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.

Marissa Thompson | Poet, Spoken Word Artist & Author

For me, risk taking is where you find your hidden strengths. It reveals your persevering nature. It introduces you to your true self and your capabilities of making something from the raw tools of your inner being. Read more>>

Tamarie Cooper | Producing Artistic Director of The Catastrophic Theatre

I would say that I am far less of a risk taker in my personal life versus my career. I’m not jumping out of planes or playing the ponies-I’m a mom to an 11 year old. I go to bed early. I take my vitamins. Risk, however, has always been part of The Catastrophic Theatre’s DNA. When Jason Nodler and I started making theatre with our first company, Infernal Bridegroom Productions, we didn’t have an instruction manual, so we just winged it. We weren’t concerned that we might go over budget because we had no budget! We chose to present plays to which we were deeply and personally connected, ignoring any concern over how they would be received or how many tickets we would sell. Now, almost 30 years later, (and with significant institutional structure) we still produce work of a deeply personal nature. It can be perceived as risky to produce work where revenue is not the driving force in our play selections. It is this risk however that allows much greater artistic freedom. I have also taken great risk as creator of original work, presenting musicals based on my real life experiences, personal thoughts and opinions. Read more>>

Karson Neu | Indoor Cycling Instructor

I took a risk when I decided to leave my full-time job in Dallas, TX working for a medical marketing company to pursue a full-time fitness career in Houston, TX. I think that change doesn’t always have to be scary and most of the time if you dont take a risk, you would be left wondering “what if” and so that is. exactly why I made the move. Read more>>

Jah Harrison | Sustainable Fashion Brand |Stylist | Event Curator

Taking risk has been a major part of my entreprenuership success. I have always adopted the concept that “If your dreams don’t scare you, you are not dreaming big enough. Knowing how to take chances and understand that, in order to get to the next level risks are essential, big or small is key. Taking risk has allowed me to grow and gain confidence. Read more>>

Kimberlyn Reyna | Cancer Suvivor & Future Author

Risk takers are brave individuals who put their faith in God and themselves. If we did not have risk takers this world would be pretty bland. It takes one individual to make a change or start a revolution. I’m sure at one point they were doubtful and scared, but they knew it had to be done. When I was first diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, I knew I needed to take a risk and start chemo right away. Not knowing the outcome, and uncertain of the affects my body would intake, I took a leap of faith and gave total control to God. The craziest risk my family had to make for my well being, was to discharge me from Conroe Regional hospital, hire a private ambulance, and have me enter through Md Anderson emergency room. At the time when I was at Conroe Regional I did not have insurance, so I was on standby until I could transfer to any Hospital in Houston to receive treatment. I believe I was on standby for a week, and all doors seem to be closing for me. Some hospitals were over capacity, others wanted an unbelievable amount of money to take me in. Read more>>

Franklin Berry | Hairdresser

I believe taking risks are necessary in order to elevate yourself. I took a risk by moving to Atlanta without knowing exactly what I wanted to do with my life & I found hair. I then took a risk by moving to New York City to further my education. Both of these risks have paid off tremendously. I’ve received education that in otherwise I wouldn’t have received if I decided not to take the risk. Read more>>

Yobi Yobz | DJ/Producer/Host

My life choice to peruse this dream has been a big risk. Coming out of where it’s not normal to have a 9-5 I had my goals set that that wouldn’t be my lifestyle. To to downplay the 9-5 life bc it’s very essential to normal day to day people. I just saw something more exciting for my self. It was a risk just to want to be a DJ. “Who would hire you?” “How are you going to make this work?” “You’ve done this plenty of times but now you’re doing it to live and not just for fun.” That’s all the things that were running through my mind constantly. But I also believed in myself and I had a lot of skill to back that up so I just keep pushing. From taking the risk to moving to NYC. To taking the risk of moving back because I wasn’t going to settle for just anything. It’s always going to be a risk/reward the question is are you willing to take the risk on yourself. Read more>>

Chris Rohrer | Small Business Owner

I’ve always been a big risk taker. I’m not carefree by any means — I try to make calculated decisions in everything I do, but looking at my life this far I think I’ve had a tendency to make most decisions that would be categorized as risk/high reward. My decisions always been about the future. In terms of my career, that translates to either looking for opportunities to build skills or making decisions that would put the company in the best position long-term. Salary or immediate payout has ever been a driving force in my decisions. My personal financial decisions reflect high risk/high reward as well. A big part of this is belief in the long-term payout of where I invest my money, but I’m also at an age where I think high risk investments are okay. If I were closer to retirement or building a family, I’m sure my decisions would be different. In my opinion, this is the time to take bigger shots. Read more>>

Tony Kamel | Grammy Nominated Singer/Songwriter

I guess you could say my entire career is a risk. Being a musician, or a creative of any kind really, requires it. All of the ways I look at risk are as cliche as they come. It doesn’t really feel like I’m taking any risks because I have a big enough ego to believe that it’s going to work out just fine and people will listen to the music I make and like it. I’m not saying I’m egotistical, but I think you have to have a healthy ego to create something (music, art, a business, anything really) and believe that even a single person will consume it, let alone many. It seems the first big risk I took was quitting a high paying medical sales job at the end of 2012 to play music full time. It didn’t feel risky at all to me, really. It felt like a huge success and privilege just having the opportunity to make a modest living playing music. All I wanted was to make enough to get by and that goal remains. It’s still the way I look at it. The process and hard work of making that happen is all I really need. Any wealth, awards, or otherwise are simply happy accidents. Read more>>

Taylor Berry | TV Producer

I think of risk more like stepping out on faith. If there are other opportunities available or you’re not happy in your current role take a risk and try something new if you’re able to. A few years ago I was working a job where I didn’t feel challenged or fulfilled. I wasn’t growing and overall just wasn’t happy. As much as I was ready to leave, I was still terrified (no one knew) of leaving. There’s something about excelling in your role and being nervous to start fresh, but I’m really big on getting out of my comfort zone and always trying to better myself. I took the risk and stepped out on faith and landed a new gig. I have no regrets and honestly, the move has opened many doors for me. Read more>>

Brian Greene | Beard Specialist

I think risk taking is good with anything you want to do in life. How will you know what to do if you never been through certain situations? The bigger the risk, the greater the reward. I try to keep an open mind with all risk that pop up. It’s apart of the process and it will make you a pro at whatever you do in life. My biggest risk was moving from my comfort zone (Cleveland, OH) to Houston in 2014. It’s one of best the thing I did because it wasn’t easy. I had to become a new person and adapt to this environment. I’ve grown so much since then and I love it. Read more>>

Andrea Curran | Realtor and Team Lead, The Andrea Curran Team | Compass

I am not by nature a risk taker, by any means. I fear change and have a healthy fear of regret. In my business, each time I have taken a risk it has led to success beyond any I had planned. When I made the decision to start a team, hire a business manager, or join Compass, it all came with some risk. I am happy I took a chance on myself and those I trust. We are growing each year by leaps and bounds. Looking back, the real risk would have been not stepping outside my comfort zone. Like I tell my agents, we need to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to grow. Read more>>

Frank Weysos | Film + Music Video Director

Risks are awesome. I mean, I know that’s sort of a silly thing to say, but I really do think that taking risks is super important because it’ll always show you what you’re made of. You’re always gonna think and act differently when your ass is on the line and that’s all there is to it. You’re gonna move swiftly and you’re gonna act boldly. Taking risks is a crucial part of anyone’s journey…you gotta take a chance. Read more>>

Theresa Strong | Nonprofit Founder and Executive Director

Risks are both a blessing and a curse. It is the gateway to realizing our potential, and the potential of what we have created, yet, it is terrifying, as it forces you to acknowledge the possibility of failure. In building Bel Inizio, I had experience working within a nonprofit, and working with homeless populations prior, yet there were so many wonderful nonprofits in the Houston area that already served this population well. Building and launching Bel Inizio was a risk; having the community to see its value, and take an active part in what we were doing and accomplishing was a risk. The truth is, your business is only as successful as the support you have behind it. You can come up with the best idea for a business or nonprofit, but if you do not have support, it will only go so far. Yet if you take the risk, you have the chance to move mountains; you have the chance to positively change lives; you have the chance to impact your community and city, perhaps garnering an even farther reach. Read more>>

Brigette Yawn Suad Ihsan | Band – Say Girl Say

There is a risk in every decision you make. There are external forces, self doubt, failure, detours. All you can do is have good intentions and persevere through the darkness and the monsters. I think we knew going in to it that we were taking a big risk, since there is a 1 in a billion chance of “making it” as a musician. We met about 10 years ago with no intention of forming a real band. Suad and I were both musically curious but didn’t set out on starting anything serious. We just started jamming and singing one day and soon after a friend encouraged us to perform at an open mic night. From then on, the response has always been positive and over time it turned into something bigger. Since then, Say Girl Say has always been our number one. We didn’t set out to finish school, or have kids, get married. I’ve studied music for a while now and it has always been my purpose in life. Dedicating everything I had to Say Girl Say, when I had nothing, was not just about taking a risk. Making music is a high I’ve always wanted more of. It’s a meditative and healing experience where you can just be in the moment. Read more>>

Troy Aiken | Visiting Lecturer of Ceramics, University of Notre Dame

Risk taking is one of the primary factors that is prevalent when someone makes or performs any artistic process. There is always some dimension of risk involved in the making process especially in ceramics and over the years I started to embrace risk more as my curiosities started to evolve within my work. I think that a comment that has stuck with me over the years was from one of my undergraduate professors when he took me aside one day and told me that I should be taking more risks in school while I have that safe space available to fail and fail big if necessary. He then told me, “Think about it as if you were to jump out of an airplane and then try to invent a parachute before you hit the ground.” I will never forget that. Read more>>

Deandre Moore | Entrepreneur & Social Media Strategist

The current state of my life is a direct result of the many risks I took. When you don’t have much to lose, you tend to focus on all that there is to gain. The people in my life who seem to be the most afraid to take risks often have a high level of comfort or privilege. In my case, trying new things and setting new standards for myself were the only way I could continue to propel in life. I moved to various states, took on unique job roles and participated in new experiences to grow as an individual. Ultimately, I view risks as pathway to rewards. Read more>>

Leti Garza | Musician and Artist

Risks are essential to a successful life, and successful career. I have always chosen challenging paths, but it has taken me years to understand how taking risks can turn an ordinary plan into an extraordinary adventure and benefit one for life. To me, risk is synonymous with uncertainty, and within uncertainty lies the freedom to choose a path without expectations. Taking risks opens the door to increased creativity, and leads to opportunities that one cannot foresee. Taking risks doesn’t mean that one can’t plan. It means that if within your plan, something comes along that feels right, you can take a leap of faith. Taking risks also requires non-judgement. Non-judgement towards those who don’t understand your art, as well as non-judgement of oneself. Life certainly doesn’t always work out the way you’d like, but in my book, challenges (ie. risks) always leads to growth, and assists you in the development of wisdom along your career pathway, and your life. If you look to history, one can find risk takers who have changed the course of our lives. Read more>>

Crystal Vaughn | Family and Portrait Photographer

I love being a professional photographer! I have always had a creative side and I really get to utilize it through my business. There is nothing greater than living in your purpose, using what talents come natural to you and getting paid for it! To me, it’s totally not all about the money though. I get joy from creating images and heirlooms that will be passed down from generation to generation. People can look back at these family photos and have wonderful memories of their loved ones. As these heirlooms are passed down, the younger generations can connect with their family tree and see where they get their looks and personalities from. You may ask, “how can you tell someone’s personality just by looking at a photo” but I take more of a lifestyle approach to catch real life interaction so personalities shine through. I believe this is what sets me apart. Read more>>