Legend holds that Cornelius Vanderbilt had built a massive fortune in the steamboat shipping industry, but then realized the railroads were the way of the future and invested almost his entire net worth into railroads.  The gamble paid off and made Vanderbilt one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs ever.  But risks are inherently…risky.  How do you think about risk and how has it affected your life and career?  Some of our community favorites share their perspective below.

Mengxi Yang | Animator & Filmmaker

I think risk taking doesn’t mean that one should not have a comfort zone, and I have a lot of respect for creatures of habit. In fact it is when someone with a clear comfort area decides to go out of it that makes it all the more meaningful. For me, China is my entire childhood, and leaving home to United States for college was the first big moment of risking taking. I had to start fresh in many ways, and it motivates me everyday to observe, absorb and adapt to new things. That feeling never left me since then. In my animation work I struggle to stay in a well-defined genre, and I fell in love with the idea of hybridity. My recent film is a documentary animation done with stop motion and digital collage. It was a challenge to construct, but when I found a way to do it, it became a very unique creation, and that process was extremely satisfying and liberating. Read more>>

Erika Nuri Taylor | Real Estate Agent & Grammy Nominated Songwriter

I’ve always been a risk taker when it comes to my career. I usually just jump in 100%, because the thought of having regrets always outweighs the fear of making a mistake or not being successful. I also believe that I can accomplish anything that I want to as long as I stay focused and not let that little voice of self doubt get loud! Yes, it can be scary, but the reward is amazing when you take a risk and accomplish your goal. I try to look at failure as a learning experience and not spend too much time dwelling on the past. Read more>>

AJ Fructuoso | Electronic Music Producer & Pro Audio Tech Support Engineer

I see risk as a necessary component of growth. I’ve discovered that it is necessary to place myself completely outside of where I feel comfortable in order to effectively pursue my full potential. Through experience, I consider it best practice to make choices instinctively and passionately, All of our decisions are reactions to various risks. They come together to form the unique and the abstract that is our artistic identity. Read more>>

Prarthana Joshi | Filmmaker, Producer – Director

Risk taking sounds like a negative word but really it is just stepping out of your comfort zone and trying to create. And any creation is uncertain until you see it through so, as a creative person risk is a part of your daily life and to be welcomed. And if you are not taking risks then you are not growing as an artist because you are staying in your comfort zone and might become stagnant. Read more>>

Ren Pidgeon | Photographer

Risk has played a big part in my career. Before I was a photographer I worked as a retoucher for about 6 years.. I absolutely hated it. After a holiday, I decided I couldn’t sit in front of a computer anymore and I needed to pursue a career in photography. I handed in my resignation on my first day back in the office, I had no savings or any other jobs to fall back on. I didn’t even own a camera at that point. But the risk was worth it, throwing myself in to another career in that way pushed me to succeed, it meant I didn’t have any other option than to hustle and figure out how to become a photographer. Read more>>

Audriana White | Wedding and Event Planner

Simply put, risk taking is my way to level up! That saying of “there’s no reward without risk,” rings true. It’s nowhere near comfortable, but it’s necessary when you’re looking to grow! Whenever I took a leap of faith — and risked it all, many valuable lessons followed. In September 2019 I took a chance on myself and pursued my wedding and event planning company, Noble Gold Events, full time. It was the scariest thing I’ve done to date, but I learned that I love entrepreneurship and working for myself. Read more>>

Elliot Musgrave | Certified Personal Trainer and Health & Wellness Coach

I think about risk as a necessary endeavor for folks who bring change the world. Taking a risk is very scary, but development does not live with comfort. Every deeply impactful experience in my live has been brought about by a risky decision. The playbook that was supposed to bring about fulfillment never worked for me. When I put the book down I was able to see MY path, and to bring about the life I imagined for myself. Beating my own path has not been easy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Read more>>

William Guirola | Father, actor, man of faith.

Risk taking has played a Huge role in my life and Career. For myself just even attempting to be an actor was a risk, I had nothing. I was in a bad place in life, I could have just continued going in the road I was in or take a leap of faith and do something I had no idea about. I took that step. I went into acting with an open heart and I loved it. It was my outlet . I risked it all pretty much. Read more>>

Sarah Espinosa | Choreographe/Dancer

I can say that the best choices I did in my life were definitely initiate by taking risks. we usually see risks as fear or in negative way. But in reality, It’s the lil boost of energy that wake us up from our comfort zone.
In my personal experiences, all the risks I took are key moment in my professional or personal life. Read more>>

Fritz Costa | Published Scientist and Art Historian

The way I think about risk is; if I’m uncomfortable, or I’m nervous, or doubtful of my decisions, then I’m just right. I’m taking enough risks in my life. Now If I’m loosing sleep at night about a risk I took, then it’s too much. My normal is slightly uncomfortable. If you’re completely content and comfortable, then you didn’t take any risks that year and you didn’t push the needle. There will be no progress. I like to paint myself in a corner all the time and announce it to my friends. For example, I told everyone that I’m going to write this art book 8 years ago. Guess what, every time my friends saw me they would say, “hey, how’s that book coming along?” Now I’m accountable to to risk I took, or else I get pie in my face. My suggestion is start off with small risks, then build your way up. Read more>>

Kenneth Anderson | Executive Chef

Risk taking has been essential to my personal development and business from the begining. I recently started a podcast with my chef partner and a friend called just jump and we discuss how taking a leap of faith on a regular basis is how we have come as far as we have. I did not start my career in a conventional way, instead of going to intern at a restaurant after culinary school as most of my peers i took a shot on myself and started catering. So many times along that journey i stood confident in front of clients saying yes to large and crazy events that on the inside i had no clue how i would pull off. This would become an everlasting thread through my career and I won’t stop pishing boundries beyond my level of comfort. Read more>>

Georgia Dolenz | Actress & Writer

I think risk is a huge part of doing anything creative. You never know if people will connect with your work, or find it funny. But that’s part of the thrill. They’re often the moments that propel you to the next level, or open up avenues you’d never have known existed. As long as I connect with what I’m doing, I think the risks are always worth it. Read more>>

Khalid Briggs | Creative Director & Producer

I look at risk as a catalyst. Could be a catalyst toward success or it could be one for a failure. But it’s all about perspective. Failure isn’t the end, in fact – failure can teach you a different way of approaching things which can ultimately lead you back to success. Risk is what makes it all worth it. You always have a choice fight or flight. Comfort ≠ Growth it equals complacency. Read more>>

Brina Gibson | Cosmetic Line Owner

I think risk is either a pro or a con depending on what you make it. I think a person who takes risks is more likely to make it than someone who doesn’t. Like they say “Scared money don’t make money” & I honestly believe in that. Some people miss out on the money they could make thinking about everything that could go wrong instead of thinking of everything that can go right. For me personally, taking risk almost always pays off. I believe faith without works is dead. You have to do your part & God will do his. I know he wouldn’t bring me this far to fail me now. My best piece of advice is to believe that you have a God & that your tribe will gravitate to you naturally. No one is you & that is your superpower. Read more>>

Robert DeSanti | Artist—Actor, Writer, Producer, Director, Painter.

The first thing that comes to mind is a poem from the Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters. It is described as a set of monologues spoken by the dead in a midwestern cemetery and it explores very taboo and grim topics at times. I always read them as very human poems. The one that struck me the most was by George Gray: I have studied many times The marble which was chiseled for me — A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbour. In truth it pictures not my destination But my life. Read more>>

Jen Wong | Creator & Entrepreneur

Up until I started my press-on nail business, I was so afraid of risk. I was in a traumatic accident when I was 21 years old and that shifted my perspective on life drastically. I went from being carefree and outgoing to reserved and timid. It wasn’t until this past year that I’ve learned how this traumatic accident has affected my life. Until I was able to realize this, I felt trapped and stuck in my life and career. As I’ve been working on this trauma through therapy, I decided within a couple of weeks that I wanted to start a small business. That has been the biggest risk I’ve ever taken in my life but I am probably the happiest I have ever been. Read more>>

Zxire | Artist, Songwriter, & Entrepreneur

I think at this point when thinking about taking risks my only standpoint is that if things right now are not as I would have them to be in my ideal situation, then what is the risk that I’m taking? The biggest risk of them all for me is being unhappy and having regrets. I waited a long time to take what I felt at the time was the biggest risk which was moving from Boston, Massachusetts to Los Angeles, California on my own, with limited funds and resources. It actually took years for me to make that decision. Read more>>

Neal Tyler | Filmmaker & Photographer

Playing it safe is the only unacceptable risk. As an independent filmmaker, I’m in constant risk of humiliation, failure, and financial ruin. The hours I’m not actively on set, I’m usually either writing, editing, researching, brainstorming, processing photos, or developing ideas. That constant investment of time, money, and energy is the cost of pursuing your dreams and fighting to create something you believe in. That “something” doesn’t just have to be a creative endeavor, it could be a vision of how you want to live your life. Read more>>

Yenny Bernal | Visual Artist, Art Teacher, and Business Owner.

Life is nothing but a game of risk, and I have learned to embrace it from an early age growing in Colombia. Taking a risk of any size can cause stress and anxiety but are a necessary evil if you wish to better yourself and what you have. For me taking risks has been the motor that has been driving my life in the search for adventure, self-discovery, and expression within the visual arts for as long as I can remember. Read more>>

Harmony Pilobello | Co-Founder of Alterre & Sustainability Activist

When I think about risk, I’m always thinking of multiple outcomes before deciding if something is worth it. I have to be okay with the worst, best, and mediocre outcomes before moving forward. In a way, risk-taking is something I’ve always embraced. I love finding creative solutions to problems, which often comes with being okay not knowing how things will turn out. I think being an entrepreneur really pushes that aspect to the max. Read more>>

Jessica Parsons | Yoga Instructor & Artist

Taking a risk is always a little scary! I remember when I was first learning to teach yoga, I was team teaching with another, more experienced teacher. Together, we taught an Inclusive Yoga class for students with all types of abilities. One day my teacher/partner became ill and was not able to make it to class. All of the parents and caregivers (including mine) said we would have to cancel the class and go home. Read more>>

Meghan Magner | Writer/Performer

I feel that risk is a catalyst to great art. To do something that’s never been done before requires a certain amount of fearlessness and a good amount of crazy. I would not be where I am today if I didn’t take risks. It’s very true the saying, “where there’s a will there’s a way.” I live by that. As an artist, if you create work constantly thinking about how it’s going to be received you are going to create art in the collectives’ comfort zone. Great art pushes the collective out of their comfort zone. So you have to go there first. It’s a very scary and sometimes lonely place. There have been so many nights where I’ve woken up thinking, “Oh god, what did I just do?…. Did I really write that?… Did I just say that in a meeting?… What was I thinking?…” Read more>>

Breana Plunkett | Communications at UMG

I want to start by saying I’m a virgo, meaning risk really isn’t in my nature. The way I typically operate is “safe”, logical, strategic, logical, etc, but I knew in order to pursue the my goals in working in the music industry/entertainment, that type of mindset wouldn’t necessarily be conducive to my success. I looked at my peers, who I went to high school & college with, & remember hearing stories of who & what they wanted to be when they came into the adult world. Read more>>

Droid Bishop | Electronic Artist/Composer

As a fairly neurotic person, I’m not a huge physical risk taker. I wanted to be a professional skateboarder when I was younger but I knew, being afraid to “go big or go home” , I could never truly make it in the big leagues. That’s when I fully shifted gears and committed to my other life blood, Music. At about age 15, school was definitely getting in the way of wanting to be a creative eagle who freely soars through a trail of good and bad life decisions so I decided to leave. Now, you may be asking yourself, “Is he still talking about Risk?” and I would venture to say that dropping out of high school to pursue a career in the Arts & Entertainment industry is a huge risk in itself. Read more>>

Evita Giron | Author and Writer

I am all for taking risks when it comes to professional and personal growth. I think of risk taking as something that is good for our mind, body and heart. When it came down to the idea of me becoming a professional writer such as an Author, I was happy and relieved to have finally taken the steps that I did to publish my book. Years prior to that I started my journey as a freelance writer and left my work in higher education (full-time position in which I travelled domestically and internationally) to really practice and hone my craft as a beauty and lifestyle writer. This is something that I have wanted to do for a very long time and I finally had the ingenuity and faith to do it. Taking risks helps you to feel free. Free of restrictions and fear of which could be holding you back from doing the things you love the most.Read more>>

Clarence Hughes | Marketing Coordinator & Assistant Volleyball, Soccer & Basketball Coach

I think about risk naturally bringing fear into the mindset of an individual. I also think risks are necessary if an individual wants to have a successful life. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have a successful life by staying comfortable and going with the flow of things, but taking risk only ups your chances for that success we all like to say we want in this life. Taking risks has drastically changed my life working in the very impacted sports industry. Read more>>

Noah Hughey-Commers | Wood-fired potter

Choosing pottery will give you a thousand moments to question yourself. If you’re going to take one of those ways out, then that story is over before it begins. Being a potter is probably a bit like being an actor or a poet, you do it because you have to, because that is the only thing or because there is nothing else. So if your career is plan A to the end, what risks are you taking? I’ve found that the key is sustainability. Don’t overreach, stay out of debt as much as possible. I have always kept a side hustle, doing some designing for a cabinet company, I lived at home longer than most of my peers with good jobs. Read more>>

Mars | Tattoo Artist/Painter

Taking risks is probably one of the most important aspects in creating a life and career for oneself. I wouldn’t be where I am, nor would I be headed where I’m going without it. Deciding to start my own brand/business within the arts is a risk in itself. In terms of my painting career, that’s pure entrepreneurship. Building from the ground up. Putting yourself out there not really knowing what will happen. Selling paintings super cheap cause you refuse to get a “regular job”. But what painting does for my soul, the medicine it bring me is worth more than gold, and where you put love in your life it’ll repay you if you’re patient (and if your network with the right people ha). Read more>>

Jessica Chortkoff | Photo-journalist/ Videographer/ Visual Artist

I have always been a visual artist and an actor. Art is pretty much all I can focus on. It has cost me a few relationships with some people who might not get artists. But as I got older I realize I don’t have to, and can’t change who I am for anyone else. I have a wonderful partner who loves all the things I love and have love and peace at home. That is the most important thing to have. If someone makes you feel bad about yourself, run! Read more>>

Lok-Mon Chan | Storyboard Artist

Risk-taking plays a large role in my current career path in the animation industry. Before I committed to becoming an artist, I was a double major in social work and psychology at a state school. I kept drawing all over my notes and that made me wonder whether this was the direction I wanted to go. I ended up transferring to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) which was over 9 hours south of my home. I didn’t know anyone there and I wasn’t even sure if art was a viable option in terms of a career at the time, but I knew that I wanted to pursue art regardless. I am glad I did because it helped me get an opportunity to intern at Cartoon Network. Read more>>

Craig Adams | Independent musician

I take risks every single day. In my opinion, risk taking is the most important part of obtaining success. No matter how much talent, and passion you have, if you don’t put yourself out there on the line you will never see what you are fully capable of. Alot of the time the thing that holds us back are our own limitations that we set in our head, these limitations are fueled by complacency and comfort, which are two of my biggest foes. Read more>>



Ashley Jensen | Hair & Makeup Artist

I think of risk as being absolutely necessary. Scary at times but necessary. Taking risks has played a huge role in my life and career. One example would be my move to Los Angeles from Chicago. I had a thriving business in a salon in Chicago but wanted to expand, branch out and try something new. So my husband and I packed up and moved to LA. I went completely freelance and delved into anything and everything I could in the world of hair and makeup. Despite the ups and downs it’s been rewarding in many ways. Read more>>

Justine Raczkiewicz | Filmmmaker

To me the greatest risk in life is to be a nonconformist – to be true to yourself. We each have a different mission to fulfill, and if you don’t go on your own journey of self-exploration, go deep inside your own psyche, and develop your own passions and values, then you will never know what you are capable of. Once you conquer your own fears, push your own limits and know yourself, you can take any risk in the world. Read more>>

Ricky Arana | Artist

I think risk taking is a very important thing in life, in getting out of your comfort zone and growing as a person. If it comes to everyday life and in your career. Things are gonna get uncomfortable . Especially in the music industry where people give there heart and soul to the world, and having the gaul to be a risk taker, in any way you think so. It’s shown me that most things aren’t as bad as it seems, or that if it’s a big challenge, to accept that you have the potential to do so. Thats where all successes start, From a risk, hope they are calculated risks however. Read more>>

Miguel Peraza | YouTuber & Investor

I have found that everything worthwhile in my life, every ounce of progress, has started with a risk. If a major decision doesn’t make you stop and think, then you’re not thinking big enough. You’re not putting yourself out of your comfort zone. I have both extremes. As someone who once weighed 460 pounds and lived in the suffocating comfort of my solitude, I have also done the complete opposite. and found the courage to leave my job, sell all my belongings and sleep on my sister’s floor as I pursued a dream to play video games for a living. Accepting risk, and accepting the possible consequences of a bold risk has been transformational in my life. It’s allowed me to realize my most outlandish and beautiful dreams. Read more>>

Kristin Fione | Winemaker & Production Coordinator

I think risk is what you make of it. For me, I took a huge risk to go back to grad school at 29 to pursue a career in the film industry. When I graduated, I was older than most assistants, but that’s the position I needed to take to start at the bottom. I began as a temp, and landed at Walt Disney Television, where I met my bestie, roommate, and partner in wine Hayley. We went on a trip to Napa, then began to study wine. It all kind of escalated from there. Read more>>

Jeremy Scippio | Comedian and Artist

Low risk low reward, I’ve always been taught that. So much so that it is embedded in my thought process daily. I even get to the point where if I make a low risk decision, it haunts me. I enjoy taking the road less travel. It could be the challenge but I feel like at this point in my life, most major decisions where I risked it all benefited me the most in life. Read more>>

Omar Al Dakheel | Director & Producer

I think the biggest risk is not taking risks at all then regretting it. The best decisions in my life was coming to the US at 17 to go to college and become a filmmaker on my own and it was a big risk. Someone once says you’re life today is the decisions you made for yourself 3-5 years ago and I totally agree with that. The way I see it is this, a lot of times we have fears inside our heads when we’re about to take a risky decision, let’s say tackle a certain controversial topic in a film, but the truth is these fears are imaginary, they’re not real, and taking the risk may actually result in fruitful outcome. Read more>>

Nasozi Kakembo | Founder and Creative Director, xN Studio

I think about risk in multifaceted ways, and most certainly beyond the monetary. That is of course important, but I also ask myself, “what is the consequence if I don’t take this risk? What might my quality of life and life goals be missing?” Of course money has to be part of the equation, but I live a relatively low-key lifestyle, and splurge on the riskier things, like starting my own business in 2011 as a single mother. I worked in the non-profit industry for 4 years prior, and my expenses were low. My job was very comfortable and I worked for an incredible organization, but I hit a glass ceiling and wanted to try what was then my hobby, on a full-time basis. Read more>>

Cassandra Mary Bauer | Angel Alchemist, Empowerment / Ascension Coach, Next Level Artist

This question was really lovely for me to reflect on because my views on ‘risk taking’ have completely changed throughout the years. When you look up the definition of risk in the dictionary you are met with; ‘a situation involving exposure to danger.’ Before I started NowLevelUp I was extremely disconnected from life and detached from myself. But, having gone through a NDE in 2013 and waking up to the beauty this life has to offer really shifted everything for me. Read more>>