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.

Carlo Tonda | Writer/Director & Cinematographer

Risk was not a part of my vocabulary until fairly recently. Besides the mundane day-to-day gambles, like trying to talk to a cute girl or going to a house party, all consistent with my way of bullying myself out of extreme introversion; I hadn’t taken any major leaps. My first dip, or rather full-on dive, into risk taking was when I packed my bags and left everyone I knew behind. I left Guatemala at the age of 19 to study aerospace engineering in the US. A bet that introduced me to a lot of wonderful people and ideas but proved to be unfulfilling professionally. I quickly realized that rocket science is not as cool as it sounds, and that being good at something, doesn’t mean you enjoy it. There was so much riding on my shoulders. People and institutions put money and resources to have me there. Read more>>

Nikhil Newse | Filmmaker and Independent Producer

I have always believed taking risks is what makes people unique. I took a major risk when I left my nine-to-five job as an engineer and moved to Los Angeles to become a filmmaker. Ever since that day, I have never looked back and never regretted the decision I made. Coming from a middle class South Asian community, my parents have always encouraged me to get a degree in Science or Engineering and filmmaking was not even an option. The reason is that STEM degrees are considered as safe degrees with high paying jobs compared to Arts degrees. But being a rebellious child, I chose a career which genuinely makes me happy, so I chose to become a filmmaker. Choosing to be an artist or a filmmaker takes a lot of risks since there is not guaranteed success and it requires a lot of hard work, struggle, persistence and hustle. Luckily for me, I met amazing people throughout my career and my journey was made a lot easy. Read more>>

Katharine Polk | Founder & Creative Director of Katharine Polk Bridal

Risk has been a huge factor in my career from the start of my first company Houghton. My idea to create a “non-traditional Bridal” Brand that didn’t exist was risky but had a huge upside if I/we could pull it off. Like any successful company, when you fill a void for something that doesn’t exist you have to change peoples minds and that is always hard. Taking a risk to convince an industry that it was time for change and women wanted something new and modern for their weddings was tough but worth it. Read more>>

Tinks Lovelace | Visual Artist & Filmmaker

If we are defining risk as ‘the uncertainty of things we may hold of value, often to undesirable consequences’, in my work it’s played a big role. I was getting lots of money to art and creative direct or shoot projects for clients, and the budgets were nice and big, I was scared to take a risk, to belief in myself or my artistic voice and to push them and myself into something we hadn’t done before, If we’ve made a success of one type of aesthetic, it’s tough to grow or push that, the resistance to risk is big, we my like to use the latest hype or visual style as inspiration but the steps towards getting in that space creatively isn’t as straight forward or met with hype, there’s a lot of working it out and perceived failure along the way. Read more>>

Michael Louis Slebodnik | Designer & Photographer

time to be able to say with any confidence behind it, but it really is true. If I have an idea I want to execute, to me the risk would be taking on paid work that distracts me from the idea I want to execute. There’s a mentality of ‘make hay while the sun shines’ but at a certain point professionally, the sun shines more than you need it to. Sometimes you have to say no to clients for pursuit of passions. I find tremendous growth in those moments since they force you to achieve personal goals by taking financial & professional security head on and realizing that the riskiest thing you can do is let your path be determined by other people. Read more>>

Jennifer Carranza | Baker & Small Business Owner

I have always a risk taker, especially when it comes to my business. I like taking risks, although it can be scary. This goes for every person who owns their own business. We all took a risk in opening a small business not knowing if it would work out. For example, with my business it has helped me grow and I believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without doing so. I’m not where I want to be but I am much further than I was almost 2 years ago. One recent risk I decided to take was opening our first store front, which will hopefully open soon. Read more>>

Eva Walker | Singer and guitarist for The Black Tones

I like to take risks, whether that’s musically or visually (album covers/photoshoots etc). When I think about taking a risk, it doesn’t start as that idea, it starts with “wow what a really cool thought, how can I pursue this!” Then while we are pursuing whatever the idea is and adding elements then I wonder what the reaction will be. First and foremost, the idea of risks is relative. What may not seem like a risk to you maybe for someone else. Individuality, your history and experiences play a big part in what a risk may look like to you. Usually when I tell people to take risks, I make sure to say “whatever that looks like to you”. Risks don’t JUST mean going out and wearing an outrageous outfit, or playing a guitar solo while dangling from a chandelier. A risk can be many different things. Musical risks like going to that 7th chord the listener was not expecting you to go to, or talking to that radio DJ you’ve been too intimidated to submit music to. Read more>>

Arion Kidd-Weeks | Film Director & Cinematographer

A life lives without risk is a life full of regret. The worst feeling is regret for what could have been. By nature, I am not a risk-taker but I have found my greatest moments of happiness, success, & relationships through forcing myself to break free from the fear of risk. Risk assessment and risk-taking are huge components of success at every level. I wouldn’t be who i am today if i didn’t take risks and have faith. Read more>>

Marina Varano | ABG CEO

Taking risks is such an essential part of owning a business. My father is the definition of a risk taker. With no finances he decided in 2003 to open up a restaurant, and from there he was lucky enough people took such a liking that he continued to expand. At the time, my dad didn’t have anything besides a passion and a vision. He didn’t have a dollar to his name to truly make this vision come to life, but he knew he would regret it for the rest of his life if he didn’t take the opportunity. With this being said, hearing about risk taking in my family has only inspired me to do the same. People may not always agree or believe in your creative direction, but it’s the risk you take when you truly believe in something. ABG is something I took a risk with and started during quarantine solely on my own, and I am so happy there are people who support the brand and message. I hope to not only continue taking risks myself, but also encourage other people to do the same. Read more>>

Raphael Bittencourt | Film Director, Producer and Screenwriter

Risk taking has always been an essential and always present characteristic in my career as an artist, a creative professional and an entrepreneur. Every time an artist starts a new work, a new piece, a new film, he or she is already assuming all the risks involved in exposing himself or herself to the public, to the world. It is a need that resides in the core of the artist. You’ve got to expose yourself and all kind of results and outcomes have to be embraced equally, for the good or the bad. That is what feeds the artist and the public at the same time in a symbiotic relationship. Who knows if that exchange is going to lead to tears or smiles? It doesn’t matter, you’ve got to take the risk with an open heart in order to be honest to yourself and the public. All masks down and that is a huge risk. Read more>>

Gigi | Fitness Trainer, Actress Grassu | Hollywood Trainer and Actress bringing a unique approach to fitness training through human connection.

Taking risks are necessary. By definition, taking risks is described as exposing yourself to “loss” or “failure” and that sounds scary. It could be losing your job, money, relationships, anything really. Whats funny is, losing and failing isnt even the scariest part of risk taking for people. The scariest part is you risk being seen and judged. For me, I see taking risks as “gaining” and “winning” very valuable learning lessons. I believe that in order for you to grow or excel in life you HAVE to take risks, even if it means people judging you. Risk taking has played the most important role in my life and has been the driving force to all of my decisions, the syrup to my waffles, the mo to my jo, the Tom Brady to my championship ring (you get the jist). I credit every step forward I have had in both my personal and professional life to taking risks. Read more>>

Sade Miller | Celebrity Publicist & Braid Salon Owner

When i think about risk, I think about sacrifice, and major faith. I know to society entrepreneurship looks super glamorous and super easy, but there are plenty of risks being taken when you are following that path. I always say “Entrepreneurship is a faith walk,” because it truly is. I personally am a Christian, so when I say faith, I am referring to my relationship with God. I’ve taken a few risk in both my life and career. After graduating college I moved to New York, not knowing anyone, not with a job lined up, solely with the goal to network. I sacrificed my braid clients in that moment, it was a huge risks because I could have lost their clientele. When I moved back, I did in fact have to rebuild my clientele, which took me a good 2 years to feel comfortable for my following risk. While working as a behavioral therapist for those 2 years, I decided September 2018 to put in my 2-weeks notice and be a full time entrepreneur. Read more>>

Rohith Jayaraman | Vocalist & Composer

I’ve always been an obsessive planner. I used to think about life so methodically — if a plan was set, it never changed. Didn’t matter if the plan was for 2 weeks from now or 2 years from now. When I joined Berklee College of Music as a student, I’d decided (for whatever reason) that I would finish a year early. I powered through summer semesters, overloaded on credits beyond the limit, and started my music therapy internship at the Children’s Hospital LA (CHLA) by year three. I was proud of myself for sticking to the plan. It was only a year afterwards that I realized how much I regretted rushing college. When I was in LA, I got offered a job at Berklee. It was a move back to Boston that came completely out of left field. I’d made a plan already — stay in LA, apply for music therapy jobs, gig on the side. But I decided to just go with it. I crashed with friends for several weeks, and that entire time I was trying to get a handle on my first full-time job. I was working 60 to 80 hours a week and wasn’t getting paid overtime; I was jumping from couch to couch; and I had to drop all my music therapy plans… plans I still haven’t picked up again). Read more>>

Jorchual Gregory Vargas | Film and Photography Studio owner & Actor

Risk taking is possibly one of the most stressful things any creative, entrepreneur and overall person can do. We are way too comfortable in our comfort zones, sure we are fine sometimes in these zones but I heard once “nothing good grows in the comfort zone” since then I have seek discomfort constantly and every time is an experience that can be stressful or give you some anxiety but the reward after a battle within yourself to take the chances and work hard for the opportunities is worth the journey, specially once you achieve your goal and look back to the learnings of the process. Read more>>

Paul J. Vogel | Writer/Director

I’m a firm believer in the old saying high risk, high reward. I feel like the word “risk” itself has developed an unnecessarily scary and negative undertone throughout the years. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a significant difference between reckless risk-taking such as selling your possessions, withdrawing your life savings, buying a one-way ticket to Vegas, and betting it all on lucky thirteen – versus taking a few calculated leaps of faith here and there to achieve goals and dreams you’ve set for yourself. Then again, if the Vegas play IS your dream, then perhaps it’s worth taking a moment to consider. I know it was mine. Well, not exactly – but the odds aren’t too different. Read more>>

Darryl L Sampson | Creative Director & Life Coach

Risk thinking & taking RISKS have been very vital in my life. Long before I started in corporate America or even dreamed of a career. Growing up I watched my parents take those risk leaps, whether it be their careers, residential, or just in life. I didn’t understand at that moment, that their risk-taking was preparation grounds for me. Years later I would take similar risk leaps with my very own family. When I think of risk, I automatically consider an extreme level of faith. Many may say I’ve mastered faith, but mastering risks requires maturity within the faith. It’s this mindset that has allowed me to remain focused & grounded when it boils down to decision making. During my relocation process to California, I found myself in a position of either taking a risk or just existing. When you’re about that life lol…(joking) it will require taking risks from time to time. How would you ever know your strengths if you never gave working out a try?!?! My wife & I always wanted our children to have, see & experience greater than what we ever did. Read more>>

Sarah Phillips | Cinematographer & Indie Filmmaker

For example – I have spent a lot of the past five years buying film gear slowly so that I could be in a position where rentals could be minimized. I found that as a cinematographer in the indie space, most of the time producers and directors come to me with a budget that couldn’t rent all the bells and whistles, and the projects would suffer for it – not having a large director’s monitor, not having wireless video, not having enough lights – and as the DP, my career directly is impacted if the project is impacted. So I began buying gear, and now, when I believe in a project, I can bring that gear for way less money, elevate the project, and thus elevate my career in the long run. Read more>>

Keely Ferguson | Artist & Musician

My entire life is based upon risks. I follow a path of chance in the world of entertainment because Im passionate about music but its not the only hand I play. I was taught to never jump without a parachute so with every risk I take I have calculated what it would take to land safely. In 2021 musicians are hustlers. As an independent artist its hard to rely on my craft alone to survive financially, so I balance time and energy to maintain my peace. Theres undeniably a thrill that comes with taking risk and Ive built my brand around it. In 2020, My husband and I started our streetwear brand “Wrong Way USA” in honor of it. We are the “Risk takers jump club” because we dont follow the choices given to us we create our own destiny. Read more>>

Case Kenny | Podcaster, Writer, DJ

Without risk, there is no reward. I fundamentally believe this. More so, I also believe in the power of altering your expectation for yourself and EXPECTING positive outcomes. I replace assumptions of bad luck, failure, rejection, etc. with expectations of positive outcomes. It’s amazing what can happen when you train yourself to expect more positive outcomes than assume bad ones. That replaces a “me vs. the world” mentality with something a bit more compassionate and hopeful 🙂 I’ve also realize the power of not seeing change as risk. I simply see risk as transition…. and there’s something much more inherently optimistic about simply labeling change as transition instead of risk. I know that there are optimistic outcomes and hopeful opportunities on the other side of those transitions. Read more>>

Dan Lang | Owner of WILE and Designer

Risk taking is something that needs to be done to add fuel to the fire and really live with the idea of not having those “what if” thoughts. I would have to say if I personally didn’t take some big risks I would not be where I am today with my creativity and career. One of the biggest risks I took that really led me to where I am today and on my path to the future is packing up my life in NYC with no time to plan and moving to LA. Before I bought that one way ticket, I had never been to LA and knew no one. This took me from my design jobs in NYC to then becoming the Creative Director of a successful haircare line in LA. This position provided me with the funds I needed to launch my own fragrance brand. Then during the first few months of the COVID19 pandemic, I sat there thinking what I really wanted to do with my time. During those uncertain times I decided to just pull the trigger and start the process for my perfume collection which will be launching very soon in 2021. Read more>>

The Sparks Sisters | Co-Writers & Writing Coaches in L.A.

Every great adventure in our lives has started with taking A Risk: a shy, sophomore Cinnamon trying out for the big high school musical; an introverted Allison joining her university improv team; a teenage Cinnamon in Connecticut submitting her first screenplay to a competition in L.A. (and becoming a semi-finalist); middle-school teacher Allison trying out for The Groundlings on a dare a few years ago; both sisters performing their original sketch show at Comedy Central Stage for the first time; and then leaving their successful and happy teaching careers to become full-time writers. It’s the risks that form the entertaining “beats,” interesting “plot points,” and nail-biting “suspense” in our Life Stories. Read more>>

Paul J. Salamoff | Writer/Producer/Director

As with commanding a starship, that sentiment couldn’t be truer for also working in the film industry. Sometimes, I feel like risk has been the guiding force of the last three decades of my career. Being primarily a freelance employee for most of my livelihood, every decision I had to make had some amount of strategy and calculation. I had to consider if a job would not only keep me employed for a period of time so I could pay the bills, but also advance my career in some way. As someone who has worn a lot of hats over the years (Writer/Director/Producer/Make-Up FX Artist), I was never interested in spinning my wheels. I had greater aspirations and knew that it was about making sure I stood out in a sea of people all vying for the same brass ring. And in my experience, the more I put myself out there, the better chance I would have to actually achieve my goals. Read more>>

Shir-Ami Thompson | Fashion Designer and Owner of S By S Valley Made

I think that waking up every morning is a risk! Once you step out of your safe, warm, pillow filled bed; ANYTHING can happen! You don’t know if you’re going to have a good day, a bad day, or even see the next day! Everyday, you routinely step into the great unknown. You have built resilience and have learned to TRUST, as you venture through your day. Risk taking has played a big role in my life! But during those times, I didn’t look at it from the perspective of risk taking. I looked at it from the perspective of following the deep urges of my heart, dreams and intuition. One of the biggest risks I EVER have taken was moving from Illinois to California to attend college! When I was 18 years old, I moved to Los Angeles to attend Otis College of Art and Design. It was LITERALLY my first time ever in California AND my first time ever seeing/being on the campus. I decided to attend my school sight unseen ( my parents couldn’t afford to take time off work and travel for a college tour! I had to make the choice for myself) . Was it scary? Absolutely. Was it all smooth sailing? Absolutely not. Did it all work out for my greater good in the end? Absolutely. Read more>>

Mario Barra | Actor/Comedian/Writer

Risk is basically taking a chance to get out of your comfort zone. Whether you’re parent, a student, a business man/woman, an athlete, an artist, lover, or any other, you’re always gonna find yourself in moments where you’re completely comfortable and safe, but taking a risk might be just want you need to experiment something different, or to move forward in your personal or professional life. Taking risks might look scary and overwhelming at the beginning but if you have a good reason to do so it is always worth it to give it a shot. Risk taking has always been part of me. Early on I took the risk of coming to this country by myself to have a different type of life than the one I was used to in my own country. Later in life I took another risk and decided to change my career to something that I was always interested in trying, comedy and acting. After that I took the risk of leaving everything I had in Denver to come to L.A. to pursue an acting career, once again by myself. Read more>>

Kim Steele | Actor + Filmmaker

Risk-taking has been the most lucrative way I’ve cultivated confidence and built trust in myself. When I moved from Los Angeles to New York to pursue a career on Broadway in 2016 with no job, no apartment and a modest savings I knew was taking a risk. But I was comfortable with that risk because I had already laid the foundation of a strong work ethic, a resilient mind and a completely unreasonable desire to sing showtunes in public that nothing and no one could discourage. There was no world in which I was not going to try. Effort can be terrifying because it robs you of every last one of your excuses. Imagine trying your hardest at something and still failing. Yikes! But for me, the real terror is the possibility of wondering if I could’ve gotten further in my career or made a bigger impact with my art if I really gave it my all. As for Broadway – spoiler alert – I don’t have to wonder. Read more>>

Katery Gutierrez | Actress, Singer/Musician and Filmmaker

I believe that taking risks has become very important in my career. From making the decision to live outside my comfort zone either in my preparation, in rehearsals, in auditions, have the courage to learn new languages or skills to daring to travel to different cities and countries just to act, either for opportunities or for to study. Read more>>

Michelle Gerrard | Poet, Social Media & Marketing Consultant, Content Creator

We are so often obsessed with planning everything to “perfection”. scheduling every moment of every day. And yet, how often do the best-laid plans fall flat? How often does a scheduled day turn into chaos due to unforeseen circumstances? You can play it safe your whole life and never truly feel fulfilled and still hurt from what life throws at you. I try every day to take a risk in some way or another and doing so has essentially built my career. If it’s trying something new like rock climbing, saying yes to an adventure with a new friend, trying something a little odd and not conventional for marketing, I choose to dive in. Writing is a huge part of my business, from what I create for brands to my own poetry, risk is what keeps me on my toes and allows for the creative flow to continue moving forward. Read more>>

C. Craig | Filmmaker

When opportunities arise, my main way to assess them is “where will the ‘yes’ take me?” Will I be a better filmmaker, writer, collaborator on the other side of this, or will all I have is the money and nothing else? More often than not, I can find my way to the ‘yes’ because yes has always led to amazing places for me. From going back to school to working in a creative field every step towards my goals and my team’s goals has started with taking a chance and saying yes. This particular chapter in my life is one with more yeses than noes. Read more>>

 

Nicole de la Cruz | CEO & Singer-songwriter

Risk taking is something that drives my career and my life as a whole. I don’t like to live with regrets or thinking of the “what ifs” so I just go for it. Almost six years ago, my mother took the risk of moving us across the country from South Florida to Los Angeles in order to give me the best possible environment and opportunities for my career. We went from a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom, 2 story house in a gated community in Wellington, FL to a one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles. That alone was a big risk for her to take as a single mother with two teenagers but she saw the value and the opportunities the move could bring and went for it, despite outside opinions. Read more>>

Chris Pierce | Singer-Songwriter & Musician

My journey as a songwriter and musician has been fueled by risk taking. Many years ago, at age 15, I developed a rare hearing disorder called Otosclerosis that led to the loss of hearing in one ear and partial deafness in the other, a setback that could deter many young musicians forever. The reality, however ignited my passion and determination all the more, forcing me to re-learn almost everything about sound that I had known prior to my condition. To me, music was and still is an unconditional companion. Every single time I step on stage or into a studio to make music, I take a risk. Will I hear the music? Will I hear the other musicians? Will I be able to communicate with the engineer and/or the audience? For me, the thrill of the unknown and my eternal love for music reminds me to reach beyond what is on the surface, to center and to pull straight from my soul with ever note. Read more>>

Stefani Beckerman | VP Consumer Engagement Nutraceutical | Brand Strategist

I would say taking risks is absolutely essential to building anything. Big swings enable you to breakthrough and grow to new levels. You have to have faith in the process and believe without a shadow of doubt you’ll get to where you’re aiming, and you need to create the structure to support your big jumps. That support can look like so many different things. Learning to trust yourself and understanding how to listen deeply to the wisdom of life to empower decision-making is important. Surrounding yourself with talented, value-aligned people who work together to ground the vision and land the big leap is crucial. Read more>>

Sohee Jun | Leadership Coach & Leadership Development Expert for Highly Ambitious Women and Emerging Leaders

I think about risk taking so differently than I used too in my 20s and 30’s. And, as a leadership coach to highly ambitious women and emerging leaders, risk is something I coach my clients on and help unpack into manageable actions quite often. And, because it’s such an important question, I also talk about in great detail in my book, “Mommytracked: How to take authentic risks and find success on your terms”. Like many people, I used to really fear taking risks. Whatever the “risk” was, it used to leave me feeling scared, small and overwhelmed and I didn’t want to take that step. Through my career and through taking many big risks like stepping off the corporate wheel or finding another career path or smaller risks to taking on a scary project or new client…I’ve learned to look at risk as a series of experiences in which you learn what the “right next step is.” Read more>>

Renji Philip | Film Writer & Director

I’ve never thought about risk when making decisions about deciding to make a film project. I’ve only felt certain decision were “right” (or not). If something “feels” right, I go for it. There is no consideration of “risk”, per say. If something feels right, you simply can’t fail at it, no matter what the outcome is. Read more>>

Anisa Khamvongsa | Comedian

Risk is about charging towards uncharted waters regardless of what lies ahead. I know of the phrase “bigger risk, bigger reward” but I’ve come to embrace “any risk, always a reward.” The reward being a lesson learned or more experience gained. Risk is what allowed me to ditch my complacency and transform the way I approach my life and career in comedy. In life, taking risks gave me the gift of discovering more about myself and who I want to be. My mom took a risk as a young woman when she swam across the Mekong River to escape from Laos, which fell under communist rule in the 50s. Despite the uncertainty of her future, she crossed that river and arrived in Thailand without a drop of knowledge of what would come next.
I’ve approached my life in the same way by taking the initiative to be proactive about my mental health. For so long, I felt trapped in a dark storm. I wasn’t doing what I wanted in life and wasn’t confident in who I was. I felt unhappy with everything. Read more>>

Yaminah Legohn | Show Producer, Director, Choreographer, Professional Dancer, Host and dance educator

When you have a passion for something you have to take risk. However, before you take certain risks, it’s always good to have a plan. In my life and career i’ve always taken risk. There were people in my life that tried to instill fear in me, but because of my passion, I didn’t let that get to me.
The risks I took lead me to some interested roads and lessons, but overall it all worked in my favor. Read more>>

Kelsea Richmond Tyler Ellis | There are two of us! Owners of Captain + Stoker

Risk has actually been part of our lives for a quite a while, years before we even had the thought of Captain + Stoker being a reality for us. It started when we realized how bored with life we were back in the summer of 2016. We were working jobs that were not going anywhere, and it was simply too comfortable. So we decided to buy a 1987 Mallard Sprinter RV, renovate it, sold everything we had, and left in March of 2017. We sold everything we had with zero plans moving forward, and the risk felt GOOD. It felt like we were starting fresh, we rid of everything society pushed on to us over the years. We had no plans, just to have fun and enjoy each others company (including our dog and cat). After about a year of traveling, we of course ran out of money and had to figure something out. After some searching for the right place to live, we ended up in Monterey. We got the same type of jobs that we had before traveling, and quickly realized how lame that felt all over again.  Read more>>

Dakota Rayfield | Mover and Shaker & Outdoor Enthusiast

Risk has always been apart of my life in the most beautiful way. Sometimes it was calculated and sometimes it wasn’t. Positive or negative, I welcome the experience. I’ve always just felt comfortable moving to the beat of my own drum. Life is just more fun that way. Taking a risk on yourself is by far the most epic way of rewarding mind, body, and spirit. To know you have the confidence and commitment to accomplish what you set out to do; and find the best way to thrive from that experience, is just pure magic. I remind myself all the time that it’s not the destination, but the journey there. One of my favorite traits is being resourceful. Nothing is more invigorating than fixing a problem or furthering an idea. The more calculated you can be by doing the research, thinking about all the different variables that need to stay strong and consistent; advance where growth is necessary and fulfilling; and how to keep you and your team supported and always with a positive perspective. Read more>>