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.

Jay Legion | Director

Taking a Risk is the most consistent ingredient in life as it is in business, it’s no way around it playing it safe is just another form of procrastination. My first risk was literally purchasing equipment when I had bills to pay couldn’t afford both but I believed in myself and to this day haven’t looked back. What ever risk you take leave regret behind you because there is no room for risk and regret in your mind. Push forward even if you fail learn from it because the next risk to take is right around the corner. Your definitely not ready to grow if you aren’t challenging yourself by taking the risk offered. Read more>>

Erica Bowen | Senior Vice President A&R, Cinematic Music Group

When I think about risk-taking, I really think about how the risk is going to impact the people I care about. I’ve seen a lot of people make poor decisions in the name of risk-taking, but I’ve also had the experience of knowing what’s going to work best for the people I love, and the people I work with, and defending that risk because I really believed in it. You learn a lot from risk-taking, but as long as your heart is in the right place you don’t really have anything to worry about. Read more>>

Torrance Rudd | Recording Artist, Fitness Trainer, & Entrepreneur

Without risk there’s no success! The role that risk taking has played in my life: I had to decide if I was going to leave my 9-5 City Government job for full time self employment. Read more>>

Alexis “Triniity” Fantroy | Creative Director | Renaissance Woman | Visionary | Advocate

The masses would see risk as a fear driven action filled with uncertainty. They wouldn’t be wrong. To the eye of the creative, risk is a necessary evil needed to survive in their industry. When I decided to build iNcarnate, I was in a “secure” position in life. A family, steady job with benefits; the typical American setup we dream about. Yet the feeling of discontentment wouldn’t cease from my spirit. Trying to prove my worth in a place where I felt expendable didn’t sit right. I knew what I was capable of and had no one but myself to prove it to. iNcarnate has been a dream of mines since I was 12. How could I tell my son to follow his dreams, if I wasn’t following my own? I took a risk and have been reaping reward ever since. Innovation is born from risk. Discovery begins with risk. History is made by the risk takers. Take the risk. Read more>>

Mia Banks | On-Air Talent and Beauty Content Creator

“The greater the risk, the greater the reward” — or at least that’s what I always heard, and that’s how I always thought about risks. In order to win big, you have to go big or stay on the porch. “Scared money don’t make no money.” I could go on and on with the quotes and cliches. As a Black millennial woman, still pursuing my life’s dream of becoming a nationally known on-air talent and beauty personality, I view risks as a necessary move on the chessboard of life. Risks force me to stretch my abilities, and each time I take a risk I learn more about my capabilities. Even when those risks are adverse, I still learn a lesson and better understand what is not meant for me. Risks have played a major role in my life and career. At the age of 18, I signed a basketball scholarship to a university I NEVER visited, and any college recruit knows that is a faux pas. I moved to Washington, DC to attend graduate school at Howard University because I felt led there by God, and I knew He would take care of me. Read more>>

Karina Deochand | Injury Attorney & Legal Problem-Solver

I think risk is an important part of life – you can’t challenge yourself and improve as a person without takings risks. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the best way to learn what you’re really capable of. Risk taking is a muscle you need exercise to build, like any other muscle. The more risks you take, the easier it becomes to take risks. I also believe planning and preparation make all the difference to take risks when the timing is right. The biggest risk I’ve taken is leaving a nice, cushy job to open my own law firm during the coronavirus pandemic. Even though it seemed to my friends and family like a spur of the moment decision, it’s something my partner, Romi Jayswal, and I have been planning and talking about since before and throughout law school. When we finally made the jump, it felt really natural. Read more>>

Dayna Francis | CEO Of Dionne Swim

I think taking risks is pursuing something without knowing exactly how things will fall into place. It’s having faith that if you plant your seed and water it daily by putting in hard work and effort, you will reap the fruit and success. Risk-taking plays a huge role throughout my life but primary in my career. I decided to take a risk with Dionne Swim. I was not an entrepreneur but a television producer. At the time I would have been walking on new territory but I was ready for a change. One night as I was scrolling through Instagram I got the idea to start an E-commerce swimsuit line; noticing that everyone primary had clothing boutiques. I have a passion for travel, fashion, and producing therefore it aligned perfectly. Once I put my mind to something I just take off. I came up with my brand incorporating my middle name “Dionne” and adding swim. I set a drop date, found a small production team, and went from there. I utilize the skills I have acquired in production and successfully produce my own shoots. Read more>>

Relonda Simone | CEO| Real Estate Broker| Coach

Becoming and entrepreneur was one of the biggest risks that I ever took in my life. Having worked and received compensation regardless of hard I worked, or even if I went to work at all was easy and comfortable. However jumping into a new field head first with no one to hold your hand is risky. Many people don’t survive that. Having taken that risk under my belt has truly changed my life. I now actually BELIEVE I CAN do anything. I challenge my self often to get uncomfortable and strive for what I want to do in life. I have been in rooms and experienced things that I didn’t even know existed especially as a Woman of color. I’ve gained freedom to be an effective parent, and to enjoy the people and things I love. The world truly has a different lens for the risk taker. Read more>>

Sheree Swann | CEO, Creative Designer & Photographer/Video Editor

I think back years ago to when I was back home in Connecticut. Although, it was a thriving and exciting time for me, I upped and left due to wanting more… I simply felt there was something more in store for me.  Spirit said, “Go!” I didn’t have a job waiting but I was so ready for Atlanta. I found myself in this brand new city having to start all the way over building up clientele and such, but I had to honor the readiness. It was hard but it was so worth it. That’s the beauty of taking risks: You don’t know what’s on the other side until you get through…. The same applies for when I left a job I was working here in Atlanta. I was there for six years. They kept promoting me until that last promotion – the lateral one. It was timely because I was already feeling like it was time to bet on myself, for real, but was fearful of not having that steady paycheck every two weeks! I was already doing photography on side and had just dived in to teaching myself how to sew – which is when I birthed my handcrafted business ReeFresh By Ree. When I tell you it was HARD, IT. WAS. HARD!!! But, I never gave up. Read more>>

Miracle Hines. | Fashion Designer

If anything I’ve learned recently that taking a risk is one of the greatest things you can do as a person. I started my Fashion line on a dream and a risk, and it’s paying off daily. I thank God for that because I don’t know if I would’ve started my line without taking a risk on myself… you know? I think we all can be so comfortable with being comfortable and not risking it all on something we believe in hearts that’s what want it. Read more>>

Katy Beltrán | Visual Artist, Organizer, Non-Profit Founder.

As a human being I oscillate on a daily basis between life and death. Taking decisions, missing chances or sacrificing something very precious for the greater good. Risk, is one of the most essential components of life, and the very way I use to proof myself truly free from earthy attachments. In my own career as an artist, I have risked a life of confort to be push towards struggles and challenges of unknown outcomes instead. Always knowing where to go but never where I am going to end up being. Going against the wold’s voices to follow my own is not an easy task, sometimes the biggest risk of all, but the only one truly fulfilling. To me there are just two paths, one on the way to yourself, and another one of servitude to the wold’s demands. I left my country, my family including my 4 years old daughter and a life of predictable outcomes to find a better future for all of us in the US. The fear of being alone for the first time in a completely new country and a broken English wasn’t bigger than my fear of never taking action and changing the situation that we were in. Read more>>

Rob Session | Dj & Music Producer

I believe that risk is a necessary stressor in life. I feel like it lives right at the edge of our comfort zone and it can lead to growth as well as provide opportunities to learn. I’m typically willing to assume a certain amount of risk for something I’m passionate about or for something I believe will reward me accordingly. I am definitely a believer in the saying “you gotta risk it to get the biscuit” lol my life experiences have proven that statement true time and time again. Risk played a huge roll in my decision to choose a full time career in DJing/music production. I had a career in banking and was one of the youngest branch managers in my market. I was making a solid income, receiving a consistent paycheck, and I was climbing the corporate ladder pretty quickly. I was successful, but I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. I had financial responsibilities like my mortgage and car payment, and I think anyone would tell you that being self employed is a risk all on its own because you are losing the benefit of a stable and consistent income. Read more>>

Zakiyya Whittle | Educator & Owner of Lifestyle Brand ON A LIVING

Most of my life I’ve always played things safe. I would take the easy route and stay in my comfort zone. During my career as an educator, I worked at the same school, in various roles, for eleven years. At the end of the tenth year, my spirit spoke to me and said it’s time for change. Well, I didn’t listen and returned to the same school. Well don’t you know, my job role changed at the beginning of the year and I was assigned to three new schools. I was kicking, screaming and crying because I did not want to leave. However; a sense of peace came over me and I knew that it was time for me to spread my wings and fly!!! I’m so glad I did. I completed my eleventh year at my new schools and during this time, I saw my purpose. God spoke to me and I listened. The following year, I received a job promotion. I always say that, “God had to MOVE me to MOVE me!!!” I took the risk and came out of my comfort zone. This same mindset allowed me to take the risk and launch On A Living Spree in the Summer of 2019. Read more>>

Brooke Beach | CEO

Risk is a constant part of life. It’s a part of nearly every choice we make – even the choices that appear benign are accompanied by some degree of ‘risk’. I believe that when you look at risk as a common theme of life, and less as a danger to avoid, you will find greater success. Fear drives many people – fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of failure. Risk, by its nature, adds an element of fear. But some of the best work comes when we feel stretched. I also believe that you can influence the situation when you’re positive about your outlook and circumstances. When you set your mind to something, you can be successful. And then is it really risky? For instance, before the pandemic, we had just expanded our business, moving into a beautiful new building that illustrated our business success and future goals. It was risky without the pandemic, but moving into Q2 and Q3 of 2020, it could’ve been seen as a downright lousy move. But we were diligent in our work, and we ended up having the best year we’ve ever had. Read more>>

Miss Moore | Music Entertainment Publicist & Event Planner

In life, we already take risks everyday. Although I don’t feel like I am a huge risk taker, I do believe in doing what you have to do to make yourself happy or better. My biggest risk I have taken so far in life is starting my own business in the peak of the pandemic, back in June 2020. It wasn’t easy at all, but it was worth it. Read more>>

Corrina Sephora | Artist, Metal and Mixed Media Sculptor

My first day of Art School ( Massachusetts College of Art, Boston) we were all in the Auditorium in a welcome to the school, with guest speakers, and one of them stood up and said ” 1% of all Art School Students will go on to make a living practicing what they study while at Art School….” Making a living as a full-time artist was a risk, but I heard that as a challenge and I have made a living as an artist for over 25 years now. When I opened my studio 1997, I was one of 50 woman in America with a blacksmith shop/ metal sculpture studio. It was shocking to learn that but it has driven me to share my knowledge with others. Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of ups and downs, the thing is even though being an artist, and even being a woman and doing what I chose to fo has been a risk…it has also been very rewarding. Read more>>

Chris Smith | Recording Artist & Radio Personality

I look at risk by weighing the pros and cons of the situation at hand. If I feel like I could gain more than I could possibly lose, then im going to take a educated risk. Risks has played a major role in my life by allowing me to be able to reach new heights I never knew I was capable of even reaching, whether it be me taking a risk to try new things life wise, or try new marketing routes with my career, life is full of risk, what is life if you don’t take them? You miss 100% of the shots you Don’t shoot. Read more>>

Danny Berke | Creator & Author of Insane in The Brine

I think I’m in a slightly unusual situation in that, when thinking about different businesses to pursue, my partner had a firm stipulation that taking out any kind of loans or incurring debt to develop a business was off the books. It was just too stressful. Although I’m not someone who takes huge risks either, this presented me with some challenges and almost made me give up the idea entirely. We both have good jobs working for companies and I came close to just letting it go. I had done that before with other business ideas related to my background in education. Actually, the challenge became a huge opportunity for me to develop a brand and a source of income – though it’s more of a side income at this point – from the ground up. At this point, I make a steady (though modest) stream of affiliate marketing income through my fermentation and pickling recipe blog,, and related social media pursuits (insaneinthebrine on IG, FB, Reddit & YouTube). Read more>>

Leslie Sheri | Actress, Director, Producer

I would say risk taking plays a major role in my acting career because it’s the reason I’m even here in Atl. I put my 2 weeks notice in at a corporate job i was working in DC and moved my entire life to ATL two weeks later without much of a plan. Just on a dream that i would somehow become an actress in a place I didn’t really know anyone with NO prior experience, training, nor schooling. Read more>>

Marlene Maina | Chair & Founder, JosiahKids Inc.

It was the British writer, James Allen who said, “The universe does not favor the greedy, the dishonest, the vicious, although on the mere surface it may sometimes appear to do so; rather the universe is ready to help the honest, the magnanimous, the virtuous.” Taking risk is really a matter of faith for me. A resolve that fights to exclude doubt and fear, an endless endeavor to protect the unwavering confidence that says: favor, blessing, and help await me on the other side of every single costly risk I am willing to take for the benefit of mankind. We all brought with us a valued gift into the world. Our purpose, lofty dreams and aspirations are all tied to this gift. This purpose that seeks to elevate the lives of others will often call for a costly sacrifice. No wonder it is said, he who wants to achieve little will only have to sacrifice little. But if you are looking to affect the world on a grand scale, then you must be prepared to sacrifice greatly. Read more>>

Sarah Nichols | Personal Training Director & Fashion Photographer

I romanticize risks. I full heartedly trust that everything will be okay no matter the initial outcome. This makes me prone to go with the flow of whatever my heart aches for. I use to be very careless with my risks, though. I romanticized my goals too much to think that anything could go wrong. My plans were never thought out or structured but I refused to let realism get in the way of my dreamy lifestyle. Taking risks has forced me to learn and has shown what’s actually important to me. I’ve become more calculated and structured. Read more>>

Sarah Noble | Owner, Adelina Social Goods

The concept of risk taking seems especially relevant to any business owner right now! I think I’ve always had a sense that, as cliche as it sounds, there truly is little reward without risk. It’s not that I’ve intentionally wanted to make risky moves in my life or career, but everything I’ve been drawn towards has seemed to carry with it more risk than the more conventional path. When I was younger, of course it felt easier to take those risks – you have less to lose, and more to gain, and longer to recover if your risk doesn’t pay off. Now, I’m a bit more calculated and thoughtful in my risk-taking. That said, experiences like we’ve gone through in 2020 show us that you never fully know what kind of a risk you’re taking and that things can change at any moment. So part of being a risk-taker is knowing when and how to ride the waves of the unknown, and accept that things may not always turn out the way you’ve planned. Read more>>

Emily Dunlop | Full Time Nanny Turned Full Time Actress

Acting as a career choice is always a risk. My dad encouraged risk taking growing up but he talked about it so much it became one of those things that blends in with the background and I never really thought about what it actually meant. There aren’t really that many risks to take as a young person anyway since most life choices are made for you, or at least they were for me. I also think you have to have something worth losing for a risk to actually mean something. That’s an important part of risk – it needs to feel scary for the payoff to be at all meaningful. And usually that means you are at one level trying to reach the next, a worthwhile risk might just be the thing to get you there. The first big risk I intentionally took was soon after my husband and I got married. Phil, the most supportive person in my life, has always encouraged me in my career and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. About a year into our marriage he encouraged me to stop nannying. This was a financial risk for us because, at the time, we really needed that extra income. Read more>>

Joe Compton | Executive Director, Producer, and Host at The Go Indie Now Network

Without risk is there is truly no reward. Not everything works, not everything works the first time you try it. Trial and error are just as important tools for success as anything else in your toolbox. That being said there is a good way to approach risk and as you gain experiences and learn from those (especially the failures) you find just find yourself. You find your speed, your voice, your way, and your method, Through discovering all that you begin to develop what I like to call calculated risks at the right moment. The steps in developing this are fairly easy but yet for a lot of people, difficult to navigate. #1 You have to let go of any fear. Not just failure but success too. You have to accept that if you take a risk, whatever happens with that leap is what was meant to happen. You can’t control everything. #2 You have to account for variable change, never get flustered if you develop a plan to take a risk and it doesn’t go the way you calculated it. You have to be ready for anything and have plan b, c, d, etc. #3 You have to measure your value as it pertains to the risk. Read more>>

Angelique Scott | Artist, Educator, Activist

I think about risk similar to how I think about failure – it is necessary. Within my studio practice, taking risks means challenging myself. It means that I have to step outside of my comfort zone, which subsequently helps me grow – whether I win or fail. The saying “Nothing beats a failure but a try” lives rent-free in my head. Risks are required in order to learn, in order to push the boundaries to create something new. Read more>>

Mionne Destiny | Performer and Educator

“No risk no reward.” Everytime I’ve ever tried to play it “safe” or dream “modestly,” I’m left revelling in the fact that I could’ve gotten or done more. Now I’m operating from a place of high risk in order to gain high reward. I acknowlegde my spiritual journey in all I do and since I’ve started studying the Yoruba tradition of Ifa I’ve been drawn to the orisa Ogun and the idea “what are you willing to sacrifice to get what you want?” Now I operate from a place of “how much time and energry and how many relationships am I willing to risk for the greater good of my career?” Read more>>

Damian Jackson | Damian DJ Jackson “The Actor”

In simple terms, risk is the possibility that involve uncertainty about the effects/implications of an activity with respect to something that human’s value (such as health, well-being, wealth, property or the environment), often focusing on negative, undesirable consequences. So, when I relate that to myself, I think on the risk when my visit to the ATL inadvertently became home for the last 3 years , not knowing what the outcome would be, how I would make it , or what direction I would take. When I think back on the day, I came to the ATL to visit and how that decision impacted my life, being away from my family, having to grow up instantly , it helped identify and anticipate potential setbacks, things that could make me or break me. My relationship with God has kept me , my relationships and uprising with my parents has grounded, and my determination has molded me, so there is no risk without determination and being focus cannot handle. Read more>>

Sabre Esler | Painter, Sculptor, Printmaking and Installation Artist, Avid Gardener and Reader

Risk has to do with embracing fear and the unknown. As it relates to a career as an artist, it means being comfortable with failure. I continually have taken risks. The most recent being completely changing my work after entering graduate school when I was already a painter for 15 years. I believe artists must be comfortable taking risks or the work becomes stale and uninteresting. Pushing through fear to find novel and unique ways of engaging with an idea. Visual artists is the most obtuse way of explaining a complex idea. My work has become increasingly about complex ideas making the work more challenging for me. I suppose that is why many artists who have dedicated themselves to their craft have changed their work as their ideas morphed and grew. Picasso, Matisse, Giacometti are all examples of a career that spans volumes of ideas. Read more>>

Patrick Hilson | Multi-Platform Producer

I view risk taking as a necessary necessity to life. I try to take calculated risk to achieve my goals, and at the end of the day It means that nothing great was ever accomplished without making sacrifices. At one point in time of my life I decided to completely quit my day job and pursue my dream of both film and photography. I knew in that moment that if I hadn’t freed more of my time to dedicate to find clients and getting those freelance jobs, I wouldn’t have a strong portfolio to work with. In doing so that landed me at the time, a great position with Channel 2 as a producer, it gave me a stronger portfolio with the military as a documenter, it gave me plenty of connects to continue doing freelance work and it boosted my confidence to go out and find stories to film. You don’t get results by waiting on the moment. You get them by going out and finding your moment. Read more>>

Dr. Michael L. Curry | Professor, Researcher, Inventor, and Entrepreneur – A PRIME Career Professional

My view on risking taking has been shaped by the long line of African Americans who have willingly taken a leap of faith to institute positive change for black people. As a black scientist, my career places me in the forefront of the STEM industry as a professor, researcher, inventor, mentor, and entrepreneur – a PRIME career. That being stated, ‘risk taking’ plays a major role in the advancements that I have crafted throughout my career in STEM education, scientific research, and mentorship of the next generation of African American scientists. Just like throughout Black History, I have used risk taking to impact positive change from the developing of scientific innovations like biodegradable plastics that eliminates the negative impacts of current plastic waste on the environment to the developing of cutting-edge educational programs that increases the number of underrepresented minorities pursuing careers in STEM. Hence, Black History is how I think about risk taking and it has absolutely shaped the past, present, and future of my career endeavors. Read more>>

Arielle Walton | Brand Strategist

I view risks as calculated decisions. When people think of the word risk, it usually has a negative connotation behind it, or it carries the assumption that it is something impossible to accomplish. I look at risks as a challenge, some small and some big, but a challenge. Making calculated decisions or making moves outside of my comfort zone has gotten me to the place I am now in my entrepreneurial journey. Taking risks is what keeps me going. I know that I am headed in the right direction when I am uncomfortable, which means I am pushing myself to perform at my best. I get a thrill from jumping into the unknown. That is essentially what “taking a risk” means, right? Doing something without the certainty of the outcome. Taking risks put me in rooms that I could have never imagined I’d be. I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today if I didn’t take the risks I’ve taken in my life/career. Read more>>

Julia Rae | Artist

Life itself is a risk. There is never a guaranteed outcome. It’s easy to be scared of taking a risk on something but I think it’s exciting. In a way, even if it doesn’t work out how you thought it would, it will always work out as it should. Every first step into something new is a risk. But if you didn’t take it you’d never know. Read more>>

Micheline Amisi | Digital Content Creator & Consultant

I used to consider myself risk-averse because I lived for certainty. However, as of late, I have been the biggest advocate for risk taking. A lot of this began when I finished reading 10X. Th book essentially preached on the topic of doing everything all out. This mentality comes with its share of risks. In my career, I have learned that playing it safe will simply not get me where I need to be. I have been faced with career-altering decisions and most of them included me taking on a major risk. Read more>>

Talitha Huddleston | Professional Voice Over Actress

I believe that risk taking is an absolute necessary part of being an entrepreneur. It plays a huge role in my life because if you never try it, you will never know if you would have succeeded. Most successful business owners take risks and never look back. It is a part of growing and learning. If you are always afraid you will never find success because you are always standing in your own way. Fear is an obstacle that we all need to overcome. My ancestors were not afraid of taking risks and thankfully they did. I would not not be free today had they not. So I like to take risks. It always has the possibility of yielding great reward. Read more>>

Dr. Khaalisha Ajala, MD | Physician, Community Health Advocate, DJ

As a physician who works with patients at a very busy hospital during the current COVID-19 pandemic, I assume a lot of risk. It’s so very worth it! Also, when I travel abroad to other continents while I educate young physicians and medical students, I assume more risk. Taking risks has played a large role in my pursuit to become a physician and I think that it has been worth the investment. I’m a Black woman who was once a little Black girl that dreamt of being a doctor, so I took a many risks to become what I could only imagine. We all fight to create the world that we dream about and I’m definitely not any different. Read more>>

Harmony Lanz | Intuitive Tarot Reader & Energy Practitioner

I tend to lean towards the saying ‘fate favors the bold’. I’ve been told I was ‘unrealistic’ for as long as I can remember. I’ve got an overactive imagination that’s worked both for me and against me at times. Daydreaming is a lovely and inventive habit I formed very early on so my goals in life and my dreams have always been big. All that’s relevant to where one starts but for me, everything I set out to do seemed impossible at first. In starting this business or pursuing any of my dreams and goals, a willingness to risk just about everything has been required. Of course, I’ve been calculating with some of the risks I’ve taken but I had to be willing to just leap into the unknown at some point. Trust and faith in the possibility that things may turn out better than even I could imagine were necessary. Without taking.risks, I can’t say I’d have ever succeeded at anything I set out to do. Now, I feel that if I’m not a little scared to do a thing – I’m not going big enough. Read more>>

Arezou Zarafshan | Startup Coach and Advisor, Founder and CEO, Mom

Risk is the name of my second best friend; my first best friend is called grit! Joking aside, risk has been a constant companion of mine starting from the time I was 18 years old. I migrated to the US from Iran to go to university and at that time, I knew next to nothing about life in the US and I barely spoke English. I have changed jobs, states, industries, companies, and career focus time and time again. When the SARS pandemic hit Asia, I moved to Singapore on an expatriate assignment which was a wonderful step in my career. Some of those risks paid off, some didn’t but the learnings and the experience were all worth it. When I am faced with an opportunity, I say “yes” first and then I figure out how to make it work instead of the other way around. When things don’t go the way I had hoped, I give myself a day to digest, grieve and ponder but the next day is for action, learning, and moving forward. Read more>>