By far, the topic that comes up most in our conversations with entrepreneurs and creatives is risk. We’ve had conversations about risks that worked out and risks that did not. We’ve seen eyes light eye sharing about career-trajectory changing risks as well as folks sigh about the risks they wish they had taken. Below, we’ve selected and shared some of those thoughtful conversations.

Bri Smilez | CHH Artist/FEMCEE

No risk. no reward. Cliche. But true. Everyone has a purpose hidden inside of them. How many people actually unpack that gift is a very small percentage of the overall population.Why? Because being comfortable is comforting. Only those willing to risk it all are the ones who have made the choice to challenge every part of themselves for the sake of their passion. I have risked it all. Left a corporate job to pursue my creativity full time. Moved from the community that I know and challenged all of my comfort zones. Was a 100% confident that if i threw myself to the mercy of violent winds that I was indeed going to fly? Definitely not. But I was tired of my relationship with safety assassinating the potential of my wings. Growth truly lives on the outskirts of our fears. Read more>>

Gabriela Kostadinova | Actress, Writer, Dancer & Director

Risks. Oh boy. The most nerve wracking, adrenaline-pumping, anxious, exciting, scary, no… horrifying, and… the most gratifying actions and moments of our lives. George Addair said: “Everything you’ve ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear.” How do I think about risk? As the one element, which keeps reminding me, during every single moment of its duration, that I am going, doing, breathing, learning, growing, expanding, curious, real, capable and above all – living. Taking risks is crucial to maintaining not only one’s sharpness in a chosen area, but in their human entirety. Risks challenge every fiber of our being to a degree where everything we are, dormant or active, has to come alive (however uncomfortable) and launch us into ‘fight or flight’ mode to survive. Only that ‘survival’ in a figurative way actually means visceral growth in ways we did but also didn’t want or expect. Read more>>

Jessica Louise | Fashion Designer & Artist

When you are an artist, small business, or choose any career that involves your personal passions and goals that choice in itself is a risk. Every movement and every decision as a small business owner involves risk taking. In my life and career I suppose I’ve really just followed my heart. This choice has lead to good and bad decisions in my personal and business lives. In all cases I have learned valuable lessons from each experience and moved forward. Read more>>

Zee Smith | Founder & CEO

Every small business owner takes a risk when starting a business and I am no exception. When I first started my business, many of my friends and family thought I was crazy. If you aren’t a small business owner, or have ideas to start one, most people thrive in knowing they will have the same pay check and stability. Risk is involved with every step of the way. You have to have an idea, know the route to make the idea come to fruition, and ultimately have the research that your business is necessary. I started a business because I knew there was a demand for quality care providers. Yet, I wasn’t recreating the wheel. There were others who had done what I planned, so I had to differentiate. I had to make sure what I was doing was unique. Along the way, you will also have competition or others who see your success and want to do the same. Read more>>

J. Elane Marcos | Broadway Performer, Comedian, Performance Coach & Key Note Speaker

Risk taking has always been a part of my life and I love and hate it sometimes. Pursuing my dream to be on Broadway in NY or moving out to Los Angeles to pursue my dream to be on sitcoms all involve risk. Originally, I am from Burlington, Ontario Canada and moving to NY after high school involved a lot of risk but as a young adult, I didn’t think of it as a risk, I just thought I was pursuing my goal and I just did whatever I could think of to get there. After my first Broadway show, Miss Saigon, I think that’s when I started to consciously take bigger risks in my auditions. Being a Person of Color in these audition rooms, and seeing that there would only be one or two people of color in a cast, I knew the likely hood of me booking a show was very slim. I did what everyone else was doing, showing off my high notes (but I wasn’t really a soprano) dancing the best I could (but I wasn’t a tall dancer with amazing turns or tricks) but what I did have was comedic timing and the willingness to try things differently when I auditioned. Read more>>

Dimitris Dodoras | Composer

I think it is important to take risks in life and go above and beyond, despite the fear of possible failure. In my journey, I have learned that taking risks can be very rewarding. Of course you may stumble across difficult times in this roller coaster called life, but seeking your dreams and potential is worth that chance. After I finished high school, I moved to Berlin and applied to music school. I loved Berlin and was driven to live there, but on the other hand, I took a big risk pursuing a traditional, conservatory college because I never felt comfortable playing piano in front of people, and, unfortunately I was not accepted to any of the schools I originally applied to. I was frustrated and wasn’t sure if I would ever find the right place for me. Thanks to my brother, I found a school in Groningen in the Netherlands; it had a studio style approach and was a practically driven school. I applied, auditioned, and got in. Read more>>

Jade Chang Sheppard | Entrepreneur

My appetite for risk has been an evolution. When I was in my mid 20’s, I decided to start a business that I had no previous experience in. I decided to go for it because I had nothing to lose. I had grown up without a whole lot and I figured up was the only way to go. I spent a few years in corporate America after college but the cubicle life wasn’t for me and the daily 9-5 schedule didn’t suit me well. I cashed in my 401K’s, maxed out my credit cards, and my mom took out a home equity line of credit on the little house I grew up in. For many years, as the business made its journey through the first 10 years, it was a struggle and I still lived with the philosophy of trying anything I could to make it work despite the odds because there just wasn’t any downside to giving it a try. I love risk. Since the business has become successful and I have children, the scenario has shifted a bit. Read more>>

Mariah Kraft | Makeup Artist

Risk-taking is the only reason I am where I am today. I took a risk and asked a big name in the makeup industry to take me under his wing and he did. That opportunity didn’t present itself, I created it by setting aside my fears and taking a risk. Since then every move I’ve made has been all about embracing the idea of failure as a learning experience in order to reap the benefits of taking big risks. Big risk leads to big rewards! Read more>>

Jenny Valles | Founder

If I never took a risk in my career, I would’ve never known what I really wanted for myself. Throughout my decade-long professional career in marketing, I’ve had about 8 different full-time jobs. The reason why I moved around so much was because I wanted to learn all the different types of marketing. Now as a business owner, I know how it works in all aspects from project management to creative direction, PR, brand partnerships, and social media. In between all of that, I took a year off to pursue my passion of professional dance and modeling. Although I was going through a very fast upwards trajectory in that industry, it wasn’t what I wanted. In my heart, I knew I wanted to do marketing and eventually have my own business. The journey into marketing wasn’t easy, especially in a very expensive city like LA. Read more>>

Naira Agvani Zakaryan | Actor

I think of risk as a healthy choice. It needs to be measured and you should be ok with the downside of taking the risk but, I feel that there is no progress or moving forward till risks are taken. I’d rather know that I tried than guess what it would have been like if I were to make that choice. I don’t think I could ever live my life without taking risks so I am grateful for every one of them; it is not to say it’s been a smooth ride but what a thrill!!! It’s an exciting journey and for that I am grateful. Read more>>

Virginie d’Avezac | Musician, Hypnotherapist CHt & Artist Coach

Risk taking has played a prominent role in both my life and career. From 2003 to 2009, I was a violin and viola teacher at the Conservatory of Music of Cognac, France. Although this teaching position was a great opportunity, I wasn’t happy because the region of Cognac didn’t offer many opportunities for performances ,so I felt disconnected from my creative and artistic life. Since I couldn’t perform, I began to feel that I had nothing to share with my students anymore. Despite most people discouraging me from leaving my teaching position, I decided to take the risk to dedicate my life to music. Later, I faced a similar dilemma when I decided to become a therapist, a dream I had had for a long time. I registered for an online course in Psychology at the University of Paris and a few months later, I moved to Paris. In 2010, I decided to engage in Sophro- analysis of prenatal, birth and childhood memories. Read more>>

Malena Ally | Adolescent and Young Adult Therapist

Almost every major change/event that has shaped my life for the better has involved risk, from going away to college, studying abroad, leaving stable jobs, and several moves to large, unfamiliar cities where I hardly knew anyone. I often do things that scare me or that I don’t believe I can do. Sometimes I need to prove to my brain that it’s wrong when those automatic negative thoughts pop up (whether it’s my own beliefs or other people’s doubts). I often ask myself a few questions when deciding whether I should proceed with a choice: (1) Will it help me towards my goals; (2) Does it scare me (probably an indication that it is something I should do); (3) Do the benefits align with my values and/or bring me joy; and (4) What is the worst case scenario and what steps would I take to get through it. When I wanted to start my own business as an adolescent therapist, I had a lot of doubts and the “what if” scenarios gave me pause. Read more>>

Brendan Petrizzo | Film Producer & Director

Risk taking is just something that comes with the job. When I left DC and moved to New York I had no idea what it would be like. I just knew I wanted to do film. By making that leap I was able to push myself to find out how to make my dream happen. Within three months I had found myself working on a feature film called Zombie With A Shotgun. It was a very exciting moment as I realized that I had gotten my foot in the door (sort of. Soon after I was pulled into a documentary film called Madonna And The Breakfast Club by the help of a good friend. This is when I started realizing that in theory the more you push the more doors open up for you. By the winter I started to realize that I wanted to be making bigger films in LA and that while I loved the city LA was where I should be. Read more>>

Jason Wrobel | Podcast Host, Singer-Songwriter & Mental Wellness Mentor

I feel that risk is a necessary component for personal growth and creative evolution. There are a lot of situations in life where we balance the risk/reward ratio. Years ago, at the beginning of my career, I had the pleasure of working with a well-known actor who I admired. One of the wisest adages he shared with me was, “Fortune favors the bold.” In my life, I’ve taken risks when I feel the potential reward on the other side is worth putting my neck on the line. Or, regardless of the perceived rewards, I sometimes take risks just because I know it’s going to challenge me to grow as an artist and human being. I’ve committed to creative projects not knowing exactly how the hell I was going to pull it off, but said yes anyway and figured out how to do it along the way. I personally feel more comfortable without a script or a concrete plan in place. Read more>>

James Fishburne | Art Historian & Museum Director

When I evaluate risk, the most important factor I consider is balance. I try to balance short term risk with long term reward, or the risk involved in doing something vs. opting not to do it. I also try to balance an analytical vs. intuitive approach. Relying on intuition often feels riskier, but when a situation involves many unknown factors, it can be a much more reliable means of evaluation. Read more>>

Rainier deOcampo | VP of Marketing & Adjunct Marketing Professor

The unfortunate thing about Risk is that it tends to carry with it a negative connotation. When people think about risk, especially when it comes to career, there’s an element of chance that is tied to fear or losing. For many years, this is exactly how I handled risk. And that is, with fear of the unknown. The thought of failing and others criticizing and critiquing me. At some point in my adult working life, I realized that what they say is true: No Risk. No Reward. A light clicked and I embraced the “F*uck It” mentality and realized that I won’t make any headway in my career if I don’t take some risks. About 10 years ago I worked at one of the top-ranked business school in the nation– arguably in the world. My supervisor at that time told me that I might not be cut-out for strategic marketing and that I should look into a career shift in project management. This burned me because marketing is what I loved to do and what I was seriously passion about. Read more>>

Austin Nordell | Director, Cinematographer & Editor

In my specific career as a director, cinematographer, and editor in the film business, I’ve always found “risk” as an undeniable catch-22. On one hand, there is a responsibility to the financial investments that have been made by the producers. You must do everything in your power to utilize that budget for maximum return on everyone’s time and investment. If you don’t adhere to that, you’re already stacking the deck against yourself. You run the risk of creating overages, production delays, a toxic work environment, or safety hazards if proper strategies haven’t been planned out in pre-production. Even with the best laid plans, things can still go wrong. Accounting for the “unknowns” is key. There is always financial risk making a motion picture but the goal should be to minimize it as much as possible. Read more>>

Skylar Dawn | CEO & Founder

Being a risk-taker in your life and career means you want to move forward with yourself and grow. Fear is the number one thing that holds people back. People think that taking a risk means that they can lose everything. But, people need to stop thinking that way and they need to start thinking of the good that could happen instead of the bad. When I jumped into my career with the studio, people thought I was crazy and a lot of people thought that it wasn’t going to work. Tiger Lab became a successful production studio in Los Angeles that started from nothing – just one black backdrop and 3 softboxes I had set up in my living room. When I decided to take that jump and start Tiger Lab, I wasn’t thinking of what I could lose if I started my own studio, and brought in a team to build it with me. I was thinking of the possibilities of what could happen when. Read more>>

Kylie Hazzard | Cinematographer & Musician

In my experience, the biggest risks I’ve taken have been the most rewarding decisions I’ve made in terms of changing the course of my life and career – risk taking is absolutely essential for growth. If you don’t risk stepping out of your comfort zone, you will remain comfortably stagnant. I took my first big leap of faith at age 18, moving from Wisconsin to Los Angeles to pursue filmmaking, and have now built a life where every day is spent creating. Just over a year ago, I took another big leap of faith in choosing to leave a secure, full-time job with a renowned lens manufacturer in order to return to freelancing. In the 9-5 model, I was waiting for the weekend to pursue my true passions, but now I get to professionally create all the time and feel much more fulfilled by my work. This choice has allowed me to bring music into my professional roster alongside filmmaking. Read more>>

Nicole Filiatrault | Artist & Designer

My decision making strategy is best described as “carefully planned impulsivity.” I think pretty much all platitudes about risk, whether embracing or condemning are just that, platitudes. In all aspects of life it’s best to plan for the worst, hope for the best, and embrace the unexpected. I’ve always bristled at those who preach embracing go big or go home exclusively, because let’s be honest, that only works if you have the extra resources to pick yourself back up after a complete failure. Most of us living in 2020 don’t have that luxury. That said, some of my biggest growth as both an artist and as person has occurred when I’ve rolled with an unexpected zag that life has taken. For example 4 years ago I didn’t know how to sew and now I have a clothing line. However I intend on growing my business through hard work and planning. Read more>>

Devin Monét Alexander | Visual Artist

To be honest, I was once afraid to take risks. The word itself is still a bit triggering. It’s because the times that I have taken risks the results ended disappointment. Which is pretty common when taking risks, obviously. A part of me is still hesitant to take them, though I find myself more confident than I was ever before to do so. It is the constant “what if?” that tends to drive me up the walls. But then I remind myself that the result(s) of risk-taking may not always be negative. I’m also learning to change my language. Instead of thinking and or saying, “What if it goes wrong?” I’ve learned to say “What if it goes right?” I now think of a risk as an opportunity to experience and learn and possibly be rewarded no matter what the results may be. Yes, I realize that is easier said than done when some risks lead to disappointment but nevertheless I’ve learned from it. I’ve learned that risk-taking is important when on the journey to success. Read more>>

Urvashi Lele | Animator & All-Round Creative Individual

Risk is a huge factor that plays into what I do. Every important decision I’ve made that has got me to where I am today has involved a huge amount of risk. I’ve moved to different countries twice now over the past 10 years, and that doesn’t come without a bit of risk. This doesn’t mean that I have gotten myself into dangerous situations and hoped for the best. What I mean is that I have trusted my gut and worked really hard to achieve my goals through all the uncertainty and it has definitely paid off in the end. Read more>>

Shanequa Reed | Actress & Producer

My entire life has always been about taking risks. Without risks I wouldn’t be here interviewing with VoyageLA. I’m serious…until you have a long barrel shotgun pointed at your face and later fired through your front windshield, then will you appreciate the split decisions you made to keep yourself alive; because those decisions will also make you a fighter later in life. I took a risk moving to LA with 3 other adults and only 1 of us had a promising career not related to filmmaking. I also took a risk filming my own short film that would help open doors to work with and meet other up and coming filmmakers. Without taking any of the above risks I would just be a country girl from Texas aspiring to be an actress. I became a filmmaker/actress who has had a movie in Blockbuster, at AMC Theaters, on Prime, been in several known movies and shows not to mention the iconic “General Hospital”. Read more>>+

Nikki Mata | Photographer

Risk has evolved early in my life as a personal core value. It is where the quest for dreams and at times the downright impossible meets the beauty of possibility. This is the only way I could create the life I want and it is found on the other side of safety, fears and our own narratives. I have found that risk-taking is the greatest gift you can give because it builds faith, trust with your own abilities and instincts as well as creates space for others to do the same. Whatever the outcome, the reward far outweighs the scary first leap. Read more>>

Christine Lee Smith | Portrait Photographer

Taking calculated risks is a big part of my story throughout my career as a photographer and artist. It started when in 2006 I left my desk job to pursue commercial photography. I knew I was a good photographer but I wasn’t sure at the time how I could make a career of it. I ended up taking on a part-time photographic retail job while I built my business. Over the years my business evolved from specializing in weddings and family portraits, to switching to commercial portrait work. Even with the changes, by 2016 I was burning out hard. I was beginning to hate photography — something I had loved since I was a teenager. I realized it was because I had spent my career telling other people’s stories through photography and never my own. I ended up taking a calculated risk by going back to school for my MFA from Azusa Pacific University. There I learned how to take my skills in portraiture to the fine art level by understanding what it was I wanted to tell the world through my portraits. Read more>>

Gay Summer Rick | Fine Artist

Out of college with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Art I was keen to pursue my art career. It was always something I knew I needed to do and would do, so I didn’t have another plan. After a chunk of time eating spaghetti, reality set in. While I believed that I would one day be a successful artist I decided I was not willing to gamble on how long that might take – just scraping by until my art career took off. So I carefully weighed options for a parallel career to pursue along with art. It was important to do something I felt strongly about, and having a keen interest in science and medicine I chose that route. I invested some more time in my education, received an advanced degree and developed a career in biotechnology, which was interesting, fun, and fulfilling. After managing two demanding careers for many years, and finding that sleep was elusive, I decided to take the risk and follow the one path that I knew I could not live without: Art. It was the right choice. Read more>>

El Larson | Sound Practitioner & Wellness Designer

I’ve found (perceived) risks usually mean I’m listening to myself and the Universe. For me, it’s usually part of a meditation/ listening and manifestation process (sometimes impulsive, sometimes I have to be patient), where I’m led in a direction and the next step is into the unknown. Like I can either step off this ledge and see what happens, or turn 90° and do something more ‘logical’, with a relatively predictable outcome. But I’m not at the ledge to turn 90°, I’m at the ledge to step forward, so in that way it’s a no-brainer. That doesn’t mean it’s not intimidating, of course, but the potential is exciting. Taking risks has racked up a pretty diverse string of experiences and relationships that, in the last several years, I’ve better understood how they all meld together. It’s a bit alchemical, I guess, and helps me better see/ hear/ understand people, imbalances, spaces, — myself, etc. It’s a constant process. Read more>>

Katrina Alexy | Creative Reuse Artist

There’s no growth without risk. There’s nothing new without risk. Comfort isn’t necessarily your friend when you have strong creative urges. I think it’s very important to embrace fearlessness and be willing to walk into the unknown. I know in my case, I walked away from a degree in science. I was attending Johns Hopkins University on track to become a nurse, but one day, as I sat in class, tears started streaming down my face. I knew I wanted to get back to my creative self, but had worked for years taking classes and prepping for the program I was in, but I knew on a very deep level that we only live once and I wasn’t living unless I was creating so I dropped out. I never regretted that move. This year I decided to leave a wonderful art teaching job for the same reasons. I missed having the time to spend huge chunks of time dedicated to creating, discovering new materials, failing, experimenting, and feeding the creative soul. Read more>>