We asked some of the brightest folks in the community to open up to us about the most important lesson their business or career has taught them. We’ve highlighted some of those responses below.

Katie Culp | Founder & Chief Executive Artisan

There is risk in every choice you make. The only risk not worth taking is the risk of boredom. No matter what, failure is always going to be an option, so you might as well have the guts to go for what you really want. Artists and entrepreneurs are always trying to forge a new path. When I began doing commercial embroidery, there were plenty of much bigger and more established companies fully capable of doing what we do. However, much of the time, those companies were not flexible enough to service the film and television industry, which needed small quantities and quick turn-around times. We took a risk in entering that much-needed, but largely overlooked, space. Read more>>

Jordan Beecham | Illustrator, Designer, Muralist

When I think about risk, there are a lot of the things that go through my head. Fear is my first instinct, what if this doesn’t work out? Most of my big life decisions come from a place of practicality, which can sound silly coming from an artist. Throughout my life I have heard people refer to artists as rule breakers, risktakers, eccentric. The word I never heard associated with an artist “practical.” Yet to me it seemed more practical to walk away from a job that did not light a fire under me; a job that paid the bills but did not feed the soul. To me the risk of not pursuing a path that engaged me had greater negative consequences than playing it safe and collecting a regular paycheck. From that standpoint pursuing a career in creating art seemed like the most practical choice. Risk is inherent in life there is risk in every decision little or small, I prefer to simplify how it breaks down to a binary level. The choice is there to see the negative side of risk or the potential benefits of taking a risk. Looking at the positive side has served my career so far more than it has hurt it. Read more>>

Jenna Griffin | Owner and Lead Designer at Gold & Bloom

My natural instinct is to run away from taking risks, and it wasn’t until I was desperate for change that I chose to face risk head on. Giving up my career as an educator in pursuit of owning my own creative business is the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. It’s also the best decision I’ve ever made for myself and for my family. I was an elementary school teacher for four years before deciding I wanted to explore event florals. At the time, it didn’t make sense. I knew very little about floral design or starting a business, but I couldn’t ignore the pull I felt in that direction. Leaving a career with benefits and stability for one that is much less predictable was scary. I had no idea if I would be successful, and there was a lot on the line. For two years, I poured all of my extra time (after work and on weekends) into the pursuit of learning everything I could about floral design, the wedding industry, and starting a business. I was exhausted, but excited for this business I was building. Read more>>

Clay Hodges | Music Artist, TV & Film Producer, and Entrepreneur

I believe that risks are tests. Look at it as your final exam before you graduate into the greatness God has in store for you. I understand the amount of fear that comes with taking risk but I deeply believe that the most beautiful things in life are on the other side of fear. For me, the desire to experience the reward greatly outweighs the fear of failure. What’s the worst that could happen? You fail but you learn how to approach that risk better. Failing is normal. All of the most successful people in the world have two things in common. They all have failed more than they’ve succeeded and they never gave up. That’s the key! Even in the face of sure defeat, you never give up. That resilience changes the odds of your success from being a matter of chance, to a matter of time. I’m no stranger to risk taking. One of the biggest risks I took was moving from the comfort of my hometown in Savannah, Georgia to the Bay Area in California. All I had to my name was $800 and a heart full of ambition. I wanted to take my music career to the next level and I believed that the Bay Area could do that for me. Read more>>

Randi Skye | Stand Up Comedienne

You have to take risk to succeed in anything in life! You ever heard the saying “Scared Money Don’t Make No Money!” well thats about taking risk. You have to sacrifice something to get the things you want in life! I took a big risk pursuing my comedy career. I quit my job of 12 years and left my hometown to come to Atlanta to pursue comedy. I know I have a gift to make people laugh but I needed to be somewhere else to grow more. So I believed in myself and I jumped off the deep end without a life jacket! I took the ultimate risk and I don’t regret it ONE BIT. Read more>>

DeAydria McNair | Music Producer/Multi-Instrumentalist

I’ve always been inspired by people that are able to blindly take risks. I need to take more risks, honestly. I can be a bit too conservative and am looking forward to more educated risks. Read more>>

Matthew Bivens | Balance Lifestyle Coach

When it comes to facing things/situations that scare me or make me feel uncomfortable, my feeling is that the risk is 100% worth it, because giving into the fear and doing nothing I’m GUARANTEED to not grow or heal or expand. So if it’s “risky” for me to step into the fears because I might fail, I’m going to do it all day long. Because I know that I’m guaranteed to remain stagnant if I do nothing. At least if I take the risk and move through my comfort zone I will learn something about myself (even if I get my but whooped and fall on my face). That alone is worth the risk. I’ve used that way of thinking about risk to propel me forward in my business, in my relationships, and in my personal life. It’s served me because my confidence in myself has gone up every time I’ve stepped into the unknown. Things have not always worked out the way I wanted or anticipated, but I still leveled-up every time. Read more>>

Tanvi Lonkar | Sustainable Designer & Environmental Planner

I think that most people who are successful in their careers or life, have made decisions that have first scared them. Nothing extraordinary comes out of staying in your little comfort bubble, and which is why I think that risk taking is so important. I have yet to take big risks in my life, but if I’m not being too hard on myself I think I am where I am today because of the risks I have taken. The first big I risk I took was coming to the United States by myself, at the age of 19, leaving my family behind in India. Of course I see them every year, but I took a big risk of finding a new path in a different country. I have now been in the US for 7 years, and finally realizing that when I left my life back in India at 19, it might have been for good. I mean who knows? This was a big risk for me, and I’m still gratefully living it everyday. I studied Psychology in my undergrad, and decided to switch paths without any experience into Sustainability for my masters. So today I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Sustainable Design because I found my true passion a bit later in life. Read more>>

Ryan Dennett-Smith | Producer & UPM

I work in the film industry so there is a constant risk in everything we do. I have come to look at risk not as something to fear or with a negative connotation, but rather as a way to create opportunity. My experience with the risks started with jumping into the industry. I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know how it worked, and I was leaving a comfortable 9-5 job with a stable income. The fear I had was quite overwhelming until I changed the thought process from the fear of losing stability to the opportunity of chasing my dream in filmmaking. Fast forward a few years, I opened up a production services company, 3rd Shift Media, which had its own set of risks in being a small business owner. But I faced it head on and learned a lot as the company worked through growing pains. We are now producing commercials, trailers, & EPK’s for some of the largest brands, movements, and tent pole features in GA. And now as my business has grown and thrived, we’ve partnered with New South Independent to create In Line Pictures, a full service production company for features and tv. Read more>>

Matt Lewis | Actor

Years ago, I got a great piece of advice from a former acting teacher named Bob Moyer. He noticed that I was being a pretty lazy teenager and gliding through my life in general. He said I should, “avoid being comfortable,” meaning that I can’t really grow as a person or as an actor if I’m not challenging myself. I really took that to heart over the years, and it’s always in the back of my mind when I tackle a new challenge in my life. There are aspects of being an actor that can be really scary, or difficult, or both, but whenever I choose to accept the challenge of doing the difficult, scary thing it almost always pays off. Read more>>

Letitia Wise | ACTRESS

Risk to me is taking a chance on something, without knowing what the outcome will actually be. I am an Actress . I love acting. It is a dream that I have decided to pursue. I am also a Registered Nurse, and a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant. I have taken the risk of not working full time and not having company provided health insurance,, in order to have flexibility with my schedule, so I can be available for auditions and bookings. This risk effects my financial freedom . I really have to budget and watch my spending. Prioritize. But you know what? Its worth it to me..I am pursuing my dream. Not everyone has the courage to do that. I refuse to be 50 or 60 years old with thoughts of would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. I dont want any regrets in my golden years. You only have 1 life ,might as well live it to the fullest. I have strong faith, and God given talent, in addition to training,, and coaching.. Trust me when I say, taking this risk will be worth it for me. Read more>>

Jackie Hellesoe | Beauty Influencer

Taking risks is something I’ve always done throughout my life. Especially when it comes to chasing after my passions. I won’t lie, there have been plenty of times where the thought of being uncomfortable and chasing after a dream scared me. But I always thought to myself.. would I rather be in this known, stagnant stage of my life? Or chase after the unknown that can lead me to a prospering, known peace? I think too often we are afraid to fail or too worried about what other people think. Who cares! At the end of the day, YOU are what matters. No one is going to hand you your success except for YOU. I always keep this quote close to my heart, “The Richest Place On Earth Is The Graveyard.” So many dreams.. ideas.. and more are buried 6 feet under because these brilliant individuals were too afraid to pursue what they wanted. I want to die empty because I gave this life all I got. Read more>>

Amanda Valentino | Digital Marketing Specialist

I view risk as an opportunity for growth. I tend to operate from the “what’s the worst that can happen” mindset with the faith that every situation has a positive takeaway — even if that positive is sometimes simply learning a hard lesson. That’s not to say when presented with an opportunity for risk that I don’t carefully weigh the costs and benefits, because I do. I just don’t let the analysis push me into paralysis. In my own life, both personally and professionally I have had to take risks to find my path. After college, I moved to Colorado to live with my long-term boyfriend (now husband) walking away from the many contacts and professional opportunities I had made in Arizona for broadcast. Since making that first move in 2009, he and I have lived in 3 states, made 8 job changes between us, moved 7+ times, and added two kids along the way. Every single time we’ve made a change we’ve done so after careful consideration, fueled by the passion for the adventure. We continue to land in better professional, personal and financial situations all because we see the risk, weigh it out, and ultimately view most as the chance for bigger and better. Read more>>

Stacey Ruth | Branding Consultant and Leadership Coach

I am a champion of risk for myself and others. I am not referring to the sort of risk that endangers your livelihood or relationships, but the sort of risk that pushes past comfort zones which is the only place real personal growth occurs. I believe this is the key trait of successful individuals – especially entrepreneurs. Whether risk is about doing a fire walk, which I did, and found to be a transformational experience, or about starting a new company, which I have done three times now, risk demands that I be willing to believe success is possible and that I have what it takes to achieve it. More importantly, as a calculated risk-taker, I am also willing to learn from my mistakes instead of judging myself as a failure. Read more>>

Lorelei Chrystalilly | CEO & Fashion Designer For BUGoOff

Risk taking can be scary but it’s so important for growth! I’ve always been one to try out a new hobby or craft. I’ll take a thought, run with it and whip something up. I need to make “room” for new ideas. The risks I take help me jump through those steps. Read more>>

Matt Torney | Artistic Director

The biggest risk I ever took was leaving my life in Ireland and moving to New York to start over. I got into an amazing MFA program in directing at Columbia University, and had to choose between continuing to build a steady career as in Dublin, or to take a massive leap into the unknown. I remember stepping off the plane and hopping into a cab to a friend’s apartment where I had a couch to sleep on for two weeks, and thinking “what have I gotten myself into?!” Looking back, I could never have predicted the many profound ways that moving to the USA would impact my life, from incredible learning experiences and creative opportunities, to fundamental challenges to my world view and to how I approach both living and working. I learned the importance of listening and being open to new perspectives, the need to adaptive and flexible in my thinking, and most of all the need to be resilient as you live through change – all lessons that have been invaluable while moving to a new city and starting a new job as an Artistic Director during a pandemic. Read more>>

Alexandra Radford | Entreprenuer | Owner of The Edge Agency

As an entrepreneur, risk is unavoidable. As entrepreneurs, we’re eternal students, always growing, and there will always be opportunities to step into the unknown, whether for the first time or the 100th time. With the unknown, often comes fear. I believe in taking calculated risks that have been weighed and considered from worst case scenario to best case scenario. I believe in pulling in wise counsel and other business leaders who have achieved what I have not to seek advice from and leaders who specialize in the area of risk I’m considering. When 3 or more leaders give me consistent advice, I take that as confirmation that there is some wisdom in the risk I’m considering. I take risks where the potential for worst case scenario is not too big to recover from if it was realized. And as I grow, my ability to take bigger risks increases and becomes a sense of adventure rather than something to fear. The more we value something, the more we are willing to risk for it because we are passionate about the possibility of the end result and return on investment. Read more>>

Sia Savvy | Television Producer

Having a healthy appetite for risk has been the cornerstone for much of the success I have enjoyed in both my personal and professional life. For me, accepting risk is about understanding the reward and knowing that I can overcome any adversity that may come my way as a result of taking a chance on me. I believe that most of us are adverse to risk because we only focus on what can be lost and ignore what can be achieved. That doesn’t mean that I just throw caution to the wind. I make calculated decisions based on the information I can gather and research. Before any venture, I’m asking questions: What can go wrong? What can go right? What is my current tolerance for risk? What are the mitigating factors? Who can best be served if I’m successful? Who will be hurt if I fail? Based on the answers to these questions and more, I make a decision! I either go for it or I walk away. Either way, I have no regrets. Taking risks have ultimately afforded me the opportunity to find myself in situations where I lack the pedigree on paper, but I have the savvy and know-how to get the job done. Read more>>

Makina Table | Handmade Artist, Doula & Public Health Advocate

I’m naturally a very practical and pragmatic person, so “risk” is a word that I haven’t always loved. Weirdly enough, I would say that I’m a calculated risk taker; my preferred style of risk is more “jump and see what happens” (probably because I need to do it quickly before I reason myself out of doing it!). My relationship with risk has shifted in the last several years as I’ve been intentional about pushing myself outside of my comfort zones and through that, I’ve learned just how resilient I am. Taking risks has opened doors that I never knew existed–professionally, creatively, and personally–and for that, I’m a more confident woman. Read more>>

Jody | Artist & Filmaker

As cliché as it’ll sound, I truly believe in the phrase “no risk, no reward”. Risks are what sets you apart from the ones who play it safe. When we play it safe, we get and accept what life gives us versus when we take risks; we’re betting on ourselves to be able to go out and get the things we desire out of life. Taking risks is a showcase of my faith. The risks I take are bigger than what my reality looks like and investing in myself has been the most life changing action I could. Read more>>

Dean Gibson | Filmmaker

I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t take risks. Up until I graduated college, I lived a pretty average lifestyle, I hadn’t made any significant life changing decisions and I was basically living in my comfort zone. Shortly after graduating, I had realized I was stuck in my hometown working a job that wasn’t really beneficial for my long term goals. One day, I had a rare opportunity to move to a completely different state with two people I barely knew to pursue my career as a freelance photographer and graphic designer. Of course I was nervous and really had no idea how I was going to be successful considering I didn’t have a business already built. I had limited resources and I had never lived anywhere other than my hometown. Atlanta, Georgia was somewhere that I had only visited one time before calling it home. I knew this was a big leap for me but I had faith that I could make something of myself in a bigger city. I thought, “Whats the worst that could happen? I’m only 5 hours from home and I can always go back if this doesn’t work out.” Read more>>

Camille Ragland | Artist, Curator, and Adventurer

I think of risk as an opportunity for adventure and education. As an Aries Sun and Moon, chaos is my comfort zone and I have an affinity for high stakes. I believe that the universe has a lot in store for all of us, but we have to step out of our comfort zones to receive its gifts, Risk taking has taught me some of the most valuable lessons in life. Among those lessons, I have learned that I must be willing to follow through in the face of fear. I’ve learned that failure should be viewed as a learning experience rather than a dead end. Most importantly, I learned the value of being prepared *before* I take a risk. I found out early in life that I can play risk like a game of chance, and sometimes it’ll work out in my favor, but after missing out on some opportunities that I really wanted, I learned that thorough preparation is the key to a high success rate. Read more>>

Candace Green | Research Coordinator and Blogger

Whew, this is a good one. I think everyone that knows me well can attest to the fact that I like things that are safe. I like guarantees (I also acknowledge that most things in life are never a guarantee.), I like the security of knowing that will happen next. I had to give all of that up when I decided to start a business, and in my career as well. Some days it feels like the risk is worth it, and some days it feels like I made the wrong decision. The definition of a risk is this: “A situation involving exposure to danger” or “expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss.” So yes, you may fail, but you also may success beyond your wildest dreams. In the end I’m learning (slowly), that I’d rather take a calculated risk, than to wonder what would have happened if I didn’t try at all. However, Muhammed Ali said it best: “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” Read more>>

Selena Garrett | Entrepreneur Master Cosmetologist &Investor

It’s the absolute fear of the unknown. I Feel like if you never take a chance at something you’ll never know how it feels or how it will allow your career and/or livelihood to flourish… I’ve had to learn that overtime and to not be so afraid… now if there is something that is in the forefront of me and it’s a great opportunity.. I pray about it and if it feels like it’s a good thing then I take the risk. Read more>>