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.

Eric Pohl | Editorial and Commercial Photographer

From daily tasks to life-changing decisions, everything in life has some level of risk. For the most part, the things with the most reward carry the greatest risk as well. How we balance rewards versus risk is what makes the difference. For me and my career, it’s been an up and down series of calculated risks and learning hard life lessons from failure. As a teenager and young adult my passion and hobby was photography. I was also heavily into fine art (drawing and painting). However, in my view, photography and fine art were not viable career paths for me. Even though I have a natural inclination to be entrepreneurial, freelancing at that time seemed too risky and I didn’t know anything about the business side of it. So I took the easier path. I began teaching myself graphic design concepts, design software and even got into coding and web design. I started my first job in graphic design at the age of 19. Read more>>

Dipti Shah | Creative Director & Lead Designer Specializing in South Asian Weddings

Sometimes risk can be perceived as a negative element but risk can produce great rewards and it can also, and this is my view point, can be the way you must reach your highest potential. I have always viewed certain things in life as if it were on a swinging pendulum. The pendulum is swinging and some people are on a low swinging pendulum so they keep to a lower risk on the positive side because they don’t like how the pendulum can swing to the negative side. So “safe” decisions are made. Lower success means easier failure. But for some of us the pendulum swings high and with that comes huge success and fulfillment of ones greatest potential. But as the saying goes, the higher you are the further the fall. I have been on both sides of the pendulum swinging high in the positive and swinging high in the negative and from those experiences I have had great growth and it keeps me hungry for life and my career. Read more>>

Heather L. Johnson | Visual Artist

Risk taking has defined my creative practice, overtly, as well as in a more subtle, psychological way. I engage with the world and gain most of my inspiration by venturing where I don’t belong. I’m best known for projects that intervene in the landscape, wherein I ride motorcycles alone long distances, leave artworks behind or give them to strangers I encounter on the road ( I cross borders into lands with cultures and languages unfamiliar to me, wearing my own vulnerability on my sleeve, trusting gut instincts and the tenacious guardian angel who has looked after me vigilantly.. even when decisions made could have stood some improvement. Lately, as Covid has made long distance travel unsafe, I’ve taken different kinds of risks that are more emotional in nature. One example lies in a project I’ve been working on for the last couple of months called “What Holds Us Together” ( Read more>>

Marissa Valdez | Children’s Book Author and Illustrator

My number one advice for anyone starting out in the creative industry or starting a small business is to take risks. I would not have a career as a children’s book illustrator if I had not put myself out there and taken big risks, like sending my portfolio to literary agents, entering national contests and eventually quitting my day job. Risks are scary! But really necessary if you plan on having a successful brand and business. Expect to fail! It’s all part of the process. I try to regularly tell myself that if I’m not failing then I’m not taking risks that will help me grow my business and my portfolio. Read more>>

Helena Martin | Muralist

I’ve learned that as cliche as it sounds, I have to believe in myself in order to be successful. Taking calculated risks (which is not to be confused with being impulsive or flippant) is part of that. I’ve had to have faith in myself and my abilities and take risks upon them. I’ve had be on my own team, rooting for myself, even if I felt like the only one. I have to trust the feelings I have about potential projects, clients, weighty decisions and act upon that inner voice instead of anxiety and panic. This has caused me a lot of sleepless nights! But taking risks on myself lead me to achieving my dream of working full time as a muralist. That gives me faith. Faith that NOT making decisions based on fear leads to positive outcomes. Read more>>

Gavin Wegener | Film Director

I really think that if I hadn’t taken any risks I would never have experienced a profession I love. It’s funny how I’m aware of that, yet still, I find it challenging to take further leaps sometimes. The best outcomes in my career have been from just closing my eyes and jumping not completely knowing what’s below…quitting the corporate job, moving to a place that supports my profession, those kinds of leaps. So it’s an on-going thing, trying to remember that risks have paid off and to not shy away from them… and my career life isn’t that old, so I’m still seeing where those leaps lead me. But almost more importantly, realizing that these “risks” aren’t any riskier than the practical route of a profession. People seem to think that working for a corporate entity is a “safe job”, and that is such an illusion. The COVID pandemic was an eye-opening example of that. So considering that, if no jobs are certain, you might as well choose the one you love. Read more>>

Deangela Jones | Artist & Model & Model Coach & Fashion Designer

I see risk as a unconventional opportunity to pass or fail. As humans we are so afraid to fail that we tend not to take a chance with things from our relationship to overall life. We tend to conditioned ourselves to be afraid of trying new things. During my adulthood I’ve been retraining my mind to take those risky opportunities because I’m too curious to still wonder about that moment if I didn’t. Some of the risks I’ve taken have been great others not as much. But that’s the beauty in just trying and going for it . Risks can be encouraging moments if you just try it out! I once was scared to share my art with others but it was worth the risk to share because I’ve sold art since then. Stop doubting yourself! Being modest and self doubt are two different things don’t get them confused! You got this 🥰. Read more>>

Kristen Giles | Photographer

I have always been a risk taker, especially growing up. Say yes now, and figure the rest our later is kind of my motto and in a way, that motto has instilled confidence in myself. When it comes to my career and building my business, I naturally took the same approach. Being able to be comfortable with taking risks and saying “yes” to things that would move the needle in my business has been vital to my success in building a successful career. Read more>>