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.

Jerricka Staten | CEO & Creator of You Love My Hair Care

When asked what I think about risk, I’d say I don’t. The first definition of risk is the possibility of loss or injury; to think about risk is to see your end goal in a loss mindset. I see each decision I have made in life or career as a step-up, instead of taking risk because I was prepared to succeed. Think about it, would you do something if you thought you would fail? When making decisions I know that I have prepared myself along the way to have the tools to be successful at anything. I don’t think risk has played a major role in my life/career because I am a researcher. When something peeks my interest I will find out everything there is to know about it which takes out the “risk” factor come decision time. When you believe in what you have the word risk doesn’t exist. Read more>>

Joshua Hsu | Founder & CEO

Fear is a strong driver in much of our lives. It tends to drive us away from the unknown and can take many forms. For example, if you’re a student who studied X major. You may be wary about jumping into another field or something adjacent. Or if you’re comfortable with a particular worldview, you may be less inclined to find flaws in the logic for an existential fear of changing your Self. Therein lies the risk. Risk, in my mind, is a fear-driven construct. It’s helpful when used to *signal* the complexity/gravity of a particular situation, specifically as a measure of ambiguity or unknowns with respect to your own perspective. So personally, I view the level of risk of a particular initiative/decision/project as a function of three different areas. Read more>>

Paula Parente | Writer & Artist

I think risk can be both external and internal. External in that you take action, take a chance on something – like changing careers or moving to a new place. Internal risk can sometimes be sitting with yourself, taking the time to find out what you truly want to do, and making the decision to do it even in the face of obstacles, like knowing those close to you may not like or approve of what you want to do, or not do. So it’s following your intuition and heart’s desires, and doing what you need to do for yourself, which then, as I said, may not be what others want for you. I’d also like to add that risk can be an opportunity to grow forward, and that often means facing and feeling the fear and moving through it to the other side. Read more>>

Stephanie Parra | Executive Director

For a long time, I have reflected on why I am so deeply committed to issues of social justice and equity work. I realized over time that it was more than just caring about other people and their well-being. Certainly, that has always been a major component of why I am committed to this work, but why education? Why low-income children, youth and families? Why did I care so much that the sense of urgency around the issues negatively impacting communities of color kept me up at night? I came to realize that many of these issues have been ingrained in my own family’s experience, and much of my own. I am the proud daughter of immigrants from Sonora, Mexico. My grandfather migrated to the United States in the 1940s through the Bracero Program. As an immigrant farm worker my father now shares stories of living in extreme poverty and experiencing hardships. My mother tells me similar stories about her own experience living in poverty in Mexico, having to live in an abandoned building made of adobe. Read more>>