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.

Lea Kalisch | Actor, Singer, Entertainer & Teaching Artist

People who don’t take risks are boring. For me I am the happiest, when I do the things I am afraid of. If I want to become better at what I do, I have to take risks, I have to try new things, I have to fall on my face- there’s no way around it. I always look for opportunities where I am forced to step out of my comfort zone, which is risky, but it’s thrilling and keeps things interesting for myself and others.The most powerful and memorable moments in life, are moments where there’s a bit of danger and not-knowing involved. That’s why watching an actor when he forgets his line, is so compelling; that moment when she/he is trying to figure out what to do next, that’s when he/she is taking a risk. That’s when I feel alive. Read more>>

Mandy Madden Kelley | Founder & CEO

I am probably rather extreme about this. But, I am the kind of person that when I see something I want or believe is right, I go after it with everything I’ve got. I moved from New Zealand to Los Angeles after meeting my architect husband in Baggage claim. I knew it was the right thing to do. When I decided to start mandymadd.com, everyone told me how hard it was and that I was too late in the game. But, I hunkered down, learned everything I could about social media, photography, graphics, etc. and worked on it every day. Consistency and conviction are my secret ingredients. My results in the beginning were laughable, if not disillusioning, but I stayed after it every day and now I have a following of over 100k+ followers. When I decided to start my luxury fashion company, Pagerie, I listened to all of the advice people gave me such as: going with lower prices, fast fashion, a sale approach, easy manufacturing — and I did just the opposite. Read more>>

Jan Rivera | Musician, Author, Founder, On-set consultant & Curriculum Designer

The events that I value the most throughout my career happen to be attached to risk. Stepping out of my comfort zone has been one of the most important factors in materializing the goals that I have achieved as of now. Even before studying in LA, even before working, coming to the states from Puerto Rico with my wife while having about a month’s worth of money was already a huge risk. We were close to being homeless about 2 or 3 weeks in, and that would set the tone for our future risk assessments. Deciding to make a living from music, founding a music publishing house, and consulting for Fender were all risks with potentially catastrophic downsides. However, there’s no bigger downside than not trying to achieve your dreams. The pain that would result from that decision would last a lifetime… Read more>>

Stan Zimmerman | Writer, Director, Producer & Teacher

I don’t really think in terms of “risk”, since the official meaning of that word is “the possibility of loss”. I feel you grow from every situation. But I definitely like to take chances and push myself with my work into areas that I might not have experienced before. Also, I do seem to naturally fall into controversial issues in my work. I don’t go looking for them, but I am interested in exploring subjects that seem to push buttons. This started with my being involved with the changing of the name of a building on the Sony lot from the name of a person who named names during the McCarthy trials to the lesbian kiss episode of “Roseanne” to my recent LatinX production of the play, “The Diary of Anne Frank”. Read more>>

Jennifer Holm | Children’s Author

I’ve always felt very strongly that the worse thing that can happen is that someone says no to one of my ideas. And, honestly, that’s really not a bad thing anyway. Because someone else might say yes. You just never know. As a children’s author, I began my career writing historical fiction. But I pivoted after a few years and began creating a graphic novel series called Babymouse with my brother, Matt. At that time (2003), graphic novels were not yet an established format in children’s publishing. But I figured we had nothing to lose, so we took it out. Now years later, there are more than three-million Babymouse books in print. Likewise, I pivoted again a few years ago. I began writing a science fiction book called THE LION OF MARS for middle-grade readers. I had never written such a heavy science fiction book before, but I wanted to give it a shot. Luckily, my editor believed in me and let me run with it. Read more>>

Ben Cadwallader | Executive Director

For me, taking calculated risks has always been the single most powerful driver for forward movement and momentum, both personally and organizationally. But in order to enjoy the great benefits that risk-taking can offer, I learned early on how important it is to establish and communicate the strategies that must accompany the risk. When contemplating a risk, whether it’s a major career move, a bold new project, or a major financial decision, I take into account my initial response to the idea, then take the time to craft an argument AGAINST that initial reaction. I think it is essential to have a complete picture of the potential risk, simultaneously comprehending a compelling case for both sides, even as you know you’ll ultimately only choose one. For me, risk-taking is not a disorganized, scattershot, in-the-moment process – it is deliberate, thoughtful, slow, socratic, and strategic. Read more>>

Ece Muniroglu | Film and TV Composer

I believe that taking risks is an enormous part of the growing process. Risk comes when we are out of our comfort zone, and we want to make a change in our lives. This can be a personal change or a career change. Any change will bring uncertainty. We call it risk because we don’t know what’s on the other side of the bridge. We might guess, assume, or passionately want, but we’ll never know how it feels until we try. The first attempt might be a failure, and it’s ok. I actually don’t want to call it a failure, because this is the process. It makes us stronger and resilient. We cannot separate risk and failure; we can only accept it if we want to grow. Failures will eventually bring success if we keep doing it. Music has been in my life since my childhood. I grew up playing the piano and listening to classical music. Although I loved music deeply, my first career was architecture. Read more>>

Josh Leong | Writer, Director & Producer

I think almost all of my early career has involved some portion of risk. Whether it was the crazy idea of applying to film school, the (crazier) idea of figuring out how to pay for it, or making a movie 7,000 miles away in Ethiopia as a freshman in New York City. Risk-taking has produced amazing projects and relationships because risks always require me to put my trust in something or someone else. I had to put myself out there and believe that we’d pull off numerous unbelievable things: raising $30,000, signing a Netflix actor, or shooting in a country where we don’t even speak the language. But in every single circumstance, things came to pass as a result of others – and always in an outrageous manner. – At the last minute, we had a German humanitarian aid organization complete our funding on our drive to the airport to Ethiopia. – We signed Ethan Herisse after we discovered his manager’s friend adopted children from Ethiopia. Read more>>

Dr. Lisa Thomson | Chiropractor

Risk taking and stepping out of my comfort zone is a huge reason for my success in business and in life. I believe that if we are not constantly doing things that take us out of our comfort zone we will not achieve the growth we need to have to be truly happy in life. From moving across the country with nothing but whatever belongings I could fit in my car to opening my own business, without discomfort there is no growth. A more specific example that comes to mind is how I got involved with public speaking. I am vey involved with the California Chiropractic Association and was asked to introduce a speaker at a big event. I was so nervous to just spend 2 minutes reading a speaker introduction! Read more>>

Kelsy Lua | Filmmaker & Editor

What will happen if we never take risks in life? That idea in itself actually scares me more than the idea of taking risks. I believe that if we never take any risk in life, we’ll always be stuck in our comfort zone; we will never grow or learn new things. We won’t be exposed to situations that will allow us to discover more about ourselves and our talents and potentials. We won’t have the possibility of unleashing something bigger and greater. I pursued Psychology for my bachelor’s degree and never imagined that I would pursue filmmaking as a career. It never crossed my mind because I thought it was just a pipe dream. During my undergrad studies, I wanted to minor in film but was too afraid to do it. At that time, I didn’t have the guts. I didn’t believe in my abilities and doubted myself. Read more>>

Mia Valenzuela | Bartender & Visionary Entrepreneur

Risk Taking. What an interesting concept.  I think this is a rather personal question that can be applied to other areas such as career. However, I think when most people consider the term “risk” they automatically connect it with the concept of courage. And rightfully so. Risk implies danger or the potential for loss; something most humans have a hard time confronting in any capacity. Though embracing risk results in courage, I think the root of risk is actually vulnerability — and we are not a culture who embraces that readily. Risk is not about expecting hardship and going forth anyway. That’s bravery, sure. But risk is about removing your barriers and exposing yourself to the potentials of hardship, or criticism, or failure, or loss. It also means you are exposing yourself to the potentials of expansion, empowerment, recognition, and success. Read more>>

Cheryl Kline | Artist, Author & Educator

Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where there is no other choice but to take a risk and dive in… having no idea what you are about to be confronted with. Going to college right after high school was one of those times. To me it was not an option, it was a given, I was going. My single, working Mother only had enough money to help me my first year. After that, reality set in. I soon switched to night classes and juggled 2 jobs, a crappy car that kept breaking down so I had to take 4 to 6 buses a day. Eating was a luxury and I opted for a pack of cigarettes and coffee instead. My stellar 4.0 gpa from high school quickly went down to barely 3.0. But I graduated and earned my degree. Deciding to become an artist is another huge crazy risk. To get my skills honed I began studying in Italy every summer for 8 years. After my first very successful show I decided it was now or never. Read more>>

Julie Turner | Pilates Instructor & Reiki Master

I believe in taking risks for myself and my career. Whenever something feels like a big risk, I ask myself, “Will I regret it if I don’t take this risk? Will I think about it for a long time and wish I had just tried?” That helps me decide if the possibility of failure is worth it, because even though every risk comes with the possibility of failure, there is no way to succeed with out taking them! Risk has played a huge role in my life. I moved to New York to pursue a career in dance right out of school and I was happy living there and performing for many years. Dance is very important to my well-being and my artistic career enriched my life and often saved me in more ways than one. Ten years after my first year in New York, I moved myself, and my young son, to Los Angeles to continue the evolution of my movement career as a Pilates instructor and Reiki practitioner. Read more>>

Brigitta Dau | Certified Life Coach & Certified Pilates Instructor

In terms of taking risks, I believe the more willing you are to step out of your comfort zone, the juicier your life is. And if you’re smart about the risks you’re taking, it can actually become a fun thing to do…And my story that lead me to now be a Certified Life Coach and Certified Pilates Instructor is not your typical one. I was a professional actress starting at the age of 18. I started in my home town, Vancouver, Canada, and starred on a series up there for 4 years. I also guest starred on many of the American shows filmed up there at the time. Every audition for EVERY ROLE is a risk in and of itself. So taking risks was just a part of my day to day life. Eventually, I had to move on and chose LA to be my next home. A HUGE RISK! MOVING TO ANOTHER COUNTRY TO START OVER!!! After getting my green card (which was an epic ordeal!), I worked here in LA for another 10 years or so co-starring in many TV Movies, Indie films, and episodic TV. Read more>>

Todd Jacobs | Dialogue Editor

I think about risk as needing a companion in planning. The more risk involved, the more planning that’s needed. I’ve never planned very far ahead in life until I decided to immigrate from Australia to America. If I hadn’t put the effort I did into where to go, what to know, what to prepare for next, and having a plan (even a loose plan) it would have been much more difficult to deal with the sheer stress of it all. It can be overwhelming! Ultimately risk has played a huge role in my life and career just off of the one decision to leave my home country. I took a risk going from somewhere comfortable with everyone I loved to Los Angeles where I had a single contact and the idea that opportunity was greater here. Everything that could potentially go wrong would be enough to decide not to, but I took the risk and now I get to do the work that I love and further my career while building a new life! I’m much happier having taken the risk. Read more>>