One of the perks of my day job is being able to get into events that I would never be invited to. Case in point: Last night, I witnessed James Cameron’s keynote speech at a gathering of contract pharmaceutical manufacturers at the Waldorf Astoria.

There I sat, in awe of the guy who invented The Terminator and pretty much inspired my love for science fiction and post-apocalyptic stories and movies.

Cameron eschewed the typical pharmaceutical keynote (pretend you know something about drugs) and focused on managing risk and pushing boundaries.When I think of James Cameron and I think of a master of motion pictures. What I never realized was he really only has a handful of movies under his belt, but everyone of those films took the film industry to the next level.

With Terminator he made a cyborg actually move without looking like a stop-motion creature, with The Abyss he pretty much created computer-generated graphics, and who can forget the molten-lava T-1000 in Terminator 2.

“If we failed on Abyss, we lost a scene. If we failed on Terminator 2, we lost a movie,” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s pretty close to what he said.

With every movie he’s made he pushed state-of-the-art technology and then blew the door right open. He takes major risks, and everyone of them have paid of with dividends.

After Terminator 2, he created the concept of Avatar, but realized that the technology wasn’t where he needed it to be to actually pull off the movie. So he put the concept on the shelf and made a small film called Titanic (not a favorite).

A decade or so later, Avatar is a reality. Rather than wait for 3D technology to get to where it needed to be, he actually made it himself (just like with T2 and Abyss). He gambled big time that it wouldn’t look silly on the big screen, and once again succeeded.

What’s this have to do with photography? I don’t know. I think this is more of a personal rant about my own fears and risks I’m taking with GLK Creative.

The speech was refreshing and made me realize just how important it is to take risks in everything we do. If you don’t try to step up to a challenge or choose to stay steady with the safe and the familiar, you’ll never advance or move to the next level.

For the past few months, I’ve been babbling to Allison about the fear I have of just jumping feet first into photography with no parachute. I have faith in my skills as a photographer and a business man, but there’s still that unnerving fear that I might fail. Rather than tell me to play it safe, she’s pushed me as hard as she can to embrace the risk, shrug off the fear, look at what others do, and improve on it.

Ten years ago, she told me to stop working at Sam Goody and take a gamble on a short-term maternity leave position at the local newspaper. I took advice and spent the next decade working my way up the food chain to a dream job as a news editor in New York. Today, I’m on that cliff again, looking at a new career that I am just as passionate about, and about jump. Whether the gamble will pay off is still up in the air, but if I don’t try, I’ll never know. Luckily, I tend to land on my feet.

As an addendum, one of my favorite photographers Chase Jarvis just posted the first of a series of videos about Risk that are just as inspiring to me as Cameron’s speech. Definitely worth a peak if you have a few minutes.