There is a wealth of academic research that suggests that differences in risk appetite are at the heart of differences in career and business trajectories. We wanted to go beyond the theory and ask real people from the community about their perspectives and experiences with risk and risk taking.

Branko Kral | Marketing Director & Community Builder

I like doing hard things, I like a challenge. My parents engraved ambition in me, and then I gained a level and variety of skills, so easy things don’t cut it for me. To keep myself in check, I’m conscious about only picking hard things that energize me. And when you think about it, hard things will inherently be risky. A part of the definition of something that’s hard to do is that you’re not sure what the outcome will be. So I find myself drawn to risk. Further, risk is what helps you break out of the ordinary. You need to steer away from the ordinary, you need to think for your own way, to create great things. Otherwise you’d just create ordinary things. This is another reason I find myself drawn to risk. But I’m also analytical and organized, to a point where I organize other professionals (my team). I approach risk by creating systems for it. Systems count on a variety of outcomes and provide answers to deviations. Doing business is an example that’s both specific and rich, because doing business comes with fluctuations in income. Read more>>

Karen Varela | Stylist & Business Owner

I know it sounds a bit cliché to say but it’s a big reality…. without risk there is no reward. I learned a long time ago that I had to take risks to be able to accomplish anything close to what I had in my mind I wanted to achieve. I had, and still contribute to have, big goals and visions for my career. Building a business was the second step. The first step was taking the risk. I always saw “security”, in terms of a guaranteed paycheck, as a lock on a door between a room with a roof or the outside where there were no limits. Sure it’s scary, sure i would go through nights tossing and turning wondering if I could do it. But there was only one way to find out. Now that said. I also know I had to be smart about it. So I always say risk should not be blind. If someone is going to take a risk make it a strategic risk. Read more>>

Jason Augustine | Freelance Filmmaker/Photographer

I’ve always been a bit of a risk taker and every time I’ve taken a risk it’s pushed me to make things work. It’s the flight or fight, sink or swim mentality. When I decided I wanted to go away for college and pay for it on my own instead of staying local…I had to make it work. I got a loan and a job. I kept my expenses as low as possible and just made the best of it. I graduated in 4 years and landed a full-time job. A couple years later I was unhappy with my career path. I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to make a change but in order to do so I had to risk it all. I had bills to pay and expensive rent; however, I knew if I didn’t do something drastic, I wouldn’t get to where I wanted to be. So, I quit my job, lost all my benefits and source of income. I got an internship as a photographer. I wasn’t making any money, so I had to live off a personal loan from my bank and work nights delivering pizzas. It was definitely hectic, but it paid off because I had to make it work. 9 years later I found myself in a similar situation. I was outgrowing my role at the company I was working for. Read more>>

Candace Hoegemeier | Celebrity Lash Designer

Taking a risk to achieve a goal requires courage to face the fear of uncertainty. No matter the outcome, either way, we grow through the process and become more resilient and confident. Better yet, building those skills helps in taking more risks and improves the chances of achieving future goals. To me, risks are required to be taken if you want to run a business. You can play it safe but that’s not going to get you where you truly want to be. Taking risks eliminated the possibility of me looking back and asking, “what if?” At the start of my career figured that even if I failed, I’d walk away with more experience and more knowledge, which would lead me to further success in other areas. If I weren’t to take chances and most importantly live/work authentically I would not be where I’m at today, and Tenderoni Lashes would not be based in West Hollywood, CA now. Every step I’ve taken with my small business, Tenderoni Lashes, felt like a game changing (and sometimes questionable) one. Read more>>

Weston Fuller | Professional Photographer & Retoucher

There is a certain level of risk in everything we do and with a career it’s one of the biggest risks we take because we’re committing ourselves to pursuing a life that doesn’t exist yet. We start out hoping for the best and trying to mitigate the unknown, but the unknown is what risk is and it’s scary. No one starts a career wanting to fail but there are definitely those that play it safe and those are more willing to put it all out there. I’m fairly conservative and believe I usually stay somewhere in the middle and when I look back at my life and career choices I can identify when I took the secure road or the risky one. The risky choices also provided some of the greatest rewards and opportunities to advance, but it’s true about the opposite as well, because the risky times that didn’t work out were also some of the most devastating moments in life. I’m happy I took them because I’d prefer to know that I at least tried instead of playing it safe all the time and never knowing. Being a professional photographer in a time where creating photos is fairly easy because of advances in technology and the easy of that technology being at our finger tips is not easy and is risky career. Read more>>

Desiree Bennett | Music Producer & Artist

I love the idea of risk-taking. I feel that risk-taking has helped me come out of my comfort zone and learn how to express myself within my music better and to learn more about myself every day by challenging myself to figure out exactly how I can be better than the day before. risk-taking plays a role within my life/career because by doing what I love every day and putting myself and my music out there for the world to see I took the biggest risk I could possibly take at this time In my life. Read more>>

Basma Adams | Diabetes Advocate | Masters in Nursing student | Public Speaker, Speech Writer & Content Creator

I believe that risk taking is what enables a person to reach new heights and experiences that otherwise may have not been thought ‘possible.’ Risks are only achieved when you’re willing to push boundaries. Personally, my own risks in life have payed off because at the end of the day I truly believe in my passion and determination to the things I dedicate my time to! Believing in yourself is half the battle when it comes to conquering a risk you take. When you take a risk, whether it works out in your favor or not, the gift of it all is that you will walk away learning an extremely valuable lesson. Thanks to the chance you took on yourself, you end up growing from the experience and thus you become a stronger person. Truthfully, whether you think so in the moment or not, risks ARE worth it because of the person you evolve into thanks to taking it. Read more>>

Celia Creek | Digital Marketer and Senior Designer

I grew up in a rough-neck, dead-end, neighborhood located in a small town outside of Seattle. The sound of racing muscle cars and risk taking was an every-day shannanagan. The rivalry between friends on the block pushed us to our limitations. As a teen and young adult, risk taking evolved into an irrational form of invincibility. I was rebellious, angry, and worked against every grain I could find. Like fingernails on a chalkboard. Charmed, I’m sure. Today, I still get bored easily but I have been tamed by a few hard knocks to the head. I still get a rush experiencing unchartered territories both professionally, physically, and culinarily. If invited, enticed, or lured, I will almost assuredly say “yes.” And for my 80th birthday I’m buying back my ’71 Camaro. Read more>>

Rosebud | Recording Artist/Musician/DJ/Prod

I love to take risks. I truly feel uncomfortable doing the same thing over and over again, I am not restricted by genre. I’m inspired by too much, I can hear my voice in so many genres, I just need to hear the right chords. My writing style involves taking risks and running with them, by that I mean a melody would pop into my head for a song I am writing I normally stem off of that I don’t do too much planing, it just evolves. Also, I’m not scared of looking weird anymore, I like weird things. When I say weird, I mean sci-fi and horror themed projects, I love vintage cinema and historic art but I also love colliding two worlds, like in my recent music video “In My Eyes” (Urbanite x Rosebud) I combined 1980s color pallet with 1960s hair and a modern sexy 21st century leotard, I’m proud of that risk and look forward to taking more in the future, I’ve got a lot of plans and risks ready for 2021. Read more>>

Andrea “Angie C” Chandler | Cultural Arts Strategist. An Arts Advocate Cultivating Culture to Effect Change.

I think about risk often as a creative and an arts worker. I also think about risk as the child of Black immigrants. The convention of risk involves thinking outside of conventional norms, kind of on the edge of logic. Which can be scary for my parents who had to make a lot of non risky decisions to thrive in America. But in their decision to come here I see risk and adventure. So it’s in my DNA *smiles*. In life our experiences lead us to a path that is easily laid out, and easy to follow- pick a career or a vocation, get a job, the end. For me that initial thing was teaching. It made sense and I was good at it so I pursued a degree in history and education and taught for a decade. I was always however pretty focused on theatre and performance and found myself being drawn to do that work fulltime. At the end of one school year where I had performed and done arts work as much as I had fulfilled my teaching contract I decided to step away from the classroom. It was a gigantic risk. I left a stable paycheck and began to craft a life as an arts educator and performer. Read more>>

Tessa Hopman | Business & Results Coach | Writer | Speaker

I truly believe in this statement and it is how I have always lived my life. Not always in the context of whether or not to take a risk, but always in favour of taking a step or a stance instead of sitting on the sidelines watching life go by. I believe that our lives are the most precious gift we will ever receive and therefore we have a responsibility to somehow make the most of it. Some people do this by chasing fortune or fame, others by trying to achieve extraordinary accomplishment pushing both mental and physical boundaries, and then there are others who give their lives to make the world a better place for those less fortunate. Those last two groups I greatly admire and I try in my own limited ability to follow their path. But in order to ever achieve anything even close to greatness we need to take risks, a leap of faith so to speak, and that is exactly what I did when I started my business. I didn’t have a drawn out business plan, I didn’t have investors, heck I didn’t even have any money in my savings account. Still I quit my job and a week later applied for a business number under The Vinedresser. Why? Because I had faith. Read more>>

Jenny Niezgoda | Founder | Al Fresko Experience, Master Charcuterie Maker and Luxe Picnic Designer

Risk by definition is the possibility of loss or injury. I think taking risks in life is necessary for growth and leveling up. Humans are wired to survive: it’s a basic instinct that takes command almost instantly, enabling our brains to resolve ambiguity quickly so that we can take decisive action in the face of a threat. When you become an entrepreneur, you are immediately going against everything we are hardwired to know, leaving the herd in a sense and facing the unknown. You are taking a risk. In 2014, I left a stable, well-paying job, and my life in California. I took the biggest risk of my life that year. I was unhappy, unmotivated, and ready for a change however I did not really know what was next. I was seeking more passion, more fulfillment, and more pureness in my daily living and career life. My personal journey was well underway but my career path seemed conflicted with my at home values and long term goals. I decided to move to Mexico, then traveled all over before finding Bali and Australia. Read more>>

Cherie Kephart | Author, Inspirational Speaker, Editor, and Writing Coach

The American novelist Erica Jong said it best, “If you risk nothing, you risk even more.” I wholeheartedly believe in taking risks. Without them, life would be hollow, lacking the growth, important lessons, and deep unions we can encounter during our human sojourn. However, risk taking is individualistic. What may be a risk for some, such as trying a new food or singing Karaoke, may be commonplace to others, like it is for me. Skydiving, traveling to remote places, trekking through jungles, running marathons, speaking in front of thousands of people, and writing a memoir exposing my most personal life are all things I’ve done. Sure, I’ve experienced some fear in each instance, but for the most part I realized that without risks I would not be truly living. So I will almost always choose to take the risk. That doesn’t mean I’m not careful. I do consider the ramifications. Read more>>

Kevin Kowalski | Potter and Educator

I never think of things as a risk, I think of things as potential possibilities. Risk implies that you may fail or miss out on something but potential possibilities means there is a potential to succeed or find new ways to approach your plans. I plan and work hard in hopes to be successful and then try. When things don’t work out as planned there should be other new ideas that present themselves as long as you are looking for them. That is potential possibility. In my teaching career I always encourage my students to try things out or find new possibilities in their work. In my personal artist career this keeps me motivated to keep trying new things and pushing myself to move forward. Read more>>

Courtney Locks | Actress & Travel Agent

I’m most comfortable in a safe space that yields reliable, consistent results. I have gotten very good at blending in, and not making noise. BUT, and it’s a big but, I’ve found I’m most happy when I am taking risks. I am not truly living, and experiencing what life has to offer unless I am taking risks. This doesn’t mean it is easy for me. It’s really a struggle everyday to put myself out there, and convince myself to take chances. Some days I am more successful than others. Somedays the fear takes over, and I stay in my safe space. I spent a long time staying safe and stagnant, and I found that comfort doesn’t equal happiness. For me comfort was the exact opposite of happiness, and I found myself lost and depressed most of the time. It was then that I realized I needed to make a change. I needed to show up for myself. Showing up meant risking failure. It meant risking putting myself out there for the world to see and getting rejected. It still means that. But I have felt more and more at peace with myself everyday I show up. Read more>>