Shoot your shot? Take a chance? Society bombards us with messages, phrases, examples and stories of how taking risk is the key to success, but is anything ever that simple? We asked some of the brightest folks we know to tell us about how they think about risk. We’ve shared their responses below.

A’niche | Hip-Hop Artist & Producer

If you were to ask anyone I grew up with regarding my eventual career path, I guarantee you no one would have said I’d be a rapper. As a kid, I was involved in every extracurricular–Student Council President, Soccer JV Team, Math and Science Olympiads…you name it, I was in it. I had straight As, and a dream to pursue medicine at Duke University. I played the NCAA 2001 basketball video game as a kid (the one with Shane Battier on the cover), and Duke was ranked #1 in my game–I was at that point fixated on going there, and I grew up always saying I would be a doctor. Ironically, my older sister became the doctor, and instead I went to MIT, haphazardly applying there at the last minute because my dad suggested it couldn’t hurt to try. Read more>>

Raven France | Creator & Entrepreneur

Risk taking makes for some of our greatest accomplishments. The ones we were too afraid to take using reason. I took a risk of walking away from a secure income to become a full time entrepreneur. Some call it risk, but I call it Faith. Faith has brought me this far as a full time entrepreneur for a successful year, with no chance of looking back. Read more>>

Connor Garelick | Actor & Musician

Art is about risking failure. I feel it’s important to understand that risk is what makes something beautiful and without any failures or mistakes there would be no reason to create art. And when we create something really from inside ourselves, and dig deep to our core, there is no greater feeling in the world. There is no right or wrong when it comes to art, but there is interesting and not interesting. Artists put a mirror up to society and remind them of what is deep within themselves. Remind them of the emotions and feelings that we keep hidden in our everyday life. Read more>>

Ben Cope | Photographer and Director with 7 Artist Management

I think risk has played an important role in my life and career. Most life choices that I have made that have put me in an uncomfortable spot short term have all, for the most part, paid off long term. I am not one to blindly take risks though. I am one to sit, think of all possible outcomes, and try to make the best decision at the time, despite what friends may say or how ridiculous it may seem to some. That way of thinking and risk taking helped me drop everything and leave home after college to move to Oakland in my early 20s. That eventually took me to LA and NYC where I learned the ins and outs of the photo world and built my career. Read more>>

Nila Varman | Radio Host, Educator & Youth Activist

Risk I believe, is rooted in many of the decisions we. make, but at the end of the day, it is up to us on how we incorporate it or modify it or use it. I’ve always been the one to express myself, whether I’m on stage, on screen, or on air. I am always doing something. I was born in the Isle of Wight into the most loving South Indian, Tamil-speaking family one could ask for. My Amma (mum), As a girl of colour, I received the standard talks growing up: what to do if someone treated me differently because of my brown skin, how to love the brownness of my skin, how to be proud of where I come from, how I might need to stand my ground in the future. Read more>>

Sebastien Abonnel | Entrepreneur – Sport

As an entrepreneur, the risk is part of your life, of your process. What I’m supposed to do? What I’m supposed to say, how the decision that I’m taking right now will affect the future of my company or my own life ? So many questions to which we have no answers at this time…. I accepted this. I have learned that is impossible to anticipate every detail but our role is to significantly reduce the risk in every situation, on every deal or during every decision process. It’s called the “calculated risk” What is my exposure ? How far I’m willing to risk my moral, physical or financial exposure ? Read more>>

Jasmin Benward | Educator, Multi-hyphenate Writer, Singer/Producer, + Family Wellness Instructor

When I think about risk, I think about taking chances in good faith. Some risks are calculated, others, not so much. Many of the risks that I take bloom from different seasons and states of mind that I find myself in. In these moments I felt emotionally charged: angry, inspired, and curious being my top three. At times I get uneasy in my comfort. I get pissed off with my own complacency and I go for ‘it’. It being jobs I feel are out of my reach, getting over myself to initiate a meaningful connection, and so on. I deeply feel that creativity is my birthright-I’m inspired by so many people, things, and places. Read more>>

Bridgett Foster | Director and Business Owner

Taking a risk is very important in business. In order to even succeed in life, you have to be willing to take a chance. Another word for risk is also faith. You have to have faith in yourself and what you are doing. Everything in life is planned in our heads before it materializes in our hands. When we are in that planning thought process, that is where we are evaluating risk. Taking a risk in my career has played a huge part with being an owner of acting and modeling centers, plus a director. Risk is always involved, but I always cover the risk with faith. Faith in my ability. Faith in what I am doing. Faith to bring it to full fruition. Read more>>

Mimi Nguyen | Wardrobe Stylist & Creative Director

My thoughts about risk are, “the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward.” Taking risks has played a huge role in my life. I took a big risk in leaving home and moving to a brand new city to follow my styling dreams with no plan, really no stable place to stay, and I only knew 3 people. It wasn’t easy and there were plenty of times I wanted to give up and go back home. With hard work and resilience, I have accomplished many goals and dreams that I thought were unattainable at that time. Those goals included being published 3 times, working backstage at fashion shows (including New York Fashion Week), and meeting so many successful and influential people in the industry. Read more>>

Samantha Combs | Visual Artist & Professor

I believe risk-taking is essential to making good art. Taking risks enables an artist to discover new materials and modes of expression that are typically more visually and conceptually compelling. Since undergrad and especially during grad school, I pushed myself out of the confines of the painting discipline to explore other methods of creation. I had visionary ideas and needed to find a new, unique way to physically manifest them. So instead of using paint as a medium, I began making soap as an alternate painting material, along with performance and immersive installation work. Taking these artistic risks allowed me to learn more about my creative instincts, produce unique and perceptive work more attuned to my interests and ideas, and most importantly, to feel empowered. Read more>>

Ryan Adamés | Frontman of She & The Bandit

I think taking risk is super important, for me anyway. I’ve always kind of been the type to do what speaks to me artistically first, and then I think everything falls into place from there. I may not be singing a traditional top 40 song and thats ok with me because I followed the path of authenticity and that means more to me than anything else at the end of the day . So yes, take risks, go against the grain and be fearless Read more>>

Madison Bauer | Screenwriter & Script Consultant

I think of risk as a necessary evil. The truth is no one wakes up and asks themselves, “what can I do today to make jeopardize my peace or security?” Which is exactly what risk is… Yet, everyone at some point in their life is faced with varying levels of risk or of loss. Whether by choice or by being chosen.. So for my own sanity I have decided to see risk as a necessary evil. And I tend to only accept the risk when it is to get me where I need to go. If there is no risk in what I do, or what I create it feels as if I am writing inauthentically. Like they say, with no risk comes no reward… My life has been anything but smooth, safe, or consistent. It has been full of risk, sometimes by choice and sometimes chosen for me. Read more>>

Courtney Haynes | Standup Comedian & Comedic Writer/Actor

I believe the first thing that people must understand is that life isn’t meant to be lived in the space of sacrifice and conformity. Merriam Webster “‘n them”, states the definition of risk is, “possibility of loss or injury” – yikes! Or how about this one, “someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard”- that’s heavy. When you truly think about it, that’s a very compromising way to live life. The fear of taking “risks” is the beginning of an endless cycle of why people make the decisions that they do: which leads to sticking and continuously teaching the safe route of live. and they take and teach the safe route. Read more>>

Karen Gehres | Film & TV Producer and Documentary Filmmaker

When I think of the risks I’ve taken throughout my life, it’s always been linked to fear and confidence simultaneously. Every time I have pushed through the fear of the unknown, taken the risk into new territory with no safety net, I come out the other side with greater confidence. Usually, the possibility of something better, is the force that steps over the fear. The risk has almost always lead to unimaginable reward. In fact, I wouldn’t have much of a career if I hadn’t stepped out of status quo. Every stepping stone along my career path has required some sort of risk. Read more>>

Danny Liu | Tattoo Artist

I think that risks are definitely necessary, otherwise there’s no progressing. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without taking any risks. I’ve taken plenty. I had to take a huge risk at the beginning of my career, for my apprenticeship. A tattoo apprenticeship usually lasts about 2 years, it’s unpaid and it takes up all of your time. You have to dedicate yourself to your mentor, the shop, and your art, hoping that one day you’ll become a successful tattoo artist. You have no way of knowing if you’ll be any good, because tattooing is a whole different art medium that you won’t know until you try. The risks don’t disappear once you graduate from apprenticeship . You have to decide if you want to draw what’s “safe”, designs that are mainstream and liked by everyone, or take a chance and put your own twist into your art. Read more>>

Stephanie Pappas | Creator- Founder/Botanical Skin Care

Starting your own business is a risk. and part of the game you always have to play. To be an entrepreneur you have to be comfortable with it. Most successful entrepreneurs have failed several times but we only know them for of their success. There is no reward without risk and is what creates the magic. Read more>>

Shonika Michelle | Business owner & Creator

Risk taking is exciting, nerve racking and scary all in one, but I wouldn’t have started my business as well as followed through with personal goals if I didn’t take a chance on myself. I started my business in the beginning of the pandemic, some called me crazy and others were confused, but I knew that if I started this business, I would be able to make a very significant change. . Read more>>

Ashley Singleton | Comedian

I think if you want to be successful in life you have to take risks. Some risks may be small while others may be big, but you have to take them. They say “greater the risk, greater the reward,” and while that’s true, there are times when risks don’t always pay off but I’ve learned some of my greatest life lessons from a failed risk. For me specifically being a comedian, I’m always having to take risks. Every time I try out a new joke or sketch I’m taking a risk. Will the audience think it’s funny or not? When I get a laugh it’s the greatest reward and best feeling in the world. When I don’t get a laugh or a good response, at the moment it’s embarrassing and awkward, but then I know to move on from that joke and try again. Read more>>