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.

Megan Riviezzo | Founder of VenQ | Director of Marketing and Business Development at Flying Horse Ranch

I love a calculated risk. I think it’s what separates the brave from the comfortable. I don’t know anyone who says, “man one day I woke up and all of this success fell in my lap” and if you think about that, about taking steps, even leaps, each risk either pushes your forward or teaches a valuable lesson. I am a huge risk taker, and sometimes it doesn’t work out, but I’ve never lose, I either win or I learn. Read more>>

Kimberly Ghorai (She/Her) | Yoga Teacher, Studio Owner, Vegan-To-The-Max

There are two factors that qualify our risk levels on any given project or business adjustment: 1) will our financial investment get a return and 2) how will our clientele respond. I used to turn down ideas that had a high financial risk, being afraid we would not be able to stay open. Over time, I started letting the fear of loosing money dissipate and I am so glad I did. Financial support shows up through many avenues, and by focusing more on the needs of our community members, every risk is worth it. We now have programs that provide yoga to socioeconomically limited individuals for free, pay our teachers fair wages based on their experience and training levels, and have partnerships that provide yoga to local cancer patients and classes in Spanish. Risk is always worth it when keeping the benefits of people in the forefront of our decisions. Read more>>

Dr. Erika Schultz | Holistic Medicine Practitioner and Licensed Acupuncturist (Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine)

Risk taking is an important action when it comes to becoming successful in life/career. There is a direct correlation to what is seen as risky that involves some level of fear or need to confront something. Every time we are able to see the experience of discomfort as that which it is- fear- we can see that it is just a contrived experience lent to us by our story of ourself. That is, something we created in our own mind based on something in our past experience that has contributed to our view of the world. With that, we can gain access to creating a different story- reinventing the image of ourself as someone who is inspired by life/career with no choice but to put ourselves out there to the world to be embraced and desired. When we express our authenticity to the world and come from our heart, there is no fear, just love. This is the key to attracting success and creating it over and over again. Read more>>

Jess Ellis | Artist

I have not historically been a big risk taker. That changed pretty quickly a few years ago when I was laid off due to structural changes at a steady job I’d had for two years. I suppose before that, I kind of took for granted the fact that I had a stable income at a job I felt secure in. I always knew I wanted to build a business with my art, but wasn’t sure when the right time was or if I could really make it work. When I didn’t have that steady job anymore, I knew if I didn’t work on my dream right then, I may never again have the right opportunity. I poured myself into building up my business and the momentum just kept building. It was a risk to dedicate most of my energy into my artwork. I knew I would need to eventually find a “regular” job as well, and in a roundabout way, the energy I put into my art and building a business also helped me find the job I have today. I view risk taking a lot differently today. Since that layoff, I have seen how much my business can grow if I step outside my comfort zone. Read more>>

Nora Sacks | Creator + Collaborator

We are constantly navigating risk. Day in and day out. About five years ago I looked around at my life and the people in it. I noticed who was taking risks and who wasn’t. I began to understand why people might take risks in some areas of their lives and not in other areas and I began to come to understand how vastly different the definition of risk is to each individual person. In some aspects of my life, I appeared to take risks. I travelled alone in foreign countries, I never worked a 9-5 job, I explored ways of living that many people never would, I tried all kinds of alternative health modalities for my wellbeing… and yet I was terrified of taking REAL risks when it came to my career. Three years ago I decided to change that pattern and started taking risks. I moved to Denver. I applied and turned down low paying, non-creative job offers even though I had no plan and no financial support system. I decided to move from fear into possibility and everything changed. Read more>>

Andy Salvanos | Musician

Some may think of “risk taking” as throwing themselves into an unknown situation that’s completely out of their control. But the reality is that people in creative fields often work very hard to prepare themselves for these scenarios . Usually, the “risk” actually represents an opportunity, and you have to be ready when they come along. You also need to accept (even embrace) change when necessary, something that’s bound to happen several times over a long career. I’ve seen many musicians have really bad patches because they got stuck in one frame of mind and refused to shift. You only need to look at 2020 to understand how much it pays to be flexible and prepared. At times you might have to turn down things that seem like golden opportunities to outsiders, because you know in your heart or your gut that they’re not right for you. I’ve moved to different continents several times in my life. I’ve taken gigs that others turned down, and said no to a few “big names”, because it wasn’t right for me. Read more>>

Vivian Cobb | Realtor, Inspirational Speaker & Emotional Health Coach

Risk is the spice of life! Risk gets the blood flowing, the passions burning, the creativity engaged. Without risk, we can become apathetic and stagnant. There is risk in that! Not moving forward in our lives can keep us emotionally stuck. Depending on the emotion, the translation becomes health issues both mental and physical. When stuck emotionally, this can cause us to filter life through that emotion such as anger, fear, or sorrow. Risk propels us and helps us face the danger opportunity, breaking us free to realize our potential in a whole new way. My life has certainly been a chain of events involving risk; some chosen, most thrust upon me. And despite some of the discomfort associated with risk, I wouldn’t change a thing. The risks I’ve taken have always contributed to my growth as a person enabling me to grow my careers. I risked being an entrepreneur. I risked being a single mom. I risked becoming an inspirational speaker. Risk has played a huge part in the advancement and joy in my life! At the risk of sounding like a risk-taking junky, I am a fan of risk. Read more>>

Rochonne Sanchez | Co Founder & Chief Glow Officer | Eossi Beauty

For the longest time I thought chasing my next promotion, being granted that next level up title, and having the security that comes with a corporate job would be all that needed in life. It wasn’t until I started to really take the time to learn what being fulfilled in my work and life meant to me that I realized the never ending chase of the next big promotion was actually crushing me. I am a human with big responsibilities; a single mom to two kids living on her own in Denver and managing all that comes along with that so choosing to start my own company wasn’t an easy decision. I am luckier than most in that I have an amazing co-founder and we truly understand one another and balance each other nicely, but we still self funded Eossi Beauty and there’s massive amounts of risk in that. My partner was able to work full time for us sooner than I was and I really struggled with the decision to give up my 6 figure corporate career that I worked so hard over the last 15 years to build. Read more>>

Chrissy Fagerholt | Game and Toy Inventor

In my early twenties I was working as a buyer for a hospital gift shop; a fun job that offered a salary, heath insurance, and a great schedule. I had always wanted to start my own line of greeting cards and when a position became available at a local stationery store, I chose to quit the gift shop and immerse myself within the stationery industry, even if it meant leaving the benefits of working at the gift shop. When I had mentioned to a customer that I was leaving to persue this dream she told me her own story of what she wished she had done. That stuck with me because I thought, I don’t want to say that to myself, even if I try and don’t succeed, at least knowing I tried is better than the what if. This risk required me to maintain a second job to make ends meet, but ultimately pushed me to do what I had always wanted to try, and guess what? It wasn’t a success, but I learned so much along the way that would eventually help me in my current career, as a game and toy inventor. I discovered my love of bringing people together through creative ways of connection. Read more>>

Doug Yetman | Realtor® With Live Urban Real Estate and Co-Founder of The Horseshoe Market

I think that the risks that I have taken in my professional career have been focused around a desire to share and explore a particular passion or field, having a process-driven mindset that has helped me achieve the goal, a willingness to try something new (and fail!) and a confidence that I am willing to work very hard to achieve the goal. Read more>>

Kate Ripley | Business Owner & Massage Therapist

I can’t say this and not feel that I sound like a cheesy motivational speaker, but risk is such an integral part of life and feeling alive. In my career, I’ve had times of really having to push through my slightly introverted tendencies and not a lot of self-confidence (which felt like a huge risk in the moment)–and walk into a room or rooms of total strangers and seem to be totally comfortable with selling myself and my expertise. Almost begrudgingly, I have to share that it has always paid off. I have always walked out of that room, glad to be leaving, but more grateful that I did it at all. It can be so, so easy to really hustle and grind for a period of time and then let go, and rest on your laurels. I’ve done that as well, and as in most things, it was necessary to take a break and appreciate the fruits of your labors. However, that call to push and take a risk always comes back and starts taunting me. Read more>>

Sally Thompson | Letterpress Printer & Designer

Without taking risks, there is no way my business would be where it is today. There have been so many scary decisions and leaps of faith over the past four years – some of them were really dumb, and some of them helped take my business to the next level. But what I’ve learned is that even the bad decisions taught me very valuable lessons and helped develop me and my business into what it is today. I’ve tried a lot of things that didn’t work to find what did. I was one year out of college when I decided to quit my full-time job in advertising (with very little money in my bank account) to pursue my own business. It was a struggle for a long time, and probably not the smartest move I’ve made, but I know I wouldn’t be here today if I hadn’t done it. And ironically, it wasn’t until I went back to a full-time job at Hallmark in Kansas City that my business took off. Hallmark provided me with the financial stability I needed to let my business really grow, and I also learned a great deal from the incredible creatives that work there. Read more>>

Alex Neuschaefer | Photographer | Videographer | Drone Pilot

I used to be comfortable with higher risks, for example during my younger years as a sponsored skier. I was more comfortable with very high risk. I feel like I brought some of that through staring a business, although I am more calculated now. Being a drone pilot, I am always dealing with risk such as keeping my subjects safe and making sure my equipment is working properly. I oftentimes find myself in a the situation of a low battery when the best shot is yet to come. I often shoot by myself in the middle of nowhere with a lot of heavy gear, and it’s a balance between getting great shots and making it home safely. Read more>>

Rena Koesler | The Value and Power in Taking Risks

Seeing life as an adventure, risks are an essential component of adventure. As a former professor in the field of adventure education, I exposed students to doing activities that appeared “risky” and gave them every support and encouragement to step out and take the risk…to jump off, to climb, to go through a rapid, to pitch tents in a rain storm, etc. These kinds of risks spilled over into their every day lives as they faced every day challenges, new situations, anticipated fears and uncomfortable situations. Taking risks means that you are stretching your understanding of comfort, learning leaps and bounds about yourself, altering your judgment about a situation as you enter future experiences, and growing in both personal and leadership development. I am an avid risk taker as it relates to both the adventure world and in my personal life. I often say to myself “what do I have to lose?” Do the losses supersede the gains? Most of the time they do not. The more I have “stepped out” over my life, the more confidence I have gained in taking future risks. Read more>>

Nicole Anderson | Accountant and Excel Expert

RISK – If you don’t try and step out of your comfort zone, you will never know what will happen. It might be the best thing ever. So, growing up in Vermont, mom, dad, and I didn’t travel. The first time I left New England was my 8th grade trip to Washington, DC (1986). So, when I decided to visit a college friend in Colorado (May 1998), it was a big deal. I spent two weeks driving around town and falling in love with Denver and the mountains. Can you imagine the surprise to my family and friends when I came home from my trip, sold all my furniture, and drove back out to Colorado? I have no job and no place to live. But within the first two weeks, I had found an apartment, a job, and meet my future husband. I’m not much of a risk-taker, but this was the best, riskiest move I have ever made. I’ve now lived in Colorado for 22 years. I have been married for 20 years, and we have a 19-year-old son. So how do I feel about risk? Pretty damn good. I usually don’t take too much risk. Read more>>

Tamara Pester |

I classify risk into three categories: legal, business, and personal. As a trademark lawyer, my job is to help clients evaluate and understand the legal risk of using a particular word or logo in connection with their products or services. Before we even think about applying for a Federal trademark registration, we do a comprehensive search to see what the universe of others using the same or similar marks looks like. In the best case scenario, my client has come up with a “fanciful” word or design that no one else in the world has ever used, and it is totally clear for use and registration. However, most of my time is spent helping people navigate through the more gray areas where there is some degree of risk because another person or entity is using a mark that might be considered similar, for goods or services that may overlap or be in the “zone of expansion” of my clients’ goods or services. We talk a lot about what this means in terms of possibly getting a cease and desist letter in the future, having an opposition filed against their trademark application, or even facing a Federal lawsuit. Read more>>