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.

Olivia Wenger | Photographer

When thinking about risk and how I approach it in my own life and career, I remember the story my mom has always told me about teaching me to snow ski. She started by teaching my older brother who, after a few runs down the bunny hill, was ready to conquer some harder slopes… even if he wasn’t necessarily skilled enough to do so. I, however, spent a ridiculous amount of time on the bunny hill. I wanted to practice and be sure that I had my technique perfect before graduating onto the bigger hills. Read more>>

Monica Maldonado | Artist, Musician, and Educator

Taking risks is one of my favorite things to do. It never use to be though. As a kid, I was terrified of my own shadow. I was scared of traveling too far. I worried about what people thought of me. I was scared of failing and not having the approval of my classmates, mentors, and grown-ups. All this anxiety stopped me from taking risks and exploring more of my creative side and who I was as a person overall. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I realized that nobody cares, and nobody knows what on earth they’re doing. Read more>>

Sara Van Hecke | Singer-Songwriter

I think about risk taking as a necessity in my life and career. From the time I showed my best friend my first song I ever wrote, to now making my first studio full length album – risk taking has launched me forward time and time again. If you told that nervous 13-year-old me who could only fathom showing her song to a single person, that one day and a hundred songs later I’d be playing on stages, in bars, and recording my original music to share with so many… Read more>>

jonathan keeton | Painter

Well there is a fine dividing line between fear and risk. In my case, risk came from the fear of not achieving what I wanted to, which I realized was not something I could live with. So, I quit my schoolteaching job in DC and moved to Europe in the early 80s, where I worked in a traveling theater company. Then I moved to California and stumbled into the beginning of computer graphics. Every project then was about risk, as the stakes were very high all the time. Read more>>

Lance Panigutti | Race Director and owner of Without Limits Productions

I was fortunate to be raised in a family that always took an outside the box approach to risk. Risk didn’t exist if you were having fun in your passions and keeping all eyes forward on success. That mindset evolved for me personally when I started skydiving and quickly fell in love with BASE Jumping. Two endeveours people consider the riskiest of all, but I never viewed it that way. Read more>>

Lillie Zhan | Divorce Coach

How do I think about risk? Most of my life choices are made from my intuition. Risk is the yellow traffic light that says, “think twice” before taking any steps and “proceed with caution”. The yellow light does not stop me from going through the intersection; it’s my reminder to look both ways before I do. What role has taking risks played in my life/career? Read more>>

Kathe Heinecken | Book Seller Extraordinaire

The concept of risk is defined by our fears. If we control our fear, rather than it controlling us, then most risk becomes manageable. When I started Barbed Wire Books, in 2009, I was ending a 25 year marriage, had three jobs to get by and a son entering college. We were experiencing a terrible time in our economy and there didn’t seem to be many choices in terms of starting over. It was scarier to me NOT to open Barbed Wire Books than it was to jump in with both feet. I knew that I did not want to continue with two ranch jobs and a minimum wage retail job. I was confident in my abilities and knew that the store would fill a huge need in Longmont. Read more>>

Carol Schneider | Owner of Owl’s Nest Quilters in Grand Junction, Colorado

I think that professional risk taking is in my DNA. In one of my many lives, I was a successful senior editor for an educational publisher in the New York/New Jersey area. On the wall of my office was a sign: “South Dakota or Bust.” People didn’t know what that sign meant, and I didn’t necessarily offer an explanation. Secretly, it was my goal to leave the big city and go to work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and pursue a career in Indian education. My dream came to fruition in 1996 when I was hired as a high school English teacher at Crazy Horse School in Wanblee, South Dakota. Read more>>

Katie Small | Experimental film photographer, filmmaker, and writer

Taking risks is a huge part of my creative approach, no matter the medium. As far as art is concerned, playing it safe is tedious… if you’re not being vulnerable and risking failure or rejection in some way, then what’s the point? I’ve found that the scope of the risks I take directly correlate to the depth of meaning and experience gained. Read more>>

Harriette Tsosie | Painter

I like the saying: “Jump and the net will appear”. After my children were grown and educated, I took a big risk and moved from Iowa to the Southwest. I suspected I just might have some years to do what I wanted: PAINT!! I was still working, but, as a widow, I was eligible to draw Social Security early, It was enough to live on, so I quit my job (risk #2). I finally had studio space–a small detached building on a rural property I bought near Los Alamos. From home, I could hear the drums of San Ildefonso pueblo during the Native American ceremonies there. Read more>>

Alec Romero-Hoffman | Photographer/Artist/Creative

I think risk plays a big factor in many things I do daily, it can be anything from driving my car to expressing all things creative. I believe risk can lead to new opportunities allowing room for growth and adventures. Ever since I was young I wanted to have a career in a creative field of some sort, at the time I didn’t know exactly what that looked like I enjoyed many creative paths but fell hard for photography. It became the backbone of my creative outlet and passion, it also became heavy on my pockets causing me to find work in a different field to support this creative path. Read more>>

Misti Cureton | Wife, Mother, Entrepreneur and Fighter

Risk taking is a loaded term. What is a huge risk to some might be a simple day for another. That being said we feel like we have made our live what it is from taking the risk! There is a lot to the story that will lead us to where we are today. The one thing we know for sure, we would not have survived the risks we took without the love and respect we have for each other. Through starting our businesses, raising our children and battling breast cancer we know the rewards of risk. We no longer fear it, we welcome it. Read more>>

Trevan Sparboe | Speakeasy Mixologist, Donut Shop Owner, Aspiring Farmer.

Risk is present in most situations where an impactful decision is being made, and oftentimes it can be intimidating. However, eliminating the intimidation that risk can possess can be achieved by calculating the risk before taking it. If the overall reward doesn’t equal or outweigh the risk being taken, then it may not be successful or fulfilling. Understanding the presence of risk, and what balance there is with reward, can give someone confidence in the decisions they make moving forward. I believe the word risk takes on a negative connotation when situations are referred to as risky. The only difference is the letter y. Read more>>

Sabrina Stabs | Tattoo Artist

I believe that the best things in life can’t come without risking the loss of them. That risk may be monetary, emotional, or even physical. The greatest risk comes at the expense of all three, and that is to step outside your comfort zone. It was in enduring the fears of failure, the pressure of demanding more of myself, and sacrificing instant gratification, that I truly came to accept that the only thing that could limit my success was me. Read more>>

Alexandra Gladsjo | Photographer and Avid Imaginist

When I think about risk, it’s something that can definitely be daunting, but I think is one of the most important things in life. Taking risks (with at least some forethought), helps us grow and learn, and can even give us a new opportunity in our life! When I was getting ready to graduate high school and thinking about colleges, I ran into The Art Institute of Colorado. It had everything I was looking for but had a huge price tag and a “for-profit” model. Read more>>

ALEX ANGELS | Artist – Creative

Risk is everything . The thing about though is I make sure I trust the direction, not the specifics. We all know the saying you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. it’s true. What isn’t a gamble ? Driving to work is a risk , taking the trash out is a risk , however we take risk daily without being conscious of it and the thought of acknowledging it can do something to the mind, it can bring up fear , but it’s rewarding to get through it anyways. Read more>>

Dan Roberts | Light painting photographer and creator of the event ticketing platform

A life without risk is probably not that exciting. If you want to stand out then you have to try something new, walk a path that isn’t being walked by many others. I’ve worked for myself the majority of my life, with all of the ups and down that brings. Sometimes you squeak by, sometimes you have some cushion, but you always know you’re working to build up something that is uniquely yours. Read more>>

Jill DuFrane | Photographer

Risk is a necessity in my life and business. It can have many meanings, but in my life specifically, the risk my family takes is moving and starting over… a lot! I have been a photographer for 5 years professionally and this will be the third time I will be building my business up from scratch. Working for yourself is a risk in itself, but starting over with zero relationships and a completely different market to try and navigate, that is a risk I will take on proudly. Read more>>

Belinda Ginter | Certified Emotional Kinesiologist, Mindset Expert & CEO of Unstoppable Mindset Inc

Risk taking is rarely discussed because most of society is risk adverse. We’re taught at a very young to play it safe, colour within the lines and that risks are bad. But really all that we desire in life lies right beyond a risk. The marriage or relationship we want is right beyond the risk of asking someone out on a date, risking loving someone, being vulnerable with no guarantee and the same principal applies to business. Read more>>