Interview Replay: Kara on Entrepreneur’s Enigma

Episode 333.3

Kara Goldin is the founder of Hint Water and the author of the book Undaunted. Kara has worked for companies like Time Magazine, CNN and AOL. She had a bad habit during her time working in corporate America drinking diet soda. When she decided to kick the habit and turn to water, she felt better but found that plain water was boring. So, she spruced it up with fruit and after not being able to find a tasty no-sugar flavored water on the market, she started Hint with her husband Theo and the rest is history.

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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.

Seth Goldstein 0:52
Entrepreneurs Enigma is the podcast for the ups and downs of entrepreneurship to the winds and the failures that we all face be entrepreneurs how you learn from adversity. Every week, I talked to a different entrepreneur with a story to tell. I’m Seth Goldstein. How much me on the journey. This entrepreneurs Naima let’s get started.

Hey, everyone, welcome to another edition of the Entrepreneur’s Enigma Podcast. Today I have the one the only Kara Goldin of hence water. Where did you can go find that drink? She’s also the author of undaunted I’m no one can see this, but I’m sporting the hat. Thank you, Kara for the care package. And it’s amazing. Hint is delicious. But there’s no sugar in it. And I’m like, Hi. It’s what are the essence and it’s amazing. Like, I like to say that because you’re on the show. I’m saying like literally I like sugary drinks. And it’s like, okay, and the crisp apple one has a little tinge of something. But if there isn’t something it’s It’s refreshing. It’s tasty. I’m like, This is awesome. So maybe even drink water for once this device to

Kara Goldin 2:14
There you go. You could be a spokesperson for hint.

Seth Goldstein 2:18
There you go. So anyhow, Kara, thank you for being on the show. This is a real thrill for me. And an instance in your head right now. She just took a sip of her hand. She’s, of course, you have to show your own product you have to Well, I crew, I’d be like wait, what?

Kara Goldin 2:34
Yeah, what what am I doing? Well, it’s funny, it’s in our garage. We live right next to a state park. And so anyone knows where we live? You know, as always, like, oh, shoot, I forgot my water. And then they stop by our house and they ring the bell. And yeah, and stuck up. So it’s, you know, not usually strangers, but But friends from

Seth Goldstein 2:59
family. Yes. They always like they always have water, water. Because I read your book and they seem to like your biggest cheerleaders along with feel your husband, because you got your kids to drink water. Like my kid doesn’t drink water. I haven’t tested hint yet. I will report back because he doesn’t drink water. He drinks iced tea, which is bizarre. And he drinks he drinks a lot of milk. And he’s a spokesperson from the dairy industry.

Kara Goldin 3:31
How old is he?

Seth Goldstein 3:32
He’s nine. So he’s it’s he’s at a stubborn age.

Kara Goldin 3:37
So it’s interesting, the number of parents that I’ve talked to who have said that they thought they discovered it. And then they would ask their kids, eight or nine definitely in the high school and in college like, oh, look, I found this drink. You know, it makes you let’s just put it this way. They think that their parents are out of touch because they’ve known about him for a while there. Yeah. And they they know all about it. So it’s it’s great. I think, you know, the younger generations. I mean, today Gen Z really does want to be drinking water. And they’re especially if they’re active, they’re doing any type of sport. They’re starting to question, why was I putting all the sugar in? I just don’t

Seth Goldstein 4:27
order the chemicals. I mean, honestly, sometimes the sugar is better than the chemicals, which is ironic. That’s true.

Kara Goldin 4:32
And it’s the last thing you want when you’re trying to recover your you’ve got a tough game, you’re sweating outside the lab. You know, because you feel nauseous. Right? And so we’ve become the strength for a lot of different teams that are baseball and lacrosse. I hear it all the time. They’re like, do you know about this team and you know New Hampshire And that’s, that that’s all they drink. Yeah. So it’s really it’s fun. It’s a pretty cool how it’s got sort of this viral effect that I don’t exactly know how it got there, but I’m not surprised. We’re gonna take

Seth Goldstein 5:11
a quick break here from our sponsors and get right back to the show. LinkedIn believes b2b marketing can be b2c Brilliant, b2b, bold and b2c breakthrough. How with a platform purpose built to make b2b marketing mean more for your business and platform with tools to help you build better relationships with your key customers to boost your buyers journey while building your brand, a platform with trusted data and lead generation, you need to be your KPIs drive ROI, and stand out amongst the competition. And with the targeting tools on LinkedIn, you can reach your precise audience right down to their job title, company name, location, and more to make sure your ads are always seen by those who matter. So let’s get ready to be to boldly go where no market has gone before. Because LinkedIn is where b2b is everything you can be rethink, you’d be the marketing ads and get 100 hour credits on your next campaign go to p n to claim your credit. That’s Terms and Conditions apply. So to go back to the beginning, well, not the very beginning. But you grew up in Arizona went to ASU. Got out was very ambitious, which is a great thing said I’m gonna go work at Fortune. Instead, you ended up working with time, right? It was time you ended up working with but like Sam conglomerate, and you know, do you think that that that was the start of an entrepreneurial illness that you had to go get urness And this year, that’s a word right? But you had like, I’m gonna get to this point, we’re determined to get to where you want him to go? Do you think that helps you with hint?

Kara Goldin 6:51
Sure, I always talk about on this journey helps them to get where they are today. But you don’t think about it when you’re in it. For me, I wanted my first job out of college. And I think my dad always instilled in me that brands when, and he always really believed he had founded a company called Healthy Choice inside of ConAgra. And he always really believed in brands. And so he instilled in my head like, you should go and work for a brand. Because even if it doesn’t work out, when you’re interviewing somewhere else, they remember the brand. And then they’ll actually listen to you.

Seth Goldstein 7:38
And wait behind you, which is great.

Kara Goldin 7:41
Right? And so I think that was sort of, you know, definitely impactful for me. But I think also negotiating with my parents. Look, I was the last of five kids. And are you how am I gonna say yeah, my parents were so good at in my mind at saying no. I mean, it was like, Hey, can I go to a party on Friday? No. Okay, why? You just can’t? And I’m like, well, that’s not really an answer and

Seth Goldstein 8:09
sound like my son. My son will never accept a street now.

Kara Goldin 8:14
For my dad was why. Exactly. My dad used to say, you know, Kara, the problem with you is that when I say maybe to you, you’re like halfway out the door going and doing what I was not really sure about? Because you were like, Well, you didn’t say no. So yes, yeah. Right. And again, I was good at negotiating my dad and the rest of my siblings, I think, thought I’d be a lawyer. Because I was constantly thinking about how do I figure out how to get, but it also extended to, you know, my parents were both working. We had five kids, my worlds Wow. At a very young age, I was figuring out what I wanted to do and how I could do it. So things like I was just telling the story to my son the other day where my thing was gymnastics. And so I had to get gymnastics all the way across town, the bus system in Scottsdale, Arizona was not really existent. And yeah, and so my, my sister would swim on the other part of town, and then my brother would be in football or baseball or whatever. And so I was always the one that was saying, Okay, I need mom to pick me up at six o’clock. And she needed to be to more places. And she and so I would say, Okay, well, who else go Who else can give you a ride? And my brother and sister were really good at saying I don’t know. And so I’m like, okay, so I would get the phone numbers of like the other

Seth Goldstein 10:00
Give siblings around? Well, I wouldn’t,

Kara Goldin 10:03
I would figure it out. Like I’d organize it in order to get it done. And then some, I mean, sometimes I would also, you know, figure out that there wasn’t going to be anyone. So then I had to go figure it out. So for for myself, right. But it was very rare that I couldn’t figure it out. And I think that those kind of skills at a really young age was with you, too. Yeah. And then I would always, if I just couldn’t figure it out, my parents were always there to help me figure it out. But like, I almost viewed it as fun. Like it was a puzzle to go figure it out. And so when I was going to actually find my first job, it was like an extension of the puzzle. I mean, I wanted to venture in journalism. And, you know, people are like, Wait, you’re going to New York? I mean, how are you going to get there? And I’m, like, Well, I’m not going to drive. I mean, I’m gonna fly there

Seth Goldstein 11:04
soon as New York. Yeah, exactly. Right. And

Kara Goldin 11:07
so and I had some savings. And I had a, you know, we didn’t have Expedia, or Orbitz back then. So I went down the street to my local travel agent. And I mean, it’s a crazy story, because I knew I wanted to go to all these different cities, and try and find a job. And then also kind of, I thought I wanted to be in journalism, but I didn’t have experience. So I wasn’t sure whether or not I was gonna get hired. I knew I wanted to work for a brand, but I thought, you know, what’s the worst that’s gonna happen, I’m just gonna get really good at interviewing. And so I went to a local travel agent and said, Look, there’s certain legs that I definitely I have interviewed set up for to go and meet with people like New York. But if I can afford it, I want to go to all these different cities. So I want to go from Phoenix to LA to San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, and New York, I knew I wanted to live in a big city. And, you know, everybody, including me was thinking, I probably had to cut some legs. But the travel agent called me back and she said, it’ll be $472 Wow. And I’m like, wait for one leg, no, all of it. And so I was such a good travel agent. But I was super sure that they made a mistake. And even $472, I thought it would be two grand to do the whole thing. And I was gonna have to cut some legs off or whatever. But it was $472. And I had enough on my, actually my American Express that I got in college, I had enough left on my Amex to charge it. And so I did it really thinking that I was going to say, well, you know, you told me it was 472. And you know, and I bought the ticket already. I kept thinking even when I showed up at the airport, that there was going to be some problem, but it wasn’t, it wasn’t and I got to New York and and I never seen a hotel, I ended up finding friends or, or parents of friends of mine. Because I you know, something else I also share with people, especially college students, I’m like, Look, you’re in a position, where if you go find a friend, who you know, is from Chicago, and you see you, they go to their parents, and they say care’s interviewing for a job. And she was wondering if she might be able to stay for one night. And, you know, of course that right? It’s not like I’m there to you know, party and have fun. I’m actually interviewing for a job and you know, they. And so that’s what I did. And I always had enough money to pay for flowers or a bottle of wine. So and I make the bed and all that kind of stuff. So it was a nice guest at all the places but what I realized is, you know, if you ask for help along the way, you figure out a lot. And you know, most of these parents were thought it was pretty darn cool. That I went yeah, exactly. My friends probably hated me. In some cases, you know that they were like, Wait, what’d she do? Hey, Kara, here. We are thrilled you’re listening with us. And I hope you’re enjoying this episode. I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing so many amazing guests over the past few years, and there are so many more to come. I cannot wait. And my focus is on entrepreneurs and CEOs, real innovators and leaders who are making a difference. That’s what I’m looking forward to bringing you. One of the reasons I enjoy interviewing many of my guests is that I get to learn. We all need to hear stories that teach us to be better. To inspire us and help us get through those challenging moments. I can’t remember the last time I had a guess that didn’t leave me feeling like a major hurdle had been overcome. We just don’t hear these stories enough. And when we do, we learn to be smarter and stronger. Don’t you agree? Episodes are concise, but packed with amazing info that you will surely be inspired by, do me a favor and send me a DM and tell me what you think about each interview that you get a chance to be inspired by. And if you are so inclined, please leave one of those five star reviews for the Kara Goldin show on one of your favorite podcast platforms as well. Reviews really, really help. Now, let’s get back to this episode. But yeah, so that was, you know, Fortune magazine was where I wanted to be. And, and you didn’t work out. But

Seth Goldstein 16:02
though you didn’t get fortune, necessarily. You’ve done so much. You weren’t you weren’t the time now the journalism department. But you might argue that this is was better experience in the long run the circulation manager at a time ventually because you’re able to figure out how distribution goes which you run a beverage company, you gotta figure out this distribution. And then you learn some sales and CNN, you know, I mean, and then AOL, and that was like, one of my favorites. Besides the hints story was one my favorite stories is how you hit on swag of AOL, because you were the AOL West Coast office, it was for crying out loud.

Kara Goldin 16:41
I’ve still got some umbrellas in my browser. Still, I still have it. In fact, somebody reached out to me who collects AOL merchandise, and he’s he’s an engineer, I think at Apple. And he’s, yeah, it was really kind of funny. And I said, only because I think it’s hysterical. Like, I probably do have an umbrella for you. So I know. So anyway.

Seth Goldstein 17:13
So what is that? What’s the I mean, you’ve done the corporate world, and then you decide with FeO to go out and do Hence, why is the best thing and I actually pair these questions together, what’s the best thing, the worst thing about being an entrepreneur?

Kara Goldin 17:30
So, you know, it’s funny, I didn’t intend on being an entrepreneur, I was quite happy sort of on my path that I was on. I started as, as you mentioned, at Time Magazine, and you know, one of the things that I realized as I was working at time, I didn’t call it culture back then. But I realized that I didn’t sort of fit into the mold that they wanted me to fit in to. So they wanted me to, you know, not everybody, but many of the people thought that people who rose through the ranks should go to business school and should, should be come from Ivy League schools. And so I thought, I’m going to need to make a decision about that. I can’t make a decision about going to an Ivy League school, but I can make a decision about going to business school or not. And that’s when I was recruited to go and work at another media company called CNN. And I have

Seth Goldstein 18:39
small small agency, it’s small, little media, but it was small.

Kara Goldin 18:43
I mean, it was, you know, it was 40% of the US. It was 12%. internationally. And so it was small. But you know, probably another thing that I learned about that was founder led companies, right. And there’s this energy in a founder led company. And Ted Turner was primarily in Atlanta, but he came into New York, and we he came in, came off the elevator, you knew he was here. I mean, there was this larger than life, very different culturally, than what I was seeing that time. There’s no founder, because it’s a very old company. They’re long gone. Right, and, but great. In terms of quality and brand and lots of things there. I learned a lot in circulation actually about direct to consumer and subscriptions and how to, like watch consumers. Yeah, all of that kind of stuff. But I think that my first taste of actually seeing an entrepreneur in action and a founder and action was CNN and Ted Turner, and there were days that we You didn’t know whether or not it was going to make it. I mean, sort of the big guys were ABC and NBC and big network TV, like the the news, that’s who we’re competing against. And But Ted believed and so something I, I take away from many, many things that I took away from my experience at CNN. But one of the things that I take away from that experience in particular was that Ted was always larger than life, high energy, putting stakes in the ground around the fact that CNN will be around the world, and that the world needs the same news feed, it doesn’t matter what the politics are, or they need the same news feed. And there were times when we were like, I don’t know. But then when, you know, I happened to be there when there was a major leader who learned that his country was being bombed from CNN, and that was like the hockey stick, right? I mean, all of a sudden, every ad agency wanted to talk to us because I was in sales. And so being able to experience the hockey stick and see that was pretty exciting. When I moved from New York out to San Francisco, my husband was getting into technology law. And everybody said, Go west, that’s where it’s gonna happen. First event, it’ll eventually happen and the in New York City, but for now go west. And that was when I started to think about what brands are in the Bay Area. It to me, it felt like the main thing that was in San Francisco was tech. And I wasn’t TAC. I was media. I didn’t want to work in media, outside of New York City, because I felt like it’s a very different a satellite office versus the mothership office to me just felt like, Ah, maybe I could do that. But wasn’t as as interesting.

Seth Goldstein 22:17
And finally, I find that fascinating. I’m looking at your LinkedIn cheat, I’m cheating. I’m looking at your No, go for it. But then you go to AOL. And really, you’re the quintessential entrepreneur that took their experiences I get it seems like everything happened for a reason. Maybe I’m in the moment you didn’t like know, it was happening for reasons I’m just I’m at a job them enjoying our time to leave us with this next job. But it seems like every you’ve taken every experience, you know, sir, relations sales, let’s try commerce and shopping ecommerce. I mean, your site is beautiful. And works. I mean, you know, a lot of I know a lot of entrepreneurs, I work with low entrepreneurs, when they have an idea, but they can’t execute the website very well. Like, yeah, your site works because you get it. I’m sure you have a whole team that gets it too. But like, at the top, you have to make sure that the person the stakeholders get it. And you say I just got three cases of hint water. And it was easy peasy to do. So.

Kara Goldin 23:17
Thank you. Well, and so I, I think for me, just kind of going back to your original question. I didn’t know I was going to be an entrepreneur. But having worked for entrepreneurs, I was actually part of an acquisition with AOL, so I didn’t actually interview at AOL. I was with a company that was a spin out of, of apple that was actually a little known Steve Jobs idea that figure out how to actually get an interview at Apple, coupled with the fact that it was like 100 miles away. It was in Cupertino versus San Francisco where I was living. So I ended up cold calling. I picked up the phone. Now observe, Walt Walt Mossberg and the Wall Street Journal wrote about this little CD ROM company that was doing something pretty cool that would actually change the face maybe of E commerce and I

Seth Goldstein 24:27
was the E commerce with CD e commerce, which I love looked at me and she’s like, why am I told him that that was really cool for bad.

Kara Goldin 24:35
Yeah. And I was just intrigued by it. And so I picked up the phone i And again, like I didn’t intend on going and getting a job. I just asked this guy if he’d go grab coffee with me. I figured if nothing else, maybe I know one person. Maybe he’d give me some ideas on how to get a job in tech. And the first thing out of his mouth was so What were you doing in New York? And I said, Oh, I worked for this company called CNN. And he said, What’s Ted Turner? Like? And here he had worked for Steve Jobs. And I was

Seth Goldstein 25:11
that is it. That is a right. interesting conversation. Yeah.

Kara Goldin 25:16
And it was an interesting conversation. And he was saying, like, what did you learn? And you know, he’s a little bit older than me and had sort of at Apple for a while and knew Steve pretty well. And, and so for me, it was, you know, it was sort of like trading stories. And he was interested, and what I had experienced and been through, and I was interested in what he had experienced and been through. And then I said, So wait, how do you guys make money? And he said, Well, we’ll figure that out yet. And I said, mazing, because at CNN, we were all concerned about making money, like Ted Turner wanting to make money. And we’re just developing the product. And he and I have a whole different mindset. And I said, Well, hmm, that’s interesting. I mean, do you worry about not having a job pretty, pretty soon? He’s like, No, not really, maybe you should come and like, help us figure out how to make money. And I’m like, Sure. And then the next thing, I knew I had a job offer to run this thing called business development. And I figured what’s the worst that can happen? I mean, maybe I get fired, you know, they may be an experience. And all of a sudden, one of our investors was this company called America Online. And I’ll never forget. I mean, this is a crazy story. I’ll never forget, they’re in our office. And Ted leonsis, who was the president of America Online for many, many years. And you know, he’s really intrigued with the product, they’re going to major investor in the company. And, you know, he, after a while, was just like, maybe we should just acquire you guys, because you’ve got all these relationships with all these catalogers. And, you know, that was when, if you remember AOL, where there was, you know, these buttons, where there was news, sports, and that sort of a channel strategy. Yeah. And I, and I thought, I was like, Well, maybe you should, and he’s like, Have you been on America Online? And this is prior to them sort of doing this graphical, like, fix of their site? And I said, you know, actually, I’m not gonna lie. I was on CompuServe. And I mean, I remember Ted like, was like, really? And I said to Why aren’t you on AOL? And I said, you know, it’s just not very graphically. Interesting. And I mean, that’s what I really liked the CD ROM, because, you know, it was

Seth Goldstein 27:57
you couldn’t do what we do now. You couldn’t have hint, drink? Back in the 90s. You couldn’t?

Kara Goldin 28:04
Yeah, this speed of the computer? And, you know, it just wasn’t there. And that’s wherever load? Yeah, and it really, I mean, I go back to, you know, Steve Jobs. I mean, it was Steve Jobs idea that if we actually told the consumer to load a disk in the computer, and the disk would actually write to the hard drive, and the consumer would be told to update. Right. And that’s it, and you didn’t and so, it, it made me appreciate the fact that great products, consumers don’t need to know how they work. They need to know the bare bones basic. If you ever drank it needs to taste great. All of that kind of stuff. But anyway, long winded story, because I felt like with all of these different entrepreneurs, and then that extended into working at AOL working, you know, with incredible entrepreneurs, including Ted leonsis and Steve Case, and, and was, was an experience of building the puzzle, right, continuing to build the puzzle. And I think that’s the thing about both being in media, and both being in technology is that both of those industries are really tied to getting better, right? Like, that’s how you grow based on and oftentimes it’s, you know, technology needs to get there in order for the product to actually be better. But when I having worked in that I kept, I had experienced searching for how do we get better and constantly thinking about how do I get better, which is kind of what athletes do. All right, how do I get

Seth Goldstein 30:03
a book which everyone should go buy this book, but you read it. So the how you deal with it is that you had the jugs of water that you came up with. But then you would think I laughed out loud again when Phil had to drink them. Not dangerous, but the mole in the water, you know, prove that it was safe. Oh, and the problem with these espresso machine and all that good stuff. I mean, you gotta read this book. I mean, it’s not just its autobiography, autobiography. But it’s it’s so much more. I mean, there’s stories and it’s, you know, it’s about family. It’s a great book. I love it. So, here’s a question, then we’ll wrap up here. What is the most important thing and carry with you all the time I

Kara Goldin 30:48
carry with me all the time besides hand, because I always have. I always have that bottle in my hand. You know? What do I have in my hand all the time? I feel like I have a lot besides my phone in hand, I have ruined his credit card. More and more, you know, with Apple Pay. It’s probably less at this point. Yeah. Yeah. And just and just tapping it. But what do I have? You know, I think I think I’ve I have memories, right? I have a lot of memories. And, and I’m constantly thinking about things. I’m a big thinker. I’m constantly thinking about things and connecting dots. And I always puzzle and solving the puzzle. And so all randomly, I go on hikes every morning with my dogs at the state

Seth Goldstein 31:53
park right by you, right, but you said you’re right by.

Kara Goldin 31:56
I’m in Marin County. Yeah, I’m right next to a state park. There’s like 100 acres of trails. Yeah, yeah. So I’m out there, you know, four or five miles at least every every morning. And which is great. But it also is my time to sort of think and I find myself, you know, can be somewhat random, because I’ll just go somewhere where I’ll start thinking about things like my experience at time, and I’ll be like, Oh, that’s what that was for. I mean, I’m really I really love as Steve, as Steve Jobs used to say, connecting the dots. Right. I think it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes their experiences you know, they were challenging. They were hard times for me, but I’m like, oh, but there were lessons learned and and you know, nots what I really try and get across in my book, too, that I think that sometimes my experiences may actually help people think about their own.

Seth Goldstein 33:00
Oh, yeah, I absolutely agree. So Kara, best place to find you online. Obviously drink But where else where do you hang out a lot online.

Kara Goldin 33:11
You know, I’m all over all social platforms. Even Tik Tok at Kara Goldin that one out Yeah. Yeah. And but I’m I’m on Twitter a lot. And yeah, and I’m not into I don’t get into politics. I don’t get into you know

Seth Goldstein 33:34
religion or not hot water. You get the water.

Kara Goldin 33:37
I get well and I also just get into a show a lot of my puppy pictures on there. I make my puppy was one of my puppies was on my lap last night snoring so loud. You have no I’m like, Who is she like this? Insane. And people were just cracking up. It’s like, you know, good thing. She’s so cute. Where

Seth Goldstein 34:00
if you do it, right can be a lot of fun. So then Kara Goldin was fries, you know? Goldin. So, Kara, this has been so much fun. It’s so nice to meet you after I read your book, which I felt like I knew you after the book. So this is this is great. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Kara Goldin 34:22
Thank you. Thanks again for listening to the Kara Goldin show. If you would, please give us a review and feel free to share this podcast with others who would benefit and of course, feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode of our podcast. Just a reminder that I can be found on all platforms at Kara Goldin. And if you want to hear more about my journey, I hope you will have a listen or pick up a copy of my book on daunted which I share my journey, including founding and building hint. We are here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at And thanks everyone for listening have a great rest of the week and 2023 and goodbye for now