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.

Faith Njenga | Daughter of God, Author, Content Creator, Musician & Writer

I actually would like to use the word “Faith”. Faith is the unknown and this is where risk comes in the picture. When you decide to have Faith in God, you drop your will and choose to follow His will. Is it hard? Absolutely. In the natural eyes, this looks like a big risk. Some may ask, “How are you just dropping your dreams to purse one of an invisible Being you cannot see?” I don’t need to see God physically to know that He exists. The simple yet profound things such as breathing, creation, and everything else our natural eyes see, proves to me that He is real. This has played a great role in life because what ends up happening is that, His plans surpass mine and they have a greater outcome than mine could have ever brought. I have landed great jobs, met amazing people and even my life took a major positive turn. Read more>>

Tessa Joy | Singer-Songwriter, Performer & Budding Music Producer

I truly believe that life is all about taking risks. Whether I succeed or fail, I want to be able to say I gave it my best shot no matter what it is. In the music industry, you can’t be afraid to take risks. I never know what kind of sounds or melodies I’m going to end up liking until I try it. I have to take a chance and release music not knowing if people are going to love it or hate it; I think that makes my job so much more fun! As long as I know that I am growing and learning from everything, all the risks are worth it in the end. Read more>>

Jay Wilson | Content Creator

I quit my job 3 years ago in hopes of becoming a full-time entrepreneur. I had no money saved up no clear plan of how it was going to work. I just put my trust in God and kept working. Its almost like immediately after I had quit, my phone started ringing more and more. Also I got in the streets and started networking as much as I could. So taking risks has become a part of me because you’ll never know the outcome if you don’t try. Read more>>

Brandon Dukes | Entrepreneur & Food Artist

I use to hear the word risk and I would think of something scary or negative. I’ve learned to embrace the word and to realize that risk are synonymous with entrepreneurship and in my mind with being successful and with growth. I prefer to use calculated risks with my companies i.e. weighing the pros and the cons, the areas for potential success and the areas that could pose a set back. Risks have played a role in my life in various ways. For example, at nineteen, I decided to join the United States Navy and cook on a submarine. A prime example, of a risk that paid off then and now. What person at nineteen joins the Navy and willingly takes the responsibility of being on a submarine? I looked at it as a once in a lifetime opportunity and a huge risk. The skills learned, camaraderie, travel and benefits; those things will last a lifetime. Moreover, in my career, I’ve taken a few risks. Read more>>

Amanda Oldeen | Owner, Lead Wedding Planner

Risk taking has certainly been a huge part of my life. My company, Fête & Figs wouldn’t have happened without it. Before starting the company, I was working in a totally different field. I was an executive producer at a post-production agency for TV commercials here in Atlanta. I’d been working in post production for about 5-6 years and was making great money, but I was honestly pretty unhappy. The kind of unhappy that sneaks up on you over time until one day you realize you’re suddenly relating with all those internet memes about driving into work then instead jumping on a plane to start a new life. I wanted to get away from it, but I had no idea how. One night, I was at my friend Courtney’s house drinking wine and found out she wasn’t happy with her job either. The more the wine kept flowing, the more it sounded like a great idea to quit our jobs and do something else. Read more>>

Erin Elizabeth Burns | Actress + Founder of E.E.B. Studios

I live for Risks! I love thinking outside of the box with my auditions, it’s helped me deem the title “secret weapon” from Casting Directors LOL. It’s the same in my personal life. I left the most rewarding, stable teaching job I’ve ever had to take my teaching online & have more flexibilty, & it’s been the best decision I could’ve made. Soon after, I sold everything, built a camper van & traveled out west. I’d never seen the Grand Canyon & just had a moment of “what am I doing with my life”….. best. decision. ever. Actors are scared to travel, to experience life for fear of missing out… but you have to, to be an Actor. Read more>>

Gabrielle Wedderburn | Actor, Dancer & Writer

My entire life up until now has involved me taking enormous risks. I moved to Tennessee when I was eighteen never having seen the college I was to attend and never having been past the state of Pennsylvania. I literally packed up my clothes in some duffels and garbage bags and moved thirteen hours from where I grew up with my family. I didn’t know anybody and didn’t even know what courses the college offered. I had simply prayed and knew it was were I needed to go. Like many artists, I have always felt different. Aside from being one of the only people of color in an all-white school my entire life, I always felt like like my mind worked in a way that most people’s around me didn’t. Eventually I came to a place where I was able to fully lean in and honor that “tug” in my heart to pursue a career in acting. I was still living in Knoxville, TN at the time when I made the decision to relocate to Atlanta. Read more>>

Khia Jackson | Graphic Designer / Entrepreneur

It’s the backbone of entrepreneurship. It’s also stressful as hell. It’s also thrilling and incredible self-affirming when the risk pays off. You can’t move forward without it. As a fulltime entrepreneur I’m met with ‘risk’ on a very regular basis. It’s constant. And I can’t lie. It’s scary AF sometimes. But you push through. As time goes on I’ve learned to not so much “push through” it but “drift through it”. Risk is a big part of my life now, and I tend to see it as always working out for me in the long run, which takes the edge off the fear. I tend to ask myself “will this push me to grow” and “can I handle this”. If the answer is “Yes” for both questions then I dive in. If its “no” for either question, I don’t do it…at least not at that moment. Read more>>

Linda Sayseng | C.E.O. of Sayseng Media, Multimedia Producer, & Photographer

Risks are typically considered negligent but with a solid foundation and purpose, it creates a safe environment for innovation and growth. So many times I questioned my marketing strategies or life decisions until I decided this is my business, this is me, this is what I believe in. Once I knew what I stood for, I stayed firm on that belief and when chances and opportunities came, taking the risk was necessarily high as the stakes. That gave me a balanced playing ground to reinvent my marketing and …..myself. Read more>>

Arianna Khmelniuk | An Olfactory Artist

Risk is most often associated with an uncertain future and something negative that could happen. For me, the risk is an opportunity. An opportunity to try out new ideas. I associate risk with self-realization. All my projects as a self-educated olfactory artist it’s one big risk, but it energizes you because you are doing something new that no one else has done before. And no matter what you do, there are no rules, and therefore it gives adrenaline, but you just do not have a choice as an artist or an entrepreneur not to try. Read more>>

Joseph Lazzari | Artist/Furniture Maker/Musician

I think risk taking is trusting your abilities to take you places that your stress and anxiety tell you that you can’t go – and that’s paramount to growth and success. I try to avoid low hanging fruit in life and work. I don’t want to copy existing designs, follow recipes, or settle for whites convenient – I want to dream up something different and jump up at it until I reach something close to it. I hope I’m always pushing at the edges of my comfort zone, looking for what’s next and taking risks to get there. Read more>>

Rachel Frawle | Actor, Writer, Producer

Risk has defined some of the most exciting and fulfilling projects I’ve worked on. It took me longer than I’d like to figure out that knowing the rules is important, but knowing how and when to break them is where you learn what kind of artist you really are. I put in some of my best auditions when I silence the voice in my head that’s telling my what I “should” do and give myself the freedom to play boldy. The projects I’ve taken on that have no safety net, few resources, that start from people who have a great idea and want to work together, those are the ones that end up feeding artistic growth. The times I felt like I really took big leaps in my career are the times that scared me most. I had no real producing experience when I joined the producing team with the Weird Sisters Theatre Project, and there were times I was definitely afraid I was going to let everyone down. Read more>>

NinRac | CEO & Project Director

Aside from my company’s initial game (a platformer named The Adventures of F.L.I.M.), we have sought to tackle developing interactive experiences in genres where we saw great potential but greatly under-serviced markets with a niche development style of story experience first. We have done real time card games (Crystalline Cauldron), rhythmically interactive experiences (Mantis Shuffle), and are now working on a platform brawler (Elemensional Rift). In addition, we have had a few that have been put on the back burners for awhile now. Most of them were due to a scope far larger to be handled than the team available or exploring the market. Read more>>

Sandra Gallardo | Videographer

Risk has always been uncomfortable for me because I did not live most of my life letting myself take them in regards to career. In the times I did take leaps outside my comfort zone, I’ve always learned something that I was able to put into the bank of experiences for reference throughout the rest of my life. Trial and error is so vital in regards to really finding out what you want in what you create and on what level you want to share those creations. Adrenaline is something that sort of comes up with the fear of failure when taking a risk but it’s in the elements of logic that a decision to go for it seems to set up the environment to see the importance it can have in regards to opportunity. Read more>>

James Austin Murray | Artist/Painter

Taking risks are essential if you want to grow and succeed. A number of years ago I was invited by Madison Gallery in California to do an artist residency there and have a subsequent solo exhibition. At the time I was just starting to get noticed and it was a dream scenario. So I bet the house. What I mean by that is I took my life savings, which was about $50,000 and I spent every dime of it on that show. I bought dozens of panels and an embarrassing amount of paint and supplies. I cleared out my accounts and went to work. By the time I arrived back home I was living on credit card debt and suddenly felt very poor. The solo exhibition was months away. I had done the work and now had a hard time continuing working because of funds. I believed in my work and felt confident, it was still a scary time. Read more>>

Taujuanna Ware | Marketing & Branding Specialist

There has never been anything that I have gained in life without taking a risk. I think while challenging risk-taking has always been exciting and scary at the same time. You never know what’s going to happen so it can definitely be nerve-wrecking. What I do know for sure is NOTHING happens if you don’t take the first step and at least try. Im all for risk taking. Read more>>

Zack Whyel | Actor/Producer

Taking risks has been one of the single most important things I’ve done so far for my life & career. Each time I have taken a risk, or have been faced with a tough decision. Taking that leap into the unknown has always been the start to all of the great things I have achieved and experienced in life. Without risks, I believe life can get boring and stale, which is not how it’s supposed to be! Taking risks is what brings the new and exciting things into your life. Although some risks don’t always work out how you plan them, taking a calculated risk is always better than not taking one at all. Even if you crash and burn, you will have gained perspective and life lessons that only living life can teach you. I personally believe there is no loss in taking a risk, but only things to gain. Read more>>

Akili Yasmine | Expressionist (Creative Content Director and Muse)

This is such a great question. I think that having a mindset that is comfortable with the idea of taking RISKS takes a lot of mental “reprogramming” and a lot of FAITH. Unfortunately, we live in a society that tells the common person that we should live safe lives. Don’t invest/give your money, hoard it. Don’t tell people you love them first, protect your heart. Buy a house and live in it for the rest of your life, there is nowhere like home… but I believe that living a full life and living a present life means taking risks. I’m still learning the art of walking out on faith and taking risks but I’ve never regretted any time that I have. The first time I took a big risk was when I took 6 months off from working a traditional job and decided to take that time to explore my passions. Read more>>

Robin Howard | Assemblage Artist

As an artist, risk-taking has been foundational for me in the last few years. Experimentation and innovation are what I enjoy most, but I can’t ever be sure the market is going to react to the result. Every piece is a risk, but I also think that element is what draws people to my work. I like to spark curiosity, and that requires doing things that haven’t been done before. There aren’t any guarantees what works for me in the studio is going to work, in terms of sales, in a gallery. That’s a risk I’m willing to take for the sake of innovation, and I am so grateful for the gallerists who give me that latitude. Read more>>

Trejon Khalil | Artist Manager / Consultant Manager

Risk is one of the most important aspects in life and in any career path, not knowing what can happen, and yet you still pursue what you believe to be the best course of action is one of the toughest obstacles to overcome. In my career and personal life, taking risks plays a heavy factor into how I move and connect with others. From working with new clients, to collaborating with different musical acts, there will always be “pros” and “cons”. Yet, regardless of what fear I’ve felt, or anxiety of stepping out of your comfort zone, I take every step with conviction and honor, knowing that whatever I choose, I stand by it. You never know, the risk is probably what was needed most. Read more>>

Maria Loveless | Owner/Developer of SkyeBurger Vegetarian Burger

The decision for me to create Skyeburger was effortless, the journey an education. Once the seed was planted it began to grow and flourish. When inspiration comes to me from guidance there is a feeling that comes over me of peace. This is how I felt when I decided to share Skyeburger with the world. The journey leading to its discovery though has been meet with many doors: some open a crack – seeking willingness, some wide open showing the possibilities, and some shut tight. Learning how to navigate the open doors and how to not want to kick down the closed doors has been the learning process. I have always lived by an understanding that to create a life I desire and a livelihood that I can shine in, I must follow my heart and dreams, be them in good times or bad. Read more>>

Tanzania Hughie | Multi-Dimensional Creative Being

Being your true authentic, unfiltered, unedited, whole, and healed self is risky. It’s rather revolutionary to live in and on purpose. To take the risk to be exactly who I am may be the riskiest thing I’ve done. When you are your true self and you become unapologetic about it, you defy what others expect. Even what you may have perceived about yourself. When I decided to fulfill my life’s purpose as a creative I think I had ran and denied myself as much as I could. Even up until this year I still had some deep scary sacrifices to make. Making the decision to never work a job that wasn’t creatively inclined again may have been me taking a huge risk or ” betting on Me” as I like to say. Read more>>

Alea Hurst | Visual Artist & Muralist

For me, risk taking is about stepping out of my comfort zone. I believe being uncomfortable makes you grow as an artist and business person. Personally, I have gotten many opportunities from taking a risk in my career, whether it’s applying for proposal calls that I thought I had no chance of getting to pushing a painting into new territory that I wouldn’t normally do. You never know what can come out on the other side. That said, you are always taking a gamble with the outcome. I always try to weigh the benefits versus losses before making decisions. I’ve taken risks and have fallen flat on my face. It’s all about learning from the experience and taking that knowledge with you as you move forward. Read more>>