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.

Nicole Cruz | Life Coach For 1st & 2nd Generation Immigrants

Risks showed up in times in my life when I was faced with the choice to believe in myself or believe in my fear. For most of my life, I was incredibly risk-avoidant and chose to listen to my fear. A lot of this stemmed from my immigrant upbringing, where risk was a luxury my parents didn’t have. I learned that risk meant uncertainty and uncertainty threatened survival. My risk averse nature kept me in work situations, relationships, and a lifestyle that really didn’t serve me. In my early 30s, I realized that fear had dictated a lot of my life choices, which created a life that felt small and safe. I decided to take a big risk and quit my 6-figure corporate job in order to travel the world. I had to let go of the fear of not having stability and choose to believe that I would be okay. This risk led me to experiencing life in a whole new way, which opened up the possibilities I saw for my future. Read more>>

Jacob Seidman | Actor & Writer

I think that taking a risk is the most important thing we can do in our lives. And we should continue taking them over, and over, and over again. I find that when something is scary or uncertain it usually has the highest pay off in the end. Of the many risks I’ve taken over the years, I have two that really shaped me, and led me to this moment time. Many years ago when I was still working professionally as a dancer, I made the decision to leave a performance contract that wasn’t the right fit me. First, risky because I was leaving a steady paycheck without having another opportunity waiting in the wings. Second, in my experience ensemble dancers don’t usually stand up for themselves, we stand where we’re told and do the choreography that we’re taught. This decision ended a path for me that I thought would be my entire career, but at the same time opened up a path, and a mindset, and a voice that I never envisioned having. Read more>>

Mai Leisz | Bass Player & Composer

When you truly love something or someone, you’re more willing to take risks. Sometimes you stumble and fall but the important thing is to get up and keep going. I’ve had 3 new beginnings in my life: when I moved from the safety of my hometown to Tallinn in 2007, to Sweden in 2010 and to the USA in 2017. It takes courage to start over and leave your comfort zone, friends and family behind. You have to believe that there’s something bigger out there for you and your faith needs to be stronger than your fear. Read more>>

Sarah & Boo Simms | Co-Founders, Lady & Larder

When we jumped from an ecommerce model to our brick and mortar it was really big. We had to sign a lease on a space that we could barely afford in order to be able to take on more business, hire help, and grow- it was scary but the good kind of scary. It was a pivotal moment in that our business grew substantially that first year and we learned more about running a business then we had in the three years prior. Having a store front has also allowed us to create a tangible space for our brand to develop and has led to all sorts of new revenue streams. But the best part is that our shop has become this tiny hub of happiness in our neighborhood, where we can connect with customers and interact with the community face to face. Read more>>

Jonathan Yacoub | Artist and Professor

I’m no expert, but millennials are constantly trying to leave their conventional 9-5 job in pursuit of their dreams or starting a small business. At social events I find myself getting asked the same questions regarding the risk of starting a side hustle or abandoning a monotonous gig. I typically give the same advice. Just do it (please don’t sue me, Nike). If you are genuinely serious about pursuing your dreams and aspirations through the means of starting a small business; then do it with intent and sincerity. You can’t half ass the process. You will never be successful if you just get your feet wet, you have to jump into the deep end. At the end of the day, this endeavor becomes an identity. My art and passion for it has consumed me. It has to be a risk you are willing to take. I was going to be a dentist, but flipped a total 180 and got my masters in fine arts instead. Read more>>

Akshita Namjoshi | Writer & Artist

Growing up, my family was constantly on the move and so I got the opportunity to live in six diverse cities. My parents always made sure I was comfortable with the decision to shift and each time I agreed to take the gamble and go with the flow, and pretty much got used to change. Now I think of every risk I take as the universe’s intervention in my life to make things happen that I wouldn’t possibly have planned out for myself. The biggest risk I took was probably choosing to pursue my Master’s in Screenwriting here in the states right after finishing my undergrad with an Engineering major back in India. I had no prior experience in the field of filmmaking and writing, but I applied to Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts nevertheless. I had no backup plans and no idea what I would have done had I not got in! I’m so glad I trusted my instinct and took this huge leap of faith that I can safely say has paid off. Read more>>

Bekka Prewitt | Actor – Voice Talent – Performance Capture/Mocap – Host – Model – Humanitarian

Fear is the common denominator most humans battle. Many of us don’t even recognize it’s ugly face. But it’s what keep us stagnant… bored… and very commonly, unhappy. Trepidation keeps us in a job we hate because we have insurance there and that seems wise. So we push off our dreams, ignore our heart’s cry, no matter how loud it wails within us. We stuff it down, calling it impractical. Often because we are afraid of the challenge it brings. Dread of failure… worry about finances… if we take that uneasy leap. It often stems from fear of the unknown. Many of us like everything planned & accounted for, in its place. This is how we achieve comfort. And let’s face it, comfort is nice. But it’s not how we achieve growth… or fulfillment. (Notice I didn’t necessarily say “success” here because that can be defined so many ways… including growth & fulfillment, not just financial gain or notoriety.) But my greater fear is not the unknown. Read more>>

Eva Lacy | Cartoonist/Painter

Risk is what life is all about! You can’t possibly grow and succeed without taking chances and testing the water. If you sit stagnant too long, you will do exactly that…what’s the purpose of living if not to try new things? I would NOT be where I am today if I didn’t take risks such as closing one door to see if another opened, cutting ties with those who didn’t want my dream to be a reality, giving up all wants for needs, investing into growing my business (money and time). I will continue to take risks because it will always take me down a path of success and/or learning. “Failure” is never used. You only fail if you don’t try. If you know the outcome, then there wouldn’t be any fun in the process of trying!. Read more>>

Rebecca Hurt | Actress

Risk-taking can be simple, feel simple, or even look simple. On the other hand, it can be hard, it can feel like that one decision that could make it or break it for you, or it could look like something you can’t even comprehend. We take many risks every day, and as we grow risks can become easier or more difficult. For some people picking out what to wear to meet their potential boss/client can feel like the world is on their shoulders, for others that might be the farthest thing on their mind. Our different personalities and different skills make us feel and handle different risks in our own ways. In my life risk has been a driving force. I have always been someone who loves spontaneity and a little risk wasn’t going to stop me from my goals. I moved to Los Angeles without really knowing anyone or having a job lined up. All I knew was that Los Angeles was the place that gave me more opportunities to do the thing that I love, acting. Read more>>

Aaron Schwartzbart | President and Pastor, MotorGospel Ministries

Coming into turn one at Auto Club Speedway, I’m doing about 158 in MotorGospel Ministries’ John 3:16 race car. I’m in a pack of about 50 cars. The slowest cars are doing 125. A privileged few are doing in excess of 200 MPH. We’re all slamming into the same turn together. People ask me “Isn’t that risky?”. To my way of thinking, what’s risky is being called by God to drive a race car and then ignoring that call. Read more>>

Danny Cortenraede | Serial Entrepreneur & Investor

I believe taking “risks” is a good thing. We fear rejection, change or failure. It is super easy to get stuck in a routine but that get’s me frustrated. I need go out of my comfort zone. I know I will grow at the end by taking the risk. Let’s be clear you need to make a wel calculated risk. You need to have a plan and do your research. There a couple moments in my life/ career that I took a risk. I left my high paid corporate job to start my first venture. My wife was pregnant of our first child so this was a risk. But I never regret it.. I always wanted to start my own business. Another risk is that I moved with my family from The Netherlands to the states. First to NYC to open our second office and to LA to open our third office. I learned so much from this expierence and I happy that we made this choice. It is a life changing choice a made but it brought me so much on all different levels, personal, emotional, cultural. How do you build a successful company in the US? You will loose so many chances by not taking the risk. Read more>>

Keely Nakama | Small Business Owner

For Simple Sustainability, sells long term-low cost solutions to real big problems… and in a world marketed towards products that are supposedly so fleeting and inconsequential, a small business selling long term solutions is a huge risk. However, this risk has been the greatest decision of my life. Before starting For, I had a stable 9-5, but it didn’t make me feel like it was worth anything. However, creating ease in a customers life, and taking strain off their conscience as well as the planet is extremely fulfilling. Starting my business in the middle of a pandemic with no prior education in this field was easily the riskiest (not to mention SCARIEST) thing I’ve done in my life, but the payoff was huge. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Read more>>

Eden Stein | Owner & Curator

I opened Secession Art & Design in San Francisco during the recession of 2007, leaving a stable job as an early childhood education lead teacher. My passion is owning a gallery & boutique that represents over 70 independent artists and designers. 14 years later I look back on my creative career and know that all the risks that I took led me to being the person, owner and curator that I am today. In 2014 I lost my lease and had to move my business to a new location. I fell in love with a building that happened to have been a restaurant. My biggest risk was transforming the restaurant into a gallery. I had to take out a loan, fundraise, and rezone a commercial building. I hired a team of contractors to paint, do electrical, plumbing, rebuild the floors and all the custom details that make the gallery what it is today. I think about these pivot moments and the feeling inside that encourages you to take a risk. Read more>>

Leo Z (Leonardo De Bernardini) | Music Composer and Music Producer

Taking risk is crucial because it brings you to edge of what we call comfort zone, a zone that often doesn’t allow creativity and vital ideas to fully manifest. At the cost of finding yourself in dangerous situations and face scary demons, it’s imperative to take risks and keep faith in the skills that were developed. Read more>>

Kristina Palmer | Vintage Dealer & Home Stylist

By nature, I have always been a planner and typically the type of person who “plays it safe” and definitely not a risk taker. However when it comes to having your own business there IS such a thing as being “too safe.” What I means by this is that in order for your business to grow there is an inherent need to take some risks which can be either big or small depending on what you are willing or able to risk losing. For several years, as I was building my vintage business, I was treating it like a hobby (because, that’s really what it was), however, I would constantly find myself staying things like “I wish I could do this full time.” Though deep down I knew I would never feel comfortable or confident leaving the security of my corporate job with a steady paycheck and benefits. One of the the most impactful things that ever happened to me was losing my job due to COVID. It downright forced me to take a closer look at how I was living my life and viewing my job/career. Read more>>

Dustin Gill | Recording Artist Known as ‘Drawn To The Sky’

I think my favorite quote of all time is “Risk. Fail. Risk again.” The ability to overcome fear and take a leap of faith is honorable in itself. But then to fall flat on your face and get right back up with the same gusto – that’s something else entirely. Growing up in small-town Minnesota, I had a lot of fear and insecurities as a kid. The only way I saw to overcome that fear, was to develop skills that people would respect me for. I eventually got very good at playing the electric guitar and weightlifting, along with many other high school sports. As a teenager these feats were extremely valuable social currency. This totally reshaped my self-image from someone who saw myself as shy, to now being very confident. It wasn’t until graduating high school that I realized I was going to have to start that process all over again. In the school system, you don’t have to take that many risks to succeed. Read more>>

Aska Naito, PCC | Leadership & Mindset Coach

As a professional leadership coach, risk-taking is one of the top topics I discuss with my executive clients in my practice. It’s something I practice and preach myself, whether it’s been professional or personal risk-taking. Those who know will describe me as adventurous and out-of-the-box, having relocated over 22 times and lived in multiple cities around the world. Risk-taking has allowed me to experience life fully with various careers from Salsa dancer, radio host in Japan, to putting Hollywood films on airplanes. Most of all, I would have never met his Holiness the Dalai Lama had I not taken the risks it needed to make it happen. When risk-taking is done strategically from a place of consciousness and not fear-based, it can be one of the most expansive door-opening opportunities one can ever come across in their lifetime. I believe it’s directly tied to professional and personal growth. In profession where we are constantly asked to show up authentically as coaches, it’s definitely a prerequisite not just for us but for our clients as well!. Read more>>

Alberto Accettulli | Advertising Film Director

As you can tell from my name I’m from Italy, born and raised. Talking about risks, I think I took my chance when I decided to leave my country and move to the other side of the world, starting from scratch with no connection or friends whatsoever. I was living a quite comfortable life in Milan, had two companies, clients, friends and family. Despite that I was not happy. All the other players in my business were also stuck there. Sometimes you have business, sometimes you have less and you just keep up with it. I couldn’t deal with that and Italy is such a small market compared to others around the world. At some point I thought that the only way to improve would be to get out of my little Truman Show life and start from square one on the other side of the world. Six months later I moved to South East Asia, an amazing emerging, growing exciting market! and from there to the USA, from the USA back and forth with my beloved Asia. And so on. Read more>>

Rachel Berretta | Dancer

If something excites and scares you at the same time you are taking a risk. Moving to Los Angeles from New Mexico with no connections and not knowing anyone was one of the biggest risks of my life. Ever since I was 12 I knew I wanted to move to Los Angeles to pursue dancing and see where it could take me. When I came to Los Angeles for a UDA nationals competition with my middle school team, I knew this is where I wanted to be. The energy was so different, fresh and exciting. It felt like everyone was so eager to accomplish something big. I wanted to be around that energy. I planned and saved up as much money as I could. When it was coming close to the time to move away from home fear and excitement started getting closer. The excitement of what’s to come and the fear of what I was leaving behind. I moved to LA in August of 2019 and jumped into training and taking as many dance classes as I could while also going to college and working part time. Read more>>

Audrey Lo | Entrepreneur & Dancer

I am a descendant of generations of risk-taking, courageous individuals that traversed through chapters of difficult times of our history with optimism and strength. As first generation Chinese Americans, my parents took one of the biggest risks of their lives, moving to a foreign country, leaving everything they knew, with no family or friends and only enough change to buy a meal in their pockets – all for the American Dream. A generation before that, my grandparents were captured at the age of 13 during the Japanese invasion in China and my grandfather took a life or death risk of convincing a guarding soldier that he knew where to find food and money in the village. He luckily escaped and fled for his life. My life is a compilation of numerous calculated risks that has molded my story and career, and rooted deep into my DNA. Read more>>

Yoshihiro Imae | Guitarist and Songwriter For A Page Unturned

Risk can be the greatest enemy or the greatest ally. We are getting old with every day that passes by and I might lose opportunities like getting a job or getting married right now as I focusing on chasing my dreams as a musician. I know there is always a risks in our lives so I try to see the positive side of it because risk is a great push for me to go forward. I believe my future depends on what I do each day and my strong effort should lead me to a successful music career. Read more>>

Krissy Estrada | Animation & Design Producer

I see risk as a necessary part of any success story. Time and time again, I’ve seen this proven in my own life and those of my friends. Coming to Los Angeles, I had no job lined up. I saved a little bit of money and came here hoping for the best. I remember signing the lease to my first studio apartment in Los Feliz after doing a job interview, unsure how I was going to pay rent each month and I ended up landing the job! The alternate to taking a risk is staying in the safety of your current habits. You already know the result. So if you’re unhappy with your current situation be that in your career or in life, risk is the only way to create big change. There’s a famous quote from one of my favorite books called The Alchemist that says, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. I truly believe when you’re pursuing your true passions, things will fall into place. Read more>>

Travis Ross | Artist and Founder at The Lost Cove Co.

Risk for me, equates to commitment. Usually when it’s time to take a risk in a project or career path, it’s also time to match the risk with unwavering commitment.Once I make a commitment, I’ve learned to stick to it – no matter what happens or what’s thrown my way. To me, that’s one of the juiciest and proudest moments of the journey. I’ve come to realize that sticking to or the lack of commitment can solidify or kill an idea whether it’s with my own path or others around me. Risk has always been a big part of my life and career. From making the decision to live out of my car and stay in Long Beach, to taking on a full tattoo apprenticeship and giving up my previous career as a touring musician, producing/hosting/shooting a pilot in Northern Ireland or bringing some of my most respected colleagues out to a a shopping event for our brand in the middle of the country and throwing one of the first ever tattoo pop-up shops. Read more>>

Desmond Paillet | Photographer/Cinematographer

Iv always loved art as a kid and it didn’t matter if it was drawling, painting, films or photography etc. I always wanted to take art classes in school. At the time i thought it was because they were “easier” than traditional classes like math and science. But I later realized that was just because I had strengths within art. I have always been a visual & hands on learner. I have to be thrown into tom really get a grasp of things, which is how most art classes art taught. That being said, in my professional career I have fell into the film, photo realm of art which has been a blessing. I personally won an Emmy in the film sector art art and technology for camera work, which is what Im probably most proud of. Getting into this career path definite was not easy at all and took a lot of time and effort. I even got to a point where I became homeless while I was working at a restaurant and taking photos and doing small videos on the side for free or next to no pay. Read more>>

Valerie Campos | Visual Artist

I started my career in art at 22 years old. At that time I was working in an outsourcing office and had a good salary in addition to other benefits from the company. Quitting my job to dedicate myself to painting was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. At that age I was already a mother of a two-year-old baby. The first years I did not sell any of my work and could barely pay my rent. I had three jobs with very low salaries but that gave me free time for painting. They were difficult years that taught me to develop confidence and resilience. Five years later I won several scholarships abroad and they quickly opened the door to my paintings in the art market. In those years I became interested in cultural management and decided to take another risk by developing a cultural exchange project between Mexico, China and the United States. Read more>>

Michelle Johnson | Singer Songwriter, Producer & Mentor

The willingness to ask for things I may not get is the biggest risk-taking skill I have had to overcome. As babies or kids we don’t even think about asking for or going for what we want. Then somewhere along the way, we unlearn that skill and replace our need to thrive with an intense fear of risk. Suddenly the word “no” is a bad word that is best avoided at all costs. Not avoiding that word is what separates many people from wishers to doers. As cliché as it sounds, you have to play to win. I didn’t always think this way. I used to run from risk. Years ago I had a long-standing dream to perform a solo show at a nationally known, premiere performing arts center in Las Vegas, but my deep fear of rejection kept me from reaching out and sending a simple inquiry email to begin the quest. Just an email. Performing at this venue was very high on my bucket list, and I even had the connections and relationships to pursue it, but I avoided sending that email for five years. Read more>>

Andrae Alexander | Composer, Author, Consultant, and Professor

Risks are a part of life. The average person does their best to take as few risks as possible. They pick the safest degree, get the safest job, pick the safest partner to be with, and then they do their best to die as safely as they can; that is one way to go through life. You could also take the road less traveled. This road looks dark and lonely and has no sign that tells you how long it will go. You may start on this road with a destination in mind, but this road may or may not take you there, but you are guaranteed to be authentically happy at the core of who you are when you get to wherever this road takes you. I know that we all have the ability to choose and I am always a fan of choosing the latter. Every success that I have had in my life and career came from taking a risk and betting on myself. When I had the feeling to move to Los Angeles, I was already here with rent due before I found my first gig. When I was approached to score my first film, I said yes before I knew how to use the software. Read more>>

Kéo | Recording Artist, Songwriter, Producer

I’m sure a lot of people could see my choosing to pursue music full time as a risk, but honestly, I’d rather bet on myself any day than a safe job that I might get fired from or be miserable at. For folks who like the stability of a 9-5, that’s awesome and I applaud them for finding where they fit in life. For me, taking risks has been the best way that I’ve learned how to do or not do something. Read more>>

Coleen Sterritt | Sculptor

Risk is everything in the studio. My ideal working method is letting myself get lost and trusting that I’ll discover something new whether with materials, form, or process. Improvisation and chance are my key ingredients and, as I struggle with the discomfort of indecision, I must remind myself that the best work has always come from not really knowing where I’m going. I might circle back to something familiar but I’m always trying to move forward overall and the desire to go somewhere new with the work always means taking a risk. Read more>>

Yasmine Khoushab | Psychotherapist

I love risks. The risk was the main ingredient that pushed me into my career. Without risk, I would have never gotten to see or enjoy the wonderful moments my life and career have given me. I am such a firm believer in whatever it is that you want in this life, you can think, speak, work, and write it into existence. I originally grew up living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA, and remember, in my younger years, sitting behind the TV watching reality stars walking around LA seeing the sites and sceneries. My family and I would vacation in LA almost every summer. I fell in love with it, it was a dream that I never thought would be a reality to build my life and career! I never had a plan to be a psychotherapist, never prepared for it. My loved ones were questioning what was next for me after college and I didn’t have an answer for them. This is no exaggeration, it was such a blur! I woke up one day and said I wanted to go to Graduate School. Read more>>

Gina Conyers | The Dope Soap Maker

By trade, I am a LCSW and made a career out of playing it safe and worked for the government to ensure my security and safety, financially. Then in 2017, I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure and safety flew out the window. I decided to cash out my retirement and start ginaslove.com full-time and I took a huge risk doing that, while sick. It was the best risk I ever had taken because it was a calculated risk where I knew that I would regret never trying it a lot worse than failing if I tried. Read more>>

Marcus Ariah | Music Artist

I think risks may be one of the most important ways to success, because usually being afraid of rejection or failure makes us quit before something even happens. We need to take risks to see an outcome whether good or bad to learn from them, while at the same time making sure they’re calculated. I’ve taken risks that made me go broke just to get some success that I’ve had, because I’m a visionary, and I love to be pro active. You may have hard and discouraging times while taking those risks, but you have to be built for it and not afraid of some sudden changes. Apply that to everything in life, but again be calculated and smart about it. Read more>>

Gina Cornell | Triathlon/Cycling Clothing Brand Owner

When I lived in Cancun, Mexico back in the 90’s my editor at the Miami Herald International assigned me a story that highlighted a local sky diving company. During my interview, the owner asked if I would like to, right then and there, go with them and skydive. The answer was a quick, “No thank-you.” I’ve never considered myself a risk-taker for the thrill of an experience and adrenaline rush. I have, though, taken risks that I was in somewhat control of the situation. Moving to Mexico without speaking more than two words of Spanish or knowing anything about the country or culture, was probably the first big leap I took that would change the trajectory of my life and where I am now with developing my own triathlon clothing brand. I was 23 years old at the time, so I saw that as more of a fun adventure than a calculated plan for my life, but it still played a huge role in who I am today and what I am willing to try and do. Read more>>

Coleen Sterritt | Sculptor

Risk is everything in the studio. My ideal working method is letting myself get lost and trusting that I’ll discover something new whether with materials, form, or process. Improvisation and chance are my key ingredients and, as I struggle with the discomfort of indecision, I must remind myself that the best work has always come from not really knowing where I’m going. I might circle back to something familiar but I’m always trying to move forward overall and the desire to go somewhere new with the work always means taking a risk. Read more>>


Narineh Tahmasebian | Writer & Filmmaker

The world is our oyster and all we have to do is get up and show up. But the older we get, the harder the idea of taking risks becomes. It can feel unsafe or you can go back-and-forth on something and then convince yourself not to do it. Though if we push through that initial self-doubt and hesitation, the fruits of taking a risk (and having it succeed) far outweigh any consequences that may come if the end result isn’t what you want. So what if you fail? At least you dove! At least you took that leap of faith. At least you went for it. Even if you fail, at least you tried. And trying takes courage. I’ve taken plenty of risks that have ended up being some of the best decisions of my life. I thought I’d never get into the university of my dreams (go Bruins!) and took a risk with a personal essay that was unusual–I got in. Read more>>

Shivangi Patel | CEO at Cratosys

At 23 years old, I told off my boss and walked out the door of a big studio job. I had spent the past four years working hard to get a position like that, but I had finally hit a wall with my boss. She took everything out of me, and even at 23, I knew I couldn’t waste my time there any longer. Driving home, I decided my next step would be to move to New York City. It took me one month to sort things out, pack my bags, and book a one way trip to NYC. I crashed on my friend’s couch for a week and took the first job my recruiter found for me. It was an accounting position working for a high end fashion designer right in the middle of NYC. What more could I ask for? From then on, I felt my opportunities were endless. My point is, without risk there would be no reward. If I didn’t walk out of my dead end job, I would still be sitting in that woman’s office wanting to pull my hair out. After four years in NYC, I again quit my job and moved back to Los Angeles without a job. Read more>>

Jesse Davidson | Musician, Writer/Columnist, Guitar/Backline Tech, Sound Engineer

Risk represents the fear of the unknown and yourself that must be overcome in order to succeed as a creative person (whatever success means to you). The eternal “what if I…” followed by an insecure, intrusive thought that plagues many creative people. It’s the fog of war that disguises the true potential of whatever you’re meant to do in this life. Walking into the fog can be the most uncomfortable thing in the world. In the thick of it, the comfort zone goes away. Certainty and security vanish. I’ve always equated it being dropped into a jungle. You have no map and must find your way the secret temple of success. Some people have many tools and resources available to them, some only have a few, some have none. For as much help, allies and resources as one may have, you must still put the work in to survive. Along your journey, you meet people who have found the temple and can point you in the right direction. Read more>>