In our experience, most folks, including ourselves don’t have enough of an understanding of risk and the role it plays in our lives and careers and so we have made a concerted effort as a team to have conversations about risk with our interviewees.  We’ve shared some highlights below.

Shonda Howard | Hypnotherapist & Coach

I have always been of the mindset that the bigger the risk, the bigger the reward. Taking risks has been the fabric of my decision making since I was a teenager and decided to go all in on a career in Musical Theatre. I found myself moving at the age of 18 to Chicago to attend conservatory, then uprooting my life several times throughout my twenties with moves to Los Angeles and then eventually NYC to pursue that dream with no guarantees of success. Since then I’ve continued to take big risks, when I left the world of performing for good I decided to go to Paris for the summer to enjoy my freedom and figure out what the next step would be (even though I was risking all of the money I had left to my name). Eventually I found myself back in NYC in a career as the Head of Human Resources for a Digital Media company, and most recently I have made the move back to Los Angeles and I am working for myself as a hypnotherapist and coach! Read more>>

Kelly Bagla | Queen of Business Law(R) Award-Winning Corporate Attorney

To be frank, creating Go Legal Yourself, an online company that specializes in legal documents for startups, was a risk, as I also run a business law firm. Creating a product that would eliminate the need for entrepreneurs to retain the services of a business law firm to safely, affordably, and efficiently set up their businesses was a risk. I am offering an alternative to the services of my own firm! I’ve created a company which makes lawyers unnecessary in many cases, which is fairly risky. But the fact that I did this is testament to how much I genuinely want to help entrepreneurs to be successful. I want to reduce the number of businesses which fail. I want everyone to have access to complete, legally sound business formation practices, and documents, without the financial chokehold of hiring a business law firm. Read more>>

Stephanie Lovato | Nutritionist & Personal Trainer

Taking risks is generally NOT my style! However, once upon seven years ago, I hopped on a plane from Toronto to Los Angeles for a vacation… and never left! A sporadic, risky decision has led to a wonderful marriage and business with my husband seven years strong. I reconsider my quick “no” every time a risk presents itself now. Read more>>

Ben Wylen | Musician & Songwriter

I think most people think about risk in a straightforward manner. People often think for example, “It’s a huge risk to quit my job and start my own venture because then I won’t have any money, stability, or certainty of success.” I look at risk in the reverse manner. So in this example I’d be asking myself, “what would I be risking if I stayed in the stable job.” I am seeking something that’s often intangible whether it be happiness, fulfillment or purpose driven work. So I often view the risk of not doing what I have my heart set on. This ultimately leads me to doing the thing I most want to do and I therefore do a better job at it because I love the process of doing it. Read more>>

Eilla Pradier | Interior Designer

I believe real change happens through moments where we dare to be bold, to take a risk into unfamiliar areas. Risk plays a huge part in my career. For one, deciding to start my own company, Eilla Adi Design, was a risk I took from leaving my work with Christian Dior, to leap into the unknown of creating a business from scratch One of the best decisions I’ve done. Working for myself, I get the opportunity to create and design projects through conceptual stages, renovations, down to styling and decor. More recently I took a risk within my own company, happy to announce I’ve started a custom pillow line! The pillow-line features designer grade fabrics, fun patterns, and high-end material while offering a sustainable product developed using local vendors. The pillows collection allows all individuals to access the product while keeping sustainability and local craftsmanship at the forefront of my brand. Read more>>

Bobby Marsden | Wood-Worker & Furniture Designer

The word “risk” is an often misunderstood word in my opinion. It means something different to each individual, their set of circumstances, and how they feel about the activity or decision in question. For me, I’ve certainly decided to perform activities that seemed to have low risk – by community standards. Unfortunately, the outcome in some instances was drastically different than I would have predicted. I think the key word there is “predict”. If there is one thing I’ve learned throughout my life, and that the world has learned in 2020, is that it’s impossible to predict the future. Even if you’ve planned for it. I believe that life is a series of decisions, big and small, and we are constantly mitigating risk. Read more>>

Sara Quiriconi | Actress, Creative Director & Filmmaker

As an entrepreneur, risk comes with the territory. The difference, however, between successful entrepreneurs and others is it’s strategic risk. Meaning, I’m never just jumping blindly into a decision. There’s some backend work, research and thinking before that leap happens. It took risk to go from being an art director in the corporate world to teaching yoga. It took risk to decide to up and move from Boston to Miami. It took risk to leap from teaching yoga to being a content creator and producer full time. And, once again, it takes risk to decide to go back into acting and modeling once again. All of the life skills and tools that I’ve acquire lead me to be where I am today. Fortunately, they all (give or take) have a united thread of passion, creativity, well-being, artistry and play. No great achievements come from playing safe. And, my life’s work should be nothing less than! Read more>>

Rachel Boles-Harfouche | Cosmetic Company Founder and CEO (coming 2021) & Lawyer

Fear of failure is the most crippling concept humans deal with. Most people do not chase their dreams to the fullest potential, or at all, because they are afraid of the unknown. What if I give it my all and it doesn’t work out? What if I relocate to a city that has more potential for my career but I flop? What if I choose my dream job over my relationship and end up with nothing? But… what if you succeed? What is really stopping you from success? The only way you do not succeed is if you give up. Becoming successful is not taking one risk and then BOOM you have it all. Reaching your goals and dreams comes with taking several risks, failing numerous times, getting back up and trying again. People need to get so comfortable with failure that they embrace it instead of fear it. Read more>>

Lela Welch | Interdisciplinary Artist

I think it’s important to clarify risk as being subjective. What’s risky for me may not be the same for you and vice versa. By a series of unfortunate events in my 20’s, my tolerance for risk and what I categorize as risk has broadened. A recurring theme for me is comfort within my own discomfort. I’m also not sure what place I have to express the benefit of risk as I’m a white presenting person that operates from a place of privilege– risk for me may not be the same for BIPOC or LGBTQI+ person. These folks in the world may have dire consequences attached to their risk that may not occur for me. Risk is perhaps a malleable and shifting thing that increases or decreases it’s baseline based on class, race, gender, age, ability, etc. The risk I took in my 20’s was based on a flagrant disregard for my own life so once I got sober, every other risk (moving, walking away from a job, etc) sort of paled in comparison– but was still a luxury of privilege. Read more>>

Akira Komatsu | Film Composer & Guitarist

Risk is trigger to draw out your hidden or unexpected power and ability. You have to think out of the box to find the solution. It is related to money in most of the cases and that means life its self. It”s no doubt you need money for food and rent first. Sometimes you need to throw your pride and ego away to go through the new door, and it’s mentally tough. Why do I have to do this? How can I do this? You may think, but you have no choice at the moment you are facing the risk. You must find the unexpected ability inside of you and encounter some new possibility in front of you. That is the great enlightment of life. I always take risky way when I had a choice to take one out of some ways and enjoy struggling to find something new. Read more>>

Phillis Stacy-Brooks | Design & Marketing Studio

Life is full of risks. Starting your own business is up there with the biggies. I wanted to be able to drive my twins to school, pick them up, take them to their baseball games. Being a Creative Director for a major auto manufacturer was not going to allow me to do that. Being a full-time single mom was my driving force in creating a successful branding and design studio. That’s how Main Street Graphics began. I have $5000 in the bank, an outdated Mac, and only one client. But somehow I knew I could do it. I’d get up at 3 am in the morning, work on my branding, learned WordPress, and designed a postcard (which was the only piece of print collater I could afford besides my business card). Wake the boys up at 6 for a half-day at Montessori school and back to learning WordPress till I picked them up. I don’t like networking groups so I started volunteering with local nonprofits. Read more>>

Lilian Broca | Visual Artist

Throughout my 40 year career as a visual artist I took many risks while exploring social issues, particularly women issues. These range from the choice of portraying ancient stories to the style and the medium used in their execution. The four protagonists presented in my art of the last 25 years, Lilith, Queen Esther, Judith and now Mary Magdalene, symbolize courage and action in a patriarchal society. Each of these art series explores various situations the 4 strong legendary women created for themselves by leaving their sanctuary and comfort zone aiming to achieve extraordinary goals. Despite the huge obstacles for women present in their era, ultimately, all 4 flourished as winners. I have been retelling their stories in various mediums, entrusting them with new lives through my art. Read more>>

Jacob Moore | Artist Manager

Risk is a crucial component of innovation, creativity, and life itself. There’s no such thing as a risk-free life. Your job is to do your best to mitigate risk, but understand that anything new and worth trying is always going to have some degree of risk to it. I think that risk presents itself pretty similarly in any situation: you can take the risk and endure the possibility of failure, or you can play it safe and not take the risk, but will never know how the positive outcome of taking that risk could have affected you. The reality is that, in most scenarios, taking a risk and having it result in something that is negative isn’t as detrimental as people think. You could be applying for a job a bit outside of your qualifications, starting a new company, asking your attractive neighbor out on a date, ditching your apartment to live out of a van, or whatever. Read more>>

Yelena York | Artist

My whole 6 years of career has been based on taking a Risk. I do believe, and this is only my opinion, that even tho we use the word “Risk” we are pretty sure in the action we know we are going to take. I risked my previous job where I was making good money, I risked “what if I become an embarrassment who never made it” but in between those facts and thoughts I did know that taking a Risk on dropping everything and starting to Create Art is what I am very good at, even though I have never done it on the side or as a hobby, I intuitively knew I can, and so I did. The emotion of me creating Art was so powerful that it killed all the doubts and future regrets I had in me, my Risk taking became more of an experiment on to learning about myself and how far I can go into the unknown, I do advise everyone to take risks, , in a more lighter and easier way, just do it, go for it, worst gonna happen, is you realizing it was not yours and you will continue your path knowing that You did try it. Read more>>

Spenser Theberge | Dancer, Teacher & Choreographer

As a dancer and choreographer, I’ve found that risk taking is not only inherent in the work, but it’s also necessary in order to develop. And I mean develop not only in relationship to the execution of skills and technique, but also in the sense of developing artistry and values. To me, taking risks means challenging myself to go beyond what I already know. As a dancer, I have to constantly ask myself to be bigger than I think I am, to be faster or slower, more delicate, or more explosive than I think I am. I’m always trying to ask myself to go beyond my point of knowing. There’s risk of failure in there, for sure, but there’s also this incredible reward of discovery, newness, and growth. Read more>>

Deirdre Sullivan-Beeman | Surrealist Painter

I started my career in fine art later in life, after a career in event design. As a female, entering the fine art world (especially when older) was intimidating and definitely felt like a risk. I was very nervous to exhibit my inner world, but my work has been met with more love and kindness than I anticipated. I never would have found the creative fulfillment I have now without having first taken the risk. Read more>>

David Gutierrez | Artist & Glassblower

I feel risk is something that is necessary in life but is not always ingrained in people. At least I feel often times in my life I was discouraged from taking risks and pushed towards having a conventional lifestyle such as working a 9 to 5 job like at a grocery store, ups, etc. I feel my family did not want to see me fail, although their intentions in their minds were helping me, it was selfish of them because they didn’t understand that I need to take risks in my life, I needed failure in my life, I needed to struggle to see what I needed to be right for my life. It was not until I discovered glass blowing in college I really pushed to live an artistic lifestyle. I discovered a beautiful material and process that I could not ignore and needed to dwell in. Read more>>

Ruth Golden | Producer, Director & Writer

Some are born to take risks, others have it thrust upon them. My path started in January 1985, during my sophomore year in college, when my mother died by suicide and the world as I knew it shattered. I returned to school after the funeral but not to class, having no ability to concentrate and zero interest in anything I’d been studying. I spent my days watching tv and seeking out friends to do whatever would distract me until I convinced my father I was wasting time and money and the rational thing was to quit. He and others warned me about the difficulties of building a career without a degree, but I didn’t care at that moment. My first big risk was driven by the need to escape. Growing up in a family of doctors and social workers, going to college was a given. I went reluctantly, however, with no strong interests and no clue about what I wanted to do with my life. Read more>>

Axl Phnxx | Musician

Everyday I’m tryna push myself to stay out of my comfort zone. It’s like the more uncomfortable I’m willing to be, the more I grow and level up in this life. I don’t think there’s ever been a “successful” person that didn’t take risks, you got classics stories like Steve Jobs starting Apple in a garage, or J. Cole talking about just having a dollar and a dream (and there’s countless other stories), I believe in order to be something great you got gotta thru great trial and tribulation. Be born out of fire like a diamond in the rough. And I strive to do this everyday, I’m a ways away from where I’m tryna be in this life, but I make progress every single day by not being scared to take risks and pushing myself to be consistently uncomfortable. I probably wouldn’t even be having this interview with y’all if not for this. Read more>>

Gabrielle Helfer | Film Composer

Risk taking has always been a part of my life as an artist. The greatest challenge and competition I’ve faced has been within myself. Read more>>