Interview Replay: Kara On Claim Your Confidence

Episode 434.5

If you’ve ever been to any major grocery store chain like Target, Walmart, or Whole Foods, you’ve most likely seen Hint® water–the award-winning unsweetened flavored water–on the shelves. Kara Goldin, the founder of Hint, Inc., never thought that she would start a company or become an entrepreneur. Yet, by seizing an opportunity to follow her interests, Kara revolutionized the beverage industry for the better and is now revered as one of the most innovative entrepreneurs in her field. In this episode of Claim Your Confidence, we talk about how Kara took the leap of courage to start Hint, Inc., her media, tech, and consumer products background, and where the idea for Hint® water came from. Don’t miss this interview where we discuss:

  • Kara’s childhood growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, how her parents and older siblings influenced her, and how she first started learning about business at a young age
  • How she found a “research ground” for learning about different career paths while she was still in college, and how she later landed her first job in New York City through tenacity and gumption
  • The importance of taking a chance regardless of the potential outcome, and that failures oftentimes provide the best learning experiences, paths to new opportunities, or at the very least a great story
  • How a personal health decision led Kara to develop Hint® water and found Hint, Inc.
  • Navigating an unknown industry, the lessons Kara has learned as an entrepreneur, and how she shares her story

Resources from
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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 be you just want to 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. 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. I hope you enjoy it. And please make sure to tune in Monday for a brand new episode of the Kara Goldin show. Enjoy.

Lydia Fenet 0:53
Are you ready to claim your confidence? Well, I’m Lydia Finet. And I am so thrilled to be back at New sand studios in Rockefeller Center for another incredible taping of claim your confidence. I just came back from the most delicious lunch at La rock, which is one of the new restaurants in Rockefeller Center and I highly recommend it. Should you come to New York to spend any time in Midtown. This is definitely the place that you should go. And it’s made me even more excited to sit down and spend some time with my next guest. So Kara Goldin is joining me not in the studio today, but from the Bay Area and I could not be more excited to introduce you to her. If you don’t know Kara. Kara is the founder of hint Inc, which is best known for its award winning headwater, the leading unsweetened flavored water. She hosts the podcast the Kara Goldin show in her first book undaunted, overcoming doubt and doubters was released October of 2020. It is now a Wall Street Journal, and Amazon Best Seller. Carol lives in the Bay Area with four children. And she has kindly joined me today to tell us how she came up with the idea to get us all off of diet soda and onto water with just a little hint of fruit. Welcome to the show, Kara.

Kara Goldin 2:05
Oh, awesome. I’m really, really thrilled to be here.

Lydia Fenet 2:08
Thank you. So Kara, as I said before, I loved reading undaunted, and also reading about all of your achievements after you agreed to come on the show. But what I thought was so fascinating about you was that while most people seem to shy away from failure, obstacles, and frankly, other things that stop most people in their tracks, you almost seem to relish them. And I went on your website, and opening quote was, in 2004, I had terrible acne, zero energy, and I was 45 pounds overweight, most people wouldn’t admit that to their best friend, much less write it on a website. So let’s dive in. Is this who Cara was growing up? Tell us a little bit about yourself? As a child, did you have a lot of confidence? Were you one of those people who just walked into a room and owned it? You know, it’s

Kara Goldin 2:51
funny, as Steve Jobs always said, like, it’s fascinating to, you know, connect the dots later on in life. And you have to believe and that, of course, I’m not quoting him exactly. But that’s how I view a lot of what he meant by that statement. But more than anything, I think, you know, I was last five kids. So we can start in the end there. I felt like I was always fighting for everything in my life. I blame my brothers and sisters, mostly my brothers for being incredibly wild and somewhat naughty at times. But, you know, being the last to five, I think most people who have older brothers and sisters maybe can attest to this, too, especially ones that were 15 and 16 years older. My parents got really used to saying no, yeah, and so I was in a constant negotiation with them to try and figure out how I got to do things that I felt like my brothers and sisters were able to do so my parents said, No, a lot. And they said, I’d say why. And they’d be like, because I’m much smarter now than I was back then. You know, nothing good happens after 11pm. And, you know, we have these conversations constantly. And of course, I would keep trying to convince my Dad I’ll never forget, one of the things that my dad said to me is Kara, the problem with you is that I can never ever say maybe to you because no actually means maybe and maybe means yes. Because you know, just like take that that much further and just go for it. So I’m always like, no definitive. Okay, she’s going to possibly stop at this point. But I think that, for me, it was almost like a game. I would always be sitting here trying to figure out okay, I’ve still got to work on it. Not quite there yet. And I would always be coming up with kind of reasons why I should be able to actually everyone thought that I was going to be an attorney because I would always have everything lined up and everything ready. To actually get ready for trial and or, you know, many people said, oh, you’re a salesperson. And you know, my family, I think, thought that I was probably going to go and be an attorney. It’s interesting because I think the word relentless came up a lot, that I was just constantly trying to do whatever in life. But I also, I think, didn’t take things very seriously. I was never really afraid of failure. I think that that’s the thing that I would sort of put stakes in the ground around that I really felt like, if I didn’t try, then I wouldn’t succeed, for sure. And I always knew that with everything I was doing, if I tried something, there was a 50% chance that it wasn’t going to turn out the way that I wanted. So and I think like, you know, being an athlete, anybody who has ever done athletics, and done it competitively would feel exactly what I’m talking about, where I think that the best athletes also want to have great people on their teams. Right? Right. You want to play on the best team, because you want to play to win. Yes. And so I was constantly like, watching other people and talking about how they were better than me, right. But they were on my team. And I would be fascinated by how they got to that level, whether it was I was a big runner, I was a gymnast, I was, you know, constantly like watching other people and trying to figure out like their strategy behind it.

Lydia Fenet 6:38
There’s so many leadership tips and what you’re saying even as a young child, just thinking about how you relate to your team and how you move things forward. And I also think I’m one of four children. And someone once said this to me. And I would be interested to know if you think the same that growing up with that many children in your family, it’s a little bit like growing up in a rock tumbler, it kind of smooths all the annoying edges out because your siblings won’t let you go too far in any direction. But I think that also goes to being a teammate, right? You have to smooth out the edges to work with other people. And if you tend to be sharp with one person, and your siblings was like, you can’t act like that, then you realize that as you get older, and you take that into what you do.

Kara Goldin 7:16
Yeah, I mean it. You know, it’s interesting, because my parents both worked. And they were both very busy. I mean, very busy parents, and we had almost two families, both the same parents, and for all five kids. But my, as I mentioned earlier, my brother and sister were 15 and 16 years older. And so, you know, I’m a little person in grade school, and my brother’s able to drive me to school, right, and not a lot of my friends had high school brothers, my parents were older, our family was sort of different in that way. And you know, on Friday nights, we’d go watch him play football. He was a great football player, but he also taught me a lot about business. So he used to buy old Volkswagens, and he would fix them up. And it’s funny because I didn’t really have a huge interest in Volkswagens. But what I did have an interest in, and why I liked to hang out with my brother was that he had great music. And so he had a stereo in our garage. And so I would sit out there and do my homework. We lived in Phoenix, Arizona, and I would sit out there side and do my homework. And, you know, we’d be listening to amazing music outside, like, while he’s working on his car, it’s such a great memories to it is memories, right? Like you think back on that it’s funny, and then he’d get bored and frustrated. And he’d say, Hey, you want to go get an ice cream cone? And of course, always, yes, 10 o’clock at night. And you know, my parents are figuring out, she’s outside, like in the garage, everything’s fine. We’re goofing around, and you know, laughing and singing Billy Joel, and just like having a great time. But in addition to that, he would talk to me about all of the business things that he was thinking about. So he would, I mean, totally dating myself, but he would put a stereo and these Volkswagens, and he would talk to me about how he could go and buy, like an eight track stereo, and then he could actually mark it up five times. And I think when he first said, when I was like, in first grade, I didn’t know what five times was. And then he was like, come on, you know how to do this. And then he would show me how to do that. And so then I would figure out, okay, this is how much you’ve got into the Volkswagen, and then you’re going to sell it. And I think it was the auto trader, and I would go through the auto trader and I would figure out all the other components that were in there and again, it became fun and interesting to me and people were like, how do you know about cars? ours, how do you know about the rough price of things? And I really think it was just thinking back on that time.

Lydia Fenet 10:06
You know, it’s funny, I had Alexa Von Tobel on here. And she was talking about her older brothers and how, in a similar way, they always challenged her to think a little bit bigger. And they she told a story about one of her brothers telling her to read a fairly adult book when she was in fourth grade. And she was like, I can’t do that. He’s like, of course you can, you’re fine, which sounds a little bit like your brother’s saying, No, you can learn about business. And I do think that confidence comes in interesting places, especially when you’re growing up, you know, people will talk about parents and teachers. But I do think siblings are a huge part of that as well, because they teach you, you don’t necessarily think that you’re learning anything at the time. You’re learning just by being around them. So I love that that was a part of your life. And probably a large part of your competence journey, I’m sure also comes from just even negotiating with your siblings. Well, it’s

Kara Goldin 10:51
funny you and I met right when I was launching my book, and I talked in my book about my first job at a toy store. And I got a DM on Facebook from a friend of mine who reminded me that the toy store was not my first job that I actually started a kid’s camp when I was 12 years old. And I had sort of forgotten about this kid’s camp. And she reminded me that I did it with her with Robin. And it came from that experience of working with my brother because he was making money. Like he had money to go out and do stuff. And so here, I’m 12 years old, I want to, you know, buy the things I want to go to the mall are things that I wanted to write and write. And of course, my parents were excellent at saying no. And so, you know, I thought, well, when can I get a job. And that’s when I decided that I was going to start a cam with Robin. So I call Robin on the phone and I say we’re going to start a camp. So just reminding you the summer in Phoenix, Arizona, is 300 degrees, 10 115 degrees, it is not very pleasant. So I told her that we were going to do it in my garage, because my brother was going to be gone for the summer. And so we’d have the space in the garage. And so we’d have all these kids in the garage. And then we would also build a town out of toilet paper boxes, small feet of a camp. And so I had it all figured out. And Robin was just like, how are we going to get people to come and I said, Okay, if we make a sign, and we’re gonna go on the corner, and I’m still laughing my kids are like stunned about this. We went on the corner, we had it, you know, written and marker was really pretty. And I said, drop your kid all day for $5

Lydia Fenet 12:53
there was probably a line five blocks deep.

Kara Goldin 12:56
We just were sold out for the whole summer. You know, I remember my brother coming home one weekend, and he was like, wait, you have a camp going on? This is crazy. And then I think he mentioned something like, well, you should have an activity like, uh, I don’t know, you’ve got to get people out and some sort of sports activity. And I decided that we should all go crawdad fishing in the canals that are all over Phoenix and Scottsdale, and we have one down the street from us. And he’s like, you don’t even like to go crawdad fishing, like I go product fish. I’m like, Okay, well, I’ll figure it out. But you know, I think back on that time, like people are like, gosh, you know, you must have a lot of confidence. I had a reason for wanting to do it. I had a goal. And that was to make money during the summer so that I could get cool stuff. And then once I had that achieved, we stopped the camp, like sort of abruptly. I mean, it was just like, Wait, what are you doing? You’re not going to have the camp next week. All these parents were like, No, do it for two more weeks. No,

Lydia Fenet 14:02
I’m getting my gene. We were good. Go to the mall. I’m off by. But Carrie, this was the beginning for you. Because honestly even hearing the story and having read undaunted, my favorite story in follow up now to your crowded story is where you score a job in New York City. You have to tell the story. The word score really doesn’t do it justice. I mean, you walked in there and got a job. So please tell our listeners. Well,

Kara Goldin 14:27
it’s funny. I was graduated from college. And I remember like a lot of companies came on campus, and I went to Arizona State University. And at the time, there weren’t a lot of journalists that were coming on campus that I wanted to go and work for. And I really wanted to work for Fortune Magazine. And I remember even saying to a few of my friends, I’m gonna go work for fortune and they were like, how are you going to do that? I mean, do you know someone there? No, but I’m going to figure it out. I’m going to figure out how I’m going to go do it. And again, like I thought always sort of figured out how to gamify things, they always seem a little far away. I’m not even sure how I’m gonna get to it. But I’m gonna make it happen have a vision, I’ll figure it out somehow. And if not, I’ll have a lot of fun doing it. And I’ll laugh along the way, I’ll make mistakes, whatever will happen. And so there’s sort of two parts to the story, because I didn’t really know how I was going to make it happen. What I didn’t know was that I was waitressing at a restaurant in Phoenix. And there were amazing people that came into this restaurant. Still to this day, it’s called the teepee. And still to this day, it’s like, over 100 year old restaurant, super divey place, people come from all over the country to go to this place. So I would meet a lot of people when they came into this restaurant. So this one gentleman who came in, he said, You’re graduating soon, aren’t you? And I said, Yes, I am. And he said, So what are you going to do? Which is, you know, the taboo question and don’t ask

Lydia Fenet 16:06
hard, if any graduates certainly gonna do.

Kara Goldin 16:09
And so I said, Well, what do you do? And this is something that I always say to students, you know, who if somebody asks you a question, you’re allowed to ask them the question right back like, Well, what do you do? And I found that it was this, like, research Brown for me to actually figure out what were the jobs out there? Because I think you just don’t really know, you sort of know that there’s a journalist know that there’s, you know, accountants and consultants out there, but it doesn’t look, what do they do? Yeah, and active and what they do. So that sort of started my thinking around? Well, I don’t think the job that I really want to do is here in Phoenix. And when I started talking to more and more people, I started hearing about all these really cool jobs. And so this gentleman, he worked for Anheuser Busch, he was doing product placement on movie sets. Now, again, I’m a college student. I know what Anheuser Busch is certainly, and I drink beer. And so I can put beer on movie sets. I mean, that sounds like an amazing job. Maybe I’m gonna who even know that. Maybe I’m gonna go and do that job. As I started to keep asking people and my waitressing job, as they were asking me what I was going to do. I started asking them, well, let me know if you have any job opportunities for me. I’m willing to start at the bottom, all of those things. And it was amazing how many people just couldn’t believe I was asking. I mean, it wasn’t begging, I was just saying, hey, just let me know. You know where I am. I’m here at the restaurant, you know, and people would come back and they were

Lydia Fenet 17:55
just world to there is willing to do anything.

Kara Goldin 17:58
Totally. Usually it will be better than anything, right? Like you sort of say, Yeah, I’m willing to start at the bottom. But usually what it is, is a little bit better than that. Yeah. But the one job that was not coming to me was Fortune magazine. So getting back to your original question. I made my way to New York and had a few other interviews as well. But I had sent a letter to the then managing editor of Fortune Magazine, Marshall Loeb, and I said to Marshall, you know, I’d love to work for you. Fortune has made me really understand finance, and really connected for me the dots around business and storytelling and all of those things. And he wrote me a letter back and said, if you’re ever in the New York area, please let me know. Now, this is before email. Right? And this is gold. Really, the only way to really get a hold of people was to write them a letter. Maybe you typed it in a phone call, but he wasn’t picking up the phone. So I took that letter. And I bought a plane ticket. And I you know, set up some other interviews around it as well. I figured out my sister’s friend was living in New York. So I convinced her to let me sleep on her couch for a few nights in New York story. Yeah, in the East Village, and, you know, 9090 St. Marks between B and C

Lydia Fenet 19:36
Sure. It’s very clean, ya know,

Kara Goldin 19:37
very, very clean. So I did that. And I showed up at the time and life building, not too far from where you are right now. And I walked into the building and I said, Can you tell me where Marshall Lopes offices to just anyone that seemed nice. I had no idea who I was. He’s going to ask, but I asked somebody this before security in the building, this is definitely pre 911, for sure. And the person said, What are you here for? And I said, Well, I’m here to meet with Marshall Loeb. And they said, Do you have an interview? And I said, No. And they said, Well, maybe you should start at the Human Resources Department. Okay. So I go up to the human resources department. And then I speak to the woman who was behind the desk, who is the receptionist, and I said, Hi, I’m here to see Marshall. And she said, Do you have an appointment? And I said, No, I have a letter. And so I took my letter out, and I showed her the letter. She didn’t know what to do with me.

Lydia Fenet 20:39
She was like, there are a lot of these letters flying around Kara.

Kara Goldin 20:43
I don’t know if there were a lot like she’s know what to do with it, right. And so she called her manager. And she said, there’s this woman up here, she seems like she’s got an interview with Marshall. But I don’t even think Marshall was in the building that day. And she was very, very confused. The manager came out and asked me why I thought that I had this meeting with him. And I said, Well, I have this letter. And he said, if you’re ever in the New York area, and so I bought a ticket, and I came out. So she said, he’s not gonna hire you. You don’t have any experience. You’re just graduating from college, he was being very nice to you. So instead of allowing her to pop my balloon, so to speak, I instead said, Well, I’m here. Is there any other jobs in the building? Because I figured, what’s the worst that can happen? She says no, right? Of course, he’s already saying no, it was like going back to having conversation with my dad. And all I could think of, by the way, was the story that I had, where I would go and talk to my siblings about this, I would talk to my parents, they would be laughing about their like, YouTube, what? Are my friends back at school? Okay, well, I tried, but it didn’t work at all. I was thinking through this whole thing. And I thought, Okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna make this happen. Sure enough, the manager of all of human resources said to me, you know, I might have an idea. So she said, sit down, and I’ll come right back. So she comes back. And she said, there’s an executive assistant role available at Time Magazine, would you be interested in that? And I’m like, I know what an executive assistant job is. It’s not an editorial job. But that could be really interesting. Yeah. And then eventually, I’ll go and get that job. Hello. This will keep me in the building, right instead of them, you know, telling me to leave the building. And so I went and met with Brooke McMurray. And Brooke said, Gosh, I was just talking to the head of human resources this morning, and how they haven’t given me any candidates. And then suddenly, they said, Oh, we have somebody for you to meet, tout, how did this interview, like, end up on your calendar? And so I told her and I said, I have a letter, and I took out the letter. And she’s like, well, hold on a minute. Like, I know, martial law. How did you? Wait, you did what? And she’s like, wait, you have to come and work for me. This is hysterical. You like bought a plane ticket. We didn’t pay for you to come here. Nothing. I’m like, Nope, I’m here. I’m just

Lydia Fenet 23:29
saying this is what it is. And I’m not leaving. She then,

Kara Goldin 23:33
like, gave me an offer. And she said, I mean, it was crazy. And I think it’s the story of sometimes you don’t plan on actually doing what you’re going to do that day, I fully thought, Okay, I kind of focused on getting this meeting with Marshall. But it turned out a little differently. Right, it turned out differently. And the one other thing I’ll say is that, when I think back on that time, it was in the circulation department. So I wasn’t anywhere near the editorial side at time. But circulation was kind of the early days of direct to consumer, and subscriptions, top of funnel, all of those terms that today are, you know, we didn’t know what we were learning. But I think the smartest people in direct to consumer today are the ones that came from the subscriptions business for like credit cards, yet. I didn’t have a goal of getting into direct to consumer, nobody knew that that would be the early days of it.

Lydia Fenet 24:42
This is now the second time that you know and you said this earlier what you said about Steve Jobs and his quote about sort of all the pieces over the course of your life coming together. I mean, what you said about your brother teaching you about sales to the car and now this is the chance for you to learn D to see. I also think that the other part of this that’s so interesting is going back to what I Since the very beginning about how you almost think of failure, as you use humor, you get through it, it becomes a story. And that is such an incredibly powerful way to move through life. Because the bottom line is a lot of people would walk into that building. And the minute someone said, Marshall Loeb is never going to see you, they would put their tail between their legs and leave and for you, you’re thinking to yourself, I can’t wait to sell this story to my family, to my friends, this is part of my narrative, and this is part of my life. And that goes back to the power of positivity, right, that goes back to being able to see something for yourself this vision and, you know, not know exactly how it’s going to work out. But understand that you’re the only person who can get you there, which I think is such a powerful thing that people often miss, you know, every part of this story leads to the beginning of hint, right? And hint, water.

Kara Goldin 25:49
Yeah, definitely. And I think that the other thing is, is that the more times you try, and life, and the more whether you have people around you, that are encouraging you or you just decide, I’m not going to stay complacent, I’m not going to sit in Phoenix, I’m going to go out and, you know, make something happen, right,

Lydia Fenet 26:11
something new,

Kara Goldin 26:12
I look back. And I think that most of the things that I actually wanted to do, or really put, you know, my mind to it, and I was passionate about it, and I was curious about it. And you know whether that was getting to the next level of gymnastics, or running or whatever, and studying it right, when I look back, and I think about, I might not get there today, but I’m going to figure out how to get there. Most of those things happened. I

Lydia Fenet 26:46
think that also goes back to trusting the timeline, you know, because if you think about, maybe you wanted to be with martial lobe at that point in your career, and you thought that being an editorial at that moment was the biggest thing, but what you learned, being close to circulation, what you learned and your skill set as an executive assistant has carried you in a different path. And that path for you has been ultimately an incredibly successful path, which maybe if you were sitting underneath someone just doing a job that other people were doing, you would never have had in your entrepreneurial vision. Yeah. So let me talk to you a little bit about hand because I do want to get into how hint water started. I remember meeting you for the first time we’ve never met in person that on Zoom, you were telling me about the sort of early stages pregnant with I can’t even remember which of your four children this was but going into Whole Foods and trying to get them to carry product right before you had another baby. Tell us how this started and tell us the journey.

Kara Goldin 27:37
Yeah, so after my third child was born, that’s when I decided that I was going to take a break. And you were doing what at this point. So I was at America Online. And I was running the direct to consumer partnership. So I was dealing with all the E commerce companies out there. I had run that, you know, I always think of it as that little business within a big business. So even though I wasn’t starting my own business at that time, I was, you know, kind of running my own little thing where I was dealing with a lot of partners, including, you know, Amazon that was a tiny little Amazon time, and J Crew and Victoria’s Secret and you know, lots of different companies meeting lots of different types of leaders to some were used to running companies and had been doing it for a long time. Others were just starting out, like Jeff Bezos, so was able to see kind of the difference, not only in types of companies, but also types of industries. And I mean, it was just a super exciting time. But after seven years, I decided it was a billion dollars in revenue that I was running. And I never saw my husband or my young kids. I moved from New York to San Francisco and was redoing a house in San Francisco. I was like, I’m not even here. I’m here like nine days out of the year. It was just crazy. And finally I just decided I’m done. I’m like, gonna get off the train. I don’t know when I’m going back on. I definitely don’t want to retire and not do anything. But I don’t know what I want to do. But I really thought because I was living in San Francisco. I really knew tech at that point. I was at America Online. And my husband was at Netscape that I would stay in tech. And I just didn’t know when there were so many people around me who thought that it was the stupidest thing I ever did, right that they were like, you were the youngest vice president at America Online. You were one of the few women. You can’t stay out of work for very long. And I’m like, wait a minute, a minute ago, you were telling me how marketable I am and I’m great and all of a sudden you’re like, wait, but you’re you’re getting off the track for two Long,

Lydia Fenet 30:00
you’re also probably had a vision that no one else had, which I think is sort of part of your story always that you knew there was something bigger.

Kara Goldin 30:06
Yeah, I didn’t know what that was. But I also had this gut that I didn’t want to not know my family. Yeah, it was a priority to me. Yeah. And I really enjoyed that time of taking a couple of years off, it actually ended up being almost four years. But again, I had three kids under the age of four. So my life was a little crazy, I was actually taking him to school and just really enjoying getting to meet people that I didn’t have an opportunity to me when I was working so much. But then I was getting itchy. Like I wanted to go back to work, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had sort of left it there and sort of said, I’ll start informational interviewing with people, I’ll start picking up the phone again and starting to connect with people and network with people. But suddenly, I found myself really caring about health and what I was first putting into my kids bodies and into their mouths. And I was fascinated by the fact that I’ll never forget, I was at a park one day, and I would see like, I think I was just bored. And I was watching my kids. And then I started doing this like, basically this experiment in my head figuring out like, Okay, if my kids scream, and I don’t give them the sippy cup, will they stop screaming? Like, how long will it take? Because I felt like it would just get worse when I would give them the apple juice and give them all all of the sugar. And then I would watch these other kids again, my I would go home and talk to my husband about it. He was like, I think you need to get a job.

Lydia Fenet 31:50
Think about Yeah, you know, your mind is really closing version of consumer behavior,

Kara Goldin 31:54
right? Watching these kids, and cracking myself up along the way. But finally, I just thought, you know, I think I’m just going to really cut back on sugar all together, and at least what I was giving to my kids, because it’s just probably not very good for them. And I wasn’t giving them tons of sugar, but I just thought the unnecessary stuff, man, is there a better way? Are they going to be a lot happier in some way. So as I was doing that, that’s when I thought, I’m kind of a hypocrite, like, I don’t even I’m not having sugar, but I’m having a ton of diet sweeteners. And so after reading a label, this was 18 years ago. And again, no one was talking about labels. 18 years ago, I just said, I’m not going to put this in my body anymore. I mean, this is just really awful. I mean, it’s just, I don’t even know what I’m drinking anymore. And I had been drinking diet coke, since I was in high school. I mean, I was

Lydia Fenet 32:57
I’m still on that train doctor. Yeah. But I do feel like what you did with hot water and turning water into a flavored way to enjoy water was the difference between. I mean, it was really just the difference. Because if you are used to drinking something that has sort of a sweet taste, versus a glass of water, I know my sister is dying as she listens to this because my sister drinks water all the time. But for someone who really likes the bubbles, and likes that sort of taste and all of that when you’re not getting that out of just plain water. There’s almost no choice at this point. And when you’re starting on water.

Kara Goldin 33:32
Well yeah, and I think for me, I really started to kind of go deeper into why I was drinking diet soda. I mean, I just I felt like my mom was a tap drinker. Yeah, I wasn’t going to drink what she was going to drink. And so I started drinking this diet coke because I thought it was healthy. And of course, I wasn’t ever going to drink full fledged soda. So I started drinking it. And then it became a habit. Yeah. And I should have been drinking a lot more water. But the other thing that I realized is that water for me was just boring. And so slicing up fruit and throwing it into the water for taste was all I needed in order to get me to drink more water. And I didn’t need the sweeteners. In fact, I didn’t even really know that diet soda in general was sweet. I mean, for me, it really was an addiction to sweeteners that was sort of underneath at all. Yeah, that I didn’t realize that I was doing maybe the bubbles were kind of part of it as well. But when I gave it up, I never thought that these issues around my skin, as you mentioned before, and weight and things that I had sort of quietly accepted as the way I am today that I never was when I was a teenager. I mean they had just sort of crept up on me along the way when I had kids when I grew up, you know when I got old or whatever

Lydia Fenet 34:56
and it’s easy to pick it up and go for sure. Yeah,

Kara Goldin 34:59
and I had it accepted these health issues as just throwing things are Yeah, never did. I think that just by changing this one thing, and getting me to drink more water was really the thing that would change a lot. I never thought I was going to start a company, I certainly didn’t think I was going to start a beverage company. But for me, it was during this time, when I really disconnected from what I thought that I was really good at which was tak and direct to consumer that I was able to kind of think about what else I was curious about. Yeah. And I was certainly, you know, interested in my children and sort of living my life around all of that. But what I realized is that I had other interests, right things that I was curious about, were not just tack, yeah. And so I think having worked within organizations that were more startup be different levels at AOL, it was sort of a tiny bit later stage startup than the startup that I had been at prior to that which was acquired by America Online, which was like five guys in a room, not a garage, but pretty darn close. And then before that I had between time and moving out to San Francisco, I worked for CNN, which you know, as I share with people all the time, that was sort of my first taste of working in an entrepreneur environment, like you knew Ted Turner was in the building, when you had the founder energy, the minute he walked off the elevator, you didn’t even have to hear his voice. You knew he was there.

Lydia Fenet 36:46
But also, when you’re founding a company and your mom who’s on the playground at this point, I mean, what does it take to bridge that gap? Because I feel like in my own life, where I am, there are a lot of women, especially post pandemic, who are in a place where they have a vision, they don’t have enough confidence to go from making that leap. I’m sitting on the playground, I see people, you know, I’m counting minutes that someone a tantrum is coming before the sippy cup is back in their mouth. And I’m launching a company that’s now selling to Starbucks at Whole Foods, and to all of these major brands around the world. What did that take? Like? What did that leap of faith? When did you say were you like, I’m starting a company today? And this is what it’s going to look like? Or was it sort of, you know, small steps that got you there?

Kara Goldin 37:26
I think it’s the small steps. I mean, I think still to this day, I think it’s really scary to say you’re gonna go start a company, or you’re going to be an entrepreneur. I mean, that is like, it’s scary. Right? And so I always think about, it’s not that you don’t have goals like that. It’s just that you, you kind of put them up on a shelf. Yeah. So that you can see them, but they’re hard to reach. Yeah.

Lydia Fenet 37:49
Especially when you’re having kids, so many kids. So they take so much energy, right. And so yeah, you’ve got this thing on the shelf. And you’re like, when do you make that jump? Like, how do you make that leap? If you were to give advice to someone who out there right now, who wants to start a company doesn’t know when? Or how to do it? I think you

Kara Goldin 38:04
start so the process for me, you know, here I was making it in my kitchen, I can’t I sort of let my curiosity kind of take me to the next place. Because I thought, well, this is kind of hard to make, you know, cut up fruit every day. And then it gets sort of, you know, nasty looking after a couple of days and a pitcher in the frigerator. And I wonder if somebody’s just doing this and putting it in a bottle? Yeah. And so where do I find bottles with water and fruit in it at the grocery store. So I went to the grocery store. And this new grocery store Whole Foods had just opened. So I went in. And it was like the most beautiful thing I had ever seen this, you know, grocery stores. For me, it was very different than conventional grocery stores or big box grocery stores. And there’s a nice gentleman who was stocking the shelves and Whole Foods. And I said excuse me, do you have a product that just has water and fruit in it. And he showed me a bottle of vitamin water. And vitamin water at that time didn’t even have a diet version of vitamin water. And it was bright pink. And so I shared with him that I turned to the label. And I said, you know, it’s amazing. I was really fooled by so many of these ingredients for years, not with vitamin water, but with another drink. And vitamin water in particular had as many calories in it as a can of Coke. And it was also bright pink. And I shared with him that even though it’s natural, they often use cockroach wings for colorings and these drinks and you know so the guy was like, how do you know all of this? And I’m like, Well, I don’t have a job right now and I’m researching all of this because I’ve been making it my kitchen. And that’s when he said You should actually, like you should develop the string. You seem really knowledgeable about it. I’m like, oh, yeah, I should, you know, whatever. Then I started thinking, Hmm, how hard could it be to launch a beverage company? I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? I fail. I mean, right. And, and sometimes. So I think that as I was moving along, I had sort of signed up for this idea that I was gonna go and launch, you know, my drink, I was still wasn’t calling it a company, or I wasn’t gonna go and become an entrepreneur, I was just going to get my product on the shelf at my local Whole Foods. But as people started getting excited about what I was doing, and and there were plenty of doubters around me for sure, and telling me this was really stupid. Like, I knew nothing about the beverage industry, all of that. But as I started to share this with people, they would say, oh, my gosh, that’s amazing. You’re an entrepreneur, of course, you’re an entrepreneur, you’ve been working for all these entrepreneurs, you knew all along? I’m like, I did. No, I didn’t. I didn’t know. How are you going to take on the beverage industry? What tea? I have one drink packed into Whole Foods? I mean, I’m not taking on the beverage industry. Oh, you’re going after big sugar. And you’re like, how are you going to get distribution? How are you going to do a product that doesn’t have preservatives in it? I don’t know. And so that was the world I was living in. And I kept thinking, well, if people are going to put up these walls in front of me, maybe they know people at Coca Cola, maybe they know co packers, maybe they understand distribution, or know another entrepreneur in this industry. And so I just kept asking people, Do you know anybody? Oh, you don’t know anybody in the food industry. But you know, somebody at Procter and Gamble,

Lydia Fenet 41:56
this is something you learned as a waitress. This is what you’re doing when you were in college, just networking and meeting people and taking those introductions and making them into your own narrative again.

Kara Goldin 42:07
Yeah. And I just felt like if they show up, if they actually have an opinion about something, then maybe I can ask them for a response. Right? And, you know, some people said, No, don’t know anybody, I’m just telling you that you’re gonna fail, or, you know, this isn’t gonna work out, and you’re gonna come back into tech, whatever. But there were other people who actually said, you know, what, I haven’t talked to them in a while, but I’m going to see if I can reach out, right, people want to help if you actually tell them what you want. And that’s what I’ve learned along the way.

Lydia Fenet 42:39
So true. And I think, honestly, care, this entire story of your life is amazing, because it leads you to starting this company, which in the end, did take on the beverage industry, and was a fundamental shift in the way that people consume drinks, you know, you walk into any CVS, or Duane Reade, or wherever you are into your local grocery store or convenience store. And there are as many cases of water as there are of diet sodas and beverages. And I can remember growing up in the Deep South, I mean, Fanta, tab, coke, you know, you name it, it was front and center, those are all to the side now. And not only has it changed the way that we as people think about what we put in our bodies, but also mean I think the greatest gift is that our children have the ability to pick up a hint water instead of an orange juice and understand that that’s gonna be better for them. And they won’t be those kids with the apple juice on the playground that you saw that sort of started this whole journey for you. And that’s a huge testament to who you are and the competence that brought you there. So my last question to you is, I believe that one of the greatest gifts that we get in life, living a confident life, is that it gives us all the ability to give back to others. And I would love to know, what do you like to do to give back? What does that look like for you?

Kara Goldin 43:51
You know, I love sharing my story, primarily because I feel like it gives people hope. Right? And most of the reason why I wrote my book was because I really felt like through telling my story and my authentic story of that didn’t go so well. Or, you know, again, I didn’t even think about it at the time as no one else is doing this. But I think that the key thing that you know, the book still selling today, I mean, three years later, that’s okay. And I think like the key thing is that you just can’t make this stuff up. Right? I mean, you know, in your role right people in your industry may be are kind of familiar with all the intricacies of everything but when you share it with like your friends that are not working or they’re not in your industry, they just can’t even believe some of the stories right where a co Packer for example, they are not going to meet with you until 11 o’clock at night because you don’t have any experience and they don’t don’t need your business, right? So they’re like, look, I guess I’m willing to come in at 11 o’clock at night in order to do this. So I feel like by sharing my story, I’m actually giving back to a lot of people, I get a lot of reach outs on primarily through LinkedIn. Yeah. And I was gonna

Lydia Fenet 45:19
say, where can our listeners find you? Where do they come I know you have the Kara Goldin show, but tell us everywhere, we can get more Kara,

Kara Goldin 45:27
all over social media. And I’ve become really religious about posting and just kind of sharing my stories, because I feel like the more I can do that, you know, the more disruption and industries that we’ll see more innovation, more creation. You know, that’s the thing that I think more and more people need to kind of get confidence around more than anything is kind of unlearning the concept of staying in the lanes, right, and failure and looking stupid. And, you know, I really think that it’s every age, people think that they’re going to graduate from school, and they’re going to go one way. And most of the most interesting people today that I meet are ones that I’ve switched industries have had failures.

Lydia Fenet 46:17
I mean, that’s what we learn from failure. And it’s so scary when we think about walking into it. But I think without it, we don’t grow. We never get bigger. We never try new things. And we never have those moments in our life where we realize how strong we actually are. So Kara, I cannot thank you enough for joining me today. And I also want to thank everybody else who tuned in. As Kara said, you can find her on her own podcast, the Kara Goldin show are all over social media at Kara Goldin and I love your Instagram. It’s such a wonderful way to just get a pick me up in a very small sort of Instagram feed every single day. So thank you, thank you for coming on. I know you’ve had a busy day. So I really appreciate your time. And I want to just again, thank everyone who’s tuning in right now. I hope you’ll follow along on Instagram at Lydia Finet. I’ll be posting about upcoming guests and recording times. A special thanks to Joe at newsstands studios who makes everything happen behind the scenes, there’s always some last minute glitch, and it wouldn’t happen without him and petitioners buyer at the Rockefeller Center. And one question I would really like for everyone who’s listening to take away as we come back together next week, and please feel free to DM me on social is really around the topic of failure. Have you had anything that’s happened in your life where you failed spectacularly and thought you wouldn’t recover and have come through it? If so, please pop it into Instagram. Share it with me, tag Kara. So she knows to and hopefully you will all have a lot of failures as you continue to claim your confidence. So I’m Lydia finat. This is claim your confidence. Have a wonderful week until I talk to you next week.

Kara Goldin 47:45
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 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