I got a job, and moved across the country when I only knew 1 person in New York. I can say, without a doubt, it was one of the best decisions of my life. I learned so much, LOVED the city, and made some lifelong friends. The other risk that’s deeply impacted my life was leaving corporate fashion to start my own business. This risk has proven much more difficult, but no less worth it. Read more>>

Christina Herman | Co-Founder

Starting a business is risky on its own but starting one in an already saturated market, one that continues to become more and more saturated with products every day, is even more of a risk. First, we made sure our product is better than the rest by testing the market; next, we developed a product that we can confidently say is superior in quality, taste and preparation method; and, lastly, we made sure that our brand is able to stand out from the sea of names and images. There was a lot we didn’t know about the snack bar market, about online selling, and getting products onto shelves and cafes, so jumping into this industry was a risk for us. We’ve had to figure out the ropes as we went along, think on our feet, adapt and find innovative solutions to our challenges. We were able to build slowly and not incur debt to balance out the risk and work our way toward success. Read more>>

Yolanda Thomas | Business Owner

Whenever my career has jumped up a level, to the point where others notice, It has always been because I took a risk. I would say I’m someone who plays It pretty safe but when I know I have been stagnant for a while I know its time to take a risk. The next time one is presented and It feels right in my gut, I jump on It as I feel It was presented to me for a reason. My latest risk was expanding my business in the middle of a Pandemic! Or you could call It “Seizing an opportunity”. Read more>>

Lauren Gregory | Store Owner & Decorator

Risk taking has been massively important in my life and career. The older I get, the more I am thankful for the fact that I am not afraid of change or risk. I honestly don’t know where I would be in my life if that wasn’t the case. I have faith in myself, my talent, my drive and if I fail then I fail and I start over again. Read more>>

Norbi Novak | Model & Actor

The biggest and most significant risk I have ever taken is leaving my country, Hungary and moving to Ireland. I had never even left my country nor did I speak English. Living in a new country and learning a new language was a huge struggle for me, but I was determined to learn and giving up wasn’t an option. I wanted a different life for myself outside of Hungary. After living in Ireland, I moved to the US. I was always told to try “modeling”. I had zero experience and didn’t know anyone in the US. My first stop was Miami then New York. I came with hardly anything in my pocket but I was determined to be successful. I risked it all and my perseverance paid off. Read more>>

John San Juan | Yoga Instructor, Wellness Entrepreneur & Fashion Designer

Risk has played a tremendous role in my life path. I have an MBA (Masters of Business) from Cornell University and I worked at Warner Bros. in theatrical finance. I was deeply unhappy with American corporate life that values salary over well-being. So I did a hard pivot and became a wellness entrepreneur. In my opinion, life is going to be difficult no matter what path I chose. The difference is that I could choose – either stay with a career I loathed with the certainty of a spiritual death at the benefit of a good paycheck, or risk the uncertainty of being financially unstable for the certainty that I would at least be free and happy to live a life I was creating. I think many people live lives of quiet misery because they are scared of risk. Read more>>

Byata Cousins | Chef

Life is all about taking risks in my opinion! Taking risks is what builds champions. With no risk comes no reward. 12 years ago I left everything I knew, everything I was comfortable with to pursue a new life and a new goal in Los Angeles from NYC. I knew no one in LA and had no idea what i was going to do. But I believed in myself and in the theory of risk taking. And so 12 years later I have built 2 brands, Papa’s in the Kitchen and Loco Nutz which are super amazing companies in the food industry. Our niche is built around integrity, wholesome organic ingredients, passion and of course risk taking! Read more>>

Dave Robkin | Brewer-Gadgetteer

Risk is an old, comfortable friend in my life. Our relationship began when I was a teenage skydiver and quickly matured from physical risk to economic risk with a career decision to pursue entertainment design and production as a lighting designer, high rigger, electrician, and stagehand. We have stayed together through every successful project I have been involved in. I crave the excitement (adrenaline) and adventure that comes with risk. I relish the challenge of solving impossible problems on impossible schedules with delusional budgets. That is what gives a project enough interest to keep my attention. Read more>>

Ben Chung | Dancer & Entrepreneur

I think risk taking is a necessary element of achieving ground-breaking greatness. The Steve Jobs’, Walt Disney’s, Elon Musk’s of the world were all risk takers. They undoubtedly faced opposition in their refusal to stick to the status quo, but their belief in their passions, their idealisms, and their necessity to change the world pushed them to stop at nothing until their visions became a reality. Though risk taking is a necessary component of my career, it’s always accompanied by careful assessment, and a capable and like-minded team. Read more>>

Rick Ayres | Hair Stylist

I have always thought that the word “risk” has been frowned upon and seen as a negative thing. If it were not for risk, we would never move our lives in any direction. 37 years ago I took the biggest risk of my life/career. I was working as a Medical Buyer for a major medical facility in Southern California after studying Mechanical Engineering at Indiana University/Purdue University in Indianapolis, IN. It was a very safe and steady job with all of the benefits and vacation time you could ever want. I was board as hell. I was always thankful to have the safety that came with this position but did not want to spend the rest of my life sitting at a desk entering data into a computer. I decided to go to night school and become a Hair Stylist. A job that seem to be filled with fun and creativity. Read more>>

Chhaya Nene | Actress, Director & Journalist

I think we owe it to ourselves to take risks in our lives. It makes our lives exciting, allows us to live freely and with passion, and it gives you something to look forward to. I’ve always lived my life taking calculated risks. I knew at an early age what I wanted to do and I leapt. I’ve lived my life listening to my heart and knowing when it was time to leap. It’s scary and sometimes things don’t work out or things get scary. However, if I didn’t take risks, I wouldn’t have seen 11 countries in 6 weeks with a group of guys I didn’t know but who became my good friends, I wouldn’t have gone undercover and reported on crime rings, I wouldn’t have covered the local election in India, and I wouldn’t be in California chasing my dreams. Read more>>

Rob Zabrecky | Actor, Magician & Songwriter

ON EMOTIONAL RISK The most exhilarating and empowering moments I’ve experienced during live performances are directly linked to taking emotional risks. Diving deep and sharing my truest emotions while performing requires a great deal of vulnerability. Ideally, taking thoughtful, emotional risks produces satisfying connections between my audiences and myself. Risking our emotions can also have consequences. Taking such risks can be hurtful and disappointing. What felt right during rehearsals failed to connect during actual performances. The act of risk-taking comes from blind courage, which can result in painful, embarrassing, disappointing and despairing consequences. It’s these consequences that keeps many performers out of the ring. Read more>>

Barbara Levin | Owner & Designer

Risk is necessary, it can be the difference between overall failure and success. The paradigms are changing so rapidly in the digital age and the pandemic has accelerated e-commerce. Risk is taking chances, exploring something new, stretching the boundaries all the while not knowing the ultimate outcome or having any kind of guarantee. I do, however, believe in ‘calculated risk’. What I mean by that is when I am considering a ‘risky’ venture or new direction, I pause to consider the worst case outcome. Can I afford to fail? Is the upside more rewarding than the downside is negative? That calculation makes all the difference in moving forward. I firmly believe that if individuals and companies do not retain flexibility and fluidity in this moment of time, we will decline. Things are moving and changing too quickly now and change is uncomfortable, risky and so rewarding. Read more>>

Bruce Kimmel | Record Label Owner, Director, Writer & Composer/Lyricist

From the earliest time I remember, I wanted to be an actor. My parents, as did most back then, frowned on it, were not encouraging, in fact, were anti-encouraging, but I knew what I wanted and I had real determination. And I did it. I had a fairly successful stage, film, and TV career for many years, I wrote and directed films and TV, which was a by-product, and I wrote several musicals. Of course, putting yourself out there in any way is always a risk, the risk being you won’t succeed, people won’t like you or your work, and that’s especially true of writing for films and theater. But I went through a very difficult patch in the 1980s and was pretty much at the end of my rope. I wasn’t working as much, I’d started a record label with some friends but while everyone loved us, there was no way for us to succeed financially, and I finally was given the opportunity to make a complete life change and I grabbed at it. Read more>>