Legend holds that Cornelius Vanderbilt had built a massive fortune in the steamboat shipping industry, but then realized the railroads were the way of the future and invested almost his entire net worth into railroads. The gamble paid off and made Vanderbilt one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs ever. But risks are inherently…risky. How do you think about risk and how has it affected your life and career? Some of our community favorites share their perspective below.

Kia Sofia Borst | Actress & Figure Skater

I think taking risks plays a huge part in having success. I have always been one to take a lot of risks, it’s just part of my personality. If I look back on my life and my career, the moments that stand out the most are the ones where I persevered through uncertainty. A little bit of uncertainty keeps you on your feet. It makes you think outside the box. It challenges your problem solving skills and it pushes you out of your comfort zone. All the unplanned experiences are chances to grow as an individual. And those who have traveled a lot know that you can only plan so much before life takes over. That is part of the risk you take when traveling. I think it is good to have goals, plans and ideas but I also believe you need to recognize when life has a better path carved out for you and you can learn from the mistakes you make. If you are ready to risk “comfort” you are more likely to succeed because you are ready to give up what you already know in order to fight for something new and unknown. Read more>>

Ma’Riece Johnson | Spiritual Practitioner & Paralegal

I think that risks are necessary contributing factors to any situation in life. I believe that they should not be taken lightly depending on the circumstances but every once in a while, they are important. Taking risks has not only helped to boost my confidence in my life and career, but has also encouraged me to step into territory that is not always well known. I took a chance and began my company by giving readings and sharing my rootwork practice with close friends of mine and realized that by going public about my services, I would reach people of different backgrounds that also had interest in partaking in my services. Taking risks helped me to realize that I could work in the public eye and run my business in the public eye as well. Taking risks takes courage, patience, and proper planning. Read more>>

Jonathan Sawyer | Business Owner

I am slightly risk averse when it comes to making big decisions. I typically weigh the pros and cons and spend a significant amount of time thinking about how I will manage a worst case scenario. If I can’t bear those consequences I usually take the safer route. I run a pottery business for a living which seems like a strange career choice for someone who is risk averse. The decision was actually less risky than it looks on the surface because of the slow and steady path I took. Pottery started as a hobby of mine while I was in college. Over the course of several years it turned into a part time job and eventually a full time job. Each step of growth was incremental and I only invested more of my time and money when I had confidence and a vision for my path forward. It certainly wasn’t the fastest way to grow a business, but it was a comfortable pace that mirrored my growth as a developing potter and business owner. By the time I committed to running the business full time, the decision was still scary, but I felt things had a reasonable chance at working out. Read more>>

Jenny Woudenberg | Creative Marketer & Children’s Book Author

Before COVID, I had always worked for a company because of the comfort of knowing exactly how much was going to show up in my bank account every two weeks. However, navigating through the mysterious and daunting forest that was 2020 with losing my job and health insurance while pregnant with my first baby sparked a new path in me. This energy gave me the confidence to start my own marketing agency and go after a life-long dream of becoming a published children’s book author. Read more>>

Kyra Badiner | Designer, Producer, Artist

I was taught from an early age that taking risks often resulted in rewards rather than consequences. I was often encouraged to take risks because if they paid off, then the risk was worth it, but if they didn’t, then I learned from it. Mistakes are how we grow, how we can be better the next time, and how we can know what works and what doesn’t. In my life and in my career, taking risks has played a huge role in the amount of opportunities I have had in leadership positions, adventures I’ve taken, and things I have learned. I’ve found throughout my life that every time I take a risk, I feel more confident in my abilities. By showing myself I can step out of my comfort zone, or accomplish something difficult I gain the confidence to take more risks. I think to be an artist in general is risky. If you are an artist of any kind you know that not only is it a lot of work, but it is often looked down on and ends up being a side-gig or hobby. Committing to your work and the title of “artist” is a risk. I think as a person who plans to always work in the creative industry, I will have to take plenty of risks to succeed. Read more>>

Alex McClung | Film Photographer

Risk is what drives me everyday to keep going, especially in this business taking risks helps build your self and your name. Without risk I would not be in the position I am in today. Read more>>

Patrick Kappel | Realtor

One of the riskiest things a person can do in life is to take no risk. That said, I believe in taking calculated risk. Taking risk without having reviewed calculated data is simply foolishness. Taking calculated risk however is the path to success. My favorite quote from my mentor, Warren Buffet – a man I have never met but still consider my mentor – is “I’ll tell you how to become rich. Be fearful when others are greedy, be greedy when others are fearful.”
I open nearly all my educational client webinars with that quote because I know life can be scary at times and real estate investing can be intimidating – huge sums of money are involved when you are investing in real estate. But it is exactly when it seems the scariest and when you are fearing the most that you need to take the calculated leap, because that’s when you will realize the greatest reward. Read more>>

Raven Lynette | Freelance Art Model With a Passion For Conservation

I believe taking risks is an essential part of life. Without taking them, how do we discover something new? Anything that goes against the grain of normal can be considered a risk. It’s fun and exciting to shake things up, but it’s also important to keep an element of safety in mind. For me, pursuing a career in the arts was a risk. I could have followed through with my original plan of completing the standard years of college and pursued a veterinary career which would have been much more stable. However, I just couldn’t leave the arts behind. My decision to forgo that clean cut plan and instead pursue dance and then full time modeling could definitely be considered a risk to my future financial stability. However I knew in my soul that I would not be happy letting go of one passion to pursue another. So I chose to go the creative route, while my body is able. Being a model can be risky. Read more>>

Michael Montali | Musician

I think trying to make money as an artist without a backup is a huge risk. You have to figure it out as you go along because your business is one of intuitive creation. While product based, it is a perceived product that changes and fluctuates. Read more>>

Joy Yvonne Jones | Actress, Playwright, Poet, Producer and Mom

Risk is a regular part of my life as a professional Actress. Choosing this profession without reservation is a risk, auditioning is a risk and sharing my work is a risk. Most days, I don’t think about it, but then there are times when I have to truly weigh the outcome of my actions. These moments usually come in the form of speaking out against abuse or inequities. As a performer, we are taught early on in our training that we are all replaceable, so speaking out is highly discouraged. This creates a community that almost rewards trauma – taking pride in tearing down students, and forgetting to rebuild them, and then calling us weak when we burn out. I have hit a point in my journey, where I have gotten tired of justifying abuse by “authority figures” because “standing up for myself could ruin my career.” Success should not come at the expense of our mental health. Read more>>

Jose Cruz | Nonprofit Chief Executive Officer

In the nonprofit world, or in any business, when a person in leadership decides to take a risk, they are taking that risk for their board members and for the reputation of their cause. They are gambling that their decision, and the action that follows it will bring progress and not demoralize partners and donors. The assessment of risk can be subjective. What I mean is, some people take things way too far. That is, they never take chances. Hence, the status quo is somewhat maintained. The potential for ground-breaking outcomes and transcending norms is minimalized. What we call “calculated risks” can be real showstoppers. It is possible that, being in the nonprofit arena, I am more inclined to take risks. The human condition vs. profit, is at stake. People need help. A meek response to the challenges being faced by a segment of our society is just not going to do. Read more>>

Kekoa Tsukiyama | Artist

I think that taking risks were very crucial in my career. It’s not an easy thing to do whatever it may be that you are risking or taking a chance on but if you believe in yourself enough it will work out. If you never take a chance you’ll never have a chance. For myself leaving Hawaii was a huge risk and very uncomfortable but I am very happy I did and I’m doing things and have been places I have never imagined. Even at a young age there was risks being taken. Not having a 9-to-5 job and trying everything to make sure I am able to survive off of my music wasn’t exactly fun or financially the greatest decision at times but it sure as hell beat a “job” and I’m glad i chose that route. Read more>>

Andrew Rodriguez | Visual Artist & Designer

Risk taking is an essential part of my life and artistic career. I fear it, love it, and embrace it! There is very little reward without risk taking in this world. I believe risk can be shown through many different lenses. One example could be stepping out and putting your image on the line in front of your peers; standing up for what you believe in, and helping others even if it means being different and looking strange. Another example could be putting your security on the line to pursue what you love and are passionate about. When I decided to pursue an art career in my early 20’s, there was more than a couple people who scoffed at the idea. Yet there was also a burning desire to put it all on the line in order to pursue a meaningful career, and that fire could not be snuffed out. I have learned through many trials that risk and faith go hand in hand to complement each other gracefully to help you walk out even the worst situations. Read more>>