Interview Replay: Kara on Founder’s Journal with Alex Lieberman

Episode 208.5

Always be asking, “What else can we do?”  On today’s show, Kara joins Alex Lieberman on Founder’s Journal to share why this is critical for every founder.  

She shares how important asking this question is as well as other key drivers that helped her open doors for success.  What else can we learn?  Listen now. 

Resources from
this episode:


Kara Goldin 0:00
I am unwilling to give up that I will start over from scratch as many times as it takes to get where I want to be. I want to just make sure you will get knocked down but just make sure you don’t get knocked down knocked out. So your only choice should be go focus on what you can control control control. Hi, everyone and welcome to the Kara Goldin show though, join me each week for inspiring conversations with some of the world’s greatest leaders. We’ll talk with founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs, and really some of the most interesting people of our time. Can’t wait to get started. Let’s go Let’s go. Today’s episode is a bonus episode from when I was on. Alex Lieberman’s founders journal. I’m super excited to have you all listen to this episode. It’s filled with lots of good insight I believe including my all time favorite of always be asking what’s possible. Enjoy.

Alex Lieberman 1:08
What is up everyone. This is Alex Lieberman, co founder and Executive Chairman of morning brew. Welcome back to founders journal, my personal audio diary where I give you the business builder the tools you need to think better in order to build better, whether that’s building a business, a team or new product. And today, I am back with a guest journal where I hand the keys of founders journal to another incredible founder. I am so excited to introduce Kara Goldin, the founder and CEO of hint water. Kara has been building him for the last 16 years as a consumer brand that creates products that help people live healthier lives. Kara is also a published author, a frequent podcaster and an all around incredible storyteller. So let’s kick this thing off.

Kara Goldin 1:58
Hi, I’m Kara Goldin. I’m the founder and CEO of hint, we are best known for our unsweetened flavored water, but we do a lot of other things as well to just help consumers stay healthy. Kara, as a builder, what has been critical to your success? Maybe I always did it a little bit. But I think it’s so critical to business is thinking about the question, What can we do at every fork along the way. So even when you are killing it, you don’t stop and get complacent by thinking, Okay, we’re killing it. Let’s just sit there and like, let it go. But also, how do you continue? If you ask yourself that question like, What else can we do? Then you start to dream and have goals and all of those things. But on the flip side, when things like a pandemic come along, or in our case, when Starbucks, we went into Starbucks a few years back, and that was an exciting day, we were told that we were going into 11,000 locations with our blackberry hint and big news, we’re killing it, we’re going to be all over the US. I remember thinking, Okay, I’m going to make sure that I understand the goal of what will they be happy with. So I specifically asked the buyer, I said, so what is success, they said, a bottle and a half per store per day, and we will be happy. And I said, Okay, so we were all out, takes me six months to get to a bottle and a half per store per day, I was looking at the reports every single day, after six months, it started going beyond that, by the time a year and a half rolled out. We were at almost three bottles per store per day. We’re killing it. And so, so happy. And suddenly I get see mail from the new buyer wants to introduce herself and thinking, okay, just say hi, it’s all good. And she said, I have some very bad news for you. And I said, Well, it can’t be that bad. We’re doing three bottles per store per day. And she said, unfortunately, we’ve changed strategy. This comes from the top. Basically, we’re going to add food to the case. And I’m thinking well, you need water, you need hint water with your food. And she said, You know, it’s a decision around the margins are better. The ring is higher. All made total sense. But it didn’t make sense for me or for my business. So I hung up the phone actually asked him one last question. When are you guys planning on putting this into place? She said two weeks. These days that can be really hard to find and hire the right candidates for your small business. I know because I’ve been there a long time I had LinkedIn jobs helping me every step of the way small businesses rate LinkedIn jobs number one, and delivering quality hires versus leading competitors. And now I know why. For me, I was able to quickly and easily find quality candidates. When I use LinkedIn jobs, I can create a free job post in minutes, my entire network sees the post along with LinkedIn entire professional network of over 770 million people. As applications roll in, I’m able to use the simple tools on LinkedIn jobs to quickly filter and prioritize who I want to interview and then eventually hire. I can focus on candidates with the right skills and experience while using screening questions to get my role in front of only the most qualified. Within minutes, I can have a list of wonderful potential candidates right in front of me. LinkedIn jobs helps you find the candidates you want to talk to faster. Did you know every week nearly 40 million job seekers visit LinkedIn, post your job for free at Goldin, that’s Goldin to post your job for free Terms and Conditions apply. Hey, there, I want to tell you all about a site called Get abstract. If you’re crazy busy like me, you may find it difficult to squeeze in the time to read a news article, let alone a whole book. But reading is so valuable. So there are so many good nuggets out there to help me with my business. And even with my personal life. I wish I had all the time in the world to read. But you know how it goes? I certainly don’t. So what do I do, I go to get abstract, get abstract, finds rates and summarizes the top business books, articles, and video talks into 10 minute abstracts. It’s the best ROI of your time, get abstract has worked its way seamlessly into my daily routine, I’m able to read summaries of full books and articles while I’m making my morning latte or having my hand or brushing my teeth. It’s just 10 minutes of my day to learn something new. Whether you want to learn about leadership, finance, innovation, or something else, you can browse over 20,000 text and audio summaries to find exactly what you’re looking for. This is the perfect opportunity to learn from the brightest minds in the world in just 10 minutes, get a free month of Git abstract by visiting get a that’s get a And that’s golden with an eye. So I said so I have all this inventory that is going to go bad for my three bottles per store per day, for the next six months sitting in my warehouses. What am I going to do with this product? And she said, I’m sorry. So I don’t cry very often. But I cried. I thought, oh, my god, how am I going to handle this product that’s going to go bad? How am I going to go tell my investors that I’ve no longer in Starbucks anymore? We’re almost done at this point. So when I came back in the office a couple days later, I said to my team, okay, I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty bad. It’s sucks. There’s no other way to really think about it. But what Starbucks did do is that they got us into a lot more locations across the US. And there were customers that were buying the product. Unfortunately, I don’t know who those customers are. So I can’t go out and tell them, hey, we’ve been canceled at Starbucks and come into, you know, another store to come buy our product. So I’m thinking on this thinking on this. And in the midst of it all. I said, Okay, what can we do? And I hadn’t figured this problem out. Instead, while I’m thinking about this, I get an email from a buyer at Amazon. And the buyer says, hey, you know, I drink your product every morning with my latte from Starbucks, and I buy a bottle of BlackBerry hint, I really want to put BlackBerry hint into Amazon grocery did started in a small way, but they really wanted it to take off and they said how quickly can we get some blackberry hint? And I’m thinking do I tell him that we’ve actually been discontinued from Starbucks or he hasn’t asked so maybe I’m, I’m not going to share that awful news with them. And I said we actually have an overrun of BlackBerry hint. So if you want to just wire me Me the Money for two or three truckloads of product, I can send it this afternoon. And he said, Oh, that’s amazing, totally solves my problem. That’s really great. Part of the problem was solved with with Starbucks, I still didn’t have my customer names. And I still didn’t know how do I get the word out that customers can still purchase our product somewhere, or go on to Amazon and buy our product. So about a year into selling on Amazon, that’s when I had a meeting with our buyer at Amazon. They’re very, very happy about our product. And he shares with me this really, really interesting insight, he said that the people that are buying hint, are different from the people that are buying other beverages that we sell on our service, other sodas and diet drinks and things like that. And I said how so and they said, the people who are buying hand are also buying things like diabetes monitors and products that are saying that this consumer is healthier, trying to get healthy in some way. And I said, Wow, that’s terrific. That’s the whole reason why I started hint was to get myself healthier and get off of diet soda. And I said, Can I email those consumers and reach out to him because I’d really like to get some more information from them. And he laughed at me and he said, Jeff Bezos won’t give you the emails. And he said to Starbucks give you the emails or target or Whole Foods? And I said, No. And he said, Why do you think we’d give you the emails? And I said, I don’t know. And it was that moment, when I realized that my problem was that I didn’t have a relationship with the customer. I didn’t have a direct relationship. And I was relying on these people that I was selling my product to, to give me and they could change their strategy anytime. I mean, you can have contracts in place or whatever, but they change the strategy. I mean, all of a sudden, you’re you’re the one that’s holding the game, not in your favor. And so that was when I decided at that point. What can I do to get this data? The only way that I can get this data is to start our direct to consumer platform ourselves our own at drinkin calm. It was sort of an an unsolved, unanswered thing with Starbucks. It was at that moment, when we decided to launch our direct to consumer business that I realized that my journey had to include Starbucks, because the importance of data. And again, I came from Tech, I didn’t come from the beverage industry, I knew about data. But somewhere along the way, I thought like, nobody sells beverages online. So therefore, it must not be important, but the data component, and in order for me to get the data, I needed to run my own direct to consumer business. And today, you know, almost nine years later, from those days at Starbucks, that business has over 50% of our overall business during the pandemic, that business tripled. Our overall business has increased just in the last year over 50%. And so again, I go back to these challenging times these good times, figuring out what else you can do is always the question that you should be answering in order to continue to get up every day, grow your business, whether it’s a challenging time, or whether it’s, you know, an awesome time that question always should be sitting in your mind. Before we sign off, I want to talk to you about fear. People like to talk about fearless leaders. But achieving big goals isn’t about fearlessness. Successful leaders recognize their fears and decide to deal with them head on in order to move forward. This is where my new book undaunted comes in. This book is designed for anyone who wants to succeed in the face of fear, overcome doubts and live a little undaunted. Order your copy today at undaunted, the book calm and learn how to look your doubts and doubters in the eye and achieve your dreams. For a limited time. You’ll also receive a free case of hint water. Do you have a question for me or want to nominate an innovator to spotlight send me a tweet at Kara Goldin and let me know. And if you liked what you heard, please leave me a review on Apple podcasts. You can also follow along with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn at Kara Goldin. Thanks for listening