We asked some brilliant folks from the community to talk to us about how they think about risk and the role risk has played in their lives and careers.

Sham Blak | Musician/Entrepreneur

I think risks are a healthy part of assessment and evaluation. In life and in your career, the more risks you take the better you get at picking which risks to take. I think of it as a gamble. 50/50 chance. It has been critical in my career and life thus far, because there have been situations where I had to make a quick decision. Not saying we should walk around life gambling with death and what not but being courageous to not do scared business. To not be scared of life. Of letting go and letting it be as natural as possible, or organic as possible. It can be spooky to not be sure if there is anything solid on that next step, but knowing that that next step is there for your growth. Read more>>

Anastasia Black | Sustainability Adviser, Environmental Psychologist

Risk is a vital source of the universe. We all take risks on a daily basis. We risk- therefore, we live. I was born in Soviet Union times where “taking risk” was not a cultural aspect and was not socially supported. Therefore, as you know from the history, people would find themselves in a huge hole of economical & personal stagnation. Very few, mostly young ones, would choose a different path for themselves. My mom WAS the one – she decided to start her business in the country where there was not even a conversation existed about any kind of capitalism. She was 20, she had nothing besides a newborn baby, me, in her hands. She took the risk of being not just socially judged but physically injured. There were no laws and regulations, but a constant threat for the ones trying to get out of the communist regime. Read more>>

Amy Sussman | Staff Photographer for Getty Images Entertainment

I believe anyone that chooses to live to creative life exhibits a sense of bravery and needs to take risks. It takes courage to put yourself out there, to express yourself, to know it might not always work or be positively received. To work in any creative field, I believe the only way to get better and to stand out, is to take risks. To me the essence of living creatively is to push beyond ones’ comfort zone, to stretch one’s limits, to see what is possible in creating something uniquely your own. Risks, mixed with a little naivety, had a lot to do with my career. It had to, especially as a photographer because photographers don’t sit on the sidelines. No, you have to be right there in the mix of it all and it doesn’t come with do-overs. It is a moment in time captured and preserved but gone almost as soon as it happens. So, there is little room for error yet there is a need to experiment and to innovate, always walking that fine line because in experimentation there are bound to be mistakes. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Read more>>

Michelle Strausbaugh | Interior Designer

Risk taking is what makes life interesting! Stretching myself and “taking a risk” is never easy, but boredom is so much harder to deal with. When I’m feeling restless, I look around for something new to do. Traveling usually scratches that itch. Traveling to a country where even the alphabet is different, i.e. Japan, Greece, etc. definitely felt risky. Since traveling is not an option right now, I adopted a puppy. Being a single puppy mom is way more than I anticipated, but it sure is fun. Oh, and I’m going to learn to scuba dive this year. Fiji is on the bucket list, and I want to be ready! My best risks were the ones where I really trusted my gut. For instance, I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, and for some reason I felt compelled to join an exchange program in France during a summer in high school. Trust me when I say that was a crazy idea in my world. Because of that trip, I met one of my life long best friends – hey Kelly!. Read more>>

Marie-Claude Linteau | Co-owner, at Haven Air Conditioning

Risk taking is at the core of my personal credo! From very early on in my life, the risks that I took propelled me forward and up to heights beyond my imagination, whether in the realm of relationships, family or business. I am in awe of this life, and taking risks is just another way to honor the time I have been given. This life is an amazing adventure! The risks taken are still based on an educated guess. There’s no need to rehash once you understand the pros and cons. Every time, I was rewarded for taking chances! As I get older, it’s easy to just sit back and relax. However, there is a fine line between enjoying the fruits of your labor and becoming complacent. I must continue to challenge myself and grow to be the best I can be! At the moment, I am expanding my business! Needless to say, there is a lot of risk taking involved. In this particular setting, the benefits are a bit slower to show but I know they are coming. This enterprise is an outward expression of my inner growth. If I stall, it stalls. I’m lucky to be an eternal autodidact and it pays off, especially now that I need to develop so many new skills! I can’t wait to see what’s in store in the near future. Whatever it is, I will be ready to receive and pay it forward!. Read more>>

Jasmine Flores | Jewelry Designer

Without taking risks, you won’t ever know what it’s like to get out of your comfort zone. I initially didn’t intend on turning my hobby into a business. Then my friends started showing interests in my jewelry pieces and I saw how happy my pieces made them. I took the risk of starting my own business on October 2019 because I wanted to share my art with more people other than my friends. I’ve met other business owners and artists along the way who inspire me to keep on taking risks everyday. Read more>>

Jennifer Vitanzo | Wildlife/Conservation Photographer, Author, Educator, and Singer/Songwriter

I think risk is an absolutely necessary part of the creative process, and of life, in general. If we don’t take any chances, we don’t grow. That’s not to say we have to continue just leaping off into the abyss with no plan. We can (and, ideally, should) have some sort of idea of what our intentions and direction are before randomly jumping off into space. But if we try to plan out every step, we are destined for disappointment. One, because nothing in life ever actually goes to plan. And two, because it is in the process of learning to adjust our sails to whatever storms life throws our way that we improve and grow. And what’s life without growth? Every part of my life and career has required quite a bit of risk. I’ve pursued three different careers in what appear to be headed in wildly different directions (although it’s surprising just how many similarities exist between being a performer, being an author, and being a wildlife photographer and conservationist). None of those career paths have a set route to get you from point A to points B-Z. Sure, there is training, there are classes and courses you can take, but you have to carve out your own path and use your unique voice to build a career for yourself because in all three endeavors, YOU are the brand. Read more>>

Dan Sheehan | Author

I consider the conscious assumption of risk a prerequisite for success. While my particular risks—flying a gunship in Iraq, landing on a pitching ship in the middle of the night, or spending years writing a book that might never leave my computer—might differ from yours, I see the motivation they provide as the crucial ingredient for any successful endeavor. My willingness to accept risk has changed significantly over time. As a young Marine helicopter pilot, every day in the “office” brought with it a legitimate risk of dying. My training mitigated that risk but could never erase it. Even considering my combat experiences in Iraq, the closest I truly came to dying was on a routine training mission that almost ended in disaster sixty-miles off the coast of Djibouti. And even after two decades of war, the number of friends I’ve lost in training accidents still exceeds those I’ve lost in combat. Read more>>

Chris Hissom | Founder & Surfer

It’s the thrill of the hunt, and I can best describe it with a story about my high school surf years in Florida. I remember the rush I felt when my high school friends and I shouted “Attacckkkk!!!!!”, and we sprinted from the sand and into torrent waters. I lived in Florida at the time and, for readers that haven’t visited South Florida, the ripples, not waves, make a soft “fshhhh” sound when they gently meet the shore. So, what’s there to surf in Florida? Well, stormy days turn the ocean to something that looks like the surface of a jacuzzi on full blast. That’s probably why we were screaming as we ran into the waves. It was hurricane season for parents but hunting season for us. You dive into the water and its chaos. Your paddling in, dodging waves and wake, and squinting your eyes trying to spot a set. Suddenly, your intuition shouts! It’s an irresistible burst of energy that drives you in a specific direction, even though it all looks the same. And then you see a massive wave, you are paddling towards its peak, and there is just enough time to catch it. Read more>>

Ashlee Espinosa | Actor, Educator, Creator, & Coach

I honestly feel like everything in my industry is surrounded by risk. As as actor, educator, creator, and coach specializing in musical theatre and online teaching, every part of my life and career involves risk. You audition for a show and risk not being cast. You step onto a stage and risk judgement from audience and critics. You post video content on YouTube as a creator and risk no one watching which means you don’t make any money off that work you’ve spend hours perfecting. You stand up in front of a class as a professor at the college level and risk making mistakes and how it will effect your students. You move your business online and risk no one wanting to work with you through zoom. With that being said, the results far out weigh the risks. Without taking risks I would have never ended up with the career I have now where I have the opportunity to do many different types of jobs, work with people from all over the world and live a life that truly make me happy. Read more>>

Erika Michelle | Intuitive Graphic Designer

Playing it safe can only take you so far. When you risk something like money, time, your feelings… that is when you do your best in because there is something in the line. Example: I “have” to win because I want to make a parent happy. I have to make the investment back so I don’t lose my house. In life we risk our feelings many times, being open with someone that can hurt us or keeping our feelings down low so they don’t have the chance to hurt us. I risked money when I first started my online business. Invested in coaches and platforms in order to get to where I wanted to go and gave myself a timeline to make my investment back. Without that “deadline” for me it would have been like shooting at the air, no goal set. Read more>>