In an interview with Insights Success, Nikki Ostrem—the Chief Operating Oﬃcer (COO) at iAmLife reflects on her contribution in the current ever-evolving business sector. Meet a passionate businesswoman whose unique ideas and methodologies helped her in achieving every desired goal, paving her own way towards success.
Being the Chief Operating Oﬃcer of iAmLife, Nikki has successfully utilized her 20 years of ﬁnancial and leadership experience in overseeing the company’s program development, marketing eﬀorts and daily operations.
Prior coo-founding iAmLife, Nikki served as partner and COO at Feature Holdings, LLC, where she provided early stage companies with the operational and marketing tools to scale their own business. She also held leadership roles at technology start-ups, including NavigateHCR and One Roof Energy. Prior to that, she held ﬁnance positions at globally-recognized companies like Merrill Lynch, SunAmerica and Global Crossing. In Addition, she received two bachelor’s degrees in Finance and Entrepreneurship from the University of Arizona and her MBA in Marketing from the University of San Diego. She is currently, the Board President of the non-proﬁt organization, ElderHelp of San Diego.
“Roll up your sleeves” mentality, great communication skills, honesty and humility”
A Glance into Nikki’s Life
One of the biggest inﬂuences in her life that has given her the strength and desire to pursue the sometimes lonely path of entrepreneurship, were her parents. They both are not only very hard workers but also hard working leaders. “It didn’t matter if it was in their jobs or with me and my brother’s extra-curricular activities they didn’t just show up at the work party, they organized it, recruited for it, made sure there were goals for the day and were the last ones to leave at the end of the day,” says Nikki. Both her parents were always striving to give back through charity work or mentoring people, helping them build companies or teaching them horseback riding lessons. They both pursued the things they were passionate about in work and outside of work and shared what they had learned with others around them. Her parents one way or other inﬂuenced her to pursue a college major (Entrepreneurship) that would propel her into a leadership role, and which would require her to forge her own path.
Overcoming All the Obstacles
Nikki states that every leader is always climbing a mountain of his/her own choice. One of the most challenging things that she have overcome in her career is learning how to communicate with partners and peers that aren’t collaborative and at times downright diﬃcult. In start-up and small companies, it is quite common for leadership to end up working in silos, especially for the visionary in the organization, as they are always following a new idea. She also feels that transitioning from the vision to the next stage of execution and then scaling take patience, lots of challenging conversations and refocusing. She believes, it is one of the most challenging things that new companies must ﬁgure out with the founding leadership team.
One Step in the Future
Nikki states that, even though, as per the deﬁnition iAmLife is a platform that facilitates e-commerce through social selling, she considers, it as a company that provides anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur with an easy to use accessible place to start a business. “Whether you have something of your own to sell or you want to ﬁnd products your love to promote, iAmLife gives you the platform to do this,” says Nikki. Her vision for the company is to help people take control of and secure their ﬁnancial futures. The trend in the workforce is that the people want more ﬂexibility and they are interested in a “side hustle” or a ﬂexible way to supplement their income. She also mentions, in the next ﬁve years, the company is planning to continue to provide people with the tools to have the lives they want, work the way they want and have a platform that facilitates such. She also envisions creating a community of sellers, which will have access to products sourced worldwide. Also, with the nature of social selling to one’s community, she and her team are looking to bring a small business feel to e-commerce. She also believes that the future of ecommerce goes beyond just quick delivery and begins to feel like one is “shopping local” or taking shopping recommendations from a trusted friend.
“I feel like I still have a long road ahead of me in my career!” says Nikki. She would like to see her current company achieve global reach and recognition. But, what she really wants to be able to do is share everything she has learned with other Entrepreneurs that are just starting their journey. “I know that everyone has to learn from their own mistakes but I feel like it would be a shame to not share all that I have learned over the years and help others in their journey,” adds Nikki.
It’s easy to feel like you are missing the boat when it comes to Technology because of how quickly technology and trends change. She states her opinion by saying, “I have to stay focused on our mission and vision and forge ahead on that path. I rely a lot on our employees and partners to share their experiences and ﬁndings with me, as well as input from our sales and business development team. I rely heavily on feedback from this team as they are out talking to people every day hearing their real life experiences.” This helps her to focus on the tech and trends that will impact the business (good and bad) and navigate the path forward.
Advice to Rely On
Nikki advises that one should take the time to ﬁnd what he/she is passionate about or an industry that really excites you personally. If you are building a business ﬁnd a way to monetize a passion, or solve a problem that plagues you personally. She has been involved in a lot of businesses that she wasn’t truly passionate about. It took her until this point in her career to be able to incorporate her passion for independence and entrepreneurship into a business venture. The best part of this for her is that with this business she is giving others a tool to do the same. Thus, her advice is take the time to really understand what makes one want to jump out of bed in the morning and ﬁnd a way to monetize that passion.
“Sometimes it takes a lot of trial and error to get there, but in the end it is worth the wait!” says Nikki. She also adds that for most of us this is a marathon not a sprint, be goal oriented but take time to look around and make sure you aren’t missing anything. There are a lot of strategic opportunities if you take the time to be open to them.