Nikki Csek, CEO and co-founder of Csek Creative and NowMedia, is passionate about people. She has cultivated and encouraged a community of diverse people, with various expertise, that has enabled her to thrive in business. She is the current president of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, and has served on boards for many local businesses and not for profit boards while serving her community. For over 20 years she has worked alongside businesses to understand their challenges and provide solutions that make a difference. We caught up with her ahead of her moderating our spotlight event in Kelowna on October 21st — Following Your Passion: How to Turn a Personal Dream Into a Multi-Million Dollar Business.
My first job ever was… working in my mom’s small-town restaurant in North Dakota at the age of 11. I believe it built the foundation for my work ethic and my need to put the customer first.
I decided to be an entrepreneur … when I realized my work ethic was not usual and my passion for putting the customer first made it hard to work in a very tight corporate structure. I wanted more control over the outcomes of the day and the relationships with customers.
My proudest accomplishment is… I have many accomplishments in my journey so far that I am very proud of. Certainly, my family jumps to mind right away. We have raised three children that are good humans all the while building a company from scratch. Being recognized by the business community is always nice, but I believe my proudest moment is yet to come. Similar to a painter, it is their next masterpiece that is the best one.
My boldest move to date was… each day brings an opportunity for a bold move. I can not say which was the boldest, but maybe it was the day I told the bank that I was not coming back from maternity leave, that I wanted control over my path. Maybe it was the day I decided to plan a leadership conference with eight keynote speakers, including two former prime ministers of Canada, a Dragon, a former NBA player, a New York Times bestselling author and two leading Canadian women all within a 120-day runway. I am not afraid to do bold courageous things.
I surprise people when I tell them… I can swear like a trucker, love to drive my motorcycle, I’m a self-taught pool shark, love the band Tool, can’t wait to see the next theatre production and I’m allergic to “small” thinking and the philosophy that something is not possible. I can and will do anything I set my mind to.
My best advice to people starting out in business is… believe in your vision, be honest with yourself, recognize that being an entrepreneur is hard work, and there will be really tough days. If possible, find someone you can lean on in the tough days, whether that be family, spouse or friend; sounding boards are there to help you when you stumble and just don’t want to get back up. But most importantly don’t deceive yourself. It is all about hard work.
“Failure is okay, you just need to get up, wipe your knee off and keep pushing forward.”
My best advice from a mentor was… that I can never get fired if I am the best at the job. I was the best chambermaid, the best server, the best administrator, the best account manager and so on. No matter the job I always strived to be the best and do my best to ensure I did not disappoint my mentor (my mom).
I would tell my 20-year old self… to be brave and seek out as many mentors as possible. Read books, volunteer, sit on boards, say yes to speaking engagements, say no to things that do not align with my passion, and never be afraid to ask for help.
My biggest setback was… Tough question, as I don’t see setbacks, I see challenges and opportunities. Each day is an opportunity and I can’t wait to meet it. If there are setbacks, I prefer to see them as learning opportunities. I only make a particular mistake once, learn from it, adjust and carry on.
The best thing about being an entrepreneur is… having the ability to create my own destiny. To decide whether we should pursue a new line of business and to actually see it exceed far beyond expected projections.
If I had an extra hour in the day, I would… read even more. I would consume more information to always be striving for better, for the pursuit of excellence.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I am a rebel against rules. I don’t like to do things the way you are supposed to. I like to upset the apple cart every chance I get.
The one thing I wish I knew when starting Csek Creative is… that it is a journey that has ups and downs and that is okay. The downs make the ups so much more worth it. Failure is okay, you just need to get up, wipe your knee off and keep pushing forward.
I stay inspired by… knowing that we are making a positive difference in all that we do. We are going where no one has gone. We are creating something that will leave a dent in the universe.
The future excites me because… it is our chance to create the legacy we envision. We will change our sector because we are not beholden to any set of rules and are willing to take calculated risks where we see opportunity.
My next step is…to be even more comfortable about being who I am, to reach out and connect more, build more opportunities for women, and extend our reach from the Okanagan into more of Canada.
Hear the rest of her incredible story at Following Your Passion: How to Turn a Personal Dream Into a Multi-Million Dollar Business. Join us on October 21st, along with BDC, to tap into the trade secrets and compelling journeys of three award-winning entrepreneurs who left secure corporate careers and turned hobbies and interests into a profitable businesses. Find out how they did it and how you can too. Tickets are available here.