Shoot your shot? Take a chance? Society bombards us with messages, phrases, examples and stories of how taking risk is the key to success, but is anything ever that simple? We asked some of the brightest folks we know to tell us about how they think about risk. We’ve shared their responses below.

Kylie Clarke | Photographer & Graphic Designer

I love this question. The word, risk, to me, is another word for opportunity. So many times in my life, colleagues have asked me, “But what if they say no or turn you down?” The way I see it is if I try and succeed, then I’ve accomplished my goal, and if I don’t succeed, then I’ve also accomplished my goal. Even if I “fail” terribly, I still benefit because I learned where I need to improve. In other circumstances, like starting my own photography business, I never saw it as a risk because I knew that no matter what I’d be taking pictures anyway. Overall, a risk is only a risk if you feel like you could lose something. I always feel like I’m gaining and learning even if I “fail.” Read more>>

Cameron Curry | CEO & Pop Culture Enthusiast

Risk is such an important element of leadership. If you are not taking risks, you are not embracing opportunities to grow, change, or move your business or organization to the next level. All too often, people can become set in their ways and in their environment. If they do not innovate, seek new avenues to challenge their thinking, the business can go stagnate and the joy once experienced by the leaders and workforce can be gone. Risk is also the fuel that many need to feel that their ideas and efforts are contributing to the company’s success. When a team member is sharing, giving their perspective and insight is often the catalyst that contributes to those risks being taken. When a business is unwilling or unable to fold risk taking into annual activities and planning, that business will find themselves in a position of not being innovative or even obsolete. Read more>>

Kathleen Kastner | Yoga Instructor & Vegan Educator

I live my life by the Julia Cameron quote, “Leap and the net will appear!” This has helped me personally and professionally in many ways. In 2002, I owned a yoga studio in Kansas City with a business partner and it burned up literally. I took a leap of faith and decided to go out on my own and open Maya Yoga studio. Four years later I moved to Santa Monica, while running my studio long distance, because my intuition said I would meet my husband there and it worked! We met in a yoga class and got married 6 months later. We went back to Kansas City and ran Maya Yoga together until 2015. Then we sold it and moved to Encinitas, CA, which was another leap of faith and a good one for us! I remember looking at the ocean when I moved here and someone asked me if I moved here for a job and I said, “No, I moved here for my life!” I wanted to make the joy of living number one over work. Read more>>

Ashley Graham | Publicist & Empowerment Coach

The initial thought that comes to my mind while reading this question is, “Woah buddy, where do I even start?!” If I had a dollar for every risk that I’ve taken in my life and my career, I’d be a millionaire. This should be a new business model. Sign me up! We as human beings take risks every single day. The word ‘risk’ alone is known as the possibility of loss, injury, or in entrepreneurship or business, the chance to lose more than you gain. In the current times, we take a risk to physically connect with one another during the time of COVID-19, and with the U.S economy experiencing the waves of the next recession, we take a risk to find the next opportunity that may bring more stability into our homes. To keep it simple, there is no reward for us to gain without the risk of placing ourselves in an environment or mindset that gets us a little uncomfortable to create change. The truth is, I’d take the chances of risk over and over again because risks are an essential part of life. Read more>>

Lawrence Wood | Writer & Director

All ventures have some level of risk. Some have a greater tolerance for it. I took a risk when I went from New York to Nashville, TN to attend medical school. When I accepted the invitation, I had no money and no where to live. Imagine if I did not take that risk. It all worked out. I took a risk when my wife and I opened a non-profit for homeless veterans. We used our own money to buy the house. Our financial advisor advised it because of the tax implications. We went forward, anyway, and Fan of The Feather was established with great community support. We helped many veterans transition from homelessness to working an d contributing members of the community. I took a risk when I wrote my first book, Among Pigeons, and now we are in pre-production for a TV pilot, The Featherman based on my crime novels. All of this was the result of taking a risk. Read more>>

Nathan & Dana Dorn | Wedding Photographers

We’ve been in business for ten years, but we spent about eight years being held back by ourselves before we realized it. It sounds silly to say it now, but the most significant risk we’ve taken in business is believing in ourselves. For years, we hesitated before every decision. We’d wonder what “they” would say and then imagined the worst things. It was depilating and made a lot of our business conversations less than productive. I still don’t know why it’s easier to believe the negative things than the positive things regarding our ability. Except for maybe that when we say something negative about ourselves, it feels true, and when we say something positive, it sounds arrogant. In the effort to be honest, we side with cynical and without realizing we hold ourselves back. It’s a vicious cycle. Read more>>

Colton Tisch | Surfer & Photographer

Always take risks. I don’t want to look back on my life wondering “what if.” The worst thing that can happen, should that risk lead to failure, is you gain a life lesson that can be applied to your life moving forward. Read more>>

Kim Kuznitz | Pilates Instructor & Pilates Entrepreneur

I think risk taking is an awesome thing to do. It has played a major role in my life and career. For starters, I was a ballet dancer and in my senior year of high school, I graduated 6 months early to pursue my dance career for the NJ Jersey Ballet Company and was paid. I got perform at the paper Mill Playhouse dancing in the Nutcracker and performing dance lecture/ demonstrations to children in the public schools in Northern New Jersey. From there, I learned I will never lead a “normal” life, but loved every minute of taking risks as a performer. Fast forward to age 30, I embarked on teaching Pilates and in 6 years opened a my own Pilates studio called BENT Pilates which I ran for 12 years. From the moment I was a performer in the arts, it has taught me about taking risks in my business life. Read more>>

Clint Regehr | Corporate and Industrial Video Production

In order to achieve more in life from a career perspective, I believe you have to be willing to step out and take a few risks along the way. I also believe that the risks you take need to be well thought out and planned for before you take them, with some kind of back up plan in place. In my experience, before I began my video production company in 2012, I spent many years in the enterprise software industry. During that time, I took a variety of risks working for a variety of start-up software companies. It’s exciting to be part of something new. Success isn’t always guaranteed, but the rewards of personal growth through the process are huge. Some of the start-ups I was part of were a great success. Others were not, but in the end, the takeaways were always something I could use in my next endeavor. Leaving the software industry and starting my video production company was also a risk. Read more>>

Amber N. Yoo, M.B.A. | Co-Founder & Vice President

Funny you ask, because I’m naturally pretty risk averse. But, I learned early on in my career that taking leaps in life can lead to the greatest discoveries. I took a leap in my early twenties when I wrote to the CEOs of local animal welfare nonprofits and one of those letters landed me a job for the Seattle Humane Society. At that job, I took a leap when a local news station took me from behind the scenes to in front of the camera on live television. I nearly had a nervous breakdown the day before my first scheduled appearance, but I ended up securing weekly spots on three morning news shows where I talked about an adoptable animal and the latest humane news. I took a leap when my husband, a surgeon, asked me to run his medical practice after I earned my MBA. Now here we are 10 years later with a well known practice drawing patients from around the world. Read more>>

Angela Minardi | Chief Experience Officer, Fitness Enthusiast, Community Activist & Amateur Pickle Ball Player

Risk is 100% necessary to create the best version of myself and my career. I truly feel that without risk, there is no reward. Risk pushes me to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. I thrive in risk – it’s in my DNA. My father came over from Italy in 1970 as a 17-year old that did not speak the language. He went on to get a masters in engineering and start his business from our garage when I was just two years old. He quit his job to follow his dreams. In 2016, I sold my house, packed my car and moved to California. I did not know anyone in San Diego and had only visited once. In 2019, I left my cushy consulting job to work on Fit City Adventures full time, and now I’m in the process of purchasing a home in the middle of COVID and a volatile political environment. It all comes down to faith, trust, calculated risk and drive. I know that I will succeed and I know that the universe has my back because I have everything I need to make my goals happen. Read more>>

Deborah Martin | CEO

I sometimes think the term “risk taking” in terms of leadership can be misunderstood and misapplied. We often hear of successes because a CEO took a great risk, but we hear less often of those who took risks that put companies out of business and left employees without jobs. When I read business articles about how taking risks shows confidence and creates opportunity it’s not that those things aren’t true, but it somehow seems to minimize the value of risk management and other pertinent – yet less flashy – leadership skills. To me a good leader and CEO is a risk manager – someone who minimizes and mitigates risks – while capitalizing on opportunities with calculated and proportionate risk. In my experience, it also takes an equal amount of risk to be patient, to slowly build from the ground up with no short cuts, and to painstakingly lay a solid foundation for the growth and success of an organization and its employees. Read more>>

Linda Litteral | Artist, Educator & Activist

Risk is a part of life, I have tried to embrace it as part of my process. When I moved to San Diego, I packed my daughter and a few things in the car after being played off from my job. We moved, I found work and went forward in a different place. Later I quit working in engineering and embraced art making as a way of life. Going back to school and graduating with my MFA at the age of 49. I think we need to be able to keep evolving and trying new things as we learn more through time. In my art making process I try new materials and ideas all the time. It is what keeps me moving forward in creativity. The ability to expand my oeuvre, and change is how I keep myself interested in the entire process. Read more>>

David King | Corporate Attorney, Author & Podcaster

Risks should be taken only after sufficient homework. If you’re rushed or uncertain, it’s not the time to take a risk. I’ve taken risks, changed course and enriched my life and career whether or not it let to a financial windfall. It’s usually best to hold the wheel steady like an Indy 500 driver as you go around the track. But, if you will be happy driving on another track and you can ride out the downside, then it’s worth taking a risk and stay your new course long enough to see if it pays off. Read more>>