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.

Mixtape | LA based multi-genre band

Mixtape began as a project centered around experimenting and taking risks. On a practical level, when we formed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were not all living in Los Angeles full time. Nathan Ben-Yehuda was living in New York, and Michael Siess was back in his hometown of Portland, Oregon. When we all had a chance to jam and arrange together in Los Angeles, we made a critical decision to move to LA and continue working together on this passion project which involved many skills we had little training for, and due to pandemic limitations, recording and promoting all of our material ourselves. Read more>>

MISS AM aka “AM” | Mix Engineer & Music Publisher

I think about risk as a new opportunity that may be awaiting me down the road I have no idea about yet. You never know how an opportunity is going to come unless you take a step into the unknown without being fearful of not being the best or the greatest at what you want to accomplish. The way to grow and be great is by doing, so how can you grow if you never take risks where you find yourself in uncomfortable circumstances. Push yourself. LET GO OF FEAR and get going towards accomplishing your goals one baby step at a time and you’ll realize as you go how the things you were once afraid of are now your greatest assets. Read more>>

Kenia Munguia | Actress and Writer

When I think about risk, I immediately think about running after the sun has set. I wear dull colors. I triple knot my shoes. I don’t wear headphones. But when I’m onstage or onscreen––I’m wearing someone else’s identity––and I want to be seen from every angle. It’s a perverse power play on my fear that is entirely based on the risk of being seen, but I couldn’t imagine pursuing anything else. Exploring these contradictions has introduced me to so many inspiring and like-minded creatives that have pushed me to challenge and expand my comfort zone. It’s thrilling to know I never would have learned and seen what I have if I hadn’t pushed back on my innate anxiety of being seen by the wrong person, because the right people have entered my life in moments where I wonder if I’m following my true north. In short, I owe risk everything. Read more>>

Theron Kay | Composer

Risk is an essential part of any artistic endeavor, I think most people would agree. The times I’ve taken a crazy risk and succeeded are often the times I create my best and most unique work. On the flip side, it’s probably been said a million times, but the times I’ve taken risks and failed miserably are the times I’ve learned and grown the most. Obviously no one WANTS to fail. It’s not fun to come up short. But putting risky concepts in motion and trying to find that thing that’s alien and fresh is so paramount to artistic growth, even though it might fall flat on its face. Read more>>

Elena Viklova | Filmmaker, Director

We may like it or not, but our life is all about taking risks, starting from a mundane decision on eggs’ style in the morning to more life-changing ones, like entering a new market or a new industry. The only difference is the margin behind it, which could be a mild indigestion in the first case or a complete bankruptcy in the latter one. Decision-making and risk management were my bread and butter for a very long time – apart from my initial educational background in Politics and Economics, I spent more than 12 years in Strategic Management and Finance. Read more>>

Karlo Evaristo | Chef turned Baker

I think taking risks is what literally what moves you forward. Taking a leap and doing something that you are not comfortable or not 100% certain of, because you want to better yourself or your situation is the only way to push your current state to the next level. I have a very clear memory of every moment I have moved up in my career. And every time I do, there is always some risks involved. Like for example, when I moved to the USA last 2012, I risked coming to a foreign country, and try to look for a job and hoped to jump start my career. And every time I decide that I’m ready to move up, I look for a job that requires a higher standard and shoot for a position that I’m unsure if I am fit or ready to be in. But after taking the risk, I always work hard to fit into that position. Even if I knew I was not qualified on day one, I would do everything I can make sure I exceed all expectations. Read more>>

Troy Lazaris | Makeup Artist

Risk has always been a friend of mine. In life if you don’t take a risks, you end up risking way more. Read more>>

You Were Never Lovelier | Pop Punk Band

I think risks offer opportunities & challenges. The biggest risks I’ve taken have thankfully been the ones I’m most grateful for, such as changing my major in college, moving to Texas in my car for a job opportunity, then, shortly after, building a camper van & taking it to LA as my home-on-wheels to find bandmates & an awesome place to live. Read more>>

Matt Bissinger | Interior Designer and Store Owner

I don’t think of myself as a risk taker. I think it’s a mischaracterization of entrepreneurs. I would never bet the farm and risk losing it all. On the contrary, I’ve grown my business by taking countless opportunities that have come my way and seeing how they work out in a small way before committing wholly to them. To me that defines my entrepreneurship. It is true once I set my mind to doing something it takes alot to deter me and in that way perhaps some would call me a risk taker. Read more>>

Michelle Nussey | Actor, Improviser & Writer

There are two things that blow my mind about risk. One is how subjective it is. The other is how often I forget how subjective it is. I dare anyone to embark on a creative career and not have people constantly commenting on the multitude of inherent risks. Actually I dare anyone who’s thinking of embarking on a creative career path to do it – it’s pretty awesome. And if you can change your perspective on what seems risky about it, it won’t feel like a big leap at all. Read more>>

Richard Wright | Music Man

Risk taking has played a major role in my career. I like to take risks all the time creatively to find new things. That’s what keeps it fresh and exciting. Sometimes it’s weak as hell and I never want to hear it again but sometimes you catch lightning in a bottle and figure something out that you never thought of. Read more>>

Trey Ewald | Recording Artist / Songwriter / Producer

I’m definitely a risk-taker – if an opportunity is presented to me, and there is a possibility that it could go my way, I tend to take it. Most of my success in life would not have happened if I didn’t take the initial risk, that first step into the unknown. I remember hearing a quote from Jim Carrey during a college speech where he talked about how he was pushed to pursue comedy when he saw his father, who also dreamed of doing comedy, took the “safe route” and became a lawyer. But when his father lost his job, he saw that while fear of failing at what you want to do may be terrifying, you can also fail at what you don’t want to do. So you might as well take the risk and pursue what you truly want. Read more>>

Loriann Signori | Painter

As an artist the act of risk-taking travels many different paths. There is first the risk you take when you decide to forgo financial security to pursue your passion. For me that was decided early on. It was not questioned. Next, there is the risk we take each day when we go to the studio. We need to not only accept constant change, but, more importantly, embrace it. The longer I paint, the more I don’t want to know “how” to do something or have a technique upon which I rely to create my work. Predictability is a killer of excitement. Instead change has been my lesson. Each day is a new adventure into wonder and what I consider serious play. This play is investigative. What will happen if I…….?
My heart has a strong longing to be surprised. Read more>>

AUSAR | Rapper

For any rising artist (including myself), it’s imperative that you take risks, otherwise you may end up missing that next opportunity that continues to push you forward. It’s a little cliche, but the saying of “no risk, no reward” holds true. With respect to my career, I’m very competitive, so even when things seem uncertain/risky, I’m willing to play and fight hard (no matter if I win or lose). Whether it’s a new merch/apparel drop, experimenting with new sounds/flows, or investing in experiences and opportunities (that may not yield any immediate gains, but benefit my overall development) — it can all feel scary or terrifying at first, because you never know how people are going to react to any of the things you create and do. Read more>>

Nyema Igwe | Founder & Executive Director of Pop of Culture

There is no success without risk-taking– and that’s not an opinion. It is a fact. I thrive on taking risks because for me, it makes life exciting and its when I take risks, that I learn the most about myself and what I can accomplish. Nothing worth having has ever come from playing it safe and doing the same thing, time after time. If you truly believe in your vision, you have to be able to do whatever it takes to make it happen. And that means doing things you’ve never done, and sometimes, doing things that seem absolutely crazy. Read more>>

Heather Galbraith | Founder of Something Good Market

I have always had an overachiever, perfectionist mentality. Reflecting back on it, there have been many, MANY times I haven’t taken risks because my thoughts immediately went to “what if I fail”. My fears of failing and rejection often took over any ambitious ideas I wanted to pursue. If I didn’t think I would be perfect at something, I often let it go. “Take a risk and start a business?! Forget it! Especially knowing that most businesses fail. Nope, I am not going to be a part of that statistic!” These were the beliefs I had in my head… I will probably fail, so why even risk it. Read more>>

Antoine Smith | Photographer

I think risks makes us feel alive. There are safe ways to live life. There’s nothing wrong with that, but one can be missing out on happiness and success on the other side of safe, called risks. I few years ago, in 2016, I left the marketing industry to focus on my photography business. It was very scary and I wasn’t sure if I was making the right decision. Hindsight 20/20, it was a pivotal step, towards being happy and spending more time doing what I love. There is no price on that. It’s paramount to many facets of your life. I am currently shooting for a luxury e-commerce brand and shooting my projects and I feel so happy to arrive at this point in my life. Read more>>

Yoshiko Oest | Realtor & Founder of Live South Bay Local

Whenever I make any big decisions or difficult decisions, I always ask myself if I would regret it if I didn’t take the risk to do something just because it intimidated or scared me. I’ve taken risks and I’ve succeeded. I’ve also taken risks and I’ve failed. With both outcomes, I learned. You actually learn more and grow more when you fail. Growth in life/career will come faster when taking risks. With my career, I’ve taken a few risks. Read more>>

Lizzy Sherman | Co-Founder of Spa & Beauty Today

Co-founding a new business has been one of the biggest career risks that I’ve taken so far and also one of the most rewarding. While I don’t consider myself a big risk taker overall, I think challenging myself to take risks and getting out of my comfort zone is an important step for personal and professional growth. Read more>>

Eric Jason Martin | Best-Selling Author, Award-Winning Audiobook Narrator and Producer

I think taking smart risks can be a very good thing, even when it doesn’t quite work out the way you planned! It’s clear over the course of my career that taking calculated risks has often led to my greatest accomplishments, and frequently allowed me advance to the next level. I say “smart” and “calculated,” because it’s important to not risk so much that you’ll be in jeopardy if you don’t meet your goals. And it’s important to think about how taking the risk advances your bigger life goals, and to consider in advance some of the different outcomes your choice can lead to. Read more>>

Jeremy Richardson | Cinematographer and Digital Content Creator

When I think about risks, I think FAITH over fear, deterrents vs REWARDS and PATIENCE as a virtue. First, I talk to Spirit and let Spirit guide me, using past experiences where faith while risk taking has worked in my affirmatively in my favor. Next, I like to think practically and logistically about the reward, answering ‘The 5 W’s’: Who does it impact? What is changing? When will it take place? Where does it happen? Why is it necessary? From there, If the negatives, outweigh the pros, I go a step further to ask myself, “AM I being patient with myself? My current circumstance? My peers?” Read more>>

Max Kassidy | Actor – Stylist – Creative Director

I am the antithesis of everything I was brought up to be. I was raised by Utah Mormon “doomsday preppers”. I was groomed to be a devout, cap-sleeve wearing, casserole dish holding, mother, wife, and homemaker. Turns out, I’m a U-Haul driving, bra-burning, lipstick lesbian artist, who at 22 years old googled the gayest cities in America and bought a one way plane ticket to Seattle. (Okay, there’s a little more to that story but that’s the gist.) Risk is not a foreign idea to me. However, I am learning that risk with preparation can create path of a little less resistance. Read more>>

Shellter Stone | Singer/Songwriter & President of Sobriety Sounds

I approach risk analytically, but the final decision is often very visceral. My thought process is a spectrum of weighing pros, cons, cost, time, and net impact. The visceral part of my decision making is directly related to the passion I have for the risk. It’s not imperative for me to enjoy the process, but the gratification that will come from the best-case results of the risk needs to outweigh the dissatisfaction of the worst-case scenario. Once I’ve considered all of this, then comes the hard part (for me). Read more>>

Akinsola Adejumo | Entrepreneur / Digital Content Creator

I believe in risk taken is a part of growth. Before getting to this stage of life. I dropped out of college my senior year because I believed it wasn’t going to get me where I needed. I knew the risks but looking back at it now it was worth it. My experience with the military gave me the foundation I needed to be successful. Read more>>

Liz Sanders | Artist and Co-Creator

Risk taking has played a huge role in bringing me to exactly where I am today. For a long time, I was stuck – stuck following what I “should” be doing; stuck in others’ version of success; stuck in prioritizing a sense of safety and security – all over what I really wanted. In order to break free from that mindset, I had to start to take risks like following my intuition, betting on myself and sharing vulnerably. And now, I’m embarking on one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken, but before I go into that, you have to understand what led me here. Read more>>

Mark Morales | SBA lender, Business Owner, Community Leader and Supplier Diversity Advocate

I have found incredible success in my life by taking risks. I started saying yes to things that I would normally say no or if I didn’t think I would have the time. It started by saying yes to my first board position with the Los Angeles LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce. That position led to me attending an event put on by the CA Department of Insurance in 2014. I became the first LGBT person to their Diversity Task Force that following year and have made significant change and impact for our LGBT small business owners. I believe in the equation that Inclusion + Representation + Engagement = Measurable Results. Read more>>

Jayc Umali | Edible Queen

I definitely feel there are good risks and bad risks, but provided they’re taken intelligently, you could move on to the next level of your career – even if you fail, you probably learned something valuable. For a while I was waiting on when I was going to catch my “break”. I was always waiting for the “right time”. Until I watched a tarot reading on YouTube by Chris, Minnow Pond Tarot – he stated in a Pisces reading, “I feel like you’re waiting for the right time when there will never be a right time.” That really resonated with me. I was always waiting for the right time because I was afraid to make the wrong move. & I then realized the only wrong move was making no moves. Read more>>

Jill James | CEO & Founder

My biggest risk was leaving my small, rural hometown where I had spent my whole life to go to college in Chicago. Once I figured out I could get on the level with kids who had every advantage in life academically and survive on my own in a large city, most job situations seemed less risky. After that, moving to New York to take a job on Wall Street felt like a much smaller leap. And I had the confidence I would be okay in the long run, so going to a start-up after business school didn’t seem like much of a risk. Read more>>

Bec Morris | Dancer, Choreographer & Teacher

I believe risks are extremely important especially in the world of creatives/performers. They are ‘secret’ opportunities to need to see, take the leap and use your previous experiences in order to land on your feet. Risks are something (I believe) you should not take blindly – ‘blindly’ in the sense that you need to carry your lessons, failures, successes & intuition with you. Read more>>

Cassity Brown | Founder & Candlemaker

Risk is extremely relative. I was once a law student, but decided to drop out because that career path didn’t align with who I am. In that case, some might of viewed it as risky to leave because I was headed in such a clear & secure direction–finish law school, take the bar, get a job. But I viewed it as more risky to stay on a career path that I hated. When I started my business, I fought the risk of being judged by other people every single day. I knew I wanted to start my own brand. I had the vision in my head–the name, the colors, and how I wanted my candles to make people feel. In this case, risk and fear are basically interchangeable. I combatted this risk by moving as fast as I possibly could so I didn’t give myself time to give into the fear and talk myself out of launching my business. We get to decide what’s risky and what we do with that risk–is it a motivator, or will it hold you back? Read more>>

Sean M. Dale | Artistic Director/Actor at Borderless Theatre Company

Taking risks has been a learned effort. It’s never easy to take risks because there are so many factors to think about. At the end of the day (for me) it comes down to a blend of two things: what feels right in my gut and what aligns the most with my goals no matter the obstacles. Studying/living abroad was the catalyst for me to explore how I approach risk taking. Picking up your whole life and moving it somewhere unknown and, at most times, isolating, is a very daunting thing. But, I found, that it is in the growing and learning that make the risk taken worthwhile. Read more>>

John Tegmeyer | Musician/clarinetist/composer

Before I moved to LA, I hadn’t really faced many major risks. I was fortunate to have a lot of supportive people in my life which made the risks I took early in my career less daunting. But once I moved here, I got scared. I felt like I wasn’t good enough to perform with LA musicians and was worried that someone was going to tell me to get out of town! Facing those fears was a big risk for me, but I finally convinced myself to actually go out and play with other musicians at a jam session. Of course it went fine (much to my relief) and I kept going, which led to many more opportunities. Since then, each risk I’ve taken has become easier and easier. Sometimes the risks don’t work out, but nothing has felt as daunting as just getting started. Read more>>

Kirsten Parker | Productivity & Focus Coach for Overthinkers

I’m like a lot of my clients: My anxious overthinking brain has spent a lot of time and energy in what I call Pre-Regret. We can get so stressed about decisions today by viscerally imagining how unhappy and disappointed we’ll be in the future, if those decisions turn out to be “wrong.” I hear this so much from people, and it’s a huge reason we wait for months and years to make the changes we want. Read more>>

NANO Rubio | Artist

Art making is pretty much the only skill I have. That being said, exploring all aspects of what art can be is natural behavior of mine and most artists, so sometimes it involves doing some weird shit in the studio. From this, some imagery and concepts start to marry and the outcome from taking risks can lead to a place that’s very close to creating original work. Read more>>

Alexander Vicencio | Business Owner/Odschoolrookie

As a first generation immigrant who came to this country to start a new life without any family here was one of the first risks I took. For years I worked in the food service industry to make a living while having the desire to create something of my own and starting a brand but I was always held back because of money and time. When COVID hit I was out of work and took the big risk of finally starting my brand. I had no experience in this industry, simply hard work ethics. My wife and I didn’t have any extra income or savings, all I had were credit cards and my desire to create art that others can appreciate. Read more>>

Arthur Ko | CEO, Investor, Real Estate Broker, Life Enthusiast

Risk taking is really, really difficult for me. After all, we’re (many of us) brought up our entire lives to stay away from risk. It’s like a muscle we need to develop and grow over time. And just like working out our muscles, I believe it needs to be in a controlled environment (such as the gym) or you may hurt yourself. For ex, you wouldn’t throw $1000 into an idea just for the sake of “taking a risk.” I believe, more importantly, you need to understand the potential gains and potential consequences of the risk. Read more>>

Amy Hirt | Fashion Stylist

It is hard for me to say that risk always equals reward, because sometimes that is not the case. The risks I took were following my gut multiple times to leave full time roles and pursue a creative career as a freelancer. These instances were not easy, because it meant giving up full time stability and a consistent paycheck. When I found myself in these previous roles, I was miserable and knew I had to take a risk to make a change and further my career as a freelance stylist. I still struggle with the freelance vs. full time component, but know that I would not have grown in my career without the risk I took. I also think the risk to reward is a long journey that takes time to build and get over many bumps to success. Read more>>

Aleksandra Milanova | Film and TV Writer

Taking a risk is tough because it makes you think about what you might lose if you take a step and fail. I would look at all these successful, wildly courageous visionaries who make crazy decisions and take gigantic steps, and I would wonder: How do they do it? Well, I found the trick. I believe that truly successful people don’t see a risk before they take a step–they see a possibility. Changing the way of looking at things has improved my life tremendously. When the fear of risk creeps in, I flip the perspective and see the situation from the positive side. Read more>>

Mark Evich | Singer, sound producer

It plays a KEY role I’d say. Everything I have right now is a result of taking risks: moving to the US, for instance, was a huge gamble. But it sure paid off. While some are assessing the risks, I just move forward, and it’s worked perfectly so far 🙂 Read more>>