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

Alex Lynn Ward | Actor, Host & Content Creator

I would go as far as to say that taking risks plays the biggest role in my life and career, second only to working hard. I’ve always been this way. I was a competitive diver growing up so sometimes that looked like yeeting myself head-first off of the 10 meter platform, or it looked like moving to a new state, or it looked like falling in love, or bringing a baby into this world. Choosing a career in entertainment is a risk in itself, and I always knew I’d do this. I’ve never been one to play it safe and it really has made all the difference. Read more>>

Julia Muller | Actor, Linguist & Writer

Risk is (most of the time) something we build up in our heads. It is limits that we set up for ourselves when really there are none. I personally grew up in a very safe environment that didn’t really encourage me to take risks, in fact: taking a risk meant not being accepted by other people in school because…well, why? I don’t really know. Not many people like taking risks because it means they have to get our of their comfort zone. Well, the biggest risk I have taken so far was selling my car (I remember crying my eyes out the moment the dude drove away with it), packing my things and leaving my life behind to go to Los Angeles. And man, has my life changed since then! I took the risk of: failing, running out of money, being lonely, eating bad bread (sorry guys) and really nothing like that has happened (except for the bread). I found wonderful housemates, friends, I found a student worker job, and I became even more open to life. Read more>>

Chelsea Klein | Singer-Songwriter

For myself, especially going after a career as a singer, I wouldn’t make it anywhere without taking risks. As important as it is, I do feel like I have a really weird relationship with risk and it’s one that has shifted a lot over time. Sometimes I feel like I have two very opposite personalities within myself that clash when I’m trying to explain the way I think or act. On one hand I’m super ambitious and outgoing, and am willing to work hard for things that I am passionate about, but on the other, I always feel like I need to have control of a situation and like to know the outcome, which leads me to overthink everything and sometimes not act. Singing has always been something I was drawn to, even from my youngest memories. The only reason I think I didn’t start pursuing it at a younger age than when I did, is because I let the anxious and scared version of myself win for way too long. Read more>>

Johannes Ahonen | Filmmaker & Entrepreneur

I am a quite impulsive person and taking risks is part of my nature. That has had both positive and negative effects in my life, but what goes into filmmaking and an entrepreneur, for me risk taking is a key factor for my success this far. When I started my business with an entry level dslr with just one lens, and an old pc, I had gone through personal bankrupcy and I was really struggling, both financially and personally. It would’ve been smart to get a normal job and start to get my life together smoothly, but I just couldn’t let go of the idea of being an filmmaker and an entrepreneur – so I took the risk. For the first one and a half years, I stayed broke. Actually things got even worse than it was. Literally all the few hundred euros I got from small client work went back to my business, building up my gear and the absolute essentials that I needed for getting me further. And I still am taking the risk today. Read more>>

Elaine Torres | Commercial Photographer & Photography Educator

Risk had and still has the lead role in my life and career. My life was changed completely by it and my whole career was created out of it. I was born in a small but beautiful island with strong creative genes, but the career options for creative people were (and are still) limited. I always felt misplaced in school, specially when I was finishing my degree in accounting. For me there was no other choice than to take the risk of following a career path that had no guarantee of being successful. And that meant that I needed to take the leap and move to another country, get another degree (this time in art), start all over again from zero and give the dream a chance. The thought of never knowing what could have been, or staying unhappy and unfulfilled, was worst than the possibility of failure. Read more>>

Helen Vonderheide | Elite Certified Akashic Records Teacher and Practitioner

A risk is a possibility that you will lose everything including your identity, your friends, your home, your family, the career you thought you were meant to do, your social circle, your position in society, and everything you ever thought you were could be. Risk is also the possibility that you will gain everything your heart desires, be unconditionally loved, and accepted. I see it as having the opportunities to bring forth the genuine inner you and to be surrounded by positive, supportive, and inspirational people. Taking a risk is taking a chance on yourself, stepping out from the norm, honoring what is inherently authentic about you and what you are here to share with the world. It’s about being radical and true to your inner self. I also like to think about it in the context of trusting in something much bigger than me. The role risk-taking has had in my life is an expansive and extraordinary experience in trusting the unknown. Read more>>

James Rose | Singer-Songwriter

Risk taking is a very important factor in what I do on both sides of the coin; the business side and the creative side. I’ve always felt like a risk taker, even as a kid growing up. I think some of it has to do with the fact that I had an immigrant family who was always on the move. I moved around quite a bit and I think that is what has been a driving force in my life. Experiencing constant change and new experiences is what constitutes my existence. I’ve settled down for the most part and spend my time between Los Angeles and New Orleans but the risk is still there. You have to be a risk taker to be in the music business. I have sacrificed a “stable” life with a 9 to 5 day job, a family, a home… All of the things that make us secure. Instead, I live a frugal life and do whatever I have to do that allows me to focus on music. Read more>>

Eric Spivak

I feel like gambling gets a bad wrap, but by nature, every decision you make and step you take is a another roll of the dice. It’s pretty unreal to think we blindly follow one foot after another into directions unknown, based on our judgement of it being the best way of getting to a destination or goal… Our entire lives. I love breaking down risk vs reward and mostly viewing things with a glass half full mindset. Generally speaking, that optimism keeps me with a positive outlook. We know it’s very easy to spot the flaws, imperfections and pay attention to the negative side of things. It definitely takes a different type of individual to spot all of the good, and beauty amongst the details, as well as retaining hope and faith associated with looking at the bright side. That special eye and ear is what separates a lot of us I feel, mindfully there’s even positives in viewing everything with a pessimistic eye as well, the hyper-critical typically are great problem solvers as well. Read more>>

Jonathan Pope | Director of Photography

The film industry is inherently full of risk. As a Cinematographer, I encounter risk in nearly everything I do – from choosing projects to choosing the visual approach for those projects. I never truly know if and how something will pay off. However, that’s also what I find exciting and invigorating about it. In a way, filmmaking is like alchemy – we mix and match lighting and camera methods, storytelling techniques, and lofty aspirations, all the while knowing that the end product might blow up in our faces. So, when we come out the other side of that experiment with something beautiful, we know the process was worthwhile and we take those lessons on to the next story that we tell. If the whole thing didn’t quite pan out, then we can look back, analyze, and learn from our mistakes. Read more>>

Mert Ozcan | Music Producer & Sonic Artist

I see risk as a necessity for growth. We all take calculated risks everyday. Some are small, some are big. We wouldn’t be able to progress if we didn’t take any risks. One of the biggest risks I’ve taken was to leave my hometown and come to the United States to study and pursue a career in music. Looking back, perhaps I was a little naive, optimistic and stubborn enough to not fully grasp the gravity of the decision I was making but that attitude allowed me to fulfill my dream of making music for a living and build a career around it. As we grow, the risks we take grow with us. Perhaps you feel that your hard earned reputation is on the line or you might be looking at a sizable financial investment to make your company/brand grow. To be truly successful as artists/entrepreneurs, we need to be able to face our fears and create enough excitement within ourselves to overcome the obstacles along the way. We hardly ever face an “all is lost” situation when we take risks. Read more>>

Hayley “Crusher” Cain | Frontwoman & Guitarist

That horrifying feeling when your heart drops into your chest? It has everything to do with making interesting, powerful art! I actually love talking about risk. It’s the dark/scary side of the creative process you rarely hear about when artists talk about their output and successes. We don’t like to think about it because risk and vulnerability are intertwined. The truth is this: The amount of risk (and vulnerability) you’re able to tolerate will dictate the amount of art you’re able to get out there into the world. The decisions that scare me are always the ones that encourage new creative muscles to grow. It’s painful as hell! Learning to “be a singer” and sing properly was really hard – I did that on my first-ever tour in a country band. Finding my style as a guitar player while opening up for bands I admired (like FLAG, Agent Orange, Weirdos, Adolescents, Jello Biafra) was a bloodbath – I did that in a punk band in my early 20s. Read more>>

Gabriel Smith | Author, Motivational Speaker and Life Coach

Well for me. I’ve always been fearless since a child. I’ve always believed that you have to take risk in order to succeed. Everything worth having involves risk on a personal or business level. Risks played a major role in my life and career. I chose to walk away from the comfort of a job and consistency of a paycheck because I knew I wanted more. To me, a steady paycheck just meant that I was limited to growth financially and physically so in order to give my family what they deserved. I chose to walk away and do things my way. A monicker I created is Envision Believe Obtain or EBO for short. This means that you have to envision the end result you want. Believe whole heartily that you deserve it and you will in fact obtain it despite the risks and work involved. Read more>>

Rosie Moss | Actor, Singer & Creator

Taking risks is an enormous part of the career I’ve chosen. In addition to a lack of financial security, there’s the big one: that all the time, effort, money, and passion that I’ve poured into this very difficult profession will not turn into the success I envision for myself. Choosing a life of auditioning and gig work also means you may miss weddings, family gatherings, and vacations, because suddenly you get very busy right when you’ve made other plans. Then there is the unavoidable experience of putting yourself out there to new rooms and new people every day. I have to walk into new spaces, confidently introduce myself, and be open enough to let the work I’ve done flow out. Acting in itself is like walking into the unknown, or jumping out of a plane (which I’ve done!) Preparing and rehearsing are essential, but the true magic comes from trusting in yourself and the work you’ve done, to let all that go. Read more>>

Yoni Babitsky | Coffee Brand Owner

I believe that Risk is sort of a myth, because it kinda implies that there is a possibility of a negative outcome. But is there really? Yes, things might not happen exactly how you wanted, or not necessarily at the time that you wanted, what you originally envisioned might not happen at all, but I assure you of one thing, if you take a step, and that what Risk really is, a step forward, if you take that step, ‘Something’ is going to happen, it’s inevitable. You are setting it in motion, and it’s a road definitely worth taking, because whatever that ‘Something’ is it might really surprise you. Last time I was interviewed for VoyageLA I was in the process of building my second business, you might say it was a risky endeavor, you most certainly can say so, I was diving into a very unfamiliar territory, into a business I knew nothing about at the time and into a very competitive industry to say the least. I was in the process of creating Enigma Coffee, it was 4 years ago. Read more>>

Liz Beebe | Musician & Small Business Owner

I’m a huge proponent of risk taking (though my body would prefer if I stayed in bed, comfortable and cozy forever), Risks are scary, and to me if something scares me it means I am likely going to be changed forever by the experience at the very least. Win or lose, I will grow. I have this internal battle between wanting everything to be the safe and familiar and wanting constant change and spontaneity. I’ve trained myself to have a knee jerk YES! reaction to things that frighten me because what I truly want is growth and adaptation. For me, creativity comes from exposure and immersion. You want me to do a song lodge with a bunch of people and attempt to write 20 songs in one day and then share them, unfinished!? (aah no!) HELL YES! I have the opportunity to leave a fun, safe and comfortable job to travel the world and try to survive on my creativity!? (scary!) HELL YES! Read more>>

Ashley Cummings | Yoga, Meditation & Body Worker

In contemplation the concept of “risk taking”, with intentions of evoking a powerful dialogue that connects us I looked up a few definitions of the word “risk”. I write this in October of the most amazing year 2020, where almost everything it feels is being “reinvented”, language is important to keep clear. I find “working definitions” of even basic words to be established is important as we get through probably the toughest year of everyone’s life. I am currently obsessed with anything that can unify as many people on this planet as possible under principles of self love and unconditional love for all beings. We are established in topics “life” (in general), and “career” (the time and energy we exchange for resources we require for survival). As we know sustained balance is imperative for our mind body health, and for clarity of thinking and feeling in all areas of our lives. When we are out of balance mentally, physically, in sustained fear or instability, it is nearly impossible to make stable decisions. Read more>>

Andrew Duvall | Author

Anything worth doing will have risks attached to it. People think that things should be given to them just because they want it, but that’s not how life works. You have to earn those things that you so seek and to earn them, risk is involved. I decided long ago that I would chase my dreams regardless of the outcome. Being an author isn’t about being rich and it’s not about being famous; if you get into something to gain those two things, you will be sadly disappointed. I’m an author because that is what I love doing. I love telling stories and I love books. There’s something pure and wonderful about books, the way they can transport you to a world that you never thought possible. I feel honored that I can contribute my own stories to the world and hope that one day my books can inspire someone to take up writing. Read more>>

Sylvia Rath | Preschool Director & Zoom Teacher

I never imagined my profession as a Preschool Director would be risky— but in the time of Covid -19 only staying home seems safe. After working 21 years as a Preschool Director at Little Village Nursery School— I am now a Zoom Teacher. We closed our door to onsite classes mid March and have had to furlough all the 9 Teachers. We hope to reopen onsite with a small pod in January if the Covid numbers go down by January 2021. Most of our Teachers do not want to take the risk of exposure too. I am enjoying seeing the beaming little faces of our preschool children every morning as I help guide parents through home schooling. We sing songs, read stories and even make projects together— all at a safe distance. Keeping the attention of 2-5 year olds over a screen can be a challenge but with silliness, costumes and imaginative play— we make it fun! Read more>>

Antonia Roman | Producer & Director

Taking a Risk to me means being responsible, having integrity, driving solidarity and being kind. For many of us, taking a risk can either make us courageous or fearful. For me, it has been about taking on the many opportunities that have come my way and embracing the challenges along the way. So many people have dreams and ambitions however they do not want to take the risk that ultimately enables them to make it a reality in their lives . There is always the “what if” and “no way” mindset that gets you doubting yourself in fulfilling the purpose in your life. Read more>>

Tsebiyah Mishael Derry | Actor, Singer & Poet

Risk is exciting to me. I love a good calculated risk. I feel like life often surprises us with options that seem crazy or out of left field because of the set of rules we are accustomed to follow. Those options might get in the way of our present understanding of the rules. They make us doubt the structures of the world and our place in it. We might think to ourselves, “who says I should even be presented with this really great chance to change my life for the better?” Simply because we don’t see ourselves as worthy. Taking risks often forces me into a new realm of seeing myself and the possibilities of my life. Of course, there’s my background, which makes risk-taking a tried-and-true method to employ in the act of survival. I am a Black woman, born and raised in New York, to a vocal coach and an event planner. My mother, Hope Daley-Derry, artistic administrative genius and elite Virgo visionary, was born and raised in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Read more>>

Ann Brantingham | Visual Artist & Gallery Owner

As a woman, I was trained specifically not to be a risk taker, but instead to devote myself to an unobtainable perfection that kept me from following my own path or really any path other than that of servant or assistant. The people in my life who should have taught me courage wouldn’t allow me to choose my major or follow my passions or even read books that intrigued me. The biggest risk I ever took personally was to stop listening to them and find my own way. I did this first in college when after years of psychic pain, I finally followed my own path. The problem with that is that those voices of negativity work themselves inside a person. The people who told me not to try, not to dare, and essentially not to hope, still speak to me, and I have to shush them daily. The risk is that of loneliness. They carved me out of their lives because I chose the major that they didn’t want, that I chose to be myself. Read more>>

Shawn Zhao

I think risk is something you have to take if you would like extraordinary returns. But it is very important to differentiate risk and calculated risk. Many mistakes happened in my early years of life because I didn’t not fully realize the difference. It’s been very important in my career. The risk-taking mindset made me pursue the food & beverage business versus still being a financial analyst. It is not necessarily good, but it definitely opens up more doors in my life of adventure. Read more>>

Candyce Fabré | Visual Artist & Painter

When I was growing up, I was taught to think the ideas associated with taking risks were bad. I was always raised to play it safe and only strive for things that were guaranteed. As a result, I grew to fear taking risks. At the same time, I noticed some people around me who were more risk takers and what would be the outcomes of the risks they took. I began to admire that fearlessness. I also noticed that my fear of risks got in the way of opportunities and my happiness. So I began to challenge my fear of taking risks. Now, I see risks as just a way of living. You won’t experience anything if you never take risks. Also, so many wonderful opportunities have come from me taking risks. I still struggle sometimes with my fear of risk taking, but I recognize that when I allow my fear to take over I end up missing out on an experience or opportunity. Read more>>

Roy Heskel | President

On my first day of business school at Cal State Northridge, the professor asked the class if anyone knows what the definition of an Entrepreneur. The class responded in various ways that an Entrepreneur is a business person. After everyone tried answering the question, the professor explained that an Entrepreneur is a person that takes risks. Since then, that definition has resonated with me. Risk-taking has always taken a huge role in my life and also my career. I began my career in Accounting and Small Business Taxes. After about 3 years, I realized that this was not the career path that I would like for the rest of my life. Although it was a great career, I was just not happy with what I was doing. After extensive research, I decided that I would like to start a Kitchen and Bath showroom. Doing so would require me to take a huge financial risk. Read more>>

Paul Sun | Artist

Risk taking is everything to me. My thought is we have one life to live here on this earth. I can’t allow my doubts and fears to dictate my outcome. My motto has always been if something really scares or worries you, you should probably do it. When we confront our deepest fears we may fail but we will always learn and grow from them. Allowing you to be a much broader, deeper, big-hearted person. And the bigger heart you have the larger capacity you have to give and to also endure future hardships of life. Read more>>