© 2019 COOK LIKE A YOGI

NIKI KOUBOURLIS

"This journey has been full of challenges and risk. But I also can’t imagine doing anything else right now."

Niki's life may have looked great on paper, however, the reality was far from it.  The decision she made and continues to make to find her inner BOLD requires risk, passion, patience and determination.

Niki Koubourlis lives in Denver and is the Founder & CEO of Bold BettiesTM, an early-stage startup focused on empowering women through outdoor adventure. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Niki led a successful and fast- paced career as a finance and strategy executive in the Commercial Real Estate, Private Equity, Entertainment and Technology industries. Her expertise is particularly strong in investments, valuation, modeling and forecasting. Originally from Pullman, WA, Niki has worked on 5 continents and lived on 3. Niki holds an MBA from The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and a B.A. from Washington State University. 

Describe the moment when you realized your “secure” life as it was – was no longer enough?

 

I was 31 years old, living and working in Abu Dhabi. I was married at the time and wasn’t happy in the marriage. In fact, I had known I wanted out since my first wedding anniversary.  I was working 80 to 100 hours a week at my job, and while I was incredibly well-compensated, I was nearing burnout and wasn’t fulfilled by the work I was doing. Because I was working constantly, I wasn’t taking care of myself, and I quickly became obese. 

 

My life looked amazing on paper.  I had a great job, made a ton of money, and was traveling the world. I had been working hard towards those objectives since the age of 15.  I was singularly focused on building a secure little world for myself, but when I built that world, I was miserable. My life lacked purpose and passion.

 

I stayed stuck in that situation for years, until, at the age of 31, my friend Andy took his life. I felt like I got the wind knocked out of me and was suddenly feeling the brevity of life. For the first time I felt an urgency to leave my secure little world for a life filled with purpose and passion.  

How has your business and executive background played a role in developing Bold Betties?

 

My education and experience were incredibly helpful in building Bold Betties in the very early days. I began my professional career as a financial analyst in the Commercial Real Estate industry in Seattle, WA.

 

As an analyst, my job was to evaluate the financial viability of a development or investment opportunity. Throughout my career and education, I was able to hone my skills on what is commonly referred to as “business case” analysis. That was very useful when I first had the idea for Bold Betties and needed to investigate if this was a viable business opportunity. I was very comfortable building a financial model and creating a business plan.

 

As the CEO of Bold Betties, it is my job to raise money from investors. The background I have in financial analysis, financial modeling, and not to mention my sick Excel skills, are things I call upon regularly.

 

If I were doing it over again, I would have learned to code and I would have studied digital marketing further.

Did anyone ever tell you:  No.  You can’t do it. Bad idea.  Too risky.  If so, what did you do to push past it?

 

As an entrepreneur, I am accustomed to rejection and hearing “no.” Particularly when it comes to raising investment capital for my business! We have raised $1M thus far from 10 investors. To get that outcome, I probably met with 100 investors. So that’s a “no” 9 times out of 10.  Surprisingly, you get used to people telling you that your baby is ugly and you grow kind of numb to the rejection.

 

Pushing past these moments has become easier for me over the years as I have now weathered many storms and have become more confident as an entrepreneur. The biggest thing that I rely on is my passion (okay, fine, obsession) for our mission and the problem we are solving. It’s like this fuel that propels me forward. Without that fire, there’s no way I could keep going. This is without a doubt the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. 

 

I also have relied on my friends and family a lot in the lowest moments. Community is so important and I am lucky to have so many people that want to support me in my life. Being a Founder & CEO can feel incredibly lonely, and surrounding myself with great people who I can rely on when the chips are down makes this journey much less so.  

 

What is your mantra?  What does it mean to you?

 

I don’t have a mantra per se but I do have what I refer to as my Boldness Imperative. It’s more of a life approach I am committed to, and it has 3 key tenets.  

  1. I don’t let fear influence my decision-making,

  2. I actively go after the things I want, and

  3. I try to leave a little grain of boldness in everything I do.

Starting and maintaining a nation-wide organization sounds daunting – what keeps you going?

 

You ain’t lying, sister! This journey has been full of challenges and risk. But I also can’t imagine doing anything else right now.

 

The deepest well that keeps me going is the Bold Betties community.  It is now 50,000 women large across 39 cities in North America. We have 106 dedicated and incredible women leading these chapters. 

 

When I think about the women helping us build and spread this movement, I can get overwhelmed with gratitude, inspiration and energy.  When I think about the members who have formed strong bonds with other women, or those who might have learned that they are capable of more than they thought during one of our adventures, I can’t help but feel proud of the positive impact we are having in the lives of the women we serve. 

 

This also makes me feel very responsible. I owe it to these women, and to the women that come behind us all, to keep going.

 

What advice would you give someone who is trying to get past boundaries?

 

I believe that the only real obstacle is fear. We may identify the obstacle as something else (money, age, and so on) but ultimately, it all comes down to fear.  It is paralyzing and powerful.  Most of us become very comfortable in our routines. We become creatures of habit, and anything outside our comfort zone seems too scary.

 

To push past this, one has to get comfortable being uncomfortable. The best way I know to do that is to make a habit of trying new things, and find opportunities to really push yourself by stepping outside your comfort zone in a major way.

 

Trying new things doesn’t have to mean you are jumping out of a plane or something extreme like that. It can be as simple as taking a different route home from work, going out to eat alone, chatting up a stranger, and so on. We view boldness as a muscle, and like any muscle, it will be stronger the more often you flex it. Boldness is habit forming, it’s addictive and it’s generative, so being bold and trying new things – in a large or small way – is an excellent habit to cultivate.

 

Once you get comfortable with the above, find something that will really push your limits and kick your comfort zone to the curb. This is where tremendous growth can happen. This could actually be jumping out of a plane, or summitting a mountain, or traveling to a foreign destination.

 

When we go outside of our comfort zones and tackle things that are scary, we give ourselves an opportunity to learn something about ourselves, and typically, we learn that we are capable of more than we thought. I can’t think of anything more empowering than that to help one push past fear and follow their dreams.

 

What was an adventure goal you conquered that you never thought possible?

 

So many! I used to doubt my ability to do things, particularly if they were physical. I signed up for many things I didn’t think I could do, but ultimately I proved myself wrong.  I did a half marathon and I didn’t think I was capable of running a mile when I started training for that.  When I hiked my first fourteeners in Colorado, I wanted to quit and turnaround almost every step of the way past mile 1.  And when I signed up to try single track mountain biking in Moab for the first time ever, I was SUPER intimidated but wound up absolutely loving the sport and discovering that I am a natural at it.

What do you envision for the future of Bold Betties?

 

We will certainly be bringing our mission to more cities around the globe as we want to spread the impact and connect women around the world. I see chapters and members around the world, and I see technology playing a bigger role in making that happen than it has to date.

 

And if we are successful, I envision a world full of bold and empowered women who are supporting each other, starting companies, solving big problems, and generally making the world a better place.

How does someone become a Bold Betty?

 

It’s so easy! They can find their local chapter (we are in 39 cities at the moment with more launching soon) on our Bold Betties website.  Once they find their city, they can click on the link and join via Meetup.com.  It’s free to join any of our chapters provided you are over 18 and identify as female.  If you’d like to access special discounts on trips and gear, you can become an Affinity Member here

 

And lastly, what is your go to favorite trail snack (or on the go snack or meal)?

 

When I am focused on eating clean, I like to make huge batches of Protein Pancakes that I can heat in the microwave for a yummy snack that is very filling.

 

The recipe is below, however it does not include an important part. After heating up the pancake(s) in the microwave, I spread a teaspoon or so of natural nut butter on it, then sprinkle raspberries or strawberries on it.  Any fresh fruit will do!  Eat it with a fork and knife or roll it up like a burrito and eat it with your hands!

 

POWER OATMEAL PANCAKES

 

INGREDIENTS

6 Egg whites, beaten until fluffy

½ C. low-fat cottage cheese

1 Scoop protein powder (unflavored or vanilla is best)

½ C. oatmeal, uncooked

¼ C. wheat germ

¼ C. flax seed

1 tsp. baking powder

1 TBS. canola oil

½ tsp. cinnamon

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place all ingredients except beaten egg whites in a food processor and pulse or blend until mixture is uniform. 

  2. Pour blended ingredients into a blow and add the egg whites. Mix all together.

  3. Prepare a griddle with cooking spray.  Ladle pancake mixture onto griddle and cook until both sides are browned.

 

{Recipe makes about 6 pancakes}

Nutritional Value per 2 Pancake Serving (without added nut butter and fruit):

Calories: 283

Calories from Fat: 100

Protein: 21g

Carbs: 24g

Dietary Fiber: 4.5g

Sugars: 0.3g

Fat: 10.5g

Sodium: 198mg

THANK YOU NIKI FOR SHARING YOUR LIFE WITH US - YOUR DRIVE FOR HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS IS CONTAGIOUS!  

NAMASTE

STEPHANIE, SAVI AND MARTY