We asked some brilliant folks from the community to talk to us about how they think about risk and the role risk has play in their lives and careers.

Nicki Maron | Co-Founder & Chief Partnership Officer

Risk taking is one of the fundamental cores of being an entrepreneur. My dad always says, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Everyday we are presented with risks and as a business leader, you have to be willing to do what is best for the business – which includes taking risks. Read more>>

Deborah Lindquist | Clothing Designer

Risks for me have mostly shown up as opportunities to learn incredible things. Of course there are times that it may have been smarter not to take a particular risk, but those times are minimal. I have a fearless, even survival quality in my approach to life that helps me make the best of opportunities that come up that I feel I need to say “yes” to. Here are 4 risks that felt huge at the time and started me on the path to where I am today as an eco conscious clothing designer. A big opportunity came up during my education as a clothing designer. I was studying Fashion Design at the University of Minnesota at the time I got invited to Parsons School of Design to attend their summer program. I was then accepted into the fall program which was scheduled to start soon after the summer program ended. Read more>>

Yasmine Nasser Diaz | Artist

I love this question because it directly relates to one of the most important things I wish I had understood earlier and is now my favorite piece of advice for young people–the lesson of failure. That is, to not only not be afraid of failure, but to welcome the lessons that taking a risk and failing can teach you. For years, I was so paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong move that I took very few risks. My growth really suffered for it. Now I know that if I’m too comfortable or complacent about the work I’m doing, it usually means it’s tepid and likely not saying anything interesting. I consider my art career as having started just a few years ago, essentially when I was finally ready to take a risk and address issues that were most very important to me and also very personal. Read more>>

Kimberly Tran | Weddings & Events Florist

The natural instinct that comes to mind when thinking about taking any kind risk is all the possibilities and scenarios that can go wrong. For years it was something I was so terrified to do. Growing up in a rather sheltered environment, I wasn’t taught to put myself first. And taking risks, for me, required the ability to put myself forward and choose paths that weren’t already walked upon and labeled safe. There was a lot of internal growth I had to do just to get the courage to consider taking risks. I had all the “what if” and “I don’t know if I can” thoughts and it scared me. It wasn’t until I had a healthier mindset and a certain support system that I realized how important it is to take risks. I started my floral business with all the risks laid out and instead of letting it stop me, I wanted even more to empower the positive aspects of taking that risk. Read more>>

Shinah Chang | Chief Calligrapher & Creator

If my life was a roller-coaster in a thrill park, it would be named “RISK: The Ride” Seriously, my relationship with risk has been so up and down… It started with my parents immigrating to the U.S. from Korea not knowing anyone, not even speaking the language… which is a HUGE risk. But, because they struggled so hard to build a stable life, they wanted mine to be much more secure. So, my entire childhood was about avoiding risk and running headlong down the most stable path. I got straight A’s, did all the extracurricular activities I was supposed to do, went to Harvard University, then law school, and straight into a career in corporate securities law… all because I was so afraid of taking a risk. But when I finally looked at the narrow road I was on, and where it was headed, I knew it wasn’t the right path for me. Read more>>

James Picard | Artist, Writer, Director & Filmmaker

Risk, according to the dictionary is “to expose to the chance of injury or loss; hazard.” Immediately it conjures up a fear and fear is what stops people from moving ahead and taking chances in life and in business. It is instilled in us to “play it safe”, but nothing is ever really gained by not taking risks. Taking a risk, or many risks is imperative to growth, confidence and success. The biggest risk in life I feel is not taking any risks at all. Taking risks is of course scary, but it has been essential for myself as a creative artist and as a human being. When you take risks you learn from both your successes and your failures and both are equally important. The bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. To quote T.S.Eliot, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” Read more>>

Damon J. Barnes | Writer

I embraced risk-taking sometime during the second to the third year of high school. Not by chance, those years coincided with my induction into the theater club, which I attribute to singlehandedly breaking me out of my shell. Those years also saw my first and, to the knowledge of me and some peers, the school’s first openly-gay relationship, my first confession to a crush, and my one unsuccessful run for SGA Student Secretary. I don’t think I’d be as far along in pursuing my heart’s desire if it wasn’t for those years of acquainting myself with scary possibilities. I embraced risks because the thought of regretting what was never attempted was a scarier prospect. Failure can hurt when not seen as the natural order to success that it is. Read more>>

Tabetha Santana | Makeup Artist

People hear the word risk, and assume so much from just the word. Then what ends up happening is they put this fear in their minds and start to doubt who they are with the abilities they have. When I started my business Tabethaashly as a freelance artist I took every risk possible without the thought of thinking about it. I risked it all for 7 years straight I lost making memories on traveling to vacation, I lost time I could of spent with family and friends, and mostly money I could of spent on self love for myself. Yet all that kept going in my mind was the risk I kept taking over and over again that I wasn’t there yet of accomplishing my dreams in my career. Thinking about what I think about taking a risk the only answer I have for anyone out there is to take it. Read more>>

Emily Wright | Hair and Makeup Artist

To me, risk taking is putting actionable steps behind all the wishes and dreams. You could meet a million different people with the same mindset, the same incredible business ideas and dreams. But the biggest difference is in the few that actually do something about it. There will only be a few who put action and risk behind the desires of their heart. To me, risk taking is not having a plan B. Risk taking is betting on yourself. Betting on your ideas and what you can bring to the world. When my husband and I had this dream of moving to LA for our future and our careers, we had no plan B. We set the date, packed up our car, sold the rest of our belongings, and drove across the Country. We didn’t end up having the amount of money we wanted to save. We didn’t have jobs lined up like we imagined. We didn’t even have a long term place to live. But risk taking is following through. Risk taking is giving up good for greater. Read more>>

Aaron Henne | Artistic Director

Coming from theatre, I like to think of engaging with many opportunities as participating in rehearsal. I don’t mean that the stakes are low or that the opportunity itself isn’t of utmost importance – I mean instead that in rehearsals we experiment, showing up with our full selves, but understanding that we must be willing to get things “wrong” before finding that which seems “right.” I think that this attitude of full engagement infused with not just a willingness, but a need, to risk failure in the interest of working towards success has informed all that we at theatre dybbuk do. Read more>>

Marissa Lauren | Singer-Songwriter

I think calculated risk taking is crucial. There is no growth without some risk. It may not always play out the way you want it to, but you learn and grow either way. Some of my biggest music achievements only happened because I was willing to put myself out there and trust in the process. Read more>>

Qihan (Silas) Wang | Agent Trainee

It’s ironic because now that we are talking about taking risks in a pandemic, it seems like every little thing we do, as small as walking out of our homes, involves big risks. However, outside of the risk of getting COVID, I actually rarely think about it. It’s not because I don’t take risks in my life, but because I do it so often I have stopped thinking about it. Of course I understand that there are many occasions where you have to analyze whether it’s worth it to take the risk, and if the potential upside outweighs the downside, but more importantly, sometimes there are things you just know you have to do no matter how big of a risk you are taking. I moved here 5 year ago from China with one goal in mind, to learn more about film and television at the center of the industry – Hollywood. In retrospect, it feels like I was taking maybe the biggest risk of my life. Read more>>

Nikhil Koparkar | Music Composer For Film, TV, Games and Trailers

I feel fortunate enough to have moved around a lot when I was younger. This constant adjustment to new people and environments, as well as the desire to make a career in the music industry as I got older has made taking risks is a consistent part of my daily life. I honestly believe that success in a field as volatile as the music industry has a lot to do with one’s relationship with uncertainty. At the beginning, it’s a scary prospect, knowing that one is diving into such a super competitive field, having to play the part of business owner, administrator, composer, legal consultant, business development manager, etc. The best antidote to that uncertainty I’ve found, is commitment: To an ideal, a standard one holds for themselves/career, and the price that comes with it. Read more>>

Vibha Gulati | Writer, Director & Producer

Risks are paramount. Without courageous artists, we wouldn’t enjoy the diverse array of filmmaking techniques and creative visions that are prevalent today. Through risk-taking, filmmakers challenge the very way we experience movies, pushing technology and artistry to its limits to deliver a cinematic experience that surpasses our wildest imaginations. Knowingly (and at times unknowingly), risks have always taken center stage in my life and career. Unlike many of my friends who were busy planning out stable careers and comfortable lifestyles, I was consumed with the idea of moving out of my comfort zone, creating meaningful art, and carving a unique identity for myself. I am anything but practical. I am an idealist and a dreamer…that’s what makes an artist eccentric and creative! I left a well paying IT job in New York City and moved to India when an opportunity to assist on an independent feature film came knocking. Read more>>

Mitchel Primrose | Founder & Creative Director

Risk is an essential part of evolution and growth. I think risks much like change can be somewhat difficult for people, but at the same time they are the very thing that pushes us forward. Throughout my career and even from the very beginning of starting my business it was all a risk. I started this brand with my sister in 2012, on the heels of a recession and into a really rough and sometimes volatile business. But I had faith in myself and our teamwork that we could pull this off. I think if you aren’t willing to take risks you might not adapt to changing markets and environments, but also being able too learn and see what that risk led you to or what result it netted… Thats really key for me, to look back at the choices or leaps we take and see where it placed us because even risks that don’t necessarily pay off are valuable tools to learn and grow from. Read more>>

Albertossy Espinoza | Dancer, Actor, Choreographer, Instructor, Producer & Director

I have always been a person who takes risks. I’ve been doing it all my life. Here are a few big risks I took. In 1996 at the top of my dance career in Chicago, I packed my car and hit the road to Los Angeles. I had a phone number of someone I had met on a Disney gig in Chicago and toured with to Rome. She had moved to LA a year or so prior to me. My thought however was that if I needed to live in my car for a bit, I would definitely do that. I arrived to LA with credit cards and about $500.00 to my name. Since age 11 something called me to LA. I just knew I had to try it and possibly fail, but at least try. I took that risk and although it has taken bankruptcy, stress and lots of ups and downs, it was the right decision for me. In 2005 after working in corporate America for 10 years. Read more>>

Vicki Abelson | Talk Show Host, Writer & Producer

For much of my life, I tried to be who and what I thought others wanted me to be––in business, with love, family, and friends. Ultimately, it didn’t work. I’d fall short. I didn’t know how to be “that person,” and I was afraid to be me. As a young actress, I was told I was too ethnic, I changed my name, my hair color, and my accent, and got basically nowhere. There came a time in my life, post 9/11, getting sober, becoming active in my recovery and my craft, when being my authenticate self became an essential part of my journey and growth, As soon as I stopped trying to be what I thought people wanted me to be, and spoke from my heart, expressing myself organically, things began to shift. Read more>>

Qathryn Brehm | Artist, Downtown Art Walk Executive Director & International Association

Recognizing a risk means you already have one foot in, then you have to make the decision to add the other foot. As an artist, risk is a measure of excitement and a means to explore quick and hopefully accurate decisions. When I was younger risks meant exploring new ideas, new frontiers, and that the taking of a risk was also measured by integrity, ethics and values. My being older means risks are measured by the same values, but also what play big, are health, time and safety! Read more>>

Sasha Gustafson | Butter Cake Shoppe Owner & Cake Decorator

Taking risks is something I’ve definitely made a habit of in my lifetime. I don’t think I would be where I am today if I didn’t blindly jump into things, or move past the fear and follow my heart. My passion for baking and cake decorating has given me such drive, that it’s allowed me to live my life fearlessly in a way where not taking risks is not an option for me. My bakery’s name BUTTER came from my insane addiction to the yellow flavorful brick of fat that developed while living in Paris. After realizing that I wanted to pursue baking and not become a psychotherapist, I decided that I was going to travel almost 6000 miles to learn from the French masters of baking. I was nervous, but I knew I had to take this risk if I wanted to be great at what I did. Read more>>

Brad Rushing | Cinematographer

I am always reminded of the quote: “If you want something you have never had before you must do something you have never done before.” Venturing into uncharted waters is always a risk. There is no familiarity to fall back on. But that is where great breakthroughs and accomplishments lie. The first big risk I took in my career was applying for a staff video camera operator position when I only knew how to operate a film camera. When I was hired I dropped out of college and relied on my film camera experience, intuition and a quick rundown from a friend already working at the company to get me up and running. My gamble paid off, and my career behind the camera in motion pictures had begun. Only a few years later I decided very suddenly to move from Houston to Los Angeles in the pursuit of more and bigger opportunities. Read more>>

Rajendra Thakurathi | Writer & Director

As an artist, I fully embrace risk taking. One of my favorite directors, Mike Nichols, once said that the only safe thing to do is to take a chance. I wholeheartedly agree with that. Without risk, you’d have the same boring car designs, same old scientific discoveries, same trendy clothes, same formulaic stories, same technology, same art. The whole excitement of creating something new, something bold would all disappear. We wouldn’t push boundaries and any substantial progress would stop. I believe that risk taking is the foundation of the film industry. Without risk, there’s no Lawrence of Arabia, no Titanic, no Being John Malkovich, no Airplane! All creativity would stop. We wouldn’t learn, we wouldn’t grow. It’d be boring. Me personally, anytime I’m playing it safe and I’m getting close to my goal, I start to sense that there’s a problem and I have to shake it all up and take a risk. If I can’t surprise myself, I can’t grow, I can’t learn, I can’t create. Read more>>