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.

Ja’Andra Imani Wheeler | Cosmetic Chemist and Owner of Imani and Sankofa Skincare + Cosmetics

When I think of risks and taking them, I typically just “feel the fear and do it anyway”. Initially, I took risks in life because I had to, going out on a limb and hoping that my plan A would work, because most times, I had no plan B. I began providing for myself early on, I was hungry for so much, so early on in life. I recognized that my desires were different from my peers and even some of my closest friends. I wanted to express myself and share my creativity with the world, but, I somehow always found myself conforming to the environment that I was in, wanting to be accepted and not judged. Read more>>

Lenny Ross | Dreamer, Entrepreneur & Girl Dad

Taking risks has always been apart of my growth, both personally and professionally. The first major risk that I took was deciding to go to Morehouse College. I couldn’t afford it and didn’t know anyone there, but it was something special about Morehouse and their history that I wanted to be apart of. That risk forever changed the trajectory of my life. Fast forward to my last year at Morehouse and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I didn’t want to move back to Chattanooga, and I didn’t want to join the corporate world. The 1996 Olympics were coming to Atlanta, so my roommate and I decided to make and sell t-shirts. This was a huge risk, but I knew that I could always couch surf for a few months if it didn’t work out. Read more>>

Keela Starr | Talent Manager/Co-Partner, Reiki Master

I believe that taking risks is a part of development and growth in life. If you are not willing to take a risk, you are not willing to challenge yourself and discover your true destiny. How will you ever know your full potential without risks? I’ve taken risks throughout my life. I left a “solid” corporate job to dive into the entertainment industry. I come from a family of pensions and unions…stability. I decided after 6 years of working for IBM that I wanted to live a life of adventure and discovery on my own terms. Read more>>

Juan Londono | Director of Photography

I believe in every successful story there is always a level of risk taking measurable level of risk taking, is very important to take risks in order to achieve success because when you jump into the unknown is when you figure out your capabilities and your limitations at the moment of taking the risks, lets say every time you take a risks your bubble of comfort expands, in a way it sounds contradictory to to what people normally say of getting out of the comfort zone I would say more about expanding it and allowing you to expand it even more. It has shaped me in every way possible I am not alive if I am not constantly taking risks in order to expand, weather I fail or succeed at taking certain risks the knowledge acquired is very important. Read more>>

Karen & Shawn Garcia | Writer | Salesman | Owners, Smyrna Swag

Even as a kid, I was the one leading my younger brothers to climb a tree to get on top of and subsequently jump off the roof of our (one-story) house. There wasn’t a tree too big to climb or a bike jump too risky for me. I got a lot of scrapes and bruises but learned with those scars how to get better with each attempt. I didn’t become a professional dirt bike racer or anything, but I really do still enjoy a good cannonball into the pool. This pretty much sums up my delight in taking risks as an adult, though age has taught me that I shouldn’t jump off the roof anymore. I have moved to states where I knew no one for jobs, changed my career to advertising after more than a decade specializing in news producing, and been pretty comfortable with a “let’s see what happens” philosophy in my day-to-day life. Read more>>

Dewayne Queen | Talk show host, Correspondent, Media executive, Actor

Before this pandemic, I wasn’t much of a risk taker. I knew what it was like not to be financially secure. So now that I’ve mastered it in my professional career of being a flight attendant for as long as I have I’ve fought everyday to keep it. Then this pandemic hit, and with it came uncertainty, and the unknown. For some, risk is birthed out of fear, tragedy, and/or the unknown. And what you will find most of the time is you’ve had the resources inside of you all along and fear was a stupid waste of time. Risk has truly helped me to explore parts of myself and my business that I didn’t know existed or that I was even capable of. You will also find until you give into risk, you will never know who’s watching you, cheering you on, or who’s been waiting for what you have to offer. Read more>>

Dr. Chantrise Sims Holliman | Educator, Author, Speaker, & Resilience Coach

When it comes to risk taking normally I am the scary one. I hate being scared and I like things to be predictable partially because I have a slight control issue. It’s the Capricorn in me. However, as this leg of my life’s journey progresses, I have had to learn to step out of my comfort zone and do a lot of things scared. Turns out, risk taking isn’t any different than taking a leap of faith. Same concept. Different words. There are a lot of things I wouldn’t currently be doing had I not leaned into to faith leaping! Read more>>

Malia Beane | Photographer

Looking back I feel as though taking a risk always scared me, I battle anxiety so obviously I’m not going to be super big into taking risks. I spent the past three years working a full time corporate job while also managing my photography business. I was miserable during that time and wanted so badly to go full time with my photography, but I was terrified to take that risk. It’s very scary to take risks especially right now in this stage of life that we find ourselves in. My husband begged me for months to take the risk and leap of faith and jump into it full time, so I did and I have not looked back since! Risks are always going to be scary but the reward is so worth it, it’s so much greater. I’ve truly been blessed since taking that risk and following my dreams to my passion! Read more>>

Sandra Oei | Multi-Disciplinary Digital Designer and Illustrator

When pondering risk and the role that it has played in my life, I first consulted the dictionary for a common ground definition and concisely found: Risk – A possibility of incurring loss or misfortune; a situation involving possible exposure to danger. As I look back over my life, I confess that “risk taking’ has been a large part of my personal and professional journey. I believe when avoiding risk, it’s usually out of the fear of, and not the certainty of loss or misfortune that deters us from moving forward into the unknown. I also believe that the unknown is not the same as the unknowable. I do believe in research. Therefore for me, risk is taking that leap of faith with the confidence of knowing that somewhere in my landing, there will be solid ground. Read more>>