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.

Layli Schultz | Performance Nutrition and Weight Cut Specialist

I look around today and still can’t believe this is my reality. I work as a nutritionist for professional athletes specializing in weight cuts and performance nutrition. I get to work with MMA fighters from the UFC, Bellator, PFL, LFA, Invicta, and regional promotions across the country. I coach fighters to train and perform at an elite level while preparing their body for an effective, science backed weight cut and reload in preparation for a fight. Before I started my business, I was working as a special educator in a public school. I had goals outside of teaching that consisted of building a life and business with my husband and creating a life where we could uplift others, raise our family, and build wealth. At the time, it was hard to see the path from where we were to our visions of the future. I knew I had to start taking actions that were uncomfortable and literally step into the unknown. Read more>>

Dan Gladden | Executive Director & Global Citizen

Taking on risk should be calculated and just for the sake of being risky or to make things exciting (or possibly stressful). I view risk in business as a means to progress. In my line of work as a nonprofit director, we operate on a limited and sometimes unpredictable budget based on fluctuations of revenue. That said, we still take risks but we think them through thoroughly and decide if adding risk will help us achieve success in whatever we are doing. Risk for us is mostly program related and it involves spending money or saving it. Sometimes for us, spending when it’s needed results in the organization doing more in a positive way. Read more>>

HUGO MEYER | Executive Chef & Proprietor

No risk, no reward. I take calculated risks. I do my homework and research before I go all in. I also think if you commit yourself to hard work and perseverance your risk is lessened. Read more>>

Joy Redstone | Artist, Social Worker and Writer

I believe in taking risks. I have never let the fear of failure stop me from trying to pursue my dreams, even though obviously I have not succeeded in everything I have tried. I do analyze situations and try to understand what the risks and benefits of particular decision might be, but once that analysis is complete, I take action. There’s been a couple moments when I have taken the more risky “road less traveled” path in terms of my career. For example, leaving a job at Denver Health to run a day shelter in boulder… although it may have looked more risky, I learned a tremendous amount, helped a lot of people and it opened many other doors in my life. To be honest, before I publish a piece of writing, hang a show or in any way put myself in the public eye, I experience excruciating self-doubt. It feels risky to be seen through my art, as my work is deeply personal, often transforming traumatic experiences into moments of resilience. Read more>>

Sofia Hernandez Crade | Artist

I have never been the kind to seek out risk of the physical adrenaline sort. Even as a child the thought of roller coasters and amusement parks filled me with dread and a strong compulsion to drop out of school forever, in hopes of being spared the humiliation of being the only 90 year old in the 6th grade class who was not ecstatic about the much anticipated school field trip!. Read more>>

KataraK | Recording Artist/Producer/Audio Engineer

When it comes to the music industry in general, risk is something that can definitely go both ways. But without risk, you’re probably going to stay pretty stagnant. Whether it’s jumping on stage for the first time, or trying something out of your comfort zone in the studio, you gotta risk a little to gain a lot. This applies to my come-up for sure. It’s funny because at the beginning of my musical journey, I had pretty bad stage fright, plus I was always scared of making a fool out of myself. But as time went on, I realized that without putting myself out there, I wouldn’t have experienced half of the amazing opportunities that came my way. Read more>>

Jillian Chernofsky | Entrepreneur, Mother & Outdoor Enthusiast

In the businesses that I have developed, I have never felt I was taking much of a risk because I was starting need-based businesses, the numbers and goals seemed attainable and I felt I had the ability to overcome the consequences if it didn’t work out. Putting in the time to create a comprehensive plan to utilize multiple pathways to attain your goals is vital to achieving success and minimizing risk in a career. In my personal life, I was faced with one of the riskiest decisions I have been challenged with. Four years ago I had my first child and suffered from severe postpartum hemorrhage that almost killed me, twice. After receiving 8 blood transfusions and multiple surgeries, I was okay but my path to recovery was extensive and absolutely filled me with fear to ever have another child, even though I knew I wanted one. It took years of patience and courage to want to try again and face the risk head-on. Read more>>

Nicole Fullard | Magical Herbalist

I think about risk the same way I think about life. You’ll lose if you don’t try. My husband and I took a risk moving to Colorado from the east coast. We had never been here before and packed up our son and belongings to make a change. It was risky but it paid off. Taking risks has helped me to network and meet new people, expand my communication skills, and helped me to be more “out of the box” in life. Read more>>

Kaila Spencer | Illustrator, Painter, & Graphic Artist

Risk taking is essential in all that I do. The endeavor of building a business around myself as an artist felt risky from the beginning, and it still does to this day. The journey had so many uncertain outcomes, from the time I moved abroad to Australia for a year, where my business was born, to the beginning of covid when I realized I would have to completely restructure the way I sold and spread the word about my art. Taking risks is a part of the creative process too. It is completely unsustainable to spend a week painting a row of flowers only to realize it’s not quite right and paint over them to begin again. But it happens quite often. Through creative risks the best work is produced. Learning to let go of what I believe will sell well and embracing creating images from my soul is challenging but I have found it to pay off. When you pour your heart and loving energy into your work, abundance results and somebody else may value in it as well! Or maybe it doesn’t sell this time and you have to try again. It’s all part of the journey, a journey where playing it safe will probably never get you too far. Read more>>

Laura Coates | Boutique Owner

I’m a big quote person. If I hear a motivational quote I like, it sticks with me forever. “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” – Emerson If you’re not taking risks in life, are you really living!? The more you put yourself out there, the more will come back to you. I took a risk and moved to Colorado from Ohio without having ever visited and it’s become my forever home. I took a risk leaving my secure corporate job to start my own business and I’ve never been so fulfilled and happy with my career. To me, risk taking is not just an option, it’s essential to move in the direction of my dreams!. Read more>>

Sammy Anzer | Comedian and Writer

Being a comedian means taking risks every single night. A huge portion of what you write or say may never get said again and learning to embrace that and take those risks is what makes the whole thing so much fun. I take big swings and miss big all in service of finding those moments that bring joy to people’s faces and laughter out of their mouth holes. Read more>>

Lauren N Penn D.C. . | Chiropractor & Healer, Public Speaker

I think risk is great most of the time. It allows us to get out of our comfort zone and into our purpose. I feel like I have taken a lot of risks in life, growing up. Defiance is a kind of risk, and the road less traveled is a BIG risk. These paths I’ve taken have helped me to become a physician, open a business, raise a child as a single mom, and just being a freedom fighter. I will always fight for the underdog. Read more>>

Beth Bogdewiecz | Entrepreneur / Copywriter / Life Enthusiast

There are currently over 7 million people on the planet. You can either think “nothing that I do matters because my existence is a blip” or “nothing that I do matters so why not make my existence everything that I’ve ever dreamed of”. I have always believed that the latter is what is important. So what if you try and fail? You’re a blip! Especially when it comes to women, risk is extra challenging. We are more likely to avoid taking risks than men. Yet there are studies that show that when we just take chances or try – even if we think the answer is wrong – we not only perform the same as men, but sometimes better! One of the biggest risks I took in my career was deciding to go freelance, and leave a steady corporate job at which I was very unhappy. I realized I’d spent so much time asking the question: “What’s the worst that could happen?” when I should have been also asking: “What’s the BEST that could happen?” I had no connections. Read more>>

Patrick Conrey | Owner- Oil Barn Colorado

Risk means that you may sacrifice something. I do my best to make sure that my risks are my own. I don’t want to bring in outside capital or other peoples time unless I compensate them fairly. I do this so that during the early phases of business so that I know I am only putting risk on my shoulders and decisions. At that point I am less tied to systems and ideas because I am free to take risks that effect mostly me. I’m only a year into running my first real business. By real I mean that I track my finances. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people as of late who are unhappy with their jobs or life in school. I encourage them to look into entrepreneurship. To me the biggest risk is not enjoying this crazy and interesting ride we are all on. If you’re lost, figure out how much you need to make to be happy and then get out there and sell some shit. Read more>>

Jeff Kanan | Mixer, Producer & Engineer

I believe the willingness to take a risk is maybe the most important part to achieving your dreams. For people to go be creative and follow their hearts takes a great amount of risk in our society. Often those are not the careers that provide stability or what many consider the standard version of success but the hard work and risk taking can pay off. I think happiness that can be gained from taking risk is much more rewarding than being unhappy but perhaps more financially secure. When I was young I completely left everything I knew to go to a new city and try to achieve my dreams. I’m not sure most people have the mental strength to take a risk like that. I sold everything I owned except my car and my clothes and packed up and left town! Didn’t know anyone, had no phone and stayed in a pay by the week motel! It was incredibly freeing and the beginning of my journey to where I am now!. Read more>>

Lydia Pottoff | Fine Artist

I attended college for a year after high school and dropped out since I was dissatisfied with the curriculum and felt I was wasting my savings. For the next 7 year I worked a series of jobs that were not fulfilling. Deciding to go back to school at 26 was a frightening proposition since I had financial obligations that forced me to work full time. Since the degree I wanted to pursue (graphic design and fine art), was offered during the day I had take a part time night job for a year to save enough money. This would help me attend school for a period of time and (hopefully) find another job that worked with my new schedule.I had to have faith in myself and my ability to make this career change happen. I remember being terrified as I drove to attend my first class, thinking I was making a big mistake!. Read more>>

Gabby Jockers | Boudoir Photographer

For an entrepreneur, I’m definitely more risk-averse than you might expect. Though quitting my full time job to start a photography business from scratch might sound risky, I had a very safe cushion of my partner’s income to keep us safely afloat while I started up my business. I’m so grateful to have had that privilege, especially since it took me over a year to even make money!. Read more>>

Orange Peel | Singing Telegram Artist, Stilt Performer & Booking Agent

Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for. Mold your career around your lifestyle not your lifestyle around your career. On the one hand, I understood that pursuing music as a career path was incredibly ambitious and there was zero guarantee of success. But I figured that if I worked hard enough – and never gave up – that there was a chance. And I knew I could personally never settle for anything but the pursuit. Read more>>

JoAnn Moore | Luxury Wedding and Event Planner

When asked, how do I feel about taking risks, I must reflect as to the fears I’ve always had with change. I started out not comfortable with change in my life. Even if things weren’t perfect, or what I wanted, I believed at least I know what I have and what I can expect. I even made comments that “I don’t like surprises, unless I know about them.” Again, not comfortable in the beginning of my career with taking risks. The breakthrough for me was working hard to understand my fears and where they originated. I didn’t like fears in my life having any control over my life. With a lot of work and enjoying the outcome from taking risks, only to discover, the outcome was always better than I could have imagined. This is true with my work, with my relationships, and with working with others. No risk, no change. I’m a lot more comfortable with change, growing, creating bigger and better and constantly moving in the right direction of where I want to be in my world of wedding and event planning. Read more>>

Leeandra Willis | Photographer

” There is no reward without risk”. Taking a risk plays a big part in my life as an artist because it’s either you are left with that “what if ” feeling or you take the risk and the outcome is bigger and better than what you had expected it to be. One risk that changed my life and opened the door to new learning opportunities was leaving my full-time job and returning to school to get my BFA in photography. I applied on a whim to the School of Visual Arts later to be accepted. Since I’ve grown as an artist and continuously perfecting my craft as a photographer. When taking a risk you need to be in a positive headspace and you will receive a positive outcome. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be left with the feeling of regret due to not taking a risk that can be life-changing. Read more>>

Tina Stoecklein | Interior Designer, Photographer & Artist

As an artist and in school, risk never use to be an issue. I never cared about what people might think, or what was in trend. But when I started in residential design, it was all about the resale value, or being afraid we would get tired of a design choice (this always comes up with color), and will it have to be redesigned in the next 5 to 10 years. In the last year or so I have decided to let that all go. From a young age, I was told I was a trendsetter. I hope to return to that, not being afraid of the risk, and being okay that some choices will be successful, and some won’t be. I think the decisions we make reflect where we are at in life, how we are feeling at the time, and there is nothing wrong with that. Deciding not to do something because of an event of feeling that may or may not happen in the future sounds worse!. Read more>>

Hannah Haddadi | Death Witch, Medium, & Spiritual Worker

Ultimately as a death worker and someone who supports people’s death/rebirth cycles, risk is not only key – it’s inevitable. Emerging into the world after being born is the first risk we take in our lives and for some, continuing to show up in the world is more of a risk than it is for others. Any time we make transformational decisions, there will always be risk. Risk that it won’t work out, that we will fail, or that our fears will come true – you name it. In great change we can feel like we will never leave the spaces of the unknown, of floating, of not knowing who we are yet or where we are going. It can even feel so scary that we might not want to continue the process. As someone who has gone through this kind of metamorphosis more than once, I can vouch that it is worth it – every time. I can also say that it isn’t always easy and sometimes I just want to stop and go back to old patterns that feel comfortable. But if I hadn’t taken big risks, I certainly wouldn’t be living my truth, sharing my stories and learning from my brilliant community. I get to explore my dreams and explore my current rebirth cycle, and that’s because I’ve continued to take risks again and again. Read more>>

Briana Harris | Musician & Artist Manager

I think people automatically assume that a career in music or the arts is inherently risky. And compared to other professions, they might be right. But I actually consider myself to be fairly risk-adverse. I think all entrepreneurs, including myself, are good at taking CALCULATED risks. I have always known that pursuing a creative career meant making a bet with some level of uncertainty. So if that’s a given, I want to bet on myself: on my own capabilities, my vision, and how I want to build my life. Read more>>

Brittany Werges | Editor-in-Chief, 303 Magazine

My whole journey at 303 Magazine has been rooted in some sort of risk or at least deciding to take a chance on myself. In college, I always thought I’d go to grad school and pursue a master’s or a Ph.D. But after my mother passed away, right before my senior year of college, I decided to go after something I’ve always wanted but never considered because it didn’t seem like a “safe” career choice. That’s how I ended up in an internship at 303 Magazine. From there on out, my time at 303 has felt like a continual decision to keep pushing forward to build something, even if it didn’t seem like the most stable option. I’ve turned down previous “dream jobs” and other opportunities over the years to support my hopes with 303 Magazine and turning it into the publication I knew it could be. There have definitely been ups and downs, but I’m really proud of what we’ve built and maintained — even through a global pandemic. I am also aware that certain privileges in my life, and the sacrifices my mom made, allowed me to even consider taking these risks and I’ll forever be grateful for that. Read more>>

Maddie Light | Serial Entrepreneur & Fashion Designer

Taking risks is never a bad thing. While it’s not always easy, I try to take risks whenever they present themselves. The key is to not look too much into what you expect the outcome to be. If you expect it to be one way, and you put a lot of pressure on it coming out that way. Then, of course, you will always be disappointed with the different, negative outcome. However, if you always take the result and information as a way to grow, develop, and learn, then a risk can only be a good thing! You learn from your risks that don’t pay off, and this could lead you down a new path. Whether this be the direction of your own company, a career path, or even a development of a personal relationship, something is only looked at as terrible if you give it that meaning. The world is what we make it, and our perception of it. Read more>>

Sheridan Furrer | Artist & Mental Health Professional

I think most people would agree with the saying “the greater the risk greater the reward”, and one of the greatest risks that someone can do is quitting their job to pursue their passion. It’s “ideal” for creatives and entrepreneurs, sacrificing everything for the sake of realizing your dream – and that’s the standard that you should hold yourself to, right? If you’re not willing to risk everything you have for your dream/passion/art/etc. then why even have it in the first place? Do you even really care about it if you aren’t willing to give up everything for it? Well, for me this dichotomous thinking is “the easy way out”. I think that an even greater risk one can do is to face the throes of “real life”, while still holding on to their passions and dreams. Risking the grind of daily life without getting ground-down, keeping that bill-paying job (and side hustles) to have food, shelter, and security assured for yourself and dear ones, engaging with friends and participating in the world while still forging time for your passion – when you have it, if you can even afford it, is such a bigger risk to take. Read more>>

Tania Kaaz | Photographer and Administrative Assistant

Risk taking is very scary, but it’s absolutely necessary in order to live a fulfilling life. What’s so frightening about risk taking for me is the fear of rejection and failure. There have been many times where I have taken risks in my life where things haven’t worked in my favor, such as submitting photography for a show I really wanted to get into and I didn’t make the cut. That can be very disheartening and make one scared to put work out there for critique again. The thing is that you have to brush the rejection off and face that fear of failure and keep moving on and taking risks and living life fully because those times when risk taking pays off are priceless and potentially life changing. I have regrets in my life and they are the times when I played it safe and didn’t take risks. I try to keep this in mind when I’m faced with the fear of rejection or failure. Read more>>

Collette Weber | Entrepreneur & Musician

The thing that keeps most people from taking risks is a fear of the unknown. We tend to be more comfortable with what is familiar. In my own life, risk taking has brought about many adventures – from moving to Alaska as a young adult to traveling across Europe and hiking the Camino trail. When an opportunity presents itself in life or work, I pay attention to how it makes me feel as well as how events align themselves. When conditions flow or fall into place along the way, then I know I’m on the right path. If I run into too many obstacles, I redefine my strategy or change directions. There is also a matter of calculated risks. One must weigh the options and research any new venture, but if we are not willing to take the first step into the unknown we will never know what possibilities or new discoveries may have presented themselves. Read more>>

Grace Noel | Artist and Creative Business Developer

Risk taking is a big part of my thought process. I analyze every project and partnership knowing that a certain level of risk is involved every step of the way. Perhaps its the part of me that enjoys facing my fears or taking on the impossible — I see the world around me and think that nothing was ever accomplished without taking risks or learning to trust. I see risk taking as gaining trust in myself and others. It’s learning to trust in yourself and your team are capable of something others thought was difficult or challenging. This generates a stronger person and team with a mindset that is confident, optimistic, and wise. I see this strength of mind, body, and spirit as a way to support my community and, I hope, the global community. Being an artist conveys this message of confidence from risk taking. It is important to me on a core level to take a path less traveled, overcome the obstacles and know that I am creative, clever, and strong enough to take on a career as an artist. This is a crucial message that is more universal than art — it applies to everyone who takes the risk to be themselves and pursue their vision. Read more>>

Leanne Holitza | Energy Healer and Teacher

Risk-taking is a must if you want to live your best life. By taking risks, calculated, well-thought-out risks, you are stretching yourself and learning new things about what you can, and sometimes can’t, do. By taking risks I have learned how resilient I am, which has allowed me to stretch even further and take more risk. I have learned that mostly the limitations of “I can’t” live inside my own psyche and aren’t even true. I left a cozy (sort of) corporate career to be something and someone not taught about at a career fair or business school. I am an energy healer and own a center for other energy healers to do their work as well. If I wasn’t willing to be seen as weird or unusual, I would have never taken this risk. I would have never owned The Healing Studio either, if I had not had the ability to trust myself enough to try. Read more>>

Joaquina Lluma | Musician and Music Teacher

As a self employed musician and music teacher, my whole life/career has been risk. I moved to the states around 20 years ago with a bass, a small amp, one suitcases with books, cds, a few clothes and $200 to my name. I worked all kinds of jobs and eventually finished my AA in California. After that, I toured the country with a power trio, moved to Denver and finished my BM. While in school I played with everyone I could, I tried to meet as many musicians as I could. Slowly grew my student base and my gigging opportunities. 2020 and covid pretty much dismantled live music all together and I focused on teaching even more. Slowly things are returning to a pseudo-normalcy that allows me to play live for small audiences. My career and the risks I’ve taken through the years earned me the freedom to do what I love, with who I chose to, whenever I chose to do it… or not.
I believe that no matter what your trade is, educated risk taking will push your career to another level. Read more>>

Ali O’Neal | Printmaker & Textile Designer

As a very Type A individual who values security and stability, risk taking has played an enormous role in my career. The more risk I take, the greater the outcome. Either I fail and learn such valuable lessons far sooner than I would have without the risk, or I break through to another level in creativity or business that I could never have achieved without substantial risk. Read more>>

Melissa Furness | Visual Artist and Associate Professor

I suppose bravery is key to succeeding as an artist–this taking of risks. We do this all the time with the work that we produce, no doubt, but also with difficult life choices. There have been many moments in my life when I have felt an ache in my stomach with not knowing how things would turn out. I am a small town girl from Iowa…. who wanted to be an artist, and I wanted to visit New York City. I hitched a ride with a friend out to New York and saw some fantastic art, but then hitched a ride back with a big rig truck driver on the way back. There was one that I knew first, and then also one that I didn’t know so well… I armed myself with a camcorder and recorded the ride and interviewed the drivers and, quite honestly, used it as a kind of shield or weapon when I felt nervous about my state. I remember a Feminist photo teacher that I had in undergrad that made a comment to me once that stuck with me about how the camera, with its metal body, was quite a good weapon. Read more>>

Peyton Elise & Katie Galloway | Poets | Becoming // Poetry

We both believe firmly that in life there are risks worth taking. (Peyton even has a train tattoo about taking the risk for love.) Honestly, Becoming // Poetry is founded on risk. We didn’t know how we would do in a room full of young writers looking for direction–or if we would be successful at writing spontaneously in front of a crowd. However, we did know that community was going to be important for our development as poets, but we struggled to find an existing community of like-minded writers who were willing to bring their rough drafts to the table and champion each other in their growth. Read more>>

Ji Hwang | Electroform Artist

I think about risk as an essential part of growth. Without taking risks, I keep myself in my comfort zone, which can be good at times and only to a certain degree. But if I stay too long in my comfort zone, I tend to get stuck in my ways, I get lazy, and things start to become very stagnant… sometimes to the point where the universe will just shake things up for me. For me, taking risks is a way of testing your faith. When you’re making hard decisions, it’s a way of believing that no matter what path you take, neither will be indefinitely right nor wrong because anything can happen at any time to change that course. Sometimes you won’t even see it coming… and it’s something you couldn’t have even imagined happening before. Taking risks is believing that you’re making room for any of the infinite possibilities that the future has in store for you. Read more>>

Monique Brooks Roberts | Violinist, Composer, Podcaster

To me, risk and fear go hand in hand. In order to truly “risk it all”, you must let go of the fear attached to the risk. I think the main thought is, will I fail if I take this risk? The answer is maybe, but you have to be okay with that. You must believe that the positive outweighs the negative thoughts taking place in your mind. I really believe that everyone who has had a level of success that you admire, and of course that looks different to everyone, has taken a risk to get where they are. I was born and raised in Louisville, KY where the music scene was not really happening at all outside of a few wedding band gigs here and there and an orchestra. A mentor in college told me I needed to leave KY if I wanted to have a decent career in music and he felt I had the talent. So I did. I risked everything and headed east and it ended up being the greatest thing I could have ever done for myself. Was I afraid to fail? Absolutely. Read more>>

Amanda Jefferies | Plus/Curve Model & Health Program Manager

I think making calculated risks is one of the largest parts of my success and has truly molded how my life and career have unfolded. I’m originally from a small town in South Dakota, most people who grow up there never move out of South Dakota. So me choosing to leave and make a career for myself in Denver is a big risk. I grew up in a low-income family and I was the first person out of my grandparents, aunts & uncles, parent, cousins, and immediate family to get their bachelor’s degree. Being a first-generation college student had many challenges and I worked multiple jobs to put myself through school. There were sometimes when I wasn’t sure if I would have enough money to buy food, pay rent, or buy textbooks. I graduated with honors from Montana State University with my B.S. in Community Health. After graduation, I moved to Denver to pursue a career in Community/Public Health. Read more>>

Kelly Tenkely | Executive Director, Principal, & Architect of Learning

“None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.” -Laurie Anderson I don’t think of myself as a risk-taker. More often than not, in life, I tend to be risk adverse. When I started Anastasis Academy and the Learning Genome Project ten years ago, they didn’t feel like risks, they felt inevitable. The bigger risk became: what happens if I don’t do it? Knowing what I know, what am I going to do about it? At the end of the day, this is the question that had me starting a school. I saw what wasn’t working in our current system of education and I had a sense of urgency that educators get it right for the benefit of kids everywhere. Kids don’t have the luxury of time to wait for someone to be brave, they keep growing and advancing through school. I saw myself as implicated to do something. Read more>>