Taking Risk is essential, but how much, when and why? Taking risks effectively is as much of an art as it is a science and we’ve asked some of the brightest folks in the community to tell us about how they think about risk taking.

Erin Anderson | Dance/Movement Therapist & High Performance Coach

Interestingly, this topic is a part of the program I created, Choreographing Our Lives. Oftentimes, we have been choreographed or conditioned to move through life a certain way. We can look at any topic and consider this specific topic of risk-taking. How were you put into a box around it? Is life dangerous? Is life an adventure? Are you risk-averse? What are the beliefs that you were taught around taking risks? When I look at my own life, there are plenty of risks that I have taken to get where I am in my life/career. I see, however, that these are more comfortable or acceptable risks from a societal standpoint. I find that as I grow into my life and career more with age, I want to take more risks around believing; I can create even more if I trust that my taking risks will get me to that next level. Read more>>

Erica Younkin | Entrepreneur

I’ve taken in my life and career have really been about asking if what I’m doing is serving me. With work, that’s asking myself: Am I learning? Am I challenged? Am I valued? Am I being treated with kindness? If more than one of those things aren’t a “Yes”, then I know need to make a change. That comes with risk, but I’m less concerned about the end result as I am with how do I feel right now. Starting Match Me Cards® was a big time risk, but I knew the journey would have its own day-to-day rewards. It’s been worth it. Read more>>

David Ritt | Graphic Designer & Artist

This can look a million different ways. For some people, posting a photo on Instagram is a risk. For others, taking a risk means doing something that puts their life in danger. It all depends on the person and how you calculate your comfort level. In my career, I’ve developed a habit of accepting projects that I have no idea how to complete. I learn best in a hands-on, chaotic environment. So what better ways to develop skill sets than these high-pressure situations? For example, I accepted a project a few years ago that involved animation. I had never animated anything before, but I took on the project and put myself in a situation where I had no choice but learn and grow. This has been a pattern in my life for a few years now. Taking on projects that are way over my head, and spending hours on YouTube learning new things. I’ve built a career out of this. Read more>>

Amanda Bell | Textile Designer & Artist

Taking risks has played a huge role in my life and business. Putting yourself out there is a skill and feels like a super power at times. I’ve worked really hard at getting comfortable with that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you are taking on something new and use it as a sign that I’m pushing myself. Having this mindset has led to some really rewarding projects, new friends and business partners and becoming a part of the creative community in Colorado Springs. Read more>>

Amber Stevens | Author, Massage Therapist, Board-Certified Health Coach

I enjoy risk, conscientiously. That may seem contradictory but it’s actually a beautiful way to grow. Taking a risk is necessary to break out of your comfort zone. I have gained more confidence and self-awareness by taking risks. But I don’t believe in just throwing caution to the wind…things get blown over pretty quickly that way. Instead, I evaluate the risk, weigh pros and cons, and then take the leap. A willingness to move beyond what is known and safe has allowed me to start my own business and work in a career that I love. Even now, I am taking the steps (and the risk) to hire and grow my business even amidst the uncertainty of the world we live in. It’s nervous, yet excited energy that drives me. I know the end reward is very worth the risk. In my relationships, I’ve decided to risk speaking up and being unapologetically me. It’s strengthened most relationships, and changed others, but always in a positive outcome. I believe in risks – we are capable of far more than we know. Read more>>

Carrie MaKenna | Contemporary Fine Artist

Some level of risk-taking is pretty much how most anything is ever achieved. I’ve found taking risks with a clear intention has most often led to unexpected and rewarding outcomes. The first art-related risk I took was in my first year of college when I basically snuck into the art department against my family’s wishes and wound up having a fascinating and eclectic artistic career. Another big risk was to quit my corporate job to pursue a Master’s degree in Art Therapy. Yet another was to take studio and gallery space in a row of storefronts that I thought sure would only be for a year but wound up lasting nine years. It would be impossible to recount all the risks large and small that I’ve taken in order to get where I am today. But the most recent one was to co-found a new artist-owned gallery in 2019 that managed to survive and actually thrive during the pandemic of 2020. This doesn’t even touch on the micro-risks that occur every day in the act of art-making from the choice of materials to subject matter. Read more>>

Athena Brownson | Real Estate Broker & Developer, Entrepreneur , Lyme Disease Warrior

I have to say that growing up in my household our motto for really everything was “fast is fun, faster is funner, fastest is funnest”, from this motto I think one can gain two important things about myself and my family. First, grammar is clearly not our strong suit, but more importantly, second we were far from being risk adverse and in fact we tend to be thrill seekers in all ventures we encounter in life. My father was a professional speed skier turned race car driver so naturally I grew up watching him go as fast as humanly possible at all times and as such I have always viewed risk as the best means to reap reward. At age 11 I set a world record for the fastest 11 year old recorded on skis at 87 mph and went on to have a professional skiing career competing in slopestyle and big air competitions around the world where if you were not willing to put it all on the line than there was no career. Well 9 knee surgeries and a broken neck later, I tend to be physically more risk adverse but have a strong mentality that the best things in life come when you are uncomfortable and that he or she who is willing to take risks are those that will find success in life and kick a dent in history. Read more>>

Rob Decker | Fitness/Health Professional, Peer Substance Abuse Coach & Speaker

At one point, I wasn’t able to walk due breaking my back, but I had to make the choice to get back into the gym, riding my bike to my doctors appointments and going for hikes. I risked further injury, but it was a chance I needed to take. I felt like it was the only way to get off of medications and to reduce back pain, amongst other things. Fast forward many years, I had to walk from a a full time fitness job to open up my own business. Read more>>

Carrie Lehtonen | Holistic Health Practitioner & Yoga Instructor

I consider myself a risk-averse person, but when I tell people about the trajectory of my life and career they tend to respond by calling me a risk-taker. I suppose the gap between what others see and how I view myself is in the details. I’ve taken many risks, but they were calculated. I spent months, sometimes years, planning before acting. When I decided to move away from New Hampshire, where all of my family and friends are, and where I had a stable job, to Colorado, where I didn’t know anyone, without a job offer in hand, that might have seemed crazy. However, I had a plan. I paid off debts, saved enough money that I could get by for up to six months without a job, and I did my research. I knew the job market in the Denver area was strong, and I knew that I needed to take a drastic step to get out of the rut that I was in. My next big calculated risk was deciding to leave my corporate Human Resources job to focus full-time on building my own business, Firefly Community LLC. Read more>>

Sarah Thompson | Functional Medicine Practitioner & Acupuncturist

There is no reward with risk. My father is a brilliant man, physician, and businessman. He always pushed us to take risks and try new things. He is also the king of motivational sayings. Whenever I think about decisions in life and business, I think of him and his advice growing up. “What’s the worst that could happen?” This was something he said a lot, whether it applied to trying something new, schoolwork, goals, he would have us list what the worst thing was that could happen, and the best. Does the best outweigh the worst, if so…go for it. Another thing he would say is, “Everything in life is hard, you choose your hard.” This is also something I think about in life and business. It is hard to have a poorly run business that makes no money, it is also hard to have a successful business that is hitting goals. Which hard do you want to work through? These two key phrases echo in my head whenever I am making a decision in life and business. Read more>>

Lexie Lund | Interdisciplinary Feminist Artist

As far as my artistic content and creation methods, I will take risks all day, and thoroughly enjoy the process! If it comes to needing to investigate a new material or a new mode of construction, I am all about it, fearless to go to the hardware store and give the employee the third degree about the finish or behavior of a new material, overjoyed to surf the web to find the perfect material that will give this new creation the justice that it deserves! If this artistic idea is in fact risky in the way that there’s a possibility it’s going to ruffle some feathers, as long as they’re the right feathers that I want to ruffle on my audience, I’m gonna take that risk all day, no question. I want to make my viewers think, or help them possibly view something in a different way than they usually would. Risk taking has impacted my artistic career in such an amazing way- I truly believe that the risky content and imagery that I use within my artwork has ensured that my work always gets that second glance. Read more>>

Karen Hoskin | Montanya Distillers Founder and Owner

I have come to realize recently that taking risks is a privilege. When you know that there is some safety net beneath you, like supportive parents or generational, inherited wealth, it can be much easier to take the big risks that are inherent to successful entrepreneurship. While trying to grow Montanya through its first decade, I had two children of my own to raise and was helping financially support my mother after the premature death of my father. I didn’t have much money in the bank. So the risks I was taking seemed enormous, verging on irresponsible. But I had already said yes once to the soulless Fortune 500 job and just couldn’t hack it. I just kept pushing forward. I am not sure people really understand how the aptitude for risk is generationally taught and encouraged. Women and people of color often don’t have the privilege of long and heavy risk-taking. There is not the same safety net. I wasn’t taught by anyone before me how to navigate it. Read more>>

Jenelle Kemper | Photographer

In High School, I knew I wanted to be a photographer. But the school career counselors all told me- “don’t waste your time, you won’t make any money because photographers are a dime a dozen.” So, of course I listened to them and went on to get a degree in Hotel Management, because all of their placement tests told me to do that. Fast forward to 2011 and the birth of my first daughter…… I still wanted to be a photographer, and I was now a stay-at-home mom, so I decided to take a HUGE risk and go for it! We should all feel the freedom of being able to take a risk once in a while to do something we love. Life is short. You need to find what you love and DO IT. It doesn’t have to be a business, but we all need to spend time focusing on something that brings us happiness. Pursuing my photography these past 10 years (although only a few of those years actually as a business) has been one of the BEST decisions I have ever made. Read more>>

Taylor Sleaford | Life & Fitness Coach

When it comes to talking about risk in life, it really boils down to talking about failure. The only reason risk holds some weight is because of the potential outcome. People weigh taking risks against the potential to fail. And most people associate failure with being a negative trait. But I don’t view failure that way. Failure is simply an opportunity to grow, improve and learn. Nobody who ever did anything great got there without some failures along the way. Which means it’s only risky if you’re afraid of failure. Most people I work with avoid taking risks. They play it safe and settle because it’s comfortable. In my life I’ve found the only way to get what you want and feel fulfilled is to take manageable action towards your goals. Some people might call this risk, but I would way rather lay on my death bed looking back on my life knowing that at least I tried rather than wondering: ‘what if’? For me, a life with no risk, is no life at all. Read more>>

Kahli Bervaldi | Artist & Engineer

I wanted to take on this question because few people know I am an engineer working in the aerospace field. Lots of folks ask “you post and make music that could be considered “offensive “. To my reply, I keep both those path separates but I always have the same goals. My careers make me who I am. Despite judgement I will be who I truly am. The new generation has the tattoos and open to talking difficult topics , which I just add the fuel. Who doesn’t like an astronaut and rapper?. Read more>>

Xanthe Cook | Musician

As an artist using your intuition and knowing when to invest in your craft has been one of the most important risks I have taken. Because My album was a self release instead of having a label invest in me I invested in myself. I had to take on learning what tools I needed and a lot of those moments felt pretty risky too. I’ve taken risks with my style within folk music and really in the end the biggest risk is knowing yourself deeply and knowing what your voice is in the art you create and that kind of honesty is always a risk worth taking. Read more>>

Halee Everett | Owner of Soulistic Root

I have always been an adventurer, a daredevil and a risk-taker. I get bored easily and am constantly needing new challenges, which is why being a small business owner is the PERFECT job for me. Prior to Soulistic Root, I was managing a restaurant working 70 hour work weeks and on the verge of a major burn out. My happiness, health and overall well being were suffering. So I took the biggest risk and left my career of over ten years, in an attempt to start a business. That was the best decision I have ever made! I am almost glad that I didn’t know how much went into running a successful small business, because I probably wouldn’t have taken the risk. But let me tell you, the reward was so worth it. It’s taken a few years, but I have finally figured out how to maintain a good work life balance. I am able to see the world and to spend time with my loved ones. My time is so important to me and I truly value every moment! Throughout my life (both professionally and personally) I have taken many risks and I have never regretted a single one. Read more>>

Roy Ulrich | CEO RUF Fitness

The thing that holds most people back from finding success is the fear of the unknown. Things like “What if this doesn’t work?” , “What if I fail?” , or “What will people think if they hear about this?” The truth is, taking risks aren’t easy, but it is the separating factor from the people who find success and happiness and those who dont. Your ability to take risks, put in the work, and persevere through hard times is the foundation of living your happiest, healthiest life. Just like in my life, when I was at my lowest point, I chose to leave my stable job behind and move to Colorado to pursue my dream of owning my own fitness company. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. But at the end of the day, it was the point in my life that changed everything for the better. Was it easy? no Was there times I wanted to move back home to Louisiana? yes Was there times I wanted to throw in the towel and quit? absolutely But I stuck with the decision I made. I followed the risk all the way till the end. And it changed my life forever. Read more>>

Amber Martinez | Creative Business Owner & Artist

The words, “Taking a risk”, is such a loaded statement, right? I think for me, growing up and taking a risk was a very intimidating act. I remember being afraid of everything. It wasn’t until I was pregnant and gave birth to my oldest child at the age of 23 that really accelerated this idea that if I could be pregnant and give birth to another human being especially in my early 20s when I had no idea who I was and what I was doing in life, then I can most certainly take a risk here and there and that is precisely what I did from that point on. I nudged myself to do so many of the things I was apprehensive of doing, those risks have paid off and they are still working in my favor. They have assisted me in raising two children, going back to school that of which earned me a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, it has also allowed me to follow my dreams of incorporating my art and creativity into a small business. I am still learning to take more risks to propel and further my dreams and goals. Read more>>

Jason Cope | Artist and Sometimes Musician.

Risk is a necessary step forward to bring to light which what was once uncertain. Maybe to cause a radical change or as simple as meeting someone new.. Risk sets the ground in motion for the basis in determining if the risk taken is becoming more of a success or failure. And despite the outcome. Win or lose. A new insight of knowledge is gained thru the experience. How can I do things better? What area’s do i need improvement? I’m never making that mistake again, or do I really have the skill set for the demands of the enviroment? You learn from making bad decisions and it’s as simple as that. Pursuing as a creative seems like a risk everytime i start a new painting. In my head I have it planned out, but once I start, things change and critical choices must be made along the way. If the painting turns out better than expected, that’s success. If i looks like mud, that’s failure. I have a lot of time and costs of supplies invested. When a gallery asked me to hang for a show, and I follow thru, that’s success. Read more>>

Ryan Gill | Chef

For the longest I was quite afraid of taking risks. I even said I didn’t want a food business because of the risks. But my husband remained stern in telling me that there is now reward without risks and I finally said ok let’s take this risk and it paid off. Read more>>

Zara DeGroot | AGirl Trying To Figure it All Out, and Painter

If you take a risk, what could you get as a result? What could you lose? Risk is kind of a paradox, and it comes in many different forms. For small business owners who support themselves, their family, and/or a staff, the stakes are economical and much higher. With matters of the heart, risk could mean heartbreak or feeling stupid and exposed. On the flip side, in this COVID-19 new world order, taking a risk could cost a human life. I guess what I’m trying to say is, risk is a spectrum! To loop this back to making art… I’ve actually spent some time thinking about this question. What is the risk with making art, in whatever form? Perhaps the risk is coming face to face with your own limitations. Or acknowledging something about yourself you’ve either suppressed or forgot. On a more practical note, I don’t rely on selling my COVID-hobby paintings to make a living and put dog food in my puppy’s mouth. Read more>>

Deidre Peak | Owner, Creator & Baker

No great success is ever achieved by living cautiously and not taking a risk. Whether that is falling in love, choosing to raise a child, starting a business – it’s can be applied to all of these. There is a saying that I heard years ago that if your dreams don’t scare you, you need to dream bigger. When we work hard and achieve one goal, we quickly reassess, dream bigger and start working toward the next goal. If some goals seem unobtainable, we pivot, make adjustments and then push forward again. Failure is not an option. I prefer to think of them as calculated risks. While there may be some jitters and uneasy feelings when it comes to big decisions, ultimately, the hype surrounding that fear is never substantiated – the risk is always worth it in the end. Read more>>

Alexandrea Pangburn | Artist/Muralist

I think that 100% where I’m at today is because I take risks not only in my life, but in my art. Trying new things is a risk – will it fail, will it be a success? I took a risk by moving to Colorado with no job, leaving a great job and all my friends back in Ohio – but making the move to Colorado allowed me to be able to develop and find my art. I took a risk on using spray paint for the first time three years ago in a mural festival here in Denver, and now it’s one of my main mediums. Risk is necessary. Risk allows for growth. Risk makes you who you are. Read more>>

Ky Novak (She/Her) | Multidisciplinary Artist & Small Business Owner

Risk taking is a thrill for me. I love the energy that I feel when a new experience or a change in my life path sets in. Risk taking is not all sunshine and rainbows. Risk taking doesn’t come without its hardships and doubt, personal growth and introspection. Being curious and willing to take risks has led me to where I am today. Without it, I’d likely still be in the hometown I grew up in, I wouldn’t have traveled to the places I have experienced and the people I have met. My life would look 100% different if it were not for the risks I have taken in my life and my career. Read more>>

Lindsey Girardot Teets | Multi Pure Barre Studio Owner and Twin Mama

I believe Risk taking is more about a “gut instinct” than anything else. You can run the numbers all you want and speak with as many successful people in the industry but when it comes down to it, there are various outside factors that can prevent your decision from coming to fruition. In my life/career, following my initial “gut instinct” has (almost) always served me in some way. With opening my very first business in 2010, it was the best decision I ever made. It was the right decision at the right time and I still own it 11.5 years later. There were subsequent decisions I made to quickly open more franchises in a short amount of time and I thought my “gut” was steering the ship but when I look back I think fear, timing and pressure that I felt from the above company and that I put on myself was really the driving force and most of those locations never really made much revenue. I have sold two of them. I think the thing with risk is it is just that. Read more>>