Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint: Building an Empire | E93
#93: BUILDING AN EMPIRE WITH KARA GOLDIN, CEO OF HINT
Want a Hint on how to start your own business?!
In this episode, we are chatting with Kara Goldin, CEO and founder of Hint Inc., the leading unsweetened flavored water, as well as author of the book, Undaunted. Kara has been named one of InStyle’s Badass 50, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 Northern California.
In this week’s episode, we’ll cover Kara’s beginnings at Time Inc. in circulation, how she was able to get 90+ interviews right after college, and how to stand out in your job. We’ll then dive deeper into why Kara decided to start Hint, her business philosophy of ‘building the airplane as you fly it,’ and why you shouldn’t put all of your energy into worrying about outcomes.
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Check out our website to meet the team, view show notes and transcripts: www.youngandprofiting.com
Bullet point list of key topics and the timestamps from the podcast episode:
01:21 – Kara’s Interview Experience Out of College
10:30 – The Way Kara Landed Her Dream Job
17:19 – How to Get By and Stand Out in the Beginning of Your Career
22:57 – Kara’s Health Journey that Led to Hint
40:01 – Build the Airplane as You Fly It
43:46 – The Materialization of Hint From Business Plan to Reality
54:02 – Why You Shouldn’t Worry About the Outcome
54:31 – Kara’s Secret to Profiting in Life
List of links to resources mentioned in episode, suggested reading & social media handles:
Kara’s New Book, Undaunted: https://karagoldin.com/undaunted
Kara’s Podcast, The Kara Goldin Show: https://karagoldin.com/podcast
Kara’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karagoldin/
Kara’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/karagoldin/?hl=en
Hint Website: https://www.drinkhint.com/
#93: Building an Empire with Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint
[00:00:00] Hala Taha: You're listening to YAP young and profiting podcast, a place where you can listen, learn, and profit. Welcome to the show. I'm your host Hala Taha and on young and profiting podcast, we investigate a new topic each week and interview some of the brightest minds in the world. My goal is to turn their wisdom into actionable advice that you can use in your everyday life.
No matter your age, profession, or industry. There's no fluff on this podcast and that's on purpose. I'm here to uncover value from my guests by doing the proper research and asking the right questions. If you're new to the show, we've chatted with the likes of ex FBI agents, real estate moguls. Self-made billions.
CEOs and best-selling authors our subject matter ranges from enhancing productivity, how to gain, influence the art of entrepreneurship and more, if you're smart and like to continually improve yourself, hit the subscribe button because you'll love it here at young [00:01:00] and profiting podcast. This week on YAP.
I'm chatting with Kara Goldin CEO and founder of hint, a lifestyle company dedicated to making a healthy life, easy, their products, trend things you ought to do. And to things you love to do like drinking water, protecting your skin. And more hint is most known for their flagship product. Hint water, the leading unsweetened flavored water.
Kara is also the author of the best-selling book, undaunted overcoming doubts and doubters and hosts the podcast, the Kara Goldin Show she's been named. One of in styles. Bad-ass 50 fast company's most creative people in business. Fortune's most powerful woman entrepreneurs and Ernst and young entrepreneur of the year 2017.
Tune in to learn about Kara's career beginnings at time, how she was able to get over 90 plus job interviews right out of college, and how to stand out in your job when you're just starting out, we'll then dive deeper into why Kara decided to start hint [00:02:00] her business philosophy of building the airplane as you fly it.
And why you shouldn't put all your energy into worrying about outcomes. Hey Kara, welcome to young and profiting podcast. So happy to have you here.
Kara Goldin: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Hala Taha: Yeah, of course. So you have such an impressive journey. You started off at time magazine, and then you worked in sales at CNN.
You went on to be a VP at AOL and you focused on e-commerce. Then you took some time to focus on your family. And you ended up launching hint when you were pregnant with your fourth child. So you basically invented a new category within the beverage industry. You were the first beverage to come out with no sweeteners.
And you were the one who made water more popular without having added sweeteners. So that was a really big deal at the time. So hint is now a household brand. You have $150 million company over 200 employees distributed over all 50 states. So that's amazing. Before we dive into the story of hint [00:03:00] and how that came about.
And your new book undaunted. I wanted to get an example of your confidence and your persistence. This is something that I saw as I was reading a book, I realized you are successful because you are extremely persistent. You are, you have extreme persistence and that's what makes you. Let's talk about when you are a recent college graduate, you ended up getting 90 interviews all over the country, which is super impressive in a time where that it was a bad job market.
And, the rest of your friends were getting unpaid internships and getting whatever they could. And here you are, you landed 90 interviews all over the country. So tell us about that moment in your life. I have lots of young listeners, probably recent graduate themselves looking for a job. How did you do that?
What scrappy things did you do? And tell us about how you landed your dream job at fortune magazine.
Kara Goldin: Thank you. First of all, I didn't actually land my job at fortune. I wanted to be at fortune, but I ended up getting a job at a time which actually owned fortune magazine. And I figured that I would take [00:04:00] the job at time because it was in the building.
And eventually I would get to fortune, which I never did, but it ended up to actually. It's something that I talk about a lot that sometimes, you have to accept that, that your path and where you ultimately land are meant to be an oftentimes you don't necessarily know what that is and why you're here, but you have to take a deep breath and just, keep moving forward.
And hopefully the dots will ultimately connect later. But yeah, so I graduated from school and my last semester of school. I was going to Arizona state university. And my last semester in school, I was waitressing. I'd been waitressing at this hundred year old restaurant and Phoenix, which was an institution.
It's like a, they'd hate for me to say it, but it's like a dumpy divey, like great Mexican food place. And there was this guy that used to come in a lot and sometimes. It could be with friends. Other times he would just be by himself. And so one [00:05:00] day I was waiting on him and I was like, Hey, how's it going?
And he said, good. And he was like, so are you graduating? And I was like, oh yeah, actually I'm graduating in a couple of months. And he was like, what are you going to do? And I said, it's like the question of the hour, when you're like graduating or you're just graduated. I was like, I don't know. I said I'm probably not going to be waitressing, but you never know.
I was like, whatever, just being really authentic and honest about it. And I just did what a decent communicator would do. I said, so what do you do? Like he had asked me what I did. And so I just said, so what do you do? And he said, oh, I do product placement. And I was like, what do you mean?
And he said, I do product placement on movie sets for Anheuser-Busch. I was like, wait, I know what Anheuser-Busch is, so wait, you put beer on movie sets. And he said, yeah, we film lots of stuff in Scottsdale. And so that's what my job is. And I was like, Somewhat serious, but somewhat [00:06:00] joking. I was like, can you give me a job doing that?
That'd be so fun. I'm a college student. But I'm like putting beer on sets. That'd be awesome. And so he said, if you're serious, I'm happy to see if I can get you an interview. And I said, sure. And he said, but the interview is in Los Angeles. And I lived in Phoenix. For sure to go and interview.
And he said, okay, give me your email and I'll try and set you up. So when he set me up, then I thought if I'm going to be going over there, maybe there's some other opportunities that I should look for. And so I said to him, I was like, listen, I'm interviewing. You're from and so appreciative, but in addition, do you know any other people that might need like entry level people?
Cause I'm going to LA anyway, and I might as well just try and interview for a few days. And he was like, yeah, actually I do know people. And that was like the first point where I realized that if you actually ask people for help, And especially people who are like already established, you've got a [00:07:00] competitive advantage, especially if you're young and you're presentable, right.
And you're curious. And he was like, I'm happy to reach out to them. And so he did. There were a couple of other interviews. And then one of the people that he introduced me to said, you have to go to San Francisco to interview. And I was like I'm going to San Francisco anyway, this continued on.
And it was like, you'll have to go to Chicago. You'll have to. And then finally, I just said, there's one place where I really want to work and that's fortune magazine. And so it was based out in New York. And so finally I just said, Okay. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm gonna fake. I'm gonna map this thing out and I'm going to go to a travel agency.
This is back before travelocity and all the rest of it. And so I went to a travel agency and I said, I want to go from Phoenix to LA, to San Francisco, to Chicago, Boston, and New York over a 30 day period. And then I figured I'd just tell them. I would be there on certain days in these cities and certain days, and the travel agent called me [00:08:00] back and she said, it'll be $472 for the airplane ticket.
And I said, oh, I don't know if you heard me correctly. I wanted to go, like a single legs all the way around the country. And she said, no, that's right. And so I took out my visa card and, thankfully it wasn't maxed out and I gave it to her and I got the ticket. Cause I kinda was curious if there was like a mistake or something along the, like a little nervous about it, but so she gave it to me
And what I realized is I think I took off to go to Los Angeles and I had probably half of the interviews are set up. But as I was like going on my way, I kept telling people my story. They're like, oh, what else are you doing this afternoon? And I was really honest about it. I was like. I've loved to work for you.
So don't take this the wrong way, but I said I'm going and interviewing with a couple of other companies. And they're like, oh, like what kind of roles? And then, and I would tell people I just figured I had nothing to lose, so I would just share with people. And they [00:09:00] said, that's really great.
Are you interested in other things? And I said, yeah, I'm going to Chicago. I've never been there. I'm really excited, to go there. Cause I had never been there and they were like, that's amazing that you just went and found all these interviews and what I figured it out. About like that journey too, was like, there were so many roles that I didn't even know existed beyond the whole product placement.
I didn't know what a consultant really was or, nobody taught me that in school and these were roles that I didn't know anybody who was doing it. And so it was just 30 days. It was amazing. And I learned a lot about myself and I came home and I was just like, wow. I was so happy. I didn't know.
What I was going to learn out of it instead. I was like, it was, I feared it a little bit. I was a little nervous. I didn't get all 90 job offers, but I had a lot of job offers. And, I tell this story to a lot of college campuses and also just kids that I know I'm like, listen, I paid for myself to, to actually go [00:10:00] and show up there.
And a hundred percent paid off. It was an investment in me, but it was also an investment in me trying to learn about all these roles, because I don't know about you, but you read stuff, but you just don't really, I don't know. It's different when somebody who's senior level like calls his friend and says, Hey, do you need an administrative assistant?
And you're like. Oh, my God, I don't, but my friend down the hall keeps like looking for somebody. So yeah. Connect me. And then all of a sudden you're not going in when they have posted something and competing with all these people, you're coming in at a very different level.
Hala Taha: Yeah, totally.
So tell us about, I really want my listeners.
to hear, how gritty you were and the fact that, you got a letter from an executive at fortune and it was basically some generic letter, like saying yeah, sure. If you're in New York, let me know when you're in town and stopped by and you actually stopped by. You. You went into the office, you had no appointment, you walked up to the HR department.
So tell us that story and how you got your first job.
[00:11:00] Kara Goldin: Yeah. It was my dream job because when I was in college, another thing, like little tidbit of advice that I give people is when I was at school, I was a communications journalism major, and I love to write. And a few of my friends were in finance and I was thinking that some of their classes were pretty interesting, but I also felt that they were a little scary.
Cause I, what I realized is that I actually. Didn't understand finance. Like they would talk to me about business plans and convertible debts and stuff like that. And I was like, what is that? And I was in, I was just really curious about it. And so one day it just fit into my schedule that I could go take a finance class and Oh, this is really hard and really interesting.
And then one of my professors said, you should pick up fortune magazine because it will actually, if you just start reading it, you'll start to pick up on this stuff. And they start to explain things in the context of an article. And so after a few issues, I was reading that and the wall street [00:12:00] journal and after a few issues, I was just like.
This light bulb went off in my head around finance, and I was like, wow, I'm not scared anymore. And I don't know if I actually want to major in finance or my, but I decided to minor in finance because I was just so intrigued by, what I was learning. And so when I was sharing with a friend, I was all over the map, like through this process of looking for a role.
Cause I didn't know what I really wanted to do. I said, I really want to write. And I said, my dream job is working at fortune magazine. Cause it's just I think it'd be so great to work for this guy, Marshall Loeb. And then I just thought what do I have to lose? What the heck?
I like the worst he could do. I wonder what the process is. I wonder what I'll hear back from him. And I just didn't take it that seriously. And I think it's something it's the core of my life. Like sometimes I reach out and any friend of mine who's known me. For years, will say, half the time in life, I'll just come up with [00:13:00] these ideas and then I'll just throw them out there and I'm okay if they don't work.
I just want to know what happens and if nothing else it'll be like a funny dinner conversation. I tried that, or failed or that time it really worked. And in this case in particular, Marshall. I thought wrote me a letter back to say that if you're in New York, so while I was going on this journey, I thought I should include New York.
And I had a few interviews, but I just marched into the HR department and just said Hey, I've got this letter. And a lot of other interviews that I had been on, I showed that they said, just come to the HR department and we'll walk you to your interview. So I was trying to reach out ahead of time, but he wasn't writing me back.
And so then I just showed up and I said, Hey, I'm here to see Marshall Loeb. I have this letter from him and the poor receptionist, I can still see her face. Like she had no idea what to do with me because people just didn't do that. And she called her manager and whatever, but it just so happened that there had been another conversation that went on, not to my [00:14:00] knowledge.
But basically this conversation was, let me just, or you've got to find me an executive assistant at time. And so I went and interviewed with this woman and it was in circulation and I always tell people it was, circulation is those horrible, like blow in insert cards that fall out of the magazines all the time.
And that's all I knew about it. I didn't really know anything else, but I knew it wasn't the mail room. It was like maybe one step above the mail room. And I thought, I don't know. It could be really like fun to do it. And eventually I'll get, I'll show them what I can do in the writing side of things and get to fortune magazine, which I never did get to fortune, but it's funny.
I actually just got a letter from Michael Loeb, Marshall Loeb's son, and he worked, he actually founded entertainment weekly and which was also a time title. And so I got to know him because he was very good friends with my boss. And anyway, he wrote me a note saying, I know how you wrote in the book.
And fortune magazine had picked up an excerpt from the book a couple [00:15:00] of weeks ago. And he said, I know you wrote that my father, you weren't sure that my father actually wrote that note back to you that it was like a, a form letter. And he said, my dad definitely wrote that note back to you. He said, and his, Father passed away a few years ago.
And he said he absolutely wrote that note back to you. And he said, thank you so much for writing that because it just shows the kind of person he was. It was really sweet. But anyway, the net of it is. When I went in there and I ultimately got the job, the thing that I also learned was it's not just about getting the job, but it's actually just doing a good job.
And my boss, you read the book, you saw, excerpts of this. My boss was going through a really challenging time that I didn't know. That she, her husband had just died and she was in her early forties and really tragically and, she was going through a really tough time. And so she generally was like living behind an office with the door shut and I'm [00:16:00] like 21 trying to figure out this whole thing.
And basically I just those like. Trying to look busy. And so I said to a bunch of other executives who would stop by just to see how she was doing. I'm like, Hey, listen, I don't have that much going on right now. If I can be helpful in any way, let me know. And just cause I really that's just who I am as a person.
And I've always said to people like, it wasn't that I wanted to gain any brownie points from it, but it ends up like being helpful is actually something that not everybody does. They're more concerned and figuring out that's not my job. Like I've got a job here and that's it.
And so I was just, I was doing it just to stay busy and, I ended up meeting Michael Loeb and so many other people that were executives and actually the funniest story from my time. Magazine episode was making $23,000 a year in New York city, which is not a lot of money to be living in New York with an and so every right.
And every [00:17:00] week I'm, try, I have enough for rent. I have enough to go out one night. I'm really like trying to budget and do everything the right way. And so what I figured out was that in. Like little kitchen on our floor. There were always these sandwiches. And I was like, is anyone eating these sandwiches?
And so I would pack up these sandwiches. They were from the executive lunches. And so after a while, like a couple of executives saw that I would take these sandwiches and they're like, what are you doing at the sandwiches? I was like, I only make $23,000 a year. I've got I'm, I've got to eat like I wasn't saying it for people to feel sorry for me, but I was just like, yeah, this is gonna be friday's
dinner, and this is Saturday's lunch. And I was like in, if you have any extras, my friend only makes $18,000 a year at an advertising firm and she likes Turkey. And I was like joking, but somewhat serious. And so I became. This person who, in the executives minds, they would order [00:18:00] extra food for me because they were like, Kara needs some food.
Like we have to make sure that she has the right sandwiches go before you order, make sure that there's chicken salad on the menu and croissants or, or whatever. And what was so funny is there were a lot of people who are my age, who they said, aren't you embarrassed? Like actually say that you only make $23,000 a year.
And I remember saying, do you think that they think we make more money? Everybody knows. You're an entry-level position. You're not making a lot of money. And that's a competitive advantage to just be like, you've probably been there or to be straightforward with people, like I'm not making millions, when you're young people want to be helpful. And what was so funny? There's later. And this is 25 years later. I get this phone call from Amazon and the buyer and Amazon is like, you don't remember me, but I worked at time magazine on the other side of the building. I remember you used to come by and get the sandwiches.
[00:19:00] For the extra sandwiches. And I said, oh my God, I'm so embarrassed that you like, remember this. And he said, no, you were so funny. He was like, we were all like laughing because every publisher from all the different publications were like, So like honest about it. And I remember when I was 21 and I didn't want to I hardly had money to eat and Kara was just like, yeah, be so great.
If you guys ordered me extra stuff, if you have a cookie now, and then just order that too. And so anyway, it was just so funny and ultimately he was like, somebody told me that you had started this company hint. And I was like, get out of here. Like she's now. She was an executive at AOL, and then she decided to start Hint.
And he's that is so funny. Cause I totally remember you. So you, so something as simple as that, again, I didn't intend on having him remember me or certainly didn't know that he was going to be at Amazon, but it's like, how do you ultimately stand out [00:20:00] and some way again with kindness and be helpful.
And he was like, I just remember you were so hardworking. And so that's a story that I even share internally to my team that it's it's not just about making your boss happy and about doing a great job on your own, but your colleagues are ultimately going to be the ones that are gonna help you. Later on, like maybe they know about a job at a company.
And so if you're like a person that's complaining or so concerned about putting rails on what your job is, you've, I'm sure you've been there and watch this. It's like really short-sighted. Because you don't know who's watching instead, if you don't like your situation, then figure out how to change that situation, but also figure out around you, how do you get noticed in a way where you can do not do your job.
I'm not saying that I'm saying that be helpful to people. If they're buried, say listen. Can I stay extra and we can order pizza and [00:21:00] let me help you like catch up on stuff. I don't mind doing that because you never know how that's going to pay off in the long-term.
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For one month of free hosting. I'll stick the link in my show notes, happy podcasting. Yeah. Thank you so much for going into so much detail with that story. I think you uncovered so many like good pieces of advice, and I totally agree that like having the best intentions, just working really hard, being nice to everyone being open, authentic, all that stuff is so important.
Especially when you're just starting out and getting your foot in the door. And it's amazing how full circle your life has went. So you didn't get that, reporter job at fortune, but in 2011 you were named like top 10 female entrepreneur by fortune magazine. So that's amazing. Congratulations.
Cool. Let's jump into your journey with founding hints since you gave us so much great [00:24:00] information about your career journey. So you were having some personal health struggles. From what I recall after your third pregnancy, you had gained weight. You were like 50 pounds over weight. You were addicted to diet soda, you felt really tired.
So tell us about that time in your life. How did you realize something was wrong? How did you uncover that diet soda? Might've been the root of all of these problems that you were having. And how did that lead you to thinking about starting
Kara Goldin: Yeah.
It's an interesting thing. When I wouldn't say that I was like totally aware that I had specific health issues, but I found and I've talked to people about this since then that I was carrying extra weight that I had never.
Had an issue with in the past. And, I was a competitive gymnast. I was just, I'm pretty small framed. I just never had a weight issue. And then when I started, working and had three kids at that point, I just continued to gain weight and I could never loses this weight. [00:25:00] And so suddenly I'm like 55 pounds overweight.
I developed terrible adult acne over the course of the past few years. Leading up to this. And then also my energy levels were just like really low. And at first I thought, oh, it's because I'm traveling so much and I'm living on the airplane and I'm on all these different time zones. And then, after a year of living, I didn't have a job.
And I was just like, what's the excuse. I saw a bunch of dermatologists for my skin. They're like, we don't really know what's going on. And then I started looking at everything that I was eating. Cause I started, really thinking, okay, There has to be an issue and maybe I'm allergic to something.
Maybe, it's something there. And I went on a couple of different diets, nothing was working. I was continuing to work out and work out a little bit more, but nothing crazy. I wasn't running like marathons or anything. And while I was reading labels through this whole process. I never was doing anything with my drinks and because I just [00:26:00] never really thought that there was an issue with it.
Cause I, the, my, my core drink was diet, soda, diet Coke in particular. And so one day the diet cocaine was just like facing me. And I happened to look at the ingredients and I thought, gosh, there's a lot of ingredients in here. And I've set up this rules for, trying to eat as pure as possible in my food and really understand what I'm putting into my system.
And there's a lot of stuff in here and I'm drinking like eight to 12 of these a day, which, by the way that sounds like a lot. But there's a lot of people who are diet Coke, addicts. Like I was that, that are doing that. And so I just thought, gosh, maybe I should just not put it in me anymore, just for a couple of weeks.
Let me just stop drinking and see what happens. And after a couple of days I realized like I wasn't drinking anything else when I was drinking diet Coke, besides diet Coke. And I thought, okay, I'm going to start drinking water because I was thirsty. And so I [00:27:00] start drinking water. And what I realized was it was so boring.
Like I was just like, oh my God, water is just incredibly boring. And I would tell some of my friends and they're like, I know that's why I don't drink it. And then I tell other friends and they're like, oh, I drink water all the time. It's totally fine. For me water's just super boring and that's why I'm not drinking it.
Two and a half weeks later I'm like literally lining up glasses of water on the counter and not going to bed at night until I like drink my eight glasses. And that's when two and a half weeks later I lost 24 pounds. My skin cleared up my energy levels had totally changed. And friends, when you lose 24 pounds in two and a half weeks, people really notice they're like, whoa, like what just happened?
Are you okay? Are you sick? And I said, no, it was so crazy. And I would tell people the story about giving up my diet soda. And they were just like, really like it's diet. And I said, I know, but I don't know, like somewhere along the way, it just messed up my [00:28:00] blot and and I don't want to go back to it.
And so I went, I started the remainder of that year. I ended up losing the rest of my way and got all 55 pounds off and was feeling great. My skin issues again, had totally cleared. And then I started slicing up fruit and throwing it in the water. Cause I thought that'll help me drink water. People ask oh, did you ever put a little bit of juice in the water?
And I was like, yeah, Like it tasted like watered down juice to me versus actually if I put fresh fruit in there. But the big problem that I saw with fresh fruit was like, I would put it into a pitcher and I'd put it in the refrigerator and it would only last for a day. And so I just thought it could be so great if I could figure out how to put it into some sort of format and even buy it ready-made in stores.
So then I went searching in stores for this product and it wasn't there. And then I thought maybe it's not in San Francisco where I live, but maybe it's on the east coast. So I had a trip back to New York, went looking around there and it wasn't there too. And I was looking for a job in tech.
That's where my [00:29:00] experience had been after working in media and Silicon valley is like the hotbed of this. So I was interviewing, but I wasn't finding exactly the thing that I thought was like really gonna be the thing that I wanted to jump into. And so every single day I found myself like really thinking about this concept, like how I had been tricked.
By the word diet and how some of my friends were drinking this drink called vitamin water. And were shocked when I told them that it had more calories than a can of Coke or that it's like the food coloring is like cockroach wings or at least that's what they were using 15 years ago to get to some of these different, like very reddish colors.
And so I just thought, there's this hole in the market. I didn't even call it like a category opportunity. I wasn't even that educated about it, but I just thought, gosh, if I could actually get people to enjoy [00:30:00] water, I could change health in the world. And I had never really been focused on a nonprofit either.
Like I was This is something that really gets me excited. And I thought if I could do something like this, that ultimately makes money, that would be awesome. That's as far as I had gotten. And so one day I'm in whole foods, chatting with the guy that is putting stuff on the shelf, and he's, like I said, I'm looking for a drink that just has fruit in it with water.
And he said, there's these drinks that are carbonated, but they have a lot of sodium in them. And I said, yeah, I don't really want to go switch from sweet to like sodium addiction. And so I just thought, how hard could it be to actually launch a product? And so I just thought, let me just do it.
I didn't even think of it as a company. I really thought of it as can I get a product on the shelf? And that was it. And little did I know that I had figured out that there was this new category and why that's important. Is that [00:31:00] when you launch a new category that consumers are not used to, or buyers aren't used to like wrapping their arms around or in our case, like actually buying for the shelves of a store.
It's a huge deal. Like it's you can't, they won't move. Because they're like, we don't know what you're talking about. So if you're launching cricket chips, right? Like it's might sound great to some people, but you've got buyers and customers that just don't really understand it. And so there's a ton of education that goes on.
So not only did I know that existed, but also. I had to figure out how do I ultimately get a shelf, stable product. I got it into whole foods. It ended up selling in whole foods, but then they were like, we can't have you just delivering in your grand Cherokee to the stores. Otherwise we would have thousands of use, like delivering.
And so I got it. But at the end of the day, I didn't know how to get a [00:32:00] distributor. The closest I had been to figuring out how to distribute product was, or really what a distributor was seeing Coke and Pepsi trucks drive down the street. I didn't have experience in this, but. What I often think about now.
And again, I think it's easier to look back and hindsight 2020 is that I had risen to a very high level at AOL. I was a vice president, was a youngest vice president day a while. One of the few females and. I was in this management position where I really wasn't learning as much as I was teaching and approving.
And so I always talk about today that I think half of the challenge with not only manager levels, but also C-suite executives is that you get bored. And you're just not learning anymore. And so I think that this concept of, what I was seeing as crazy as that might sound in the beverage industry, I was intrigued.
And frankly, like I tell. People about this, about what I do every single day, who are, major [00:33:00] executives and companies. And they're like, I think it's so cool. What you're doing that you just got to go back to figuring out exactly how this stuff works. And I said, yeah, it's like this concept of lifelong learning that I've thought a lot about but
I think everybody needs we're human and we want to learn, and it doesn't mean going back to school. It means you just want to learn something new. Look, you had never done podcasting before you started doing podcasting and then you started and I'm sure you continue to learn right. About little concepts along the way.
And me too. And that, that's the thing that I really think is really, it's a story of tenacity and curiosity, but it's also a story of I loved what I was doing every day because I was learning something new.
Hala Taha: Yeah. And just so everybody understands, I think when you first thought of hint and launched hint, it was around 97 or 98, when you first realized that diet soda was an issue.
So at that time, everybody thought diet soda was healthy. Like I [00:34:00] remember my dad was addicted to diet soda. Everybody thought that it was good for you. And there was no side effects. And like you said, you had a lot up against you is really innovative to, try to attack the beverage industry with a a drink that wasn't sweet and full filled with sugar.
And so I give major kudos for you for basically like changing the landscape essentially. And one of the titles in your book, one of the chapter titles is actually build the airplane. As you fly it. So can you tell us more about building the airplane as you fly it? Because I think this really relates to everything that you're saying
Kara Goldin: Yeah, I think so
often people don't ultimately go out and do things like start a beverage company or change careers because they feel like. They don't have experience. They have plenty of doubts. There's a million reasons. And, in my case, I had four kids under the age of six not only did I have my own doubts, but also I had all these doubters.
So the title of my book is undaunted overcoming doubts and doubters. I've [00:35:00] always said to people like, there's never a good time, but that doesn't mean that you can't do something. And so I think that the concept of. Building the airplane while you're flying it, obviously you want it to be safe. In our case, with our product, we're selling it to consumers and they're drinking it.
We don't want anybody to get sick or die. We were always really careful about that, but I think that something I learned in that, in the tech industry, which is still true today, which is very different than other industries, is that there's always gonna be a better version. So often, they.
Call it, upgrading or 2.1 or whatever they call it. And so it, like I learned in the tech industry to actually get something out the door because we want to not only get it out the door and try and get some revenue on it, but also go and learn from consumers. And so while an engineer. Working on things that won't be ready [00:36:00] for months because maybe the technology isn't quite figured out yet.
And it's going to take a certain amount of time. In addition, you might learn that people like the color red on a bottle versus blue or something and how maybe the label is like the wrong feel or something like that. What I didn't realize that I was bringing into this new industry was that because I was asking lots of questions and because I had grown up in a world that was always.
like, yeah, it's pretty good. But we get, we can always do better. That's like a mindset, right? That's a mindset that you bring into an industry when you look at banking or you even look at consumer products, look at, the diet coke or Coke overall. Like you launch a product and or they launch a product and then it sits there because it's selling.
And then they don't change it. Until sales go down. And when they do decide to reformulate it's a really big deal. It's oh they're changing it. Because it's about to die, right? Like instead of actually saying, [00:37:00] oh, this is the new version. You look at apple. Apple's got it.
I'm sure there's an iPhone that's coming out in two years from now, right? That is just like sitting in a backroom that some engineers know about. Like it's just, it's in the tech industry. That's just how they think about things. And that's just how ultimately products are made. And so I didn't realize that I was bringing that.
And asking lots of questions about the consumers and reading emails from consumers, but, just by asking questions and not having experience in this industry, it just was super, super helpful.
Hala Taha: Yeah. One of my favorite stories when I was reading your book is a story about how you first got into whole foods.
And you actually. Talk to your husband and you gave him the news that you were pregnant with your fourth child, and that you wanted to start a business called hints at the same time. So I thought that it was really cool that first of all, you started this business with your husband and I just wanted to get in your own words, what was it like when you told him that news that you wanted to [00:38:00] start this business was he the all ears.
And then tell us about the story about the day of your scheduled C-section and how you got into whole foods and the good news you had there.
Kara Goldin: Yeah. So he had seen that I had, really gotten healthier by drinking this concoction that I had made in my kitchen water with fruit. And I would always share with him like little things that I was thinking about, including the fact that there were all these like healthy perception products on the market.
And, it was criminal that consumers actually wanted to get healthy and it was really hard and they were willing to spend lots of money on diet plans. These healthier perception, drinks, but they weren't actually doing the job. And so that's, as far as like I, he thought I had gotten, and then when I dropped the bomb on him, that I like wrote this business plan and I wanted to take $50,000 out of our bank account to be, and I didn't want him to think that I was going on some boondoggle with my girlfriends, to The Bahamas or something with the $50,000.
I was like, by the way, just so you know, [00:39:00] I took this money out. Because I want to buy like caps and bottles and fruit and I'm going to be, I've got this whole thing set up and he's wait, what, like what are you doing? And I had three kids at the time, under the age of four and he said, wait you're actually like thinking about launching a product.
And actually, but the name that I had come up with was Wawa. And he was from the east coast and he said, please don't call it Wawa. And he's an attorney. He said he's an intellectual property attorney. And he said, there's this, major chain in Pennsylvania, that's called Wawa. And don't call it Wawa.
And plus it's just that I know you call you're trying to get the kids to drink water and you call it Wawa. but like you've been spending too much time with the babies versus actually, that's not, you shouldn't call it that. And so while I was talking to him about the name, I just started saying we're giving people hints about how to get healthier and it's just a hint of this.
And then I said, hint, and he said, [00:40:00] it's a four letter word and you're never going to get it trademarked. And I was like pissed at this point. And so I said, just you be the lawyer, just file to have this trademark done. And I'm the business person and that's that. And so he said, okay, fine, whatever.
And I was like, while you were at it, put in, drink water, not sugar as well. And he was like, huh. Too descriptive. You'll never get the trademarks. And so anyway, the moral of the story on that one is don't always listen to your husband or your lawyer. Because we got the worldwide trademarks on both.
It was at that point, he didn't think it was a great idea. He was like, look, you're in tech, you're very marketable. We live in Silicon valley. You can go get a job tomorrow, if you really want to do that. And I said, yeah, but I'm waking up every single day. And I'm thinking about this. I just, I love that it's that, it's like a new category and it's really hard.
And he was like, I, yeah, I just don't really think it's a great idea. And he [00:41:00] wasn't arguing with me because I had made some money at AOL. He was like, you can do whatever you want. He was being supportive but I'm just sharing with you that I just don't think it's a great idea. And I was like, okay by the way, I wish you were a little more supportive.
Cause I am pregnant with my fourth child and he was like, you mean our fourth child? And I was like, of course, you're not being very supportive and he's I cannot believe you're pregnant. And I said I just found out too, but I've just been trying to figure out a way to share this with you.
And he was like, so you think this is a good idea launch a company in a category, in an industry that you know nothing about and you're having another child. And I said, yeah I can get it on the shelf. I think before he's born, it should be sometime in may. This is 2005 and he is like oh, my God.
You're crazy. Like you're seriously like nuts. And I said, yeah, maybe I might be, but I don't know. I just think it'd be really fun to go try. And so I said, by the way, I've got a babysitter and I'm leaving tomorrow to go to Chicago. I've [00:42:00] got. I've got a bottling plant that I've been talking to and he said can I go with you?
He was like, I to know what you're doing. And I think his intention was to show me like, this is not a good idea. Like you have no idea what you're doing. And I was like, yeah, it'd be really great. Actually, if you came, cause I'm getting super morning sick and it'd be awesome if you actually were there just in case, he was like, oh, so you want me there?
Just in case you get morning sick. And I was like, yeah, it'd be really weird. Cause I don't wanna like. Tell them I'm like pregnant and I'm, launching this company. And anyway, so he came and it was at that moment when he really saw, I was like, this is really cool. He was like, he's a son of a doctor.
And he said, this is crazy. How you're thinking about this and in terms of it helped you drink water and you could help a lot of other people drink water. And I agree with you but if you could get people to drink water, then I think you'd be, solving a lot of health issues in the world, but I just don't think people [00:43:00] get that.
And I said, yeah. So for less than two bucks a bottle, if we could convert people and to drinking and then maybe they'll actually figure that it's achievable and they'll start to look at what they're putting into their body. And so that was the purpose. Then it still is the purpose today. Like when people say to me, I drink tap water.
Is there anything wrong? And if you've got clean, tap water, that's a whole other topic, but I said no, not at all. Like our purpose has really been going after this diet, soda industry and also the healthy perception products that are out there that should not be on the market, especially when we've got so many issues, not only, with different diseases, including type two diabetes, heart disease, all kinds of things, but also.
The fact that we're even having a conversation around healthcare issues, like who pays right. It's expensive and something as simple as if we could actually dig into, are there things that are causing these problems [00:44:00] that, and I believe diet soda, and a lot of these sweeteners, it is not just sugar.
It's also other stuff too. That is just not great for you. So that was really the premise. And I just thought if we can just keep going and stay focused. And so I talk a lot about this in my book, and certainly this book is great for people who want to launch like a food or beverage company and go up against big guys.
But I think it's also just to set the record straight around being a startup and being an entrepreneur that most of these people that I've met over the course of my journey. They're no different than you and I like they're just trying to figure things out. And they're, staying focused and they may became from a different industry and they didn't know whether or not they were going to be successful.
And they had failures along the way. They were scared. Sometimes they made decisions that were wrong, but they are able to look back on those things to learn and continue to move forward. And frankly, I'm an accidental [00:45:00] entrepreneur. I'm also an accident, a lot author. This was my journal for four years.
Like talking as I was out speaking about building this company, I would bring this up on stage and I would hear from so many people primarily through, social media gosh, I just heard you speak at this conference and gosh, you just, by saying what you said, you just set me straight. And made me know that I'm not alone and that this isn't just happening to me.
So I think it's definitely for people who are entrepreneurs now would be entrepreneurs, college students who need to hear, like, how do you go out and just get started. And so many lessons of lifelong learning along the way. And it's shocking to me that more. This aren't out there. And also very few female existing CEOs are writing books like this too. Lots of guys, but there's just no women, usually it's the it's here's what happened and how I lost my company.
Not like I'm still working it. [00:46:00] Every single day and still, growing it and it's going great. And I'm still, willing to learn, but I've figured out a lot of things. There's still stuff that I need to figure out. And I think that's an important piece for people to hear.
Hala Taha: Yeah, I totally agree.
And what I want people to understand is that when he first launched hint, that was like 15 years ago, you had a $50,000 investment, millions later years later, so much hard work later. Now you guys are a household name. One of my favorite quotes from your book was sometimes if you think about
the end. You'll never get past the beginning. And to me, that was like the most thing that resonated to me. So I know we're up on time. So if you could close out just explaining to us, you know how sometimes you need to just be in the moment, work as hard as he can, and then, not worried so much about
Kara Goldin: Yeah. No, totally. And not worry so much about the outcome and know that just by trying, you're getting started. And that's the [00:47:00] most important piece and those little tries add up and before it you're actually making progress.
Hala Taha: Yeah. So the last question I ask all my guests is what is your secret to profiting in life?
Kara Goldin: Profiting in life. I would say being able to learn from your mistakes and same answer, continue trying along the way, because I think that the more that you actually look at what you're doing and continue moving forward, then you'll ultimately profit from that.
Hala Taha: And where can our listeners go to learn more about you and everything that you do?
Kara Goldin: Kara Goldin with an "I" all over social media. And also, yeah, I have a podcast as well at the Kara Goldin show and my book is undaunted overcoming doubts and doubters on audible as well as on amazon.
Hala Taha: Awesome. Kara, you are one of the most inspirational women I've had on the show. So thank you so much for [00:48:00] joining us.
Kara Goldin: Thank you so much. Have a great week, everyone.
Hala Taha: Thanks for listening to young and profiting podcast. I hope you enjoyed this episode with Kara Goldin. If you're a new listener, please take a few minutes to subscribe to the app and drop us a review on apple podcast. Apple podcast are my favorite type of reviews and that's because they act as social proof for new listeners and they largely impact our podcast rankings.
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I've gotten so much value listening to the show over the past year. This is one of my top 10 favorite podcasts I listened to. And that's because of the incredible quality and the care Hala puts into each episode. Very grateful for her putting this show together and for providing so much value to us, young professionals, with the steps we can take to all thrive.
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