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Keith Krach at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech Conference
Image: Fortune Live Media via Flickr CC

The world’s most successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, and brand and business leaders would not be where they are today, if not for one very critical factor: their ability to take risks. Sure, while raw talent, an eye for innovation, and leadership skills play a major role in high-power industries, without the right amount of risk-taking, some of the biggest names in business, tech, and entertainment simply wouldn’t have achieved their high level of success.

Just take Keith Krach, CEO of DocuSign, who is known for his love of taking risks, both in his professional and personal life. To succeed in business and entrepreneurship he says, “Jump in water over your head,” of the importance of taking risks in order to strengthen your skillset. In his personal life, Krach literally jumps in water over his head, explaining how “If it’s taking a running jump off a cliff and gliding over Rio together, drinking fresh cobra blood in Vietnam, survival training in the Amazon, great white shark cage-diving off the coast of South Africa, doing a drift dive in Indonesia, or climbing the peaks of the world, our family is in,” of taking major risks in his personal life to get the most out of every experience.

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Marissa Mayer is a tech industry leader.
Image: Giorgio Montersino via Flickr CC

Marissa Mayer is another great, albeit less extreme, example of a powerful CEO that has garnered great success through taking risks. Last year, while describing her best decisions to NPR correspondent Laura Sydell she explained, “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. […] That feeling at the end of the day, where you’re like, ‘what have I gotten myself into?’ I realized that sometimes when you have that feeling and you push through it, something really great happens.” Taking risks, enough when the situation seems overwhelming is what has allowed Mayer to become one of the most influential people in technology and business. She wouldn’t have been the youngest-ever head of a Fortune 500 company, a technology pioneer at Google, and now Yahoo, or a woman who has mastered the balance of career and motherhood without having had taking risks along the way.

Similarly impressive is Katie Couric, who has reinvented herself and her career continuously, taking risks in order to constantly evolve and grow. Her latest risk was leaving her wildly popular syndicated talk show to become Yahoo’s global news anchor, an invitation extended to her by none other than Marissa Mayer. “Life is a series of reboots,” Couric has said, of taking risks and never really wanting to remain in one place. She also takes all of her risks as chances to learn, explaining that she sees everything as an experiment, and that if something goes wrong, one should try to learn from it.