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.

Andrea Marcum | Yoga Instructor & Author

I think taking risks is key. It’s humbling, uncertain and the magic place where seeming limitation feeds innovation. From starting a brick-and-mortar studio in LA, to getting my book published by a major publisher after 10 years of trying, taking people on retreat to places that challenged them to see things in a new way, to now essentially opening a studio again online that has no walls and invites the world at a moment’s notice post-lockdown it’s all a leap. The net appears when the focus is on community — when the emphasis of the creation is on “we” and not “me.” It isn’t instant, there is vulnerability when taking risks that requires us to see it as an endurance game and not a sprint. But that walks us right into the philosophy of the Yoga Sutras– abhyasa (perseverant, consistent practice) and vairagya (without expectation of a particular outcome). Read more>>

Joan Lewis | Small Business Owner

“Ships in a harbor are safe, but that’s not what ships are made for.” I have lived by this quote for the better part of my adult life. That is why I left New York with no money and drove to California with no job in search of a better life. Starting any business is a risk. To me, risk is not about jumping off into a great unknown. It is about assessing your options, knowing the worst-case scenarios and making a decision based on those factors. I wanted to have my own business for a number of years. I tried a few businesses like a few network marketing businesses and a factoring business. None of these worked out. What was successful, though, was the training I got while attempting to run these businesses. When the opportunity to start the lien processing company, I was better prepared as far as marketing and other start-up functions. Read more>>

Jay Newjahr | Business Owner & CEO

Risk taking and entrepreneurship are intrinsically linked and my career is no exception to this. A certain level of risk taking has been essential to my success. I believe it is an important part of what sets entrepreneurs apart from others. With that said, my approach to risk has changed over my career. In my earlier years I was more apt to take larger risks without as much thought to the possibility of failure. As I’ve gotten older, I still take risks often, but they are more well thought out. Even the smaller risks can yield important successes. I believe it’s important to challenge the norms and push the envelope. This comfort level with risk has been an important factor in my career growth from challenging the team to take on business that may be beyond their comfort zone to acquiring new facilities with only part of the overheard mapped out for the move. Read more>>

Amara Barroeta | Chef Chocolatier & Entrepreneur

The biggest risk I’ve ever taken is moving to the US and opening Amara Cafe with my husband when back in Venezuela I was a chemical engineer and he was an orthopedic surgeon. Everybody told us we were crazy but we knew we had to create that opportunity for ourselves and once we did it we were all in. There was no way back, we continued pushing forward and poured our souls and resources to succeed. I don’t miss the long nights filled with the mixed emotions of anxiety and excitement, but we purposely take risks often to keep the resilience muscles active. In my view, risk taking is a skill that one should build. Everyday I do something that takes me out of my comfort zone even if it is small. That helps me prepare mentally for bigger challenges ahead. Read more>>

Tony Estrada | Writer, Director, Producer & Marketing Consultant

I use to be feast or famine. I figured whatever, happens, happens. I’ve paid the price for it a number of times and each time it has hurt, but it has made me stronger and I’ve learned an incredible amount in rapid time. I feel that the risks I took and the ways they did or did not turn out, helped me to be better because suddenly, I realized, life/business/brands aren’t made on one decision. It’s consistent, hard work that gives us the next stepping stone that we’re looking for. Now, every time I enter a scenario or a decision, I’ve stopped wondering so much “What I am going to get out of this?” but instead, “How can I learn the most from this and does this growth point need to happen right now?” It takes a lot of deep digging and soul searching, but when I get there I am able to enter the decision with my utmost dedication. Read more>>

Lisa Vitta | Kundalini Yoga Teacher

I guess the ultimate question we should ask ourselves is…. do you want to just watch the game or do you want to actually get in the game and play it? I have always considered myself a risk taker when it comes to living life. I like to live life large and I tend to jump into things quite quickly. This has showed up at times where the experience did and did not work out so well. I think what we all need to keep in mind is that we are souls here having an human experience and that means diving into the deep end with out your flotation device. I have moved many times with my family and love the experience of a new place, new house, new friends. It has given me an open mind and allowed me to develop tools to migrate in unfamiliar moments. I have learned to become adaptable. Read more>>

Brittany Sherman | Owner & Designer

Risk for me is a matter of how uncomfortable you are willing to be now to succeed or achieve in a future goal. Risk taking is an action, therefore you are in control even when things seem way out of control. I’ve been deep in personal and business commitments and thought…. this is a lot right now , holy shit! Why did I sign up for this right now?! How am I going to make that happen?! Thing is, if you haven’t asked yourself some form of those questions at least once , you can safely say… you’re playing it way too safe! Risk is the biggest gift to growing and becoming an expert in your field or craft as it requires you to have accepted that you may fail but it’s worth trying. You already commit to the possibility of failure when you make the leap to own a business or say yes to things, so just go all in! Read more>>

Vini Merola | Singer & Music Producer

When you have a desire for a goal hard to get, risk is something that you have to get used to. A lot of people can’t go through it because fear walks besides risk. So you have to occupy your mind with determination and focus, and not let fear get to much space. I had to put that in my mind since the beginning of my journey in the music industry. There’s no guarantee in any level and you can’t do it if you’re not hole in the persecution of what you want. So there it is a very good example of taking risks. Read more>>

Christopher Cornish | Actor, Writer & Teacher

I was just listening to Marc Maron’s interview with Frank Langella about his long acting career, and apparently he lives (and acts) by this phrase: “Leap empty-handed into the void.” Langella has a great way of unpacking that so I highly recommend you check out the interview but as someone who has a healthy fear of heights and is somewhat risk-averse by nature, this is a pretty intimidating statement for me. I might be more tempted to say “Inch carefully into the void with a safety rope, extra snacks, hand sanitizer, a surgical mask, a strong flashlight, extra batteries, and a back-up pair of underwear.” In fact, this is pretty much me leaving the apartment any given day lately (but isn’t that all of us now?). This has nothing to do with acting but I remember an adventure my friend Michael D. Cohen talked me into: rappelling into slot canyons near Zion National Park in Utah. Read more>>

Kim O’Hara | Book Coach

Risk is an interesting concept because impatience can take on the same components. They key difference is when you take a good risk, you are still scared but you have an inner peace that the choice you are making in the long run is perfect for your unique life experience. Why do some people take the leap to write a book and others only talk about it? I can tell you that they may not be ready and that is okay. I know that people have been telling me to create a podcast for years; since I started book coaching and speaking out about having a voice. I just wasn’t ready. When I finally launched the concept of You Should Write A Book About That in 2020, the risk was no longer perilous, but rather exciting. All the right pieces came into place to the point where I was like, wow, that was easy! Read more>>

Danielle Spires | Photographer

As a fairly risk-adverse person, I’ve had to pick and choose what types of risks I’m willing to take. It was important to me to weigh what I’m willing to give up against potential outcome. I grew up with a considerable amount of health complications, so my priority in life has been to keep my insurance intact, and have a guaranteed income. When I started my freelance photography business, I knew I’d eventually have to decide if I wanted to keep my day job (also the pandemic decided that for me). I chose to keep it until I felt very comfortable, and could afford really great insurance on my own. I’m definitely still juggling a day job as a photo editor and producer that provides me with insurance and working nights and weekends as a freelance photographer. The biggest risk I’ve taken so far is to rent a photo studio. Read more>>

Sarah Lucky | Film/T.V. Editor & Home Baker

In order to grow personally and professionally in life, we must all take risks and step out of our comfort zones. I am constantly taking a risk in my career. When you work freelance, basically working for yourself, you are constantly at risk of not making money or not having a job. Money and jobs are never guaranteed. Yet, I couldn’t imagine living any other way. I strive to live a life full of joy, and the only way to do that is to pursue things that really make you happy. Life without risk is not a life worth living. Read more>>

Damjan Krajacic | Digital UX Strategist, Entrepreneur & Musician

Inherently, life is a risk. Every moment of every day, we take a chance in some way. At the same time, there are those moments in life where opportunities present themselves, crossroads of sorts. At that moment, I tend to follow my heart because it knows better than my mind on what is meaningful. I have done this for pretty much every major decision in my life – choosing an instrument, career, marriage, family, and music. I would not take any of decisions back. When talking about music specifically, this risk taking is an exciting, natural part of performance, especially in jazz and improvisation. I absolutely love that state of uncertainty, where every next moment, as scary as it possibly can be, is an opportunity for pure magic. Similarly with entrepreneurship, going into the unknown is risky but exciting. Wouldn’t want it any other way. Read more>>

Stephen Tyszka | Founder & CEO

Risk-taking is part of life. Successful artists and entrepreneurs overcome constant judgment and rejection. How? Tenacious perseverance and constant self-improvement. In 1996, I moved from the East Coast to Hollywood, CA to pursue music professionally. At 21, I was busking on Hollywood Blvd for tips by day; by night, I was sitting-in at local clubs. I was soon headlining shows on Sunset Blvd. Next came regular studio session work; I saved my earnings and took a business loan – another risk – and opened my first commercial music studio. I was working non-stop, either recording, performing, teaching, mixing or mastering music to make ends meet. Read more>>

Eden Sustin | Physical and Mental Medium

Starting your own business can be scary for some people. For me, I had some fear, but not of starting my own business. That part came easy for me. My fear was more about “coming out” as a Medium to all of my peers, friends and family. It meant I had to stop hiding my abilities and show up as my true self. I’ve had this gift since I was a kid but I never thought I’d reveal that side of me and use it to help others. It was easier to keep it a secret than risk judgment and criticism from the opinions of others. Being a mother was truly my priority but I had to contribute to the household income somehow. At the time, my focus was on making money. I took several odd jobs. None of which felt purposeful or aligned with my authentic self. Read more>>

Juliana Henao | Director, Producer & Sound Designer

The risks I have taken the last years have defined my life. I studied music, was working as a teacher, and randomly ended up learning about sound design. I fell in love with the sound world, and I went out of my comfort zone and decided to move to the United States to get an MFA in sound design. I knew what I wanted, do sound for film and tv, and I decided to pursue my dream without looking back. I started my new life here, and this journey led me to another journey, a very unexpected one. A project where I would become a director and producer. As a woman, and a sound designer, I have always been interested in finding role models, women in the industry. I discovered there are very few women who do sound, so I wanted to know who they were, what they did, and learn from them. Read more>>

Elizabeth Heitner | Chef & Entrepreneur

Taking risks is always uncomfortable. It’s scary not to know what the outcome will be. You can either do what’s comfortable and continue on the same path, or take a leap into the unknown. In my own experience, taking risks fosters growth, as you learn to adapt to change. The two greatest risks I’ve taken in my life were the decision to find sobriety, and decision to start my own business. Six years ago I moved from New York to California by myself to go to rehab. I had been struggling with a drug addiction for a few years that had taken control over my life. It was so scary to imagine not only having to give up my main coping mechanism, but also to do it in a place where I knew nobody, that was foreign to me. For years, I was terrified of giving up my crutch, and the possibility of failure. Read more>>

Sidra Greene | Photographer & Visual Artist

I believe that taking risks are imperative to growth and evolution as an artist. Risks force us to get out of our own heads, out of our own way, and closer to achieving the dreams we have set for ourselves. As a Black Queer Artist, my mere existence is a daily risk. The most recent risk I’ve taken is packing up everything and moving cross country from NYC to San Francisco. In a pandemic! With the help of a few friends, and rental van, we drove the 3,355 miles across the country in 7 days. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had, and it wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t say “yes” take a risk. Read more>>

Amy Gordon | Ceramicist

I think everyone is fearful of taking risks. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you face your fears, whatever they may be. You are putting yourself out there for others to possibly pick apart and criticize. but in contrast, there may be the pleasant surprise of praise and admiration. But ultimately, I do it for myself. It just simply makes me feel fulfilled! I crave the process with all its ups and downs and unpredictability. The reward is creating something with your own hands. When you finally pull a piece out of the kiln and its perfect, there is nothing better! Read more>>

Khloe Thompson | International Philanthropist

I believe in taking risk. If you don’t take risk how ill you know if you can accomplish something or not? I a huge believer in making a plan and working the plan. My entire career has been about following my passion. Read more>>

Lisa Young | Visual Designer & Business Owner

I’ve always been a risk taker in my life, to an extent, but I also realize that too much risk also leads to lots of worry and worrying is no fun at all! BUT not taking risks only limits my growth — going for the scary will always be my road of choice. Without risk life will remain stagnant, without trial and error, we won’t see what joy life can bring when we do take the leap. The biggest and the best risk I’ve taken was leaving my full-time, corporate design job to start my own design business in 2013. The stress level was through the roof but after years of successfully achieving each and every goal I set for myself and my company has only proven to be the best decision I’ve ever made. And I’m a still going strong! My advice for anyone looking to make a major life change and take a risk, DO IT! Until you try, you’ll never know what you can achieve. Read more>>

Erika Ponzo | Cook & Cheese Monger

Everything is a risk. There are no guarantees that putting all of your money, hard work and skills into a business will be successful. At any minute the customers could stop coming and you loose everything. This thought Is always stewing in the back of my mind. But I have to stay positive. Stay positive and work your butt off is the best way to be successful. Read more>>

Dewi Plass | Visual Artist

For me, taking risk signifies a conscious move out of a comfort zone, which I believe is essential for both personal and professional growth. Personally, taking risks is not something that comes naturally. From an early age my perfectionism often got the best of me, and it led me to develop a paralyzing performance anxiety that prevented me from going to school between the age of 12 and 16. I did everything to escape the risk of ‘not being good enough’ and sought comfort in art, music, and being at home. However, it became apparent through time that in order to stay true to myself and to pursue my dreams, this comfort zone needed to be overcome and personal risks – however trivial they may have seemed to others – needed to be taken. Read more>>