Taking Risk is essential, but how much, when and why? Taking risks effectively is as much of an art as it is a science and we’ve asked some of the brightest folks in the community to tell us about how they think about risk taking.

David Tucker | Artist | Creative Adventurer

Risk is knowledge through experience. I am a tactile and visual learner; therefore risk plays a big part in how I educate myself. I use risk as momentum. I take risks when I am ready for a new challenge, a new adventure, a level up, or a push out of my comfort zone. Risk for me is a necessity to embolden my growth as an artist and as an individual. My first big risk I took was to trust myself and the newly budding internet and travel to Italy at 18 years old. I studied with an Italian sculpture and cleaned out his studio in return for free accommodations. Read more>>

Rochelle Gallenson | Licensed Acupuncturist and Wellness Center Owner

Risks can feel scary because we fear failure. I have learned over the years that the only way to elevate your life and career is by taking risks and trying to view them as opportunity for success versus risk of failure. Though I have always been somewhat calculated and cautious with risk taking, each move has gotten me closer to where I want to be. The bumps along the way have taught me valuable lessons that have helped me pave the way toward the practice and the space that I have today. Read more>>

Colleen Bonniol | Listener, learner, leader, beach camper, and Founder/CEO of MODE Studios.

Being comfortable taking risks has been the single most important guardian angel to my career. I would not be where I am today without taking risks. When I was 19, a friend stood me up on a date to attend a concert. Instead of feeling rejected and deciding not to go, I grabbed my resume and went alone, leaving by 6:00 am for a 5-hour drive to DC with no ticket to the show. Read more>>

Joanna Borov | Model & entrepreneur

I believe that risk is an inevitable part of life. We take a risk more often than we realize. For me moving out of my country Poland, first to the UK and then to the USA was risky. I didn’t know many people and habits in the new places. It took me a while to learn about the cities but in both cases, it was definitely worth it. Fighting for my dreams gave me happiness and II believe it’s always the right thing to do- to pursue happiness. However, from the time perspective and also business-wise, it is also important to minimize potential risk and have some kind of safety net. If your dream is to become an artist or entrepreneur, make sure you have some savings before you quit your job. Sometimes it’s gonna take more time but it’s ok, it’s important to be patient and persiistant. Read more>>

Tomas Slemenson, Zach Jones, Conrado Pesinato | from the band Out Of The Woods

I believe a common mistake people make when they follow their passion is to put all their eggs in one basket. They are doing one thing and then they stop doing what they are doing to do another thing. If you want to follow your passion is usually a good idea to balance your risks, and set up your life in a way that you have the time you need to invest in your career but also, make sure you are not putting an unrealistic deadline on your success, or destroying another aspect of your life. You need to do the best you can to be in a comfortable situation, to not turn your passion into pure stress. Read more>>

Alexander Walk | Singer-Songwriter & Actor

I think being an artist and pursuing making art as a career is by itself a giant risk. There’s so little stability, especially compared to a regular 9 to 5 job where there’s more of a schedule and a mapped out plan. I knew from a young age that I had to be ok with putting myself out there and be able to deal with plenty of people telling me that what I was doing wasn’t viable. There is definitely an excitement with risk when you put yourself on the line and succeed but of course there’s also plenty of times where you fail. I think the most important thing is to not let one risky choice that went badly prevent you from ever taking one again. Read more>>

Conscious Coore | Teacher, Writer & Entrepreneur

I think that if you’re not already given the life that you want, then it will take risk to even begin to figure out what “the life you want” looks like. I met my husband on Twitter and then married him after 5 months of cyber-dating – risky. My first experience on an airplane was a 20+ hour trip to South Africa to live with about 8 other strangers for two weeks – risky. I retired from a well paying job with benefits at 20 weeks pregnant to start a freelance career and focus on a nonprofit organization – super risky. I think living in this world is a risk for everyone (leaving the house, driving a car, etc.). Read more>>

Evan Wright | Film/ TV Composer

Risk taking is an interesting concept to me because it deals directly with what one is and isn’t comfortable with. Its very personal. There really isn’t a standard to the measure of risk in my field. For this reason, I interpret risk more closely with my own sense of fear. The illusion of danger. The thought that if I take a single step in this direction, the entire world will end. Its an illusion. I don’t believe in it anymore. I don’t believe that fear has a place in my creative life. Instead, I use this understanding to ask myself, “Am I willing to learn right now?” “Am I open to doing things differently than I have done them before?” This is what risk actually feels like to me. Read more>>

Lily Swab | Mixed Media Artist

I’ve found that for me, risk is the job. It’s like a + b = c. A being me showing up and putting in the work, applying the materials, actively being present and B being risk. Maybe a better way of putting it is describing A as surrendering and B as risk – surrendering + risk = my product. While i say this matter of factory, how i think about risk is very different. It is an ongoing muscle i am continuely trying to strengthen. Because taking risks, for me, isn’t necessarily easy. Initially, the idea can be exciting sure, but actually acting on whatever risk is being contiplated is a whole other stage of nerve. Read more>>

Grant Bell | Cinematographer

Every so often you’ll find yourself standing on the edge of a cliff, and the only way across is to jump farther than you ever have before. You’ll ask yourself a million times whether you should just turn around and go home, or come back later when you’re stronger. But sooner or later you’ll come to the same conclusion, that you have to try. The failure of the fall hurts every time, but the risk is always worth it. Because sometimes you’ll end up jumping farther and higher than you ever thought possible. Read more>>

Maya Neumeier | Filmmaker

I think risk taking brings us closer to our true north. It’s part listening to your gut, and part faith. I had a comfortable life in San Francisco Producing and Directing commercials for tech companies, but I wasn’t taking risks, or cultivating my creative spirit. I had had the itch to move to LA, leave my SF lifestyle behind, and just go for it. Then, all the pieces started falling into place before I could even utter the words “I’m moving”. Read more>>

Kaitlyn Scardino | Director & Cinematographer

“If you’re not living on the edge you’re taking up too much space.” – Stephen Hunt. This is a quote that has stuck with me for years now and I often find myself applying it to my personal life. Not literally of course, otherwise I would constantly be one wind gust away from my demise. I have a very personal relationship when it comes to risk, but I think it’s important to explain what risk means to me first. Whenever people ask me what my biggest regrets are in life, I tend to draw a blank. I do everything I can to live every day like it might be my last. Read more>>

Stephanie Sandoval | Latinx Therapist, Founder of Collective Space Therapy & Author

As the wise and wonderful Audre Lorde once said, “I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” When I think about risk I think about fear, an emotion that has been ever-present throughout my life. Fear was once a seemingly inescapable monster, turned into a tolerable friend I can embrace. I grew up feeling terrified of many things such as failure, rejection, punishment, judgment, and criticism which heavily effected my self-esteem and how I lived in the world. Read more>>

Martina de Alba | Visual Artist

In order to make real changes in my life, I had to take big risks. I successfully changed career three times. Risks had to be taken if I wanted be happier. It’s scary but the rewards are priceless. Comfort zones are the killers of excitement and improvement. If you want new doors to open you must take risks. The bigger the risk the bigger the change! Read more>>

Cathy J. Hood | President | CEO of Pristine Initiative, LLC

Taking risks is not always a bad idea. Usually, when there are risks, there are opportunities. You can’t expect to grow and elevate to the next level in your career without taking that giant leap of faith into the unknown. Having faith and confidence in the fact that you can do anything your heart desires is all that a risk-taker needs to be successful. After graduating high school and losing my father, I decided to move to Los Angeles. I was 18 years old. I knew nothing about the city, nor did I have any friends or family living on the west coast at the time. All that I had was a solid opportunity to attend a performing arts college in Hollywood. Everything else didn’t matter. I packed up my life in my car, had it shipped, and started a new life in a big city that was so foreign to me. It honestly was the best decision I’ve ever made. I still live in Los Angeles today and operate a thriving public relations company in Hollywood! Read more>>

Michael Anthony Hermogeno | Professional Photographer

In my opinion risk taking is part of the foundation of one’s career and/or business. That initial plunge into the unknown is daunting and can hold you back, but at some point you need to take that step in order to start or advance your career. When faced with new and unfamiliar opportunities, I weigh out the pros and cons and assess risks versus benefits and even when the cons outweigh the pros, the outside chance of success will often sway me to take the risk. In work and business, I have always opted to throw chance to the wind and risk failure. It tends to end in success as each risk has opened doors that would otherwise not opened. Read more>>

Marjorie Lashmet | Wedding and Event Planner, 329events

My entire life I’ve been very risk-averse. I was raised to always play it safe and follow the rules. There was a trajectory I was supposed to follow by getting good grades, going to college, getting a secure job. I did it. I did all the things my parents told me was going to give me a bright future and a great life. They’re weren’t wrong. I got the job and worked hard. I had the stability. I had a supportive family and great circle of friends. I played it safe the first 25 years of my life. I was proud of myself – as anyone who could accomplish these things should be! Yet, I was the crazy and unsatisfied type who needed more. Read more>>

Dominique Davis | Entrepreneur

Sometimes in order for people to grow and elevate in life they need to take risks. Stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there can bring so many opportunities that wouldn’t happen if you didn’t put yourself in the position you’re not normally comfortable in. Taking risks throughout my life has brought me to meet so many wonderful people and it has most definitely boosted my confidence. It took me a whole year before I actually started my lash business. I was scared no one would support and buy anything. Especially because the lash business is very popular right now, I really thought my business wouldn’t have a chance. But I’m happy I took that risk and put myself out there, not only with my business but with other things as well because I have learned so much about myself through all of the experiences I’ve had and I plan to continue to keep taking risks and changing my life. Read more>>

Emily Sinclair | Real Estate Sales Agent

My whole life I’ve had a positive mindset of a glass-half-full person. Some friends like to joke and call me “The Modern Day Pollyanna” because I always look at the bright side of things. That translates in my life & career very well because I don’t see risk with 2 possible outcomes of positive vs negative. I see risk mostly as an opportunity for growth or re-imagination. If there is some amount of failure, or not exactly the desired outcome was achieved, I fully believe there is still always some kernel of wisdom that can be derived from the outcome, that often propels me into a new direction that ends up being better than I could have imagined. This is pretty much how I live my life and how I’ve focussed my mind on my business. Read more>>

Rouxx | Music Artist

It’s true what they say “no risk, no reward”. I have a family who depends on me to provide for them and every day I have to choose between taking a desk job where I may be miserable or continue to hustle as hard as I can to make it as an artist and make a living doing it. It’s the only way I can be truly happy and fulfilled. At the end of all the hard work, the payoff is going to be great. Not just monetarily but feeling accomplished in what I set out to do with my life. Success is a state of mind and is purely in your control. It just depends on how hard you are willing to work for it. Read more>>

Ray Buffer | Actor, Singer and Voice Over Artist

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. You have to play to win. Recently I attended a workshop for actors to prepare for guest starring roles in procedural dramas, and I felt underprepared when it came time to give my performance. I was tempted to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t attend that workshop, in order to avoid risk. I opted to embrace the risk, and even though I was underprepared, I also avoided the temptation to create crutches by placing bits of dialogue on paper off camera to glance at. I went in to the challenge with my entirety and allowed myself to be vulnerable. I was able to perform the piece three times, each time improving. I learned some lessons from the repetition and the coaching I received – and most importantly, I did not feel like I took an “easy way out”. I avoided adding a burden to my soul. Read more>>

Amanda Broadway | Professional Vocalist & Recording Artist

My initial response after reading this question was that I don’t consider myself to be a big risk taker. But on second thought, choosing to pursue a career in the music industry is a risk in and of itself. There is no blue print or road map. The path to (and the definition of) success is different for everyone. I moved to Nashville right out of college with a dream of becoming a recording artist. I had an internship lined up, but I didn’t know anyone in the city and it was a big leap moving there alone. Not too long after settling in I found myself working a 9-5 desk job, complete with benefits and the security of a weekly paycheck. Even though the company was in the music business, the environment was toxic and I found myself incredibly unhappy. Without much of a safety-net or back-up plan, one day I couldn’t take it anymore and put in my two weeks notice. This leap of faith marked the beginning of my journey to becoming my own boss and building my career. If I had stayed, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Read more>>

Jessica Kwong | Founder & CEO of Jack & Friends

I like to think of myself as someone that is constantly taking calculated risks. Being an entrepreneur is a huge risk in and of itself, and every day is unpredictable—which, for the most part, I love. However, I am very analytical by nature, so my decisions (including the risky ones) tend to be more methodical rather than spontaneous. During my senior year as a food science student at Cornell University, I actually declined a full-time offer from a multi-billion dollar snack company to found Jack & Friends instead. Read more>>

Mike “Blu” Priester | Producer | Videographer | Director

To me risk is an inevitable necessity. I am a huge believer in the saying “No Risk, No Reward”. If there were no risks to take in my life, I can honestly say that I would not be in the position I am in as far as my career and life. I put my formal education, degree, and occupation on the proverbial shelf 2 years ago to follow my passion of videography and music. To date I have successfully worked in tandem with 2 of Atlanta’s iconic rappers, 2 former NFL players, one who now works in film and is currently nominated for an Emmy, and countless other very satisfied clients. Every time I have taken a “leap of faith”, or risk, it has paid off in a major way! If there is one thing I’d like for everyone to take away from this small blurb is that no matter what happens, LIFE GOES ON!!! So jump already because you’ll always have the experience to pass on!!! Read more>>

Courtney Ariel Bowden | I write stories. I sing them too.

Taking risks can be a means of discovery and resistance. Risking has allowed me to find homes in various places, people, and within my own voice. Many of my interests from childhood into adulthood have been things that I didn’t see many Black girls & women doing: as a kid that looked like skateboarding, later on that looked like writing and singing folk music. So there was an element of risk in existing authentically for me. I think there is also an element of The Divine in existing authentically—and also magic. Read more>>

Jullie Nguyen | Owner of Ban Ban Studio

I’ve always been the type of person to play things on the safe side but during the pandemic last year I found myself unhappy working for a corporate company that didn’t value one’s safety/health and put profit first before one’s well-being. I took a huge risk of losing my high paying salary along with all the benefits – healthcare, 401k, etc. to start my own business in the midst of a pandemic. All I can say is that it was the most terrifying feeling not to have any financial security and to invest a chunk of my savings into this new chapter of my career wasn’t easy… but definitely rewarding to see my business grow this past year and am enjoying all the support from the community thus far! 🙂 I’ve learned that taking risks can be scary but all worth it if you continue to work hard, stay positive and focused. Read more>>

Bonnie Robinson Stewart | Textile Artist

When most people think of risk, it mostly pertains to financial risk, but for me, taking emotional risk has lead to the successes I’ve had more than anything else. Asking to be included in art shows, talking to artists who inspire me and doing new things even though I don’t feel quite ready to do them has lead me to creating more art, being involved with more art shows and becoming friends with the more amazing people than I ever thought I would be. Read more>>

Melissa Wang | Artist & Art Director

When I quit Facebook in 2019 to become an artist, I left a predictable career with benefits and powerful resources. In early 2020, I signed a 1-year contract for a studio – and the lockdown happened. Then the community rallied to support artists. I was accepted to my first museum exhibition at the de Young in San Francisco. In 2021, I had my first solo and showed at my second museum, Torrance Art Museum. In 2022, I’ll be curating my first show at SOMArts Gallery. Amazing people and events conspired to empower me to pursue my dreams. Read more>>

Joanna Tarnava | The Doctress / Worthiness Facilitator

“Risk: a situation involving exposure to danger.” Every moment; we have a choice. Where to go, how to respond, what to do, what to ask. We weigh out “risk and reward” and dance between “safety and danger”, this sexy wager on success, of our businesses and our lives is where all the magic happens. Honestly, I don’t think about risk, I think about trust. I trust myself, my experiences, my connections, my power. I trust that no matter what I do I am equipped to handle it all. My business is founded on this trust, and it is what my clients come for. Read more>>

Ayush Soni | Creative Producer & Storyteller

Before we talk about risk taking, I think it’s important to mention that your dreams should never come at the expense of someone else’s health and happiness! We all have read and heard quotes like “Nothing great comes without a risk” or a bit more dramatic one’s like “Life is all about taking risks”, I am sure it rings a bell?! Or maybe a few of our lazy friends have some fancy quotes on their Instagram where they talk about ‘taking risks’ while laying down on the couch on Monday morning. Read more>>

Sakina Ibrahim | Author & Social Entrepreneur

Risk has been a major factor in all aspects of my life. I’ve wanted to craft a unique lifestyle and experience for myself deeply rooted in personal freedom and wellbeing. I think risks should be embraced as part of life. This is where your faith is activated. Only through risk can we learn who we are and how we show up in this world. Every day for me feels like I am walking on a tightrope trying to keep my balance. I have tried to enjoy the risks that I have taken, while also knowing if I fall I will recover. Read more>>

Marae Torrelier | Travel Blogger/ Social media & Digital Nomad Coach

As the daughter of immigrants I’ve always watched my family’s risks be rewarded with opportunities. I chose not to follow on the traditional footsteps of school, work, marriage, kids etc… but I always knew that my biggest rewards would come from taking big risks. When I left my career at ABC/FOX to become a seasonal worker in hopes to travel full time I received lots of backlash from everyone I knew including my family, but I knew I wanted to create a lifestyle I did not want a vacation from and I thought I could always go back to an office job anytime I wanted. I never Thought it would go this far, but being able to travel full time and fill my daughter’s days with my presence and experiences together is a gift I would take any risk for, over and over again. Read more>>

Christina Reese | Healer and Life Coach

Risks are everything. That is where life happens! Our brains are designed to keep us safe, so we look for the easiest, safest options automatically. It is not in our nature to get out of our comfort zones and take risks. It is a skill we need to practice! I have been taking risks since I was young. When you practice it regularly, just like anything else, it gets easier. I have come to crave change. Life is so much more exciting in the unknown. When I was 18, I graduated from high school in Massachusetts and got on a plane to fly across the country to attend a film school in California. I grew so much as a person in those years; I can’t even imagine who I would be if I didn’t do that. Read more>>

Ampora Yazdani | GM/A&R and Author

When the fork in the road has asked me to choose, I have followed my heart, my passion, and purpose. I think in terms of risk these are the questions we must ask ourselves, do I love it, am I motivated to accomplish the task at hand, and am I serving just my needs or is there a larger community benefiting from my work? The 1st time I remember taking a risk was in my senior year at Fordham University. I had been interning first at Bad Boy Records in Puff’s office, then I was recruited to be apart of the start up team at J records, headed by Clive Davis. Read more>>

McKenna Cox | Actor

I think taking risks is a huge part of our growth as human beings. Taking a risk requires trusting yourself enough that you know you will come out okay no matter what the end result may be. The greatest risk I have taken in my life and career has been making the big move to New York City after graduating college in North Carolina with a theatre degree. I moved away from my family and friends to a place that I had only vacationed at and had no real ties to. Read more>>

Shaun Vivaris | Writer. Director. Olympic Bowler.

The biggest risk I’ve taken in my life was moving down to LA to begin with. Straight out of college I was working as an editor for a startup film website in the SF Bay Area, writing and editing articles about film and entertainment, while trying to be a filmmaker on the side. Then the company went under and I had this realization that I was never going to achieve my goal of being a feature film director if I went and found another company desk to sit behind. So I said screw it and moved to LA. It took some years, but I’ve been fortunate that my personal films led me to the relationships that allowed me to do my first feature film—a comedy called LISA MANIA, which will be premiering at festivals this fall. Read more>>

Sara McAllister | Newborn Care Specialist, LA’s Baby Expert

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.” — T.S. Eliot Risk taking has defined my life and my career. I take big leaps! These big leaps have always shaped my life and decided my path. At 17 years old, only days after graduating high school, I boarded a plane to Ayacucho, a small city located in the Andes Mountains in south-central Peru. Traveling alone, much to my family’s protest, I arrived in Peru not knowing a soul or speaking the language. Read more>>

Dina Haynes | Dina Haynes | Author, Motivational Influencer, Model

Every day is an exercise in risk. Some people experience it before they’re born, like when they come into this world with a debilitating illness. Others are born with a full set of fingers and toes, but spend most of their lives trying to avoid risk at all costs. It’s an impossible task. Risk is a non-negotiable part of life. What people should ask themselves is, how can I make risk work for me? Read more>>

Marcus McDougald | LAFC VP, Creative & Branded Content

As someone who grew up participating in board sports (surf/skate/snow) since I was 5 y.o. risk taking has always been a necessary condition of my growth. So much so that at some point along the way I became fairly immune to the concept of failure. There have been plenty of moments in my life where the outcomes did not align with my objectives but I’ve always understood that the effort that I’ve invested in those particular objectives has always paid forward toward achieving a larger goal. Read more>>