Taking Risk is essential, but how much, when and why? Taking risks effectively is as much of an art as it is a science and we’ve asked some of the brightest folks in the community to tell us about how they think about risk taking.

Michelle Nguyen | Permanent Makeup Artist and Educator

The saying “with great risk often comes great reward” definitely holds true for me. I gave up a job in the casino industry that I had 12+ years experience in to start a business doing Permanent Makeup, an industry I knew nothing about. I just knew I wanted to work for myself. I took 2 courses at first and did a lot of research online on how to open up a business. I knew little about social media advertising and didn’t even know how to get clients or reach the right audience. I opened my business anyway. It took months of hard work but I was finally getting recognized. I started with zero clientele to now being booked out months in advance. I have clients and students from all over the US.. and even some from out of the country. I get to set my own hours and spend more time with my sons. I’m there for every milestone in their life and that is my reward. Read more>>

Camara Rauen | Media Producer, Podcaster & Mental Health Advocate

You must take risks to move forward in life. While risks can scare you from making important life changes. They don’t have to be life-threatening acts. They can simply involve trying something new or changing the way you approach your goals. When I started my podcast MentaliTea with my friend Light, it was something that I had never done before and didn’t know much about. Heck, Light and I were only acquaintances when we started. Going into a new, unfamiliar media venture with someone I wasn’t close friends with yet was scary, but also exciting and felt important to me. It did push me out of my comfort zone but in a way that felt empowering. For my podcast, my intention was to bring awareness about mental health, taboo topics, and learn more myself. While I did partner with someone who shared my vision, I was doing it because it aligned with what I wanted to accomplish in social impact and mental health awareness. By taking this risk, I have learned about my love for podcasting and empowering discussions. That led to my current role as Digital Media Producer for the health community. Read more>>

Kailee Powers | Photographer

I think the biggest risk I’ve taken in my business was giving up a 4 year traditional college experience to pursue my business. Every life/career has risks. Big or small! Risk is a part of life. The role risk has played in my business was big in the beginning I think the most important thing is being smart about them. Make sure you have a worse case scenario backup plan, think through the potential pros/cons of your risk, and never take a risk that could hurt your business- or your life! No risk is worth losing what you love or what you’ve worked for. Read more>>

Eva Struble | Artist

I like to set myself up to encounter the unexpected. I suppose you could call this risk-taking. I see this trait in the way I make work in the studio- material experiments that create obstacles I have to work around that surprise me with new ideas- but also in my larger life choices. I’ve spent a lot of time travelling, living, studying and teaching abroad, from Morocco to France to Brazil to Senegal, to name a few, and I feel very lucky to have been able to do so. The challenge of being abroad and having to navigate a new language, idea of space, series of cultural expectations, etc, doesn’t allow you to be passive. I think I’m always fighting feelings of repetition and passivity in my life so I seek a little friction and surprise. Researching some of my work- a series of pieces about Superfund (environmentally degraded) sites in Baltimore for example- put me on edge in an energizing way- I put my body in uncomfortable situations visiting these places. But I could also retreat to the studio to process in comfort. This is my version of what Björk described in Hyperballad about visiting her cliff before returning to her home (I’m about to be 40, in case my reference didn’t give me away). Read more>>

Kaije | Singer-Songwriter & Guitarist

Risk taking is mandatory to achieve success. Everything I’ve done in my music career so far has been a risk of some level or another, from the first time I played on stage to the first dollar I invested in recording to the first promotional campaign I ran. Every time you step on stage, you never know what will happen. Every time you promote yourself, every dollar you put into your career all comes with a risk, and these are risks you can’t afford to be afraid to take. You have to take every risk, and take it confidently if you want to succeed. Read more>>

Susan J. Osborn | Mixed Media Artist

I equate adventure with risk. Without a sense of adventure, one would not take a risk. Curiosity sparks adventure. So, in my case, I am a curios person willing to adventure and take a risk. This can be seen when I am curious to learn something new (even knowing I am bad at it.) I am curious about other worlds and have travelled countries. I am willing take a risk by not knowing what will await in a new culture. Will I be prepared? It’s this same attitude I have about being creative. What will happen if I add this paper to a canvas or paint it a different color? I take more risk in my art making now that I have built up enough confidence to adventure out in new creative territory using new mediums. After being an artist for so many years I depend on exploration, risk, failing, and sometimes putting together materials that just won’t work together. Every creative piece is an adventure and a risk of not being able to communicate what I am feeling to others. I just hope to be lucky and come out with art that speaks. Read more>>

Michaela Moffett | Painter & Instructor

Art is inherently precarious and uncertain. We, as artists, create whatever we want to and display it to an audience in hopes of connection or reaction of some kind. However, no matter how hard we try, we can rarely, if ever, guarantee the reaction we desire. Risk comes in so many different forms. Generally, when I think of risk, I think of placing myself out of my comfort zone and stretching beyond contentment. In other words: risking my comfort and stability, pushing beyond the fearful voice that inevitably follows me anytime I’m about to approach a possible precipice of inspiration. There is no growth, no success, no creativity without some risk. Since I was young, I naturally have always desired excitement and had an enormous curiosity for all things creative, thought-provoking and adventurous. These sentiments led me to many incredible opportunities. One particular monumental risk that has affected my career and art thereafter included flying to Italy to live and study 1 year at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, Italy, where I had to become almost fluent in the Italian language in several months, take a 7 day entrance exam, and learn how to function in a completely new culture. Read more>>

Sean Russo | Music Video Director

A life without risk is stagnant and that scares me. I’m glad to say taking risks has led me to become who I am today and I hope it continues to help me develop as a human being as well as an artist. When I graduated high school, I knew I didn’t want to pursue a four year degree, It’s something that just did not interest me in the slightest, but at the time, I still had a nervous feeling about it as well as a nervous feeling about my life and career in general. But now looking back, the risk has payed off so far. So I went to a two year program for film production in Orange County, finished that about 2 years ago, started to direct my own projects without transferring. In a way I just said “fuck it lets go” and did not look back. I dove right into my projects without even thinking about going to school. That is relatively risky looking back, probably even more risky than I thought at the time. But I’m so glad I was able to take that risk because I genuinely don’t think I would be where I am today doing these projects I love without taking that initial risk. I moved to la a year ago, channeled all my time working with the artists on videos. Read more>>

Carlos Cabrera Emma Blossom | Entrepreneurs

We both think that risk-taking is an important part of creating and developing our ideas because after years of work, passion, and failure we learned that taking the risk is the only option to grow. We believe that change needs taking the big step into the unknown to unveil the big picture. Brewja Cold Brew is not just a brand, it is our way to give back to the people that have always supported us. We trust our ideas and people around us responded in a good way to them. “La vida es un riesgo” and that’s why we took the risk and gave form to this idea. If we don’t risk it with new ways of thinking, new coffee profiles, and new people we can not grow. Read more>>

Polly Rodriguez | CEO and Co-Founder of Unbound

Risk, like all things in life, is relative. I think that with each life experience, our risk assessment adjusts based on the tradeoffs we’re presented with — either making us more or less risk averse. For me, the biggest life experience that impacted my perception of risk was being diagnosed with cancer in 2007. At 21, I was faced with a diagnosis that gave me a 30% chance of survival. When you’re assessing your life from that perspective, all other risks feel negligible. You also make a lot of promises to yourself — mostly, that if you survive, you will make good use of what time you have left. As a result of cancer, I found myself less afraid of rejection or failure. That is also coming from a place of privilege as a white woman, but generally speaking, rejection just no longer scared me. I found myself willing to apply for positions and opportunities that, before cancer, I don’t think I would have had the bravery to go after. The biggest risk I ever took was starting my own business in 2014 with my co-founder. Read more>>

Paria Vaziri | Naturopathic Doctor

Taking risks is the foundation of my career. It was a risk for me to drop out of pharmacy school to pursue naturopathic medicine. It was a risk to forgo residency or joining a practice in favor of starting my own. I’m a risk taker because I’d rather know that I tried than live my life wondering what if. I’m a risk taker because I’m resilient and I know I’m strong enough to handle the inevitable obstacles that come along with starting a business. I see these as opportunities to grow, learn, and become a better individual. Without risk, there is stagnation. When I’m in my 80’s, I want to look back on my life and my career and know that I took risks, I pushed myself, and I succeeded. Read more>>

Katherine Bibilouri | Researcher

Risk taking. In 2020 the notion of Risk taking took on a whole new meaning. During a global pandemic, actions we once took for granted, like meeting our loved ones during the holidays or. Read more>>

Emily McAllister | Professiobal Photographer, Freelance Writer and Public Speaker

In my opinion, risk-taking is what separates those who dream about doing something, from those who actually live in to what they dream about doing. Anyone can have a great idea. Anyone can daydream about greatness, but it takes stepping out of the comfort of those thoughts and putting it in to action to actually achieve greatness. Every positive thing in my own life (and business), was born of me getting crazy vulnerable and uncomfortable, and stepping in to the unknown. Trying at all is a risk. But if you want to be IN the game, you have to get off the sidelines and play. This has been my experience. And with trying, comes a lot of falling. ‘Success’ isn’t defined by never failing. Success is defined by taking risks, falling, getting back up and continuing on until you get it right. Read more>>

Christina Dias | Artist and ‘Shentrepreneur’

I’ve learned risk comes with the territory of being an artist and a creative “shentrepreneur” the sooner I got more comfortable with taking risks, the more fearless and faster I became in advancing my career. Keep in mind, deciding to pursue the arts as a career path is absolutely a risk in itself! It’s a risk to put your heart and soul into something and throw it out there for the world to see with fear of criticism. It’s a risk to invest in startup costs when you have no idea if you’ll see a return on your investment. It’s a risk to place value on something you put sweat and tears into when others might scoff at the price tag. However, the risk does have some rewards. I racked up some wins, noted the milestones along the way to facilitate new ones. My biggest win is I no longer question this adventure I’m on. My soul has more wealth as an artist than it ever did monetarily as a corporate drone. I am one of the lucky few that gets paid their craft and love of it. That’s has been my greatest strength. It has made me fearless to failure during the learning process. Read more>>


Some would say I’m not afraid of taking risks but that’s not really how I see it. I’m totally afraid of risks but I’m more afraid of NOT taking risks. I’ve never wanted to live a ‘safe’ and quiet life. I want joy and laughter and I want to know that I’m truly living a full life! There is so much to do and see in in this crazy world and I’ve learned that all the really important stuff in life requires risk… marriage, kids, travel, buying a house, I mean these days there’s risk in just driving your car… Hello So Cal traffic! In 2012 when I started Sandra Michelle Artistry, Inc., I had taken 3 years off from doing hair and makeup to have kids. I had zero background or education in Business and I had just relocated to a new area where I knew no one! I had no connections and I knew it would definitely be a challenge to create something special. But I also knew that nothing in life that’s worthwhile comes easily. My goal was to create a bridal beauty business built from kindness, respect and reliability. I wanted my brides to not only look beautiful on their wedding day but to also enjoy the entire process. Read more>>