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.

Ian Honeyman | Film Composer, Music Producer & Musician

Taking risks and getting out of the comfort zone is super important for a creative career. Fearlessness is vital on every level – sticking to what’s “safe” creatively is easier, but results in art that could have been better. The only way to create meaningful art is to take risks, push ideas as far as they can go, do something that nobody has seen before. On a personal level, I believe the only way to see what you are capable of is to try something you’re not sure you can do. If you can do it, or can learn to do it, then build from that and try the next thing you’re not sure you can do – that’s how people become experts. One of the biggest risks I took was leaving a stable job and moving to Los Angeles with almost no money or connections, a move that changed my life and a risk I’m so happy I took. Read more>>

Kerry David | Award-winning Filmmaker

It’s played an enormous role in both. I’ve always embraced risk as I can’t think of one interesting and successful life that didn’t involve it.  Mitigated of course.  I plan for all possible outcomes and then decide if the risk is worth taking, if it is, I’ll move forward. A recent example of taking a huge risk (for me anyway!) was the TEDx Talk I gave in Charlottesville. It ended up being one of my proudest achievements because the fear factor was immense. My friend Richard Averitt asked me to give a talk about the making of my film, “Breaking Their Silence: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War”.  Public speaking has always been one of my greatest fears and I have avoided it quite successfully, for the most part. Read more>>

Lucia Rinaldi | Director of Photography

Risk is what started my career in cinematography. When it was time for me to choose a path of studies I remember having to take the risk of picking something very unfamiliar and challenging like working in the film industry. Since then I had never been on a film set of known anyone that had so I felt I was walking blindfolded to where it wasn’t really clear. I also remember my parents being very unfavorable to the idea of having their only child undertake a career in the arts. Although they have always been very supportive of me they strongly express their disapproval and still force me to take the entry-level test for Medical school. Read more>>

Johnny Hanson | Producer & Songwriter

I think risk is essential to success. Although risk can sometimes be met with failure, you haven’t really failed unless you’ve completely given up. You can always get back up on your feet and try again. There are so many achievements in my life that I would have never attained without taking some risks. Before I entered the music industry full time, I had a steady job that paid well and had great benefits. I could have easily stayed there and built on my career, but I knew that wasn’t what I wanted for my life. While working at that job, I was offered a gig playing for platinum selling artist, Christina Perri. I was at a crossroads and had to make a decision: Stay at my secure 9-5 job or quit and go on tour. I quit my job and it was the best decision I could’ve made. It is what led to owning my own studio and having the freedom to produce, write, and perform music for a living. Read more>>

Scott Morris | Real Estate & Mortgage Broker

In 2011, my wife and I were in Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with our son, Ryan. As he changed into his hospital gown, I remember my jaw dropping to the ground in utter shock. It looked like my little boy had lost twenty pounds overnight. There was clearly something attacking his body, and I had no idea how to make it better for him. I will never forget how helpless I felt in that moment. I made a promise then and there that I would do whatever I could to help him get better. Thus began my work with JDRF, the leading organization for Type 1 Diabetes research. What started as a simple sign-up for their annual walk turned into a 100-mile bike ride, serving on their board, and raising over $100,000 for research into treatments so no person would ever have to feel as lost and helpless as I did that day ten years ago. Read more>>

Lawrence Grobel | Writer & Teacher

I guess I would have to define myself as a risk-taker. That is, after all, the very definition of being a freelance writer. When I look back, I can see that many of my life choices might be considered risky: choosing to go to college 3000 miles from home; Marching with Dr. King in the Meredith Mississippi March while rednecks and racists shot at us during the night, as we slept in tents; joining the Peace Corps; walking into the N.Y. Times and Newsday offices to offer my services as a freelance writer; quitting teaching and producing to just write when we had our first child; living assignment-by-assignment for 40 years, writing for different magazines and newspapers; turning down publishers to work on books that I wanted to write. As I write this, I marvel that I had the guts to remain a freelancer raising two children, buying a house, putting the kids through college and graduate school, when I often didn’t know when the next check would arrive. Read more>>

Sascha Alexander | Actor, Writer & Health, Life and Business Coach

Taking healthy risks is central to my work as a coach. My clients’ growth is contingent on them taking healthy new actions in their lives (that often feel risky) in order to create the transformation they are looking for. The truth is, ANY external change or new action, even a really healthy one, feels like a risk to the primitive parts of our brains. Our brains are designed to repeat patterns (even unhelpful ones) not create new ones. So a healthy relationship with risk, which includes understanding that our brain’s assessment of “risk” will be “anything new even if the thing is great” is essential for those who want to change. For me, this has been a profound learning that’s lead me to some of my greatest successes in life. Starting my coaching practice required me to take big emotional risks: presenting myself as a professional to my community, facing fears of rejection, putting my writing out into the world, investing in high-fee coaching myself. Read more>>

Dr. Amy Keller | Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist & Psychoanalyst

It’s a big risk to start your own business but I was ready to take the leap! I had a foolproof plan outlined to the last detail and, ironically, it all fell apart the day I left my last agency job three months earlier then planned. However, I boldly adapted, revised my plan and went from 0 to 30 clients in 5 months, which is almost unheard of in my field. I literally cold called every therapist, priest and doctor in town to tell them about my services, reminding myself that I had to reach out if I wanted the clients who needed *my* help to find me. Jump and the net will appear! Read more>>

Christine Vazquez | Spiritual Advisor & Author

Living in Washington, DC and working a traditional 9-5 taught me how to be conservative and safe during most of my 20s. I felt complacent and trapped in a mundane cycle. When I was inspired to finally take the dive into full-time entrepreneurship, many people were excited for me but also nervous. It was a risk. I heard so many fear-based “encouragement” speeches, and I had to learn to tune them out. When I added that I wanted my entrepreneurial journey to take place in Los Angeles, 3000 miles away, I think people felt I was being impulsive. Not everyone understood such a courageous move. I see a risk as a true leap of faith. It is taking an action that is outside of your comfort zone and trusting that you will be okay. To me, a risk is a permission slip to grow. It is an exciting time of expanding beyond what you once knew, and being open to a new version of yourself. Read more>>

Marlon Urrutia | Graphic Designer & Illustrator

I haven’t taken any big risk yet mainly because I feel like I’m still in the early stages of my business. I guess the closes thing relate to taking risks would be experimenting on my instagram with different things I enjoy to do. Sometimes inconsistencies can ruin a brand but I believe sometimes you have to try things in order to see what you enjoy and what others might also enjoy. Read more>>

Julia Walck | Graphic Designer & Collage Artist”

I wouldn’t classify myself as a big “risk-taker”. I’m more of a planner: I like to research, gather information and look at details together holistically before diving into something. This helps me prepare best for whatever lies ahead. Read more>>

Jessica Chang | CEO & Co-Founder

My approach to risk is that you almost always have to take the risk to get the larger reward. Founding WeeCare was a very risky choice. I was a new mom and making the decision to create a startup meant that I was giving up the reliable, steady income I had in my previous role. When taking a risk, you have to weigh the risk and the potential reward. The reward in founding WeeCare would be potentially solving the issues in childcare not just for my young son, but for every child, family, and childcare provider – and I believed that was worth the risk. My life has been made up of more risk taking than most, whether through career changes or moving to a different side of the world. Taking risks has actually advanced my career and opened up the possibility for many more opportunities because I made a decision to take chances. As the quote says: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Read more>>

Lila Seeley | Set Photographer & Writer

Taking risks has been scary for me, but looking back I see that all of my “leaps ahead,” accomplishments and most cherished memories come from taking risks, jumping without looking, and trusting my intuition. For anyone freelancing, we take risks every day. It was a risk to leave my job working for a growing start-up (without much savings to live on) and no real plan to follow. My intuition told me to, so I jumped. It took risks of failure and embarrassment to reach out to potential clients and seek advice from more seasoned professionals. Yet, each time fear came crawling into my ear, my intuition pushed me forwards and I was rewarded with a lesson learned (“failures” are arguably equally as helpful as the successes) or a new job to plug excitedly into my calendar. Risks are scary, yes – but with each risk I take, I prove to myself that I am capable and with that, I strengthen my trust in taking the one laying ahead. Read more>>

Deanna Pak | Actress, Writer, Author & Producer

I feel that taking risks in your career is crucial. The higher the risk, the higher the potential reward. Now, that doesn’t mean take reckless risks or just throw a dice and hope things work out. Smart business owners take calculative risks. If you do your research and combine it with personal experience, the risk of losing becomes much smaller. There’s always a chance it won’t go as planned, but if you at least have a structure, you increase your odds of success. Risks have played a huge role in my life and career because just being an actor/writer is a risky career financially in itself. The majority invest a lot of money into starting and never see a network, studio, broadway, or national commercial role. That’s the reality statistically, but the flip side is if you work harder AND smarter, it can become a reality. Read more>>

Ciara Freeman | NYU Master’s Student & Content Creator

Calculated risk taking has been integral to my overall success. I believe that complacency may develop in an individual without a certain amount of risk taking, and that with having both faith in a goal and a plan to carry it out, things always have a way of working out. Had I not taken the chance of moving from my small hometown to the incredible city of Los Angeles and placing myself in rooms to build connections and network, my life would have remained the same. However, risks must always be accompanied with a plan. For example, when I applied to Loyola Marymount University and other expensive private schools in the city, I knew that I had no means to pay for the bill, so I also applied to several scholarships. With hard work, faith, and God’s calling on my life, I landed a full-ride Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship. Read more>>

Eric D | Owner

I feel like everyone has some sort of amazing creativity in them but people that are willing to take major risks, people that are willing to fail, those are the people that shine in the end. You can stand on top of a diving board and talk about jumping all day, but you’re not going to get wet unless you jump. I moved from Boston to LA 6 years ago to pursue this career and lifestyle. I left everything I knew behind, my friends, family, and job. It was absolutely terrifying. Luckily I wasn’t alone, I made this journey with my now fiancé, Rebecca. We came to LA with around $1,000. I know for a fact I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am now in life if I hadn’t taken all of the risks I’ve taken. Risk is mandatory for growth. Sometimes you have to just jump. Read more>>

Jalen Parrish | Dot Connector

When thinking about risks a quote from high school comes to mind. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I try remember that quote each day in both my career and personal life. When it comes to pursuing your goals in any avenue there will always be risks involved, in order to progress you’ll have to take a couple shots. Read more>>

Brian Greif | Owner

Risk taking is critically important. The bigger the risk, the bigger the gain. In addition, life would be boring without risk. I enjoy taking risks in business, whether it was the risk of removing a large Banksy painting from the side of a building in San Francisco, as part of a documentary about the importance of preserving street art, or making the decision in 2013 to leave a successful career in the Television business to start a new company managing projects for artists. I have found that risk, managed carefully, can be extremely rewarding. I spent 34 years in the Television business. I had a successful career in TV management and production. When TV started to change, becoming more consolidated and corporate, I decided to exit a very comfortable career and start all over again managing artists. That was a huge risk. Street Art had become popular, but most artists were still not in a position to afford full-time management. Read more>>