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.

Jon Armstrong | Magician

As a magician, especially one that is now working in the virtual space, risk is a common factor in my business. When the pandemic hit, all live performing stopped and as that was my life blood I was forced to make a choice between giving up what I love or making a pivot to a brand new way of performing for people using online video chat. The risks were in both having to adapt performance magic for this new medium and then selling that magic can be fun and entertaining to brand new clients. Read more>>

Dexter Carr | Choreographer & Dancer

I have always been a bit of a risk junkie, not in a gambling sort of way but just with important life decisions, which may be worse now that I think about it, ha. From a young age I always knew that I would move out of my hometown and head to a large city, either New York or LA. Since then I have continued to be the type to choose the riskier option, because the reward tends to be more fulfilling. Where are you from and how did your background and upbringing impact who are you are today? I am from Miami, FL. Grew up in a pretty conservative home, and at this point in my life I’m very happy about that. The structure & discipline I experienced as a kid has helped me organize my adult life. Read more>>

Pluggworld | Band

As a band, we think about risk as opportunity. It’s not something we avoid, it’s something we look for. In a saturated market like music, risk can be one of the most important instruments for an independent artist. It all ties back to the age-old adage – “high risk , high -reward”. Indie artists typically don’t have the luxury of playing anything safe, because there’s no framework in place to get “safe” content noticed by the masses in an organic way. Without the resources and relationships of a label, Indie artists are forced to create content that is noticiably different and not easily replicated. Essentially we have to find a way to break new ground, and this is always risky because you’re putting your name on something that is not proven. Ultimately the right type of risk will force a listener to have to make a decision – do they like the new sound or not. Read more>>

Ira (Irina) Storozhenko | Film Director

I was born in Russia during the 1990’s – a very specific time to be born. Russians still call that time “Crazy Nineties” as a reminder of the global historical changes in the country. Along with the final collapse of Socialism, the Russian economy drastically went down. Crisis hit the country and unemployment cases with crime rates went up. People literally had to take risks every day they would go to work – it always could have been the last time. You could have either lost the job or be shot on the street. What a wonderful time to be born! My mother made a big choice when she decided to keep me. Having a second child when you may not have a place to live tomorrow – is a big decision to make. My father had to take risks every day and being a sensitive child, I may not understand what exactly was happening but would always feel it. So as I would say – I got risks taking in my blood. Read more>>

Stefni Valencia | Singer Songwriter & Artist Extraordinaire

Bravery has been something I have learned to embrace and something I strive for in my work. Playing it safe is definitely not something you can do in the Entertainment industry. I work in a male dominated industry and I have worked hard to make a name for myself and I take pride in my work. I do my very best to stay true to myself and my craft. People that do not understand my industry have asked me “why music?” Why don’t you take the safer, more secure route in life?” I have also been asked by others in my industry “why don’t you follow the trend, do what others are doing?” In the end I have learned to block out the noise and listen to my heart and stick to my gut. Believe me it takes work to trust yourself, and fight for what you love every day. Read more>>

Ruben Martinez | Artist Manager & Consultant

My career has always surrounded itself with risk. The music business is about taking chances in someone’s livelihood and making the proper decisions for my clients and company to excel. As an Artist Manager, I am expected to be around for my clients 24/7 to help with all facets of the entertainment industry. Although this is the Music Business, not the Music Friendship, most of my clients become part of my extended family. From songwriting, publishing, production, wardrobe, touring, merchandising and branding, I am there to offer advice and endeavor in taking risks with them. I would say that 95% of the time, my clients and I win, but there’s that 5% of the time when I don’t believe in an idea or project. The idea may be passe. The idea doesn’t have a return in investment. It may hurt the artist ego but that’s when I have to be brutally honest. Read more>>

Nicolas Repetto | Composer for Film, Television and Multimedia

Risk is something that frightens many of us. When it comes to health, we do not want to hear or go near the word risk. When risk is applied to a career in a informed and strategic manner, it can be incredibly beneficial force for change. When I was creating my plan to pursue a career in film and television scoring, there were a few risk factors that I had to weigh in order to achieve my intended outcome. Note that each risk factor is associated with a certain stage of my career. In this Early Stage, I had to: 1. Let go of a secure, full-time job teaching music and conducting orchestras in Miami, FL 2. Drive 3,000 thousand miles to Los Angeles to pursue a career that had no guarantee of success 3. Meet many filmmakers at networking events, film festivals, and creative outlets. Read more>>

Pepper B | Crystals & Wellness

I frequently consider myself as a risk taker. This fearlessness has come with time. As a person who thinks with so much logic, risk taking always feels like I am following my heart or core desires. There is that weird stage between actually deciding to take the risk and leaping that sharpens you. Taking a risk has ALWAYS pushed me out of comfortability. At times being comfortable can feel like being stagnant. There are substantial rewards after risk even if you fail. The feeling of knowing you were willing to take a risk prepares you for the next one. Taking a risk has always either put me more on my path or taught me lessons that I needed to keep going on my path. There are 3 major risk that stand out the most (1) resigning from my job as an executive in the beauty industry after 7 years with one company. Read more>>

Crystal Ung | Founder

As a daughter to immigrants who were small business owners, I view risks as necessary endeavors in which any risk can be mitigated or hedged. In business school, I studied how risk was defined and quantified in finance, which offers some elegant examples of how I have thought about it in adulthood. First, it is universally understood that the higher the risk, the higher return. It was up to me to define my risk tolerance. I have a high tolerance for risk and believed the uncertainty could be mitigated through hard work, grit, and resourcefulness. After all, studies have shown that the single biggest predictor of success is grit. An interesting element highlighted in behavioral finance that is also applicable here is one’s perception and experience of loss and benefits or known as Loss Aversion. Read more>>

John Mizenko | Music School Owner & Musician

Risk I have been asked to give an assessment of what role risk-taking has had in my life/career. This is a loaded question for me as there is inevitably some inherent level of risk in anything we do. Pre-COVID, most of our day-to-day routines were filled with low-risk activities and decisions. Going shopping, dining out with friends, seeing a movie, attending a concert etc…all activities we took for granted. Only now that these simple pleasures are no longer easily available to us, do we appreciate them. Today, these same activities are considered high-risk activities. Most of the time I see myself as a pragmatic person. I look at situations for what they are and make decisions based on guidance and answers gained by my consultations with experts on the given situation, my personal observations, reading/research and my past experience with the particular situation. Read more>>

Christian Klein | Motion Graphics Artist & Emerging Filmmaker

Embracing risk is an essential aspect of working in the film industry. Your growth as an artist will stagnate if you don’t take the risk of committing to projects that are more challenging than what you’ve done before. In order to make a name for yourself, you have to go through that iterative process multiple times, risking your reputation each time. Then, when you get to the point where you’ve made enough of a name for yourself to have multiple work opportunities available, you’re still making a bet that one you pick will turn out to be the right one, creatively and logistically. So there’s really no getting around the fact that you’ll be taking lots of risks, but that’s what keeps the process fresh, exciting, and ultimately rewarding. Read more>>

Imani Simmons | Talent Manager, Event Producer & Brand Partnership Specialist

I think of risk as the cost of playing the game. It’s absolutely necessary to take them in order for you to succeed (depending on your circumstances, of course). Working in the creative/ entertainment field, I’ve been blessed to be in a position where I don’t have to settle, so taking risks on myself within my career are the least I can do. Literally everything is a risky decision, I just have to make a quick pros and cons list to determine if I’m better off making whatever decision is at play. I’m pretty optimistic, so usually the pros outweigh the cons lol. Read more>>

Jen Weiser | Designer, Creative Director, Content Creator & Founder

I love this question because as humans we evaluate risks on a daily basis consciously or unconsciously. I feel it’s intrinseque to us. To me, risk does not hold a negative value. On the contrary, when I think about the term, I think about opportunities, possibilities, challenges, problem solving and essentially, growth. I think risk is having the guts to step out of your comfort zone, in your personal and/or business life, and have the strength to look back at it in a positive way no matter the outcome. That’s what risks taking taught me. All the risks I took so far had positive outcomes in my life as it has always been synonymous with personal growth, whether it was a success or a failure; from moving to Los Angeles where I got far more professional and personal growth than staying in France, to creating my own brand. I could not have created my life the way I had envisioned it without taking risks. Read more>>

Justin Phillip | Content Creator

There’s a phrase I stole from an old comedy series called ‘Party Down’. There was an episode where Steve Guttenberg Guest Starred and he kept saying, “No risk, no reward!” I thought that was so clever, and yet so true. I’ve always lived my life like that. My mother raised myself and my two older sisters on her own, never took any hand outs from anyone, worked her way up to being Lieutenant of Orange County Fire & Rescue, (orange county, Florida), she owned three Harley’s, always bought her houses, so she’s the first one that taught me “No Risk, No Reward”. Everything I have today, and all that I’ve lost in the past, is all due to “No Risk, No Reward”. A lot of people live sad, frightened lives, or kind of live like sheep, just because they’re afraid to take risks. I have never understood that. I’m also rebellious in nature, so I guess that helps push me to always take risks. Read more>>

Nikki Marvin | Artist, Dancer & Entrepreneur

Taking risks has shaped how I fundamentally live my life and has led me down path after path of personal growth. I tend to follow my passions and inspirations and this naturally leads to opportunity. I say yes to everything, for better or worse. When I met my husband, Shesha, he had this mentality and that was one of the things that attracted me to him most. His willingness to take every opportunity and see where it goes. I have found that I am perfectly willing to create own opportunities, which, naturally, carries its own risk. Taking risks forces us out of our comfort zones or safe spaces. Taking risks also means accepting failures as learning experiences and growing from them. I am up for the challenge. I am filling to fail. I know that taking these risks can also equal incredible rewards. This risk and reward is true for art, business, personal growth, and family. Read more>>

Maagic Collins | Creative Artist & Mental Health/Civil Rights Advocate

Risk Taking What do I think about risk taking? My relationship with taking risks is unique in that I’ve taken risks that were necessary, as I’ve sacrificed parts of my wellbeing for the truth. At times I’ve been compelled to take a chance, following my intuition, at other times I’ve been reckless and selfish with my life. I look at risk in three different ways. Healthy risk, the ones we must take to grow. Telling the truth at the cost of self preservation at times. Then there are those risks we may unwittingly find ourselves in or they may be trauma informed. The healthy risk: The first one is where I feel most inspirational quotes come from. No guts, no glory. Nature favors the bold. Insert the next motivational quote. It is the mental hurdle to the next plateau of self discovery. Such as starting your first business. Read more>>

Leslie LaPage | Festival Founder, Director & Producer of Entertainment

What was your thought process behind starting your own business? I have been an Indie Producer for more years than I can remember. But when I launched into creating a film festival that supported women run and operated by women for everyone was in 2004 as I sat in Starbucks in Park City Utah. A was with five women producers, writers and directors drinking our double lattes and I came up with the idea to create a woman’s festival. It was a niche that was not served 16 years ago and I was the first to get really bloody breaking through the wall creating a worldwide festival branded with filmmakers and audience. I had no idea the amount of effort it was going to take to break though the stereotype opinions to create this company. Read more>>

Tania Aebi | Sailor & Writer

My whole life and career has been defined by risk. At the age of 18, I accepted a challenge that was considered very risky—a singlehanded sail around the world on a 26′ boat. Achieving that goal taught me what I was capable of doing, and it provided a great story to tell ever since about how impossible it is to know about how much we can accomplish without trying. Read more>>

Kristen Campbell | Visual and Performing Arts Marketing Coordinator & Booking Agent

I never really thought about the word, “Risk” throughout my life or career. My focus was always on another “R” word….Regret. I never wanted to live my life so that when I’m old and sitting in my rocking chair on my porch, that I regretted anything. Inherently, I guess that meant that I was taking risks all throughout my life. It wasn’t until I saw this question as an option for me to answer, did I realize that the lack of regrets equalled taking risks. My first great risk was following graduation from high school in a small town in Western Pennsylvania. Instead of college, which I never believed I was right for, I packed my bags, got on a plane with two of my friends, and moved to Buena Park, California. I had auditioned and been accepted in a performance ensemble called, The Young Americans. I had never lived on my own, never had a real job, never balanced a check book or paid one single bill. Read more>>

Dr. Randal Collins, CEM | Leader, Emergency Manager & Change Agent

Put simply, Leader’s are risk takers. My life has changed due to risk taking and the willingness to just say yes. In 2013 I chose to have bariatric surgery which set me up for losing approximately 100 pounds. This then led to my renewed interest in distance running. I chose to go back to school in the Executive Master of Leadership graduate program at USC. While training for a marathon on a long run I concocted the idea to, at the age of 44, go out for the USC lacrosse team. This resulted in me being the oldest player to ever play in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse League. At the end of any graduate program, I still had three years of eligibility, so I applied for and was accepted into a USC doctorate program, eventually becoming Dr. Randal Collins and playing 4 full years of lacrosse to the age of 47. All of these risks have taught me to pursue your dreams not your goals, the dreams are much more rewarding. Read more>>

Jena Priebe | Owner

When i started my business, i knew it was going to take a lot of hard work, a series of good choices and a little luck for it to succeed. I also knew that if I didn’t take the risk, I wouldn’t get any reward. Basically my mantra in life is to go for it; jump off the cliff and figure out how to build wings on the way down. There is no way to know what is around the next corner in your business or personal life, so arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can and then go for it. Take the leap. I’ve taken this approach as long as i can remember. I’ve have worked in different jobs and even started other companies before my current business that have “failed”. I’ve taken innumerable risks along the way and they haven’t always panned out. But i learned from every single “mistake” and got back up, brushed myself off and kept going or started a new path. Read more>>

Andre Huseman | Co-founder

I don’t personally think about risk that often, I usually look at the upside and based on the level involvement that it requires for me and that usually determines whether I invest or participate in the business. And if I’m going to take a risk they are calculated risk. I think it’s paid off really well so far considering where I’m at in life. Read more>>

Brooke Coe | Construction Artist, Interior and Furniture Designer & Introvert Weirdo

Well this one is simple – I live my life by the mantra “Do what scares you.” If I’m comfortable, I’m stagnant. I’m always pushing myself into new areas – learning new furniture building techniques, visiting new countries, climbing new mountains. Each of these experiences brings on new exhilarations and discoveries and spurs new curiosities and creativity. After a trip to Spain, my artwork took on a Spanish flair. After a layoff from an ad agency, I started my own business. Most of it was unknown, but I forged forward. I created a portfolio career that allows me to continue to grow and expand my skills without getting bored. I came out to Los Angeles on a bus with $35 in my pocket when I was 19 and lived in the bus station for 2 days until I found a place to live. Movement creates results. Standing still doesn’t allow much to happen. Take risks, expand your horizons, LIVE LIFE! Read more>>

Alexandra Lunardon | Italian Restaurant Owner

My dad taught me a thing or two about sacrifice and risk. Although I know I’ve both given and taken some good advice over the years, I don’t think any of it compares to his. At 42, he packed up his whole family in Argentina and came to a new world to make it better for his children. As a youngster, I didn’t entirely understand the upheaval, but when I reached 42 myself, it became crystal clear — it’s now or never. When my parents passed away — and in order to keep everything that they labored and sacrificed so much for — I worked three jobs all while trying to make my business grow. I soon realized that I was sinking, and I needed to concentrate on my restaurant or get rid of it. Leaving behind all the income I was making to concentrate on my own failing business was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. Read more>>