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.

Emanuele Ponzo | Entrepreneur

I personally think that risk is an important component of a successful enterpreneur. The first company I have opened I had some cash in a bank, and I have finished it the first three weeks. My plan was immediately play aggressive and allocate all of the few money on one direction, It turned well, in three years my company in Italy became one of the hugest in my field. In 2014 I was living in Rome, successful companies developed and going on, free time, money, a lot of respect and appreciation from people and I decided to leave everything on my back and move to Los Angeles. No english, never been in LA, no one contact in the United States. I took a plan and I came here with my girlfriend now wife Olga. She was the inspiration of my business here, the art director, the key of my success. in 12 months I learned English I have studied the market, and I have opened a company which now is one of the most successful company in the industry. If you take the risk you have the appreciation on what you are doing! Read more>>

Esther Sutanto | Photographer

Taking risks is the key and the essence of life. It is the gateway for second chances, the ability to mend mistakes, taking that leap of faith to follow your heart to achieve satisfaction. The future is at the palm of our hands; we can either take the risk to explore and gain awareness of what the world have for us or stay at our comfort zone building mental limitations, eliminating any failure and risks. Exploring options with a different attitude, to step out of the box making the effort to attempt something out of the ordinary. With every stroke of a painting or a note from a musician, we stretch ourselves emotionally and physically, risking any form of criticism and judgments. Despite the countless criticism and judgments faced, we will discover and be aware of our maximum potential. Read more>>

Helen Cavallo | Chef & Owner

I always say that rules are made for people who need them. I approach risks kind of the same way, as if rules don’t apply and ask myself what is the reward associated w the risk. If it feels right to me then we forge ahead. as long as it doesn’t involve possible imminent death i’m pretty open. I often ask advice and often ignore advice and i go with my gut. so far this has been the one true guiding force in building a successful restaurant, catering business. Read more>>

Azalea Lee | Crystal Healer & Founder

When I think of risk, I think about it in terms of its relationship to fear. Because when you risk something, you’re putting something on the table that you might lose– something that is likely very important to you. Otherwise you wouldn’t feel like you’re making a risk at all. In entrepreneurship, the risk is often rooted in money. You’re putting your idea out in the market. If it doesn’t do well, the likely result is that you’ll lose money is some way– whether it is actually money itself, or in its subset forms like time and energy spent. One’s finances is one of the most triggering things that exist, so one’s willingness to take risk is directly related to how much one is willing to engage with the potential loss of it. For me, in both life and career, money has never been more important that happiness and fulfillment. And I would be unhappy and very unfulfilled if I didn’t go after my dreams. Read more>>

Barbara Deutsch | Life and Career Coach

I had no idea I was taking risks all my life. I was told by a counselor when I was a freshman in High School in New Jersey, that I wasn’t “college material” and that I should be a secretary. So, I did that and my first job after High School was working for all the staff songwriters and producers at Epic Records in NY. Music and singing were always important to me but I had no idea I could actually do that but one day Clive Davis, the president of Columbia Records caught me standing on a coffee table in the lobby singing to the other secretaries and asked me the name of my boss. Next thing I know, he told my boss I could sing and I recorded a cover of a Beatles song, Across the Universe. Then I saw a show off Broadway, Godspell, and I thought I could sing that song, Day by Day. My boss knew somebody and he got me an audition and I sang that song and got into the show. None of this occurred like risk. Read more>>

Charmaine Vegas | Jeweler & Owner

I am by nature both a risk-taker and conservative mover, meaning: I love and am attracted to doing something out of curiosity of “what could be”. At the same time, I like to prepare myself for the best outcome and I naturally seek security, but my most memorable moments in life and business came immediately after taking a risk. I believe that risks are important and a necessary ingredient when chasing big dreams! and little ones! I quit a 9-5 to start Bless the Theory; I won’t say. that it has been a “walk in the rose gardens” since then but I will say that I have grown and learned much more having taken the risk of going out on my own, than I would have if I’d stayed with my corporate career. Of course, it is important to have a plan and to utilize logic when making big discussions, however, I wholeheartedly feel that taking risks should be just as and important! Read more>>

Chris Highsmith | Music Producer, Videographer & Photographer

When taking risks comes to mind, it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone and crossing boundaries. I always think with a positive outcome with risk taking. What you think and believe will actually happen because you’re putting those negative vibrations into the universe. so I always think with a positive mind of what taking the current risk I’m thinking about at the moment. At the end of it all something beautiful always comes with taking risks. For me, the biggest risk in my career was leaving my business and job behind to move to a state that I never been to before. Even though it was a struggle in the beginning a couple of months later I ended up doing something I always wanted to do my whole life, which is work for myself. From taking that risk and leap of faith I have never been happier. Read more>>

Santino Campanelli | Musician & Filmmaker

My entire career has been nothing but taking risks. Forgoing a traditional education and college experience, diving straight in to music, operating my own business to pay for my living and career expenses all along the way. Even diving head first in to directing and producing my first feature film “Bully” with little to no experience shooting a narrative. Honestly, most moves made within the entertainment industry are a calculated risk… but nothing exciting that’s come my way has been the result of complacency or playing it safe… the greatest achievements and experiences of my life and career have all been a direct result of saying “F**k it!” and taking a chance.. whether it was on myself, on others, on an opportunity, or hell.. just on a whim. Growth and progress rarely happen in one’s comfort zone, so I make a conscious effort to avoid mine at all costs. Read more>>

Laura Azzalina Rigali | External CFO & Entrepreneurial Coach

Here’s the interesting thing about risk – it’s entirely based on perspective. And that’s as true for a giant leap in your business as it is for a bold move in your personal life. The textbook definition of risk has to do with variability and uncertainty in outcomes, but when dealing with human beings and not stock charts, I think “risk” is a misnomer. It seems like every big, scary, audacious move is labeled as “risky”, when really, only the big moves that are inauthentic are risky. I’m an external CFO and entrepreneurial coach. I work with startups, entrepreneurs, creatives, fast growing businesses, and more – all people who are working tirelessly to create something new that the world needs. So needless to say, I deal with risk every day. My clients are doing wild, crazy, and beautiful things, and I want to set them up in the best ways possible to be successful, and happy. Read more>>

Jeremy Long | Writer & Stand Up Comedian

My career is based, almost solely, on risk. The risk of bombing. The risk of offending. The risk of trying new material. These are just a few of the risks that the job of a comedian – my job – undertakes every night that they are in front of the mic. The more I risk, the better my success. Born and raised on the east coast, I began performing comedy professionally at age 17, a pretty huge undertaking for someone still in high school. The decision to choose a career in comedy, itself, is a major risk. Will I be funny? Will people like me? Can this sustain a living? These are just a few of the questions I asked myself as a teenager entering young adulthood, with a passion for a career in the arts. Throughout my college years, I watched my career slowly blossom, and my decision to pursue comedy was beginning to pay off. Read more>>

Nayomie Mendoza | Small Restaurant Chain Owner

I’ve acquired this question from my Father “are you willing to risk it for momentary pain?”. My family has now had the company for a little over a decade. I was a broke college student and if I’m honest my bank account was in the negatives every other day. I had the opportunity to keep working for someone else or to join alongside my family and expand the vision. There was a small factor, I was a shy personality. I’d help my family with accounting here and there. I’d do all the behind the scenes work but I’d never interact with people. The opportunity rolled around three weeks before my 21st birthday and any normal 21 year old would go live it up but I had to deny myself to that in order to build what is now “Cuernavaca’s Grill”. A week before my birthday we launched our opening, I was still broke. Broker than ever, it all happened so fast. I was in heavy debt with my parents but in the midst of a pandemic, we are still up and running. Read more>>

Hilary Opheim | Pilates Teacher & Mentor

Risk taking is not something that is in my DNA. I am a planner, I am not good with change and I like to know what is going to happen. Yet, in my career it seems to be a different DNA I have. I have been teaching Pilates for over 25 years and owned my own studio and run my Teacher Training Program for over 15 years. Every aspect of getting me to where I am now has been a risk. A risk to me is that moment when you are standing at the edge of that road, cliff, mountain and you look out and don’t know what is “over there”. You could stay on that road, bridge or mountain and continue, it is safe, the known, it is comfortable or you can take that leap to the other side. It is scary, the unknown but you do it! My whole career has been those moments where I decide to turn that path or go through that window that just appeared. It is how I got here to LA. Read more>>

Pranidhi Varshney | Yoga Teacher & Stoker of Community Spirit

Risk is something we’re all needing to have a more intimate relationship with these days. Simple things like going to buy food or play in the park now carry some risk, or a perception of risk, that we’re more acutely aware of than before. Historically, I’ve been a but of a risk taker in my personal and professional life. Once a calling comes to do something, whether that be to move across the country, start a yoga studio, or have a child, I tend to heed that call and go for it. I’ve been relatively fortunate, in that whenever I’ve taken big risks, I’ve had a loving and supportive safety net. Now, in a time when many of us are having to consider how much risk we’re willing to take for ourselves, our families, and our communities, I’ve been reflecting on what’s underneath our perception of risk. Is it fear, reason, or some combination of both? Engaging in this sort of inquiry gives me more agency to take risks that I feel are worthwhile and refrain from others that could lead to harm. Read more>>

Murisa Harba | Artistic Director & Owner

Risk has been an integral part of my success. It’s something I purposely built into our program because I wholeheartedly believe in its power to up-level and realize an individual’s potential. My favorite quote is literally “Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone” by Neale Donald Walsch. I founded About The Work Actors Studio because I wanted to create a SAFE SPACE for actors to hone their craft and push way far out of their comfort zones so they could truly see what they are made of. I am so incredibly passionate about the need to take risks, because that is when the good stuff emerges. You need to fail fast. And then get up again. That is how you build a career. My buddy Simon Sinek helped me uncover my “why” and here is what we came up with. It brought tears to my eyes when we finally zero’d in on it. “I live to push boundaries. I find comfort in the uncomfortable. I seek out the “new.” Read more>>

Jackson Mou | Catering Owner

Any moment of our life contains risks. Even before we were born,however, if we think about the negative side, my intention will be stuck in it. I put my attention on goals without doubts. If something comes up, instead of focus on what happened, I focus on what’s the solutions. Read more>>

Patricia Lynn Laas | HairStylist

Risk taker right here. I’ve been behind the chair since March 1993. I remember how proud I was to graduate. Really having no idea about what I getting in to. I took a lot of advanced classes over the years. I was always told to take classes. Assisting for 2 years was everything. Another thing I was lead to. It was so super hard for me. I love to learn but, once I’m board. It’s all over. I was board about 6 months into assisting. I wanted more. The owner paid for me to attend Vidal Sassoon. One of the best week long cutting classes I’ve ever taken to this day. I had to assist for two full years before earning my way into the floor. It’s the way it was back then. Didn’t matter if you were ready. You had to pay your dues… I stayed and paid to be on the floor. I was 19 and really knew nothing. About 6 months of being on the floor I was offered a clientele. I had a girlfriend getting married and her husband didn’t want her to work. Read more>>

Donnie Jeffcoat | Martial Arts and Self Defense School Owner

From a very early age, I was taught to take risks and not let fear control my destiny. I am so grateful to my parents and mentors for teaching me to take control of my life, set goals and not be afraid of failure. I teach my students that if you do not allow yourself to take risks, your life journey will likely become stagnant. I have learned throughout my life that in order to succeed and truly flourish, I can’t be afraid of failure or mistakes. The greatest example I can share is when I decided it was time for me to make a huge career change from the entertainment industry. I had been a working actor since age 10. It was an incredibly rewarding career, but I reached a place in my life where I felt the need to pursue something more fulfilling, something that served me better as a person. I had been assistant teaching at a local martial arts school, and realized I had stumbled upon a path that was fulfilling me as much as my acting career, if not more. Read more>>

Edgar Fabián Frías | Contemporary Artist, Psychotherapist, Brujx & Educator

Risk is a catalyst. It is powerful tension that can propel you in directions you may have never envisioned were possible for yourself! I have taken many risks in my life and career and I am currently taking more! For example, in 2018, after years of working towards it, was finally approved for my LMFT licensure in the state of California. Then, about two weeks later, I was offered an artist residency in another state. The risk-averse part of me thought this would be a bad move, but, deep down, I could feel the desire within me, yearning to go into fulltime art practice. That’s when you know you must do it! When the desire is just as strong or even stronger than the feeling of fear and risk. I am so grateful I made this decision as it has completely changed my life! Risk is a great teacher and an ally! But we must befriend it first and, gently invite it into our lives. Read more>>

Bruce Duff | Musician, Producer & Artist Manager

Risk is a funny word. It makes it sound as if someone is plunging headlong into danger; as such it is perhaps a bit dramatic. In music/the music business, I think of it more as chance taking, or springing on an unforeseen opportunity, or perhaps taking your music in a completely new direction. When I was barely out of my teens and still in college in my hometown, a slightly older friend had a surprise career upswing when a free paper he’d started—a bilingual journal aimed at the Mexican-American community—became a local success. Enjoying his new-found prestige as a publisher, he decided to expand. He walked into the guitar store where I gave lessons and asked if I’d be interested in editing a music magazine he was thinking of starting. I literally didn’t even stop to consider it in any practical way, I just shrugged and said ‘sure.’ Without any exaggeration, that knee-jerk response changed the entire course of my adult life. Read more>>

Kristin Rossi | International Nail Artist

Well, to be completely honest, risk taking and I go way back. There is something about it that gets your blood pumping. To have that consciously controlled behavior with a perceived uncertainty about its outcome can give you the edge you need to really set yourself apart from everyone else. Just peeking over the parapet isn’t enough for me. I’m going to look, lean over and jump! Continually putting yourself in uncomfortable and intimidating situations is what gives you courage, strength and the confidence to succeed in anything you do in life, especially business. Of course a good healthy dose of hard work and determination will get you everywhere, but risk taking will soar you to the top of your game. Everything I have today was ultimately from a risk I was willing to take. Whether it be experiences in life like skydiving, surfing abroad, bungee jumping, becoming a parent or opening up yet another business in my late forties, they are all risks. Read more>>

Sukari Reid-Glenn | Flautist, Vocalist, Composer, Arranger & Instructor

I believe in responsible risk taking. Taking risks defeats Fear and allows us to gain courage and experience. Adding responsibility to it gives us knowledge, insight, and Wisdom. Just about every aspect of my life has involved taking risks. From music: *studying and performing with master musicians in order to gain understanding – even though it meant I would never be the strongest musician in the room *stepping away from my comfort zone of playing as a “sideman” and choosing to be an “artist” *deciding that as an artist, I would also sing – even though VERY FEW had ever heard me do it To marriage & family: *getting married to my best friend when we both had NO money or even a place of our own *homeschooling our child when we’d never known anyone else who’d done it To life: *choosing to truly follow my spiritual beliefs though I didn’t initially know anyone else who believed the same way *deciding to shave my head and just be bald after being diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. Read more>>

Marc Sonnenthal

Without taking a risk it is fairly difficult to get a larger reward. However in taking a risk, or in doing any action in life, you have to be prepared to take the responsibility if the risk doesn’t pan out. In saying that is doesn’t pan out. I don’t mean that whatever the outcome there wont be a very valuable lesson learned, because there will. What I mean to say is that after this risk you will always have to be prepared for a worst case scenario and that is an important aspect for me. I don’t think it is wise to risk absolutely everything you have, when and if you have a family to take care of and you could be left without anything an no-one in sight to help you. So yes taking a risk is very important and perhaps easier when you don’t have a family however when you do have a family, it just makes you think harder and work harder to cover yourself say the risk fails. However with that said I personally have and always will be a risk taker and as I get older and have more responsibility I would like to think that I am wiser and calculate smarter when taking any risk. Read more>>

Karina Klimtchuk | Integrative Physician and Healer & Educator

Risk! A game I never played. But when it comes to thriving in my life and career, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be alive (or working at a job I love) without it. I think about risk the way I think about breath – as foundational, inherent and indispensable. Life is defined by it, and doesn’t happen without risk. From the moment of birth, including the birthing process itself (imagine a chick pecking its way out of an egg – if it doesn’t do it just at the right time and completely, it dies), we are facing one risk after another in pursuit of fulfilling our life purpose. Pushing beyond the confines of the comfort zone is not only essential to healthy development – it means the difference between death, mere existence, and living life fully. And that’s not an invitation to extreme risk-taking that recklessly puts me or others in danger. It’s a softer, subtler version of the concept that looks more like integrity, authenticity and love. Read more>>