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.

Darrell Perez | Entrepreneur / DJ / Event Producer

It is always a risk-taking game when starting any business, but I like to call it a leap of faith! That first leap of faith I took was leaving my 9-5 retail job of five years and consistent income to start my business. My finances at the time were not the greatest, so in hindsight, it probably wasn’t the best idea. But I had this gut feeling that it was now or never. I trusted myself and my instincts and continued to pursue my passion for DJing and into the event production world! Since then and even today, it has continued to be a game of risk playing, and sometimes I love it, and sometimes I’m not too fond of it. Read more>>

Toni DeBiasi | Artist/Illustrator

I’ve taken a lot of risks to get where I am. The first was probably just being artistic and creative in the first place: nobody in my family is even remotely artistic, but I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. My family supported me in my art, especially my mother, but nobody really understood me. Kids at school all thought I was weird. My teachers thought I was invisible and hated that I spent so much of my class time drawing. My mom wanted me to wear bright colors and be a much more outgoing person than I was: I wanted to wear jeans and t-shirts and be an artist. Read more>>

Jonathan Gabriel | Pharmacy Technician, Musician, and Illustrator

High risk, high reward, definitely. Almost every positive thing that has happened in my life are the direct result of me having to push through my own limiting beliefs, cognitive biases, and comfort zones. Whenever I look back and tally some of the scariest things that I went for, despite the possibility of failure, embarrassment, or starting over, and getting through with my intended results, I always get a boost of confidence and a reminder that I can move towards bigger things and be fine, no matter what the outcome. Read more>>

Sara “Bish” Bishop | Colorful Wedding Photographer & Private Photo Editor

Amelia Earhart explains it best, I think.  She said, “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” I am 34 years old, a single dog-mom to the most hilarious Boston Terrier, and have the most supportive friends I could ask for.  And I’ve been a photographer for over 15 years – my dream job! Over the years, I’ve learned that risk is inevitable for growth.  So much can be learned in the process of taking a risk and following through.  The paths I chose and the risks I took allowed me to cultivate a brand that I’m proud to represent and businesses in a career that I love. Read more>>

Bill Konigsberg | Award-Winning Author

Risk is scary and entirely necessary. At 31, firmly entrenched in a career as a sportswriter, I looked at my life and decided that if I was ever going to become a novelist, I was going to need schooling and time to write. I risked my career for a dream, and had I not done that, I would not have gotten the thing I wanted most. Now I have six novels out in the world. Could this have failed? Absolutely. In fact, it probably should have, and then I would have had to pick up the pieces and move forward. But the thing I learned from this is that desire is meaningless if we aren’t willing to take a risk. Read more>>

Cherie Buck-Hutchison | Visual Artist

Risk taking is connected to creativity in any endeavor. As a visual artist, filling my curiosity is fueled by the creative process. Risk is involved. Like many, I am trying to speak through my art making; I am seeking to unlayer the unseen to which I respond with art. What I am saying requires a contemplative process. I make, reconsider and reconcile my work multiple times. Curiosity invites me to dive deep into the process, take risks as I work though the iterations and answer the deep questions that I am unveiling. It is important to me because this helps me arrive at something better. I experiment with transparent layers. Read more>>

Ed Sweet | Singer and Songwriter of Electric Sol

I always try to take calculated risks that take me out of my comfort zone, at least a little bit. This approach has always served me well in my work as a copywriter and ghostwriter, and now as a songwriter/musician. When the pandemic first started this past spring, I reached out to two music producers I had never worked with before. One was a friend of mine who I always felt was out of my league professionally. The other was a local artist who I didn’t know at all. I saw him perform live in February and liked his sound. The music I made with these people, which we started releasing in July and will continue through April 2021, is the best music I’ve ever made. It never would have happened if I didn’t take a chance or risk rejection. Read more>>

Ellen Murray Meissinger | Visual Artist and ASU Art Professor

As a visual artist, I think risks are absolutely essential to help push myself and my art in new directions. I do not sit down and calculate percentages of risk to reward before I take a risk. Instead I try to stay open to new possibilities outside my comfort zone. As a result, in most instances when I have taken a risk, the rewards have been surprising and definitely worth the risk. Risk taking has led to international travel, exhibition opportunities, invitations to talk about my work and teach workshops, collaborations with experts outside my discipline, sale of works, national recognition, lasting friendships, and some really fun and amazing experiences. Read more>>

Greg Newbold | Artist, Illustrator, Husband, Father & Friend

I think risks are a natural result of being alive. We take risks every day. It’s a risk to get behind the wheel of a car. It’s a risk to eat that shellfish. These days it seems like a risk to even go to the grocery store. So there’s no escaping risks. It becomes a matter of what risks will be the most beneficial. What risks are you willing to take? I will be the first to admit that I am a bit risk averse, and yet I decided to become an artist which may be one of the riskiest careers ever envisioned. And still, I jumped in with both feet with hardly a second thought regarding a backup plan. Let’s just say it was an all in move. I was determined to succeed at my art because there was really no safety net. Read more>>

Alexis P. Johnson | Screenwriter & Story Developer

I fully believe we must take risks in order to achieve our highest visions. This is true no matter what field we work in, or what medium we use. If you are not willing to lose anything, you likewise cannot gain to your full potential. I think of the 2012 film “Hitchcock,” which was about the man himself. The story surrounded the film “Psycho” and what it actually took to make the film that became his most memorable or iconic. The film was considered a huge risk. He was constantly told that people would not accept it because of its dark nature and risque content–well, dark and risque for 1960, anyway. Even as an established filmmaker, he still was doubted by his peers and had to fight to make the kind of film he wanted to make. He took the risk gladly for the sake of his greater vision. Read more>>

Lola Torch | Performer, Producer, Mentor, & Designer

I’ve always taken risks in my life. It just has always seemed to me that it’s necessary if you want to explore what the world has to offer you. It’s exciting to step off of that cliff into the unknown. And scary because, of course, with risk there is often failure. But when things succeed there is such a great feeling of triumph. I get that some people would prefer the comfort of stability. It makes sense to me. I’ve just always preferred to take a risk, fail, and move on rather than wish I could be the person who tried that thing. Read more>>

Don Nguyen | Knife Maker

I have always been a “just start it now think about details later” kind of guy. My parents never did like that. It’s changed slightly ever since I started this business, especially going full-time, but the idea is still pretty much the same. I get ideas, I think about the pros and cons, the end result, and then I just make the leap. The difference now is that since I’m trying to grow as a business and as a better human, I have to tame that process with a little bit of planning. The risk taking has worked well for me in the past but being so tunnel visioned about goals can be jarring to those around me. Read more>>