Legend holds that Cornelius Vanderbilt had built a massive fortune in the steamboat shipping industry, but then realized the railroads were the way of the future and invested almost his entire net worth into railroads. The gamble paid off and made Vanderbilt one of the wealthiest entrepreneurs ever. But risks are inherently…risky. How do you think about risk and how has it affected your life and career? Some of our community favorites share their perspective below.

Ebone Tarver: Makeup Artist

When I think about risk taking I think about it’s a 50% chance of me winning. It’s just like “yes or no” you already know the 2 possible outcomes. As an makeup artist I take risk everyday with branding, marketing etc. the biggest risk I’ve took in my career were the ones that pushed my brand the most. Read more>>

Nikki Coleman: Licensed Psychologist, Sexologist, & DEI Consultant

This is such a big question! For most of my life I took very few risks in my professional career but my personal life was different. Becoming a mother changed the game for me. I have a 9 year old daughter and I’m a full-time single parent. I started thinking, “What kind of woman do I want her to model? A woman who’s content at best or a woman who’s happy because she bets on herself despite what others think?” More often than not, that little voice inside is telling me to go for it and it’s my ego – the part of myself worried about what others will think – that is telling me to pump the brakes. So, I ask myself that question – what kind of woman do I want my daughter to know? and that usually helps me make the decision to go for it! Now with that being said, I’m definitely all about calculated risks. I do think about what are the potential negative consequences and what I can do to reduce those or how I can work through them should they occur. I remind myself that I am a successful person. My track record has proven that so why should this be any different. Read more>>

Tierra Lamour: Licensed Esthetician|Entrepreneur

Risks are inevitable. In order to grow and see change within yourself and the areas around you, you have to take risks even if they scare you. I’ve learned that we cannot be too arrogant to think that we will always “have time” to do a task or goal. Do it that day. You may never get the chance tomorrow. Since adopting that mindset my life has done a complete 360. I am less timid, more inclined to act, & my esthetic business has been built on the foundation of risk alone. Read more>>

Shaylan Richardson: Recording Artist & Educator

As a finance teacher, I often tell my students that there are opportunity costs to every decision. Opportunity cost is simply the value of what you have to give up in order to choose something else. In terms of risk taking, often times we’re choosing to give up fear, negative self talk, doubts, and the like and instead choosing to embrace our hopes and dreams and the fact that things may actually align better than we could’ve ever imagined. When I first entered the field of education, I took a risk as I was completely brand new and was literally learning on the job. When I decided to take my music seriously, I took a risk with that as well as I felt incompetent and that nobody would like what I’m writing. I also felt as if people would see what I was doing and begin to think that I think I’m something that I’m not. In both cases I’m extremely grateful that I decided to step out and take the risk. I’ve learned over the years that sometimes you have to take risks to get to the next level. There is so much growth that happens when one decides to take risks by stepping into the unknown. You can’t grow from being comfortable all the time! Read more>>

Aiesha Truesdale: CEO & Author of Life’s Balances

I think of risks as a challenge, and I love challenges. Many people have told me that I couldn’t accomplish things and I have proved many wrong. Risks have showed me what hard work looks like and how it pays off. My grandmother once told me “if it were easy, everyone would have it” and that stuck with me through my darkest hours. Betting on myself when no one else did has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams and to flourish throughout my career. Betting on myself when the odds were against me has been the greatest risk and the greatest reward in my career. Read more>>

Wydell Bannerman II: Entrepreneur & Brand Owner

Risk taking has played a very significant role in my life; with risk taking comes change. Things started changing in my life unexpectedly at an early age, whether it was moving, changing schools, loved ones passing etc. From that point on I started to understand that change was inevitable. I actually hated change until my junior year of college when I decided to pledge Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. For me risk taking started with changing my mindset and deciding that I wanted more out of life. Even though I had multiple degrees and a great job I wasn’t doing what I loved. Overtime I started thinking about different ventures that I could start to fill this void. March 2016 I decided to start a podcast, that was the first time I decided to jump out there and bet on myself. Since then the results have been great, I know I’m nowhere close to being where I want to be or even close to being a full time entrepreneur but its so satisfying to know ill be there at some point. Read more>>

Danielle S. Reed: Media Personality & Entrepreneur

To want to work in the TV, film, music or entertainment industry is a risk in itself, because of how difficult it can be to navigate these industries and networks. Nothing is ever guaranteed and the competition is steep, but I eventually became unafraid. Looking back at the last five years of my career, I realize now that I took a lot of risks in college and throughout my 20s. My first big risk was leaving home to go to Syracuse University hundreds of miles from everything I had ever known, Atlanta. Taking these risks molded me into being a fearless leader, entrepreneur and creative. The second big risk I took was to study abroad in Madrid, Spain for five months in 2015. This was also a life-changing experience that would leave its mark on me forever. Next was the risk to jump headfirst into the music industry as a Talent Manager in 2017. The next big risk I took was to produce my first unscripted TV show called #AtlantasOwnTV. Read more>>

Chad Thomas: Fire Captain

I feel risk is an essential part of life. Most people may look at risk as a negative thing, which some risks can be, but I look at it as a chance for growth. Looking back over my life, all the success that I have accomplished has come by way of taking risks. It takes significant courage to face the risk of failing but once you face the risk and overcome the stresses that come along with it, there are great rewards at the other end. We have all heard the saying that success does not come in ones comfort zone. I could not agree more with this statement. When I find myself becoming comfortable at my position in life, I find a new challenge to conquer. Many times I have found myself being in a comfort zone and completely uprooting myself that places me in an uncomfortable position. Even though this new uncomfortable level comes with a fear of the unknown, looking back I have always met growth doing this. Read more>>

Christopher Williams: CEO of The VII Group – Sports event marketing agency

My entire life I’ve believed in taking risks and not playing it safe. The success I am finding currently is because I decided to take a risk and leave corporate America to focus on my goals and aspirations. The VII Group would not be where we are today without the ability to put my faith in God and know that no matter the outcome my family would be okay. It has been almost 2 years since I’ve become a full time entrepreneur and a lot has happened. For 7 years I put my all into Holiday Hoopsgiving high school edition and making the transition to include the college edition last year was certainly all due to my family and I’s ability to navigate uncharted waters. It had been 20 years since something of this caliber was brought to the city and taking the chance to bet on us; my wife and our team, is how we made it the successful event that it was. Read more>>

Chris Winn: Graphic designer/Content Creator

Risks are very important in the business world. In life in general we have to risk to get to new levels and new opportunities. Fear is a control factor that keeps most people living a life of scarcity and regret. Taking the risks I’ve taken has revealed a lot about who I am and where I want to go in life. Winners take risks. Read more>>

Ella Z. Norris, MSM: Entrepreneur & Life Coach

Risk-taking is a crucial part of entrepreneurship. It’s nearly impossible to be a forward-thinking business owner without embracing the fact that you’re taking a risk in an effort to make your wildest ideas and dreams take flight.  I often look back on the many business ideas that I’ve engaged in over the years and it always amazes me how unapologetically risky I was. Frankly, I still am! I’ve given up material possessions, time, money, dead-end friendships and more to make my dreams come to fruition and I’d do it all over again! Sometimes you just have to jump and pray like crazy that your “parachute” opens! It’s risky business for sure but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am certain that most entrepreneurs would agree. It’s all about faith, grit and grind for me! Read more>>

Marquis Tucker: Visual Artist & Creative Director

I like to believe that taking risk is very important to the success of any entrepreneurs career. Risks, whether it’s calculated or not, can be extremely rewarding because there is only two outcomes; a win or a lesson. Either way, you can not lose. I am always taking risk, some less calculated than other, but that has been my approach to life since I was a child. There is a curtain level of thrill seeking behind the uncertainty of risk taking that I live for. Venturing into the unknown with confidence and adoptability is key. More than anything I have to believe it will work. Even when it does not seem possible, I have to have faith. But I am fully accepting of any outcome. In those situations I think of what my mom has always told me, “Pick yourself up from your boot straps and get back too it.”, and that is what keeps me motivated to try again. There is going to be loses and failures, it is almost impossible to avoid but my perspective has to see the lesson in it. I learn from those experiences even if it is just what not to do next time. Read more>>

Tunishia Dickerson: CEO in the Making

My vision for myself includes me operating four successfully function companies that promote better living and life enhancement and development, under one Parent Company, Butterfly Changes, LLC. There will be 3 for profit and 1 non profit organization working simultaneously to improve the lives of others. Read more>>

Shack Deville: Recording Artist

I love the thought of taking risks. If it wasn’t for risks, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Coming up, I was a bit of a black sheep. I had an unorthodox way of doing things, I didn’t quite fit in anywhere, and most of my growth at the time was the transition from trying to find somewhere I belong, to forging my own space where I could thrive. Risk taking became a part of my personality because I didn’t have a lot of support for the path I wanted to take through the creative realm. When no one would get behind me, I got out there as transparent and as raw as I could to make them see me. Every time I took a leap of faith, I ended up with something great. “Scared money don’t make no money.” At this point in my career with music, all of those choices have led me to make some of the best music I’ve ever made, and to touch a lot more people than I’ve ever imagined. It’s a way of life for me now. Read more>>

Elysia Newman: Executive Director of Style412 OR Fashion Non-Profit Leader

The first thing you should know about me is that I’m a recovering control freak. I love a good plan and the word uncertainty has always made me uneasy. It wouldn’t be true however, to say that I’ve never taken any risks. I’ve done some really big things that have involved risk; starting multiple businesses, moving across the world, taking numerous jobs that I’ve had to grow into, collaborating with people, having any relationship in general…it all involves risk. The reality is that most situations in life will involve risk and often times, the more profound question for me is not “if” but “how.” How I’ve come to think about risk and taking chances, isn’t so much a bold choice, but more of an expander. So often, we hear the word risk and it triggers this extreme scenario where you either succeed or fail.  What I’ve learned in my coup d’etat with risk is that it’s highly possible to take risks and not set yourself up for all or nothing. You don’t have to blindly “geronimo” yourself into situations in order to enjoy the free fall. Risk can be a space to explore, push boundaries and hopefully grow from. Read more>>

Fabrice (Fab J) Jean: Sound Engineer & Producer

For me, since I started from scratch I had nothing to lose. Risk-taking is something I’ve always done, but I strongly believe in calculated risk. I feel like what people can perceive as risky from the outside, could also be really thought-through. For me it’s all about preparation-being prepared to take opportunities when they come. Some people might think you did it on a whim, but you’ve been planning that move for two years and it finally presented itself. There’s no high result without high risk, especially in the music industry. Read more>>

Alison Mahoney: Opera Singer, Baker, Host

Establishing a brand and putting yourself out there is all about taking a risk! I was dubbed The Singing Baker by The Food Network when, on a whim and at the behest of friends, I battled it out for singing, and baking, domination on the food competition show Sweet Genius. Following my star turn (ha!) and knowing next to nothing about the television medium, I pitched Singing Baker segment ideas to anyone who would listen. Since then, I have become a regular contributor on PIX11 and CBS Cooking on the Couch and have appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, The Food Network, The Steve Harvey Show, NBC, CBS, HBO The New York Post, Great Day SA, and NY1. I also created an online presence and have secured my position as a micro influencer, baking expert, and host in the food space. My journey has not always been all cupcakes and champs though. Read more>>

Kathryn Meksavanh: Actress

Taking risks has been the driving force of my life. It has taken me across the country from a little town called Hillsboro, Oregon to Atlanta, GA. I have always been the black sheep in my family who never did what my parents wanted me to do but followed my own dreams and ambition. I always knew my destiny required me to step out of my comfort zone. I had to take the risks to get to where I am today even if it meant I had to go against my parents wishes and experience being uncomfortable along the way. The journey of taking risks hasn’t been a smooth ride but it has built up my confidence that I can do anything I put my mind to. Read more>>

Paula Farve: Business Owner/Author/Motivational Speaker

I think risks taking is definitely important when running a business. I say do it afraid or you will never know your potential. Risk taking has proven to advance my life and business in the most positive manner. Read more>>

Alethia McGuire: Founder & Owner of Lee’s Ice Creamery

I think about risk as the biggest decisions you make in your life. Without risk there can be no gain because there’s always a chance that you’ll win. When you don’t take risks then you’ll never win. There’s just no room for that. Risk has taken a big role in my life and career being a previously single, still independent young woman who takes care of my responsibilities on my own and who has fell on hard times like many. I’ve had to take risks in order make my business what it is today and what it has been for me when I was unemployed and trying to stay afloat. Things worked out for me and I’m being grateful and blessed. Read more>>

Michelle Nwafulume: Aspiring Nurse Practitioner, Entrepreneur, and INVEST(HER)

I believe if you really want something to change in your life, you must take risks. You have to bet on yourself and know that even though you may not know exactly how the situation would turn out, have faith and know that you are worth more than average. No risks = no change, and no change = an average life… and I am not here to live an average life. The role that taking risks has played for me is it has helped me to elevate in many areas of my life. Mentally, I have elevated. Due to the risks that I have decided to take, my mind and perspective on so much has changed drastically. I am on a frequency higher than I have ever been before. Financially, my pockets have elevated as well because I decided to invest further in myself which has allowed me to be in the position and tax bracket I am in now. Read more>>

Kevin Dwayne: Health & Wellnes Lifestyle Coach

Interestingly, the word risk tends to have a very negative presence. The definition of the word alone doesn’t sound inviting. Risk is described as a threat; a situation involving exposure to danger. Other words used to define risk include uncertainty, chance, peril, and even loss. The understanding of the word is enough to deter one from taking a risk. Yet, I have not allowed the meaning of this word to stop me from taking calculated risks in my life. I tend to look at the “risk” through a different lens. That lens is of faith, belief, hope, opportunity, and possibility. This helps me to re-think risk as an opportunity rather than something that will be of loss or danger. I approach taking a risk with a more positive outlook and change the narrative of my expectation. This does not mean that I am not aware of potential outcomes that could be the opposite of my expectations. I don’t just jump out into the ocean without first being aware and prepared for the possible outcomes. This allows me to make chooses from a proactive approach when taking a risk. Read more>>

Paris Leech: CEO of Sashe Unique By Paris an online fashion apparel business

Risk is a scary word, but it can lead you to your destiny. The most uneasy feel about taking risk is that your not sure about the outcome which is understandable, however it can lead to your destiny. I have taking risk myself by starting and restarting my online fashion apparel business, not knowing how my audience would receive me coming back or most importantly if they would take me seriously. Lets just say I am happy I took the risk! Read more>>

Omó Pastor: Storyteller & Curator

Surface level, life is lowkey, highkey a risk. Anything can happen at anytime. The “risk” gets higher depending on which box, or boxes, you mark on applications and in life. Most folx are winging it half the time, or following their heart, mind, intuition, or a spiritual GPS which essentially goes right back to the heart and mind. On a deeper level, it is not 100% a risk, but stars simply aligning, and our we may not know nor see the final way it all aligns because we have not elevated to that level yet. As you elevate the “risk” level lowers. However, pushing forward is the resistance. It is telling the world you trust and believe in yourself regardless if you do or don’t. My whole career is what folx might call a “risk”. I could be working somewhere for folx. Doing something I love on someone else’s schedule. I could play by my parent’s rulebook. I could play by my culture’s adopted rulebook. But I don’t. My career endeavors are mostly me waking up, or reasoning with myself, and deciding I want to embark on this journey. Then I’d pray about it. And watch everything fall into place. Read more>>

Kendra D. Johnson: Brand Designer, Creative Educator, & Strategist

Reflecting on the person I was before now, the word “risk” was extremely scary to me. I’ve always been an over thinker and perfectionist and I was afraid of failure, now I embrace it. Failure is a good thing because you learn and grow from it. Back then, you couldn’t pay me to take a risk with anything! Now, I’m ready to take on any and every challenge I am faced with. Learning to take risks throughout my career has changed my life for nothing but the good. I realized that you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, and I have been presented with MANY opportunities just by biting the bullet. Risks aren’t so bad after all, huh? Read more>>

Serena Bautista: Acrylic Artist & Owner of Banileja Art

Risk-taking is key for going after the lifestyle you want. I don’t want to be a person that wonders ‘what if?’. Risk taking has set the tone for what it means to be successful for me. Without calculated risk there would be no change. Believing in yourself is the difference between followers and leaders.  Throughout my life and career, I have experienced some failure. Having a determined mindset has given me the chance to adapt, take notes, plan strategically, and make necessary changes. I have also learned balance from risk-taking; to set a schedule, and say no to certain opportunities for a peace of mind. I believe if things do not go according to plan, it was not meant to be. (“We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Prov 16:9). Read more>>

Kelsey Hoke: Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Advocate and Trainer

Before starting H.S.S.C I will say that when I initially would hear the word risk I would have a “negative Nancy” frame of mind attached to the word Risk. However, taking risk have shaped and mold H.S.S.C into the business that is it today. If I would not have taken the risk that I’ve taken H.S.S.C would not be a successful business within the Atlanta area. What I’ve learned about taking risk is that it has allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and push me to greatness! The biggest risk that I have taken while building H.S.S.C. is leaving a stable job with consistent hours, clients, and guaranteed income during the middle of a pandemic. I recall praying and going back and forth being very anxious about informing my previous employer that I would not sign my contract to return the following year. I knew that stepping out and running a business by myself was foreign and a very new venture I was about to endure. Read more>>

Lashawn Ruan-Hodge: Fashion Stylist

The role of taking risk has shown me alot throughout my career because taking this risk has brought me thus far with styling. If I did not take this risk i would not have known my true skills and talent. This also opened my mind to learn new things and build confidence during my journey. Read more>>

Lucid Love: Photographer, Creative Director & Doula

I believe risk taking is one of the many ways to success. Taking risk is why I am where I am today. Growing up I’ve been told that I couldn’t do certain thing…at first I would get sad and feel defeated. Then it dawned on me that I will only fail if I do not try. if the risk I took works then great but If I take the risk and it doesn’t work out it just gives me another idea to try. It will never make me give up if I fail… it just shows me that I’m closer to my goal. You never know if you can do anything if you don’t try at all life is all about taking risk and gaining knowledge along the way. Read more>>

Coleman Sutton: Producer/Mix Engineer

Once I realized that nothing has to work out, it took a lot of pressure off my shoulders. Growing up I was always told to go to college and graduate. This was something I gladly took on at one point in life. However, once I found myself making more music than putting my nose in books, I dropped out. I took a risk by doing that moving home. Although during that time I had no plan, I knew that the pay off of that moment, or the disappointment of that moment, would not define me entirely. After being home for about seven or eight months I was finally knee deep in a steady job. I was making okay money and was saving up to get my own place. At this point, I still had no idea what I was doing. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to do music and not wait tables. On a whim, like I had air beneath me, I quit to pursue music full time. Mind you, I had no connections, almost no money, but I had the carefreeness to know that this decision would not define me. Read more>>

Delena Sanders: Doula and Poet

I consider myself a risk taker. I’ve taken a lot of risks for my business. I could have stayed in Corporate America and opted for financial security but playing it safe didn’t appease me. Especially knowing that there was a chance for me to have the life I’ve always wanted and to do something that actually makes a difference. It takes a lot of faith in yourself. For me, what it comes down to is chance. If there’s chance that I can fulfill my heart’s desires, I’m going to take it; it would kill my spirit not to. It has its ups and downs but luckily, it’s been working out in my favor. Read more>>

Danielle T. Anderson: Model, Actor, Activist

When it comes to risks and taking them, consciously, I freak out. Innately, I’m a very let’s not change things or fix things that ain’t broken type of gal. But SUBCONSCIOUSLY, man, my inner dare devil is all for the risks. So, my life have been filled with taking risks and stepping out of my comfort zone so I can grow. Every time I take a chance, that’s a risk to me. And it always seems to be in my favor, even if I “fail” the first couple of times, I redo it and keep going because risks teach you to be the you that you always thought you could be…and once you take them, you’re that much closer to that person. Read more>>

Reshaunna Austin: Founder & CEO, uniYque Hair

I was about 9 years old when I first grasped what it meant to live with big dreams. As a child I thought, “I am ready to live the peaches and cream adult life I often saw others live.” It was not until the first day that independence hit, and I was forced to take risks. As I got closer and closer to my final days of high school, my dreams turned into nightmares, and I felt I needed more time as a child. I was forced into petrifying risks, which I now have a tremendous appreciation for. My first risk was immense, daunting, and especially a challenge. I joined the military straight out of high school. It was a risk that I wanted to take with only my thoughts located behind my decision to join. The military helped me to define and connect with risk-taking. The lessons learned from risk-taking in the military helps me, to this day, to make ethical decisions in my personal and professional life. After my first tour in Afghanistan, I was ready to take on more independent risks. Read more>>

Jessica James: Singer, Songwriter, and Fitness Coach

When I think about risk, I think about a chance to exercise faith and truly push my limits to see what I’m really capable of. Risk, depending on the scope in which it’s taken, can also be looked at as an investment. There have been times where in both my music, and fitness careers taking risks have led me to some great opportunities. In my music career, I feel it’s always full of risk taking. Every time I write a song, or release new music; there’s a risk it may or may not do well, or that people may not like it. I invest money into education opportunities, recording, in the past I’ve even invested money in open mics and talent show cases that turned out to be a bust. However, that has never deterred me from continuing to believe in myself and move forward. As an artist, and entrepreneur; I understand that “scared money doesn’t make money”. If you truly want to succeed, sometimes you have to jump out on faith without knowing the possible outcome, but still maintaining hope that you will be okay. Read more>>

Ra’Shae White: Entrepreneur & Youtuber

Risk taking has been the main focal point for me as an entrepreneur. It’s very important especially when you didn’t come from much and want more. That risk could change your life for the better. My business started with me taking a risk of leaving my 9-5 and focusing more on what I wanted to do & bringing my vision to life. I’m Still taking risks 2 years later. Read more>>