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FAVORITE AUTHOR OR BOOK: Dan Ariely. Behavioral economics has always fascinated me, which makes sense as the co-founder of Credit Karma. I apply a lot of Dan Ariely’s musings to my own work. FAVORITE DISH: Homemade orecchiette with Italian sausage. It’s a regular every week at our house, everyone always manages to make time to be home for that dinner. SOMETHING THAT TICKS ME OFF: Laziness.

Nichole Mustard

Championing financial progress for all

CREATING A TRIPLE-THREAT STRATEGY. For Nichole Mustard, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Credit Karma, a company that is a trusted destination for more than 120 million members to get information and take action on everything related to their financial goals, she always saw beyond the veil of the classic win-win model of entrepreneurship and wanted to see a multi-sided win model of strategy.

“I knew that we could truly build the most sustainable business model if we did more than just keep our members and our partners engaged to ensure their wins, but also focused on how Credit Karma would also receive a financial benefit in a win-win-win model. Which has become not just one of our hallmarks, but what set us apart within the industry.”

Which is a bit of a theme, this triple-threat concept, both within Credit Karma’s ecosystem and Nichole’s. Founded with two others, Ken Lin and Ryan Graciano, Nichole explains that early on, three distinct things mattered when building the company: transparency, certainty, and simplicity.

“From the beginning, I was spearheading business development and the member experience. And we were asking ourselves how we became that ‘toothbrush’ model, that everyday company that people felt compelled to use again and again. Because in adjacent industries, like with online mortgage applications, for example, the consumer would be easily overwhelmed by pages and pages not because the application was long, but because it created more room for advertisements. But I just knew it didn’t have to be that way. We could be, do better.”

LEADING WITH A HEART-CENTERED MINDSET. Growing up in a small, three stoplight town in Ohio, Nichole explains that from an early age she had a strong worth ethic and an even stronger drive to be happy. “Even in college, which early on when I was pre-med, ironically, because even to this day I think of things like a heart condition. That every little thing, part of the body, is touched by the heart. Blood, hormones, oxygen. And it’s the same in business.”

Which Nichole believes is at the center of what allows her to take big risks in your career. “Because I don’t see anything I’ve ever done as a ‘risk’, mind you. I see it all as my drive to be happy, to push forward.”

Because Nichole likes to explain that while she speaks often about the cornerstone of values driven from her mother, it’s her wife that’s been the true warrior behind the scenes. “I’ve been able to do some amazing things I’ve done because of her selflessness, her support, and trust. We’re raising four children, have moved several times, and she’s been at my side and behind the scenes, making it happen, selflessly, tirelessly. She’s enabled me to do things that drive my passion. She’s phenomenal.”

And this empathy and compassion only aids Nichole’s own. “I’m not only one dimension as a woman, a lesbian, a entrepreneur. I think one of my skills is being able to have a lot more visibility about empathy and just sort of understanding of how people might feel or how things might be perceived, even if not intended in certain ways and definitely bring to the boardroom or executive team.”

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