The Need to Tell a Story: An exclusive look inside Oleg Kostour’s ‘I am My Ambition’ campaign

Knowledge is useless if you choose not to have the courage to act on it.

IAMA

These words ring through Oleg Kostour’s ears. They’re the words of a past mentor of his, and they resonate with him still today because they speak a truth that courses through the veins of his latest project, I Am My Ambition. IAMA is a campaign under Impact, which actively promotes entrepreneurship and leadership in Canada. But this project digs deeper than merely a campaign: If Oleg has any control over its influence, My Ambition will change lives.

“I want to see talented young people taking the risks necessary to accomplish something great with their lives, no matter what background they come from,” Oleg tells me in a recent interview. Oleg is the Co-Director of I Am My Ambition and his passion for the project is all but evident. Perhaps that is so because as much as Oleg wants others to extract real value from My Ambition, he too is finding it self-empowering.

“I’ve learned the value of a team, the limit of my own abilities, and the incredible amount that can be accomplished when individuals band together,” Oleg says. “Without the countless hours of hard work of those I’ve been privileged to lead, none of this would exist—it would just be where it started.”

He note that teamwork has been an essential component to the success he has witnessed. “From working with an amazing partner like Sonya Jain, and talented team members such as Scott Tolksdorf, and the entire team of 10 volunteers working night after night, I’ve seen what passion looks like in others. When I launch my own studio in the future,” he adds, “I will remember this. There is literally no one on my team who has not put in over a hundred hours unpaid, and no one above the age of 23.”

While IAMA is only a single element of the overarching Impact, Oleg believes it is pushing the entire organization forward. “I think it is an innovation,” he says. “Like any innovation, it will be the thing that inspires future members to step up and reach the bar we will set. I think it will bring the organization’s image closer to its authentic form, as a vehicle for true personal development and direct contact with amazing individuals.”

Not to roil in puns, but by now in the interview, it’s become clear that My Ambition is, well, ambitious—and for that, its future is as bright as those of the people standing behind it.

“There is not even a question of whether or not we will stop,” Oleg confirms confidently. “We set out such a vision that we have been fighting to plow through just the first few steps. When Sonya and I spoke to each other in January, we looked at all the footage we shot in 2009, and said, ‘let’s make this bigger than the Impact National Conference itself.’ We are working to make that happen.”

Anthony Del Col and Conor McCreery.

By the end of this year, Oleg says, IAMA will have memberships and in-depth footage available. “We can start linking together with programs and events held by Impact across Canada, as well as partner with other organizations to better give young people the tools to connect with each other and have their own entrepreneurial experiences,” he adds. “That, and we plan to continue holding interviews, and let the program grow beyond our involvement as future generations of youth step up to take it to the next level.”

The bigger and greater anything grows, often the more lost and faded its origins become. But because I Am My Ambition is founded on principals so simple and so pure—and because those principals are embedded into the very essence of IAMA—its origins remain vivid and in tact.

“First and foremost, it was the need to tell a story,” Oleg says of what sparked My Ambition. “A story we were unable to communicate to so many people.” Oleg suggests that our media-saturated environment has always been “filled with false models and facades,” and believes it “was this inability to communicate genuine experience that sparked us to try to do it ourselves.”

“I think success can be defined in extremely limited terms sometimes,” he remarks, “and all it takes is knowledge of a person’s existence to prove a definition false. So we asked the question: ‘If we know these individuals exist, why not show others what we see?'”