Interview Replay: Kara on Law Chat with Girija

Episode 260.5

Kara Goldin walks us through her journey of graduating from college to trying to get an internship in Fortune magazine all the way to being featured in it multiple times as a businesswoman and everything in between. She shares some golden nuggets for every business owner and how she disrupted an entire industry with persistence and great business sense. 

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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 for my interview on the fabulous podcast launch app. I hope you enjoy it. And please make sure to tune in Monday for a brand new episode of Kara Goldin show. Enjoy.

Girija Patel 0:55
Hi, friends. Welcome to Law Chat with Girija. My name is Girija Parker Patel. I’m a mother, I’m a wife, I am a podcaster. I am an educator. I am a businesswoman. I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m a lawyer. I truly believe in the power of mentorship for storytelling. And that’s what love chat is all about. So whether you are in six months, or 10 years of business experience, we can all learn from each other’s experiences, because we face the same challenges. And we have the victories and we have mistakes that we’re all making. So why not lean into them and know that we’re going to be fine. And we’re going to be okay, and we’re going to be inspired. And of course, this is law chat with yours. So we will be talking about some law at some point during the conversation. And if you love what you hear today, which I know you will then subscribe to Logitech with garrucha and share the love. So grab your coffee, sparkling water or wine and let’s dive in to the next inspiring mentorship session. Hi friends welcome to love chat. Have you heard those common phrases drink water, not sugar. Oh, but it’s diet is not going to be harmful for you. And also necessity is the mother of all inventions. Well, our guest today is the living example of how necessity is the mother of all inventions. And diet is not always good for you. And water is amazing, especially when it is the way that our founder of hint water and hint incorporated in the hint brand. Kara Goldin has discovered in her award winning hint water which is leading unsweetened flavored water out there and she is drinking it today also as we are on the call. And she’s the author of undaunted, which is literally an amazing book. It’s so easy to read, filled with amazing nuggets of wisdom. She has been named one of in sales, badass 50 Fast companies growing most creative people in the business fortunes Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, fortunes most innovative women in food and drink and the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California. I mean, you come with so many accolades, and your reputation precedes you. And it’s such an honor to have you on law chat today with us. So thank you so much for being here with us.

Kara Goldin 3:19
Thanks for having me. Super fun.

Girija Patel 3:21
I think actually, you know, I am always like, you know, I want to know about the journey because this whole podcast is about mentorship through storytelling. And I think it’s so interesting that, you know, is reading your book. And in the beginning of the book, you talked about how you love reading, and one of the things that you started reading and you started developing that habit was through reading the Wall Street Journal, and the Fortune Magazine. And here you are getting named as one of the top leaders in the industry with the Fortune magazine. So that that must have been such like a full circle. Clap on the back type of situation. I mean, so surreal.

Kara Goldin 3:57
It was it was funny. One of the funniest situations that I had was when I was starting hint, I was invited into the fortune offices, obviously it wasn’t working at in the time life building anymore, where I started my career. But when I was invited in to kind of share the story of how I had gone from being a tech executive to starting my own business, my own water business, the editor of Fortune Magazine, came in the door, Patti sellers, who runs the up until recently ran the fortune Most Powerful Women conference and she said, So tell me like, What did you do before you went into tech? And I kind of chuckled and I said, I worked in this building and she said, Wait, what I said to her and I again I hadn’t read my book yet, but I told her the story and she was like, Get out of here. I cannot believe you wanted to work at Fortune Magazine. You marched into the HR offices, I cannot believe it. And now you’re running your own company. And this is crazy. And my first job at not fortune, but at Time magazine was as an executive assistant and her mouth, like, went to the ground. I mean, she just could not believe it. And Patti is still a friend of mine to this day, but she just said, Oh, my God, I love the story even more. I mean, this is the story of we all start somewhere. Yeah, we all have to, you know, keep figuring out what we should be doing. And I mean, that was the story of me, wanting to be in magazines, I ended up being in television, after magazines, and then ended up moving to the Bay Area and was in tech, and went through my first acquisition, all of these things that, you know, you sort of like, say, one day, I want to do all of that. I just, I felt like, looking back, I did a lot of crazy things. But again, when you’re in it, you don’t know. Right? And so anyway, it was the article actually ran in Fortune Magazine. And I think she probably shared it with a lot of people internally, just especially a lot of people who were executive assistants saying that, you know, you can go do other things, and you can grow in organizations and go do incredible things. So anyway, it was a funny story.

Girija Patel 6:27
It is so cool to see how some people might say the universe plays out with all the dreams that you have in your heart. I also think like, you know, just from kind of reading the book, and then also just on the other research end that I’ve done, is that you’ve always been somebody very persistent, and you’ve never had the I can’t mentality, you’ve always had the I Can mentality. And I think that mindset is extremely instrumental in getting those dreams, and you know, achieving them as well. And so if we kind of rewind a little bit back to when you were in college, and when you were trying to get your first job and internship, how did that pan out? And then how did that lead you to where you are today?

Kara Goldin 7:09
Well, I was a journalism major. And I kept thinking that I would go and do something with writing, writing was always my passion, I really enjoyed it. I had a few friends of mine in school who were finance majors, and they would we would study together, and I would see some of the stuff that they were studying, and I just didn’t understand it. And you know, EBIT on spreadsheets, and it was just, it was just foreign to me on so many levels. And I felt like, I’ve always wanted to learn, and I’ve always been curious. And so I had an opening in my schedule, truth be told, I really wanted to take classes with these friends of mine, because they were fun, and I liked hanging out with them. But these were some of the hardest classes I had ever taken. And I thought, oh my gosh, I’ve just been, you know, punched in the stomach, and I should not, it was too late to drop these classes. I thought, oh, my gosh, these are I’m in way over my head. And I remember going to my professor and the finance professor and saying, How do I catch up, I’ve never gotten a C before in my life. And now I’m getting a C class. I mean, I think I made a huge mistake. And he was the one that said to me, you know, sometimes if you immerse yourself and some other publications that will help you that kind of will create a story that will help you make sense of what you’re actually studying in school. And that was excellent advice. And with that, I went and picked up Fortune magazine over, you know, in my local drugstore I went, you know, on the newsstand and bought it. And I just started reading. And a lot of it didn’t make sense at first. But I figured if I got a subscription, I would just keep reading it and reading it. And then I also got the Wall Street Journal, I felt like the Wall Street Journal was just much more dry and was kind of, you know, step two of where I wanted it to be. And so fortune for me just seem like whoever is writing the stories just is putting it into a format that I really can grasp. And so when I graduated, much to my surprise, I graduated with a minor in finance, because it these were the classes that I just kept taking and kept learning. And it’s sort of a talk that I give when I go and speak on college campuses, by the way, because, you know, we go to college, and we’re told, you know, find what you’re interested in, find what you’re passionate about. Oftentimes, you’re really, it comes naturally to you. But while you’re in a setting where you’ve got lots of different opportunities, why don’t you find those classes that are really tough for you, and remember where you were in the beginning of it and where you were like in the end, because oftentimes, you can sit there and look at those growth times as times that, you know, really showed you who you were and who you could be. And so anyway, just going back to how I ended up getting to Fortune Magazine, that was when I was looking for a job, Fortune Magazine. And, frankly, no other magazines were coming on campus. And so I just saw in the inside front cover, in the masthead that Fortune magazine was in New York City, it seemed like, there were lots of publications in New York City, I had never been to New York. And so I thought, I’m going to write a letter and see if I get a response. That’s the worst that could happen. They just don’t respond. And so I wrote to Fortune I never wrote to the Wall Street Journal. I don’t know why. But I just like really wanted to work at Fortune. And Marshall Loeb, who was the van managing editor wrote back to me and said, if you’re ever in the New York area, I would love to meet with you. And in my letter, I shared with them that I was a student. And I didn’t say that I had, you know, tons of internships and years of experience. I said, I was a student, and I wanted to come and work for him as basically somebody that I would learn from, right, that I felt like he had skills that I didn’t know, and that I wanted to, you know, work at a place that I was inspired. And think about, if you were to receive that letter today. Yeah, you don’t receive letters like that. And again, nobody told me to do that. But I think it’s something that obviously I stood out. Anyway, so he wrote me the letter and people said, Well, does that mean that you’re going to, like, get an interview, and I said, I don’t know. I’m just gonna go there. And I’m gonna see what happens. And I, and I really thought I had enough money to buy a plane ticket, my sister’s girlfriend lived in New York. And I mean, it’s funny because she she lived in, in the East Village, on St. Mark’s place, and totally aging myself. But this is like time at Green Bay, St. Mark’s

the place where you want it to be. I was like, this little girl from Arizona. I know, I didn’t want to have hit me. It was just, you know, heroin needles everywhere. I mean, it was so crazy. And I was like, you know, eyes wide open to this whole thing. It was nutty. But I figured, even if I couldn’t actually get in the door, to get an interview, I got to New York, to see something, and I wasn’t going to be disappointed. And sometimes, if you think too much about the end, you know, it’s never going to happen, how am I going to make it happen? All of these things, you’ll psych yourself out, you’ll create the sphere inside of you. And, you know, frankly, other people help with that. And your family and friends are the worst, right? I’ve talked about that a lot, because they don’t ever want you to take risks. Yeah. And I knew I wasn’t gonna be on the street. I had a sofa to sleep on for a few days. And it was all good. You know, that was the story. And, you know, it’s a story of, I share in the book, I didn’t get the job at Fortune, I ended up instead asking for an interview at Time Magazine, really an interview anywhere, as long as it was close to Fortune. I mean, eventually, I’ll meet them, and I’ll find a way. And that never happens. Now

Girija Patel 13:45
you just decided to be part of their article that they’re writing about.

Kara Goldin 13:51
And actually, I mean, it’s funny because you and I, before we got on, we were talking about business school, I was thinking, in fact, part of what I talked about in the book, too, is the culture of time. And you know, I went to a state school, I went to Arizona State University, it was in state tuition for me, it worked for me, I never thought there was anything wrong with it until I got to New York. And I was surrounded by a lot of people who had gone to Ivy League schools that were getting jobs there. And, you know, my boss and others, at time knew I was smart and capable. And they, their opinion, having worked at time was and living in this culture was that I should probably go to business school, I really wanted to sort of rise and I thought about it. And I was getting ready to apply. And then I was headhunted by this late stage startup called CNN. And you know, and really see I mean, it’s funny to think back on it because CNN was definitely not ABC News or NBC News, but everybody said you’ll never get a job at ABC or NBC. If I never tried to get a job at ABC or NBC because I believed everyone that I would know. But thinking about that. I mean, it was an amazing opportunity when I thought, I started to get cold feet thinking, what am I doing working for CNN who’s like, a clear like third and news at that point. And everybody that I talked to that I really trusted said, Ted Turner is a genius. You should, if you get an opportunity to go inside of there for a couple years, business school will always be there. And I always, like had that in the back of my mind. But all these new opportunities have coming along. We’re learning opportunities. And so that’s the message that I share with young people who are in the workplace, and also college students that it’s like, you know, just not being so prescriptive about what’s the next but instead of just going along with where you are today,

Girija Patel 16:01
and there’s nothing that is equivalent to experience, the amount of education you get hands on with the experience that you’re doing while you’re on the job is why a lot of business schools want you to be working before you come in and do your masters just because that education helps you immerse into the everyday experience. And you can then apply it later on to the technical things you’re learning in business school.

Kara Goldin 16:27
I totally agree with you. And I think it’s also interesting, because I think if I wouldn’t have gone and worked at CNN, I think back on watching Ted Turner, he was definitely was not always in the New York office. He was mostly in the Atlanta office. But he was like the first entrepreneur that I had ever seen, kind of inaction. And when he would walk into the office. I mean, CNN was maybe in 40% of households when I was working there. It was not, you had to have cable. Yeah, yeah. I mean, it was complicated to get it. Most people in New York had it because you couldn’t get reception if you didn’t have cable, but he would march around. And he you know, what is termed today, a visionary entrepreneur, he really believed. And there were many days that we believed, there were many days that people around me who were working with me, didn’t believe that we’re going to be able to compete against ABC and NBC, a lot of what we’re doing at CNN wasn’t measured. I mean, there was just like, a lot of reasons. But again, as a founder, as a leader, as a CEO, especially visionary, and now, you know, we’ve heard so often, I mean, about Steve Jobs. And, you know,

Girija Patel 17:51
Elon Musk, we want visionaries.

Kara Goldin 17:55
Yeah. And until you actually, oftentimes until they’re successful, we can’t. Right, and that was Ted. And so people often ask me, like, how did you have the courage to go up against the soda companies to take on big sugar, all of these different things, you know, to become an entrepreneur? And I think it’s, it was really Ted first, and then, you know, multiple entrepreneurs after that, that were really showing me that you can do it. If you put stakes in the ground. Yeah, leave, if you, you know, can stay alive more than anything. Yeah, exciting experience, that that’s the most important thing. And it’s not really about that you’re some special person or you’ve got to have tenacity, got out of curiosity, you’ve got to, you know, be okay with having doubters around you along the way. And, you know, all of those things. So I talk a lot about that in the book undoctored as well.

Girija Patel 18:58
Yeah, I think what you’ve really hit on is a couple things that I’m just gathering and thinking about also is that when we have a dream in our heart, others may not be sharing that dream. And so they may not be on board because they just don’t get it. They don’t see the vision, they don’t see the determination behind it. And it’s okay, it’s okay to say you’re not part of this team right now. I still love you, but you’re not part of my team. And that’s fine, too. And just like, you know, with CNN, with Apple, and then also later on with Tesla, and then also Netflix, like, nobody thought Netflix was going to do well. And now everybody their dog is streaming. So the thing is like even with your brand later on when you found it hint, you also disrupted a whole genre and a whole like industry as well. And I know in your book, you also mentioned where the Coke, I think it was one of the coke executives and they were like, sweetie, nobody does that everybody wants sugar. What’s wrong with that one sentence but

Unknown Speaker 19:59
it’s I’ve always Yeah, it’s so didn’t

Girija Patel 20:03
give up and you had a vision. And you were the visionary of your brand of your company.

Kara Goldin 20:10
Yeah, I mean, it’s, again, crazy to think back on those days. But I remember very specifically, here I am, you know, fighting away for shelf space, it’s the early days of hands, I’d gotten it into Whole Foods, I was trying to get it on the shelf of Safeway, and some of these other big chains and our category that wasn’t in the planogram. And so what I mean by that is, I knew I was creating a new product and a new company. But I never really thought about the fact that if you are not in one of the categories that is being recognized by retailers, then you’re not going to get shelf space. So I would go and meet with Safeway, I was like, good enough to be able to get a meeting, but then, you know, the poor buyer would look at me and say, Okay, well, you’re not really soda, you’re not really playing water. What are you? And I’m like, It’s a brand new category. It’s unsweetened flavored water, and I’m so excited about it. And she’s like, we don’t recognize that. And I’m like, What do you mean, I’m the only one that’s doing it, everyone else is doing flavored water with sweeteners. Yeah, they’re like, I totally get it. But the planograms are set for the year, and I can’t create an entirely new category. And so it’s something that, you know, again, I have no idea, if I would have known, I probably wouldn’t have started the company, because I would have thought, there’s no way that I’m going to be able to get shelf space, and sales and all of that. So that was kind of the beginning frustrations, and then where we were being distributed in Whole Foods and some other specialty markets. They were starting, I kept feeling like, every time I walked in, I almost didn’t want to walk in to merchandize the product, because they would tap me on the shoulder and say, by the way, we need a longer shelf life for your product, because it’s gonna go bad. And I’m like, Okay, I don’t want to see you anymore. Every time I’m coming in, you’re raising the bar on me. And you know, I got enough problems to deal with. And I don’t need that i We’re trying, we’re like last week, we just got it up to six months or whatever. They’re like, You need to get it past a year. And I mean, then it was like past 14 months. And it was just a constant thing. He didn’t, by the way is over two years now. Kind of. Yeah, which is I mean, it was truly unheard of. But anyway, when I was sharing with a friend of mine, how far these like little problems work that a lot of people didn’t know I was going through. That’s when she said, you know, you should talk to this gentleman that I met on the airplane, who was very senior at Coca Cola, and maybe he’ll distribute your product, maybe he’ll buy your company, maybe he’ll, you know, make your product, they have a lot of bottling plants. And so I’m dreaming. So great. I can go back into tech, do what I’ve been doing that is so much easier. And it’ll be great. So I was so prepared for this phone call. And so excited. I had my little deck I was, you know, we didn’t have zoom calls. But it was like I sent it to him. I was really excited. And 15 minutes into the conversation after I’m selling him on the fact that I’ve created this whole new drink and category and it’s doing great in the stores that we’re in. He’s like, sweetie, Americans love sweet. This product isn’t going anywhere. And I was like, you know, my balloon just got deflated. And I’ve had so many people over the years, ask me like, well, he called you sweetie. Like, why didn’t you hang up on him? Why didn’t you say excuse me? I have no idea. I was so in shock. I was my dad said to me, it’s a good thing. You weren’t sitting across the table, because that probably wouldn’t have gone very well. Like, I mean, I’m looking at the phone going. Did he really do that? I mean, it was crazy. And and so during those moments of silence and shock, I started to listen. And I started to hear that he was trying to convince me not to go forward with this product. I was listening to him sell me the fact that I was wrong. Yet I had customers that were buying the product and so I thought I could open my mouth and tell them that I’m not wrong. Or I could recognize that if I keep them on the phone and keep them talking for a little longer. I’ve now got the A major beverage company strategy for and he doesn’t get that I’ve actually bypassed this whole, everything that he’s talking about. The end game is really not about zero calories, the end game is about having a product that doesn’t have sweeteners in it. And so I got off the phone with them. And that’s when I thought I have a choice, I can either focus on the fact that he called me, sweetie, the fact that he’s not going to distribute the product, the fact that he’s made the product, or I can throw the gas on and go as fast as I can. And my little tugboat hoping that I didn’t say anything that’s going to convince him to turn his a cruise ship around with all his stacks of money coming after me. And so, you know, that’s what I did. I still to this day, you know, share with entrepreneurs that, like people said, I wouldn’t even talk to a competitor, because I would think that a competitor, would, you know, they would steal my ideas. You know, and I’m such a huge proponent of you never know, how about when you talk to a competitor, you actually realize that they’re going to give you new ideas. Yeah. Right? Yeah, how you can position your product, what else you should be doing, and help you think about things. And that’s how I really thought about things versus thinking someone’s going to steal my idea, because stealing your ideas, one thing but also executing an ideas, at least hats, if not more of success?

Girija Patel 26:38
Absolutely. Absolutely. You can have all the ideas, but then if you don’t know how to make them, it just won’t happen.

Kara Goldin 26:43
Hey, Kara, here, we are thrilled you’re listening with us. And I hope you’re enjoying this episode, I have 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 inspire us and help us get through those challenging moments. I can’t remember the last time I had to guess that didn’t leave me feeling like a major hurdle had been overcome. We just don’t hear the 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.

Girija Patel 28:06
Even the idea of heads also started from a need of yours, it started from this desire to realize that all the diet drinks that you are drinking are terrible for your body. Right. And then you were also having you were just going through some health stuff like with weight, and with acne and things like that, you’re like, we got to have something else that has to be better than just plain water. And so your your head does not have any preservatives in it either. Right? In order to

Kara Goldin 28:36
know and so and so that was part of you know, my specs for the product, again, not knowing what the heck I was talking about. But I basically said to every bottler, who would talk to me and there were many that wouldn’t talk to me because I didn’t have experience. That’s when I said I want to do a product that doesn’t have preservatives in it doesn’t have sweeteners in it and using real fruit. And most of them said, Yeah, we don’t do that. Because they thought it was a liability, like we want to touch it. And so when I would ask them, Well, you know, why can’t be done most of these bottlers who were bottling 1000s of bottles every single day of juice and some other things. They didn’t know the answer. And so my own curiosity, and you know, being the precocious kid who was constantly asking my dad why, why why it basically continued, I thought it was a game. Like maybe one day if I asked somebody, they’re actually going to give me a clue to be able to kind of take that clue and create it. And I think actually, it’s interesting coming from tech, so many people saw me as not having experience yet I had been, you know, not having experience in the bear Bridge industry, I certainly thought that about myself as well. And there were definitely days in the beginning when I thought, I’m not going to be able to create this product to create this company, all of those things, but actually focusing on the consumer, and tech, and then I was a consumer, I was actually able to think about every single day when I would hear the doubters, when I would hear the experience people say something, I’d be like, well, that’s not really true. Like I’m a consumer, I left drinking diet soda. And I didn’t move over to vitamin water. Yeah, for me, it was like, instead, I was searching. And I kept going back to diet soda, because I hated the taste of water. And finally, when I had this very important stack in front of me, starting with how I was looking at what I was feeding my own kids ingredients became very important. Yeah. And I equated finally, how ingredients and health could actually be one in the same or I should say, not having health mentioned my skin issue. For years, I looked at what I was putting on my skin. I never really thought about what I was drinking. Because diet for me, it really eluded health. Yeah. and healthy. For so many people, when we were starting him 17 years ago, I would tell them, I gave up diet soda. In two and a half weeks, I lost over 20 pounds. They’re like, wait, what? I mean, your skin’s better? All you know, it’s just, it’s crazy that all this happened to you? And are you eating? Are you, you know, like all of these questions along the way. And I’m like, I feel great. And I stopped drinking the stuff that I had been dreaming for years, and many people still think didn’t believe me. But again, being able to have that story. That was my own story. Whenever I would run across people, including, you know, the Coca Cola executives who, you know, really thought that I was roadkill even before I got going. Having that experience with the consumer, not actually, having worked inside of a large company, where I was sort of taught to think a certain way about the consumer helps me to actually be clear about thinking differently,

Girija Patel 32:34
right? That is the best because you had actual market research with yourself even because you were your ideal client at the end of the day. Yeah, it’s all too. And I

Kara Goldin 32:45
think like having your own experience, there are some people who would say that that can be dangerous, right? Because you’re sort of self selecting on on sort of what you’re, what you’re viewing what you’re listening to. But I kept thinking that part of the problem was that a lot of people just weren’t there yet where I was yet they were very curious about it. And I think that that was the thing. I mean, everyone from the guy stocking the shelves at Whole Foods, to people who were drinking diet soda every day to other people who, you know, had developed type two diabetes, and they were marathon runners, they were drinking diet soda thinking that everything, you know, was fine, yet. They had developed these chronic diseases. They were like, This is crazy. I never had type one diabetes. I mean, where did this come from? I think so. Anyway, I think there were so many reasons why I just believed that I have to just keep going and find other people who are, you know, excited to learn, excited to try? And we’ll see what happens.

Girija Patel 33:57
Yeah. Because, you know, being in the industry that you’ve never experienced before, not even knowing the jargon of that industry, and then having to have those conversations where people are literally under estimating you now because you’ve not had any experience. How did you stay determined? I know that you said that you believed in the product, and you believed in the benefits to help. But was there anything else that helped you stay determined? And that helps you not derail? Because I’m sure there’s a lot of self doubt along with all the external doubt that surrounds you. Yeah, well, and I

Kara Goldin 34:29
think going back to those experiences that I had working for people like Ted Turner working for I actually didn’t work for Steve Jobs. But I worked for some other people that worked for Steve Jobs, where it was like, you know, when you work for people who have seen those conversations around and possible, and then they continue every single day to make progress, and they have this attitude and this mindset, that is you know, We just have to keep working on it. And as long as we continue making progress, we’ll get there. Yeah, I had been so lucky and so fortunate to be around people like that, that when I thought about this, and I was running into so many, you know, naysayers and doubters, I thought it actually could be that they just don’t know. And it was much more common in the tech industry to be able to run into people who would say, we’re not there yet, versus it can’t happen. The language that was different for me, coming into the beverage industry was everybody sized me up really quick to see if I had worked at Pepsi or Coke, or, you know, pretty much those two were like the big ones. And, you know, in the food industry, or the cosmetics industry, maybe it’s Procter and Gamble, or it’s really the big companies that have training programs, and they want to see whether or not, you know, you made it inside of there. And, and I would argue today that those are not typically the people that go out. I’m not saying can’t happen, but they don’t typically come out of there and develop companies. I mean, that’s just not where it happens. Those people actually come from different industries. And they’re consumers that are thinking about this. And that happens in every single industry, because they think differently. And I think that the goal of trying to achieve something and not getting frustrated by it, and instead of just focusing every day on making progress, and if you have too many of those days, when you’re not making any progress, then I think you’d have to look at maybe it is impossible, at least, or maybe we can’t figure this out. Now, maybe, you know, this is not the company that was meant to be but that was never the case of hint. I mean, we just kept making progress. There were just times when it was slower.

Girija Patel 37:02
Right? That’s so key. And I like that because I was going to ask you, if you had any advice on when do you know, it’s time to say bye, and to close that chapter? Because there are times when that might be a situation also, even if it’s within the product that you’re building? And maybe it’s the road that you’re trying to take? And you’re like, No, I need to take this detour now to get here. So is there any, you know, advice on that on when to know when to say stop? Or take a left?

Kara Goldin 37:31
Well, I think of a few different situations, as you’re saying that. I mean, first of all, I think as long as you’re making progress that, you know, when you don’t have too many days, when you’re not making progress and you feel stuck. I mean, the key goal at all times is to be able to move forward in some way. And, you know, try and figure out how do you move forward in some way. And sometimes you’ve got this big goal that, you know, let’s say you want to reach a billion dollars in sales by the end of the year, instead focusing on how do you break that down? How do you look at okay, what can we do this week? And then after a while, when you’re starting to make those progress, see how close you’re actually coming to it and whether or not your goal is even realistic? Yeah. Even though it’s a big goal. I mean, is it really realistic, maybe you change the timeline a little bit, or maybe you say, if then kind of equations. But then I think like the other piece of it that I’ve always been a huge proponent and and sometimes this is really hard for people is having, you know, multiple things that you’re working on at once. And you know, I think about this, because there are people that can only work on one thing. And I think that it is very, unless you hire people who are used to working on multiple things, I think it’s very, very difficult to be an entrepreneur, because that’s how you avoid risk. Right? And in lots of different situations. So you’re working on something, it’s probably not going to happen for a while, but you’re working on these other things that are actually shown, you know, progress. And it may be that you’re going to be able to get progress there. And maybe it’s much bigger than you ever thought it would be. And I think that that’s the thing that diversifying, having options, and really, that can apply to not only a company and being able to have multiple lines of revenue coming in or whatever, however you want to view it, but also, I mean, suppliers, right? If you’re looking to make something happen, you’re reliant on just one supplier that could actually hold back maybe that one supplier, you think is the person, but they haven’t quite gotten there yet. Don’t wait. Just go out and figure out how else you can make something else happen in the meantime. So I think that’s really, really important. And yet it’s something that not a lot of entrepreneurs do instead they sit here and say, we’ve got to focus on the one thing but if the One thing is not there yet, that maybe you actually should minimize risk by focusing on a couple of things until you figure out what, you know, what horse is going to win the race.

Girija Patel 40:12
Right. And so what were some of the other things that you were working on or focusing on? If they’re,

Kara Goldin 40:18
I think in the early days, I mean, it was, well, I’ll give you an example. Like, we really wanted to create a lemon water, a lot of people were asking us for a lemon water, lemon water is actually one of our most difficult flavors to produce. And so, you know, we had a huge initiative on lemon water, and it was really tough. I mean, oftentimes, again, we’re using a blind of, of the fruit, and it can actually, you know, taste almost like turpentine. And of course, like, we wanted a product that tasted great, and we weren’t going to release something that didn’t. But again, working on other flavors that were easier, and it never went away. People would ask us, like, what happened in the lemon water, and you said that you were working on it. And I’m like, and we’re still working on it. But again, like, that’s an example of, unless you have multiple things that you’re doing. You know, I think that was the other thing, too, if we sat there and, and focused everybody in the whole company, all of our, you know, retailers that we were working with as well, they, they would think of us as failures, because they keep thinking about the lemon water, these guys are never going to figure it out. Instead, we were like, really honest about, yeah, we are working on it, it’s really hard. And here’s why it’s hard. They’re like, Oh, wow, that’s really interesting. I never really thought about that. And then we come out with these other things in the meantime. So that’s the most important thing, like, have a lot of balls in the air. You know, some things will take longer. So we do, some things will never happen, you know, and you wish that they would and then other things are kind of runaway successes, that you never really thought that they were really going to be what you thought that they could be.

Girija Patel 42:04
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s a great advice to have that diversification, whether it’s within some of the endeavors that you’re taking, or within the endeavor that you’re in. So it allows you flexibility, and also allows you to stay committed to what you’re doing and not get, you know, super hard on yourself also, and just feel like I can’t do this and like have the defeat mode happening. But I know that you know, you were having you were having issues with shelflife. And then all the things that happened around that the conversations that caused a lot of doubt, even when you were first starting and this whole idea of you know, unsweetened flavored water, like what is that? I mean, I think during COVID, the whole sparkling water God like life, it was resuscitated back to life or something. But what are some other challenges that you faced as you were growing your brand to where you are today? Yeah, so many

Kara Goldin 42:59
things. I mean, just because this is, this is a legal audience. I mean, just as an example, we would launch the you know, we were really focused on the US. And pretty quickly, we had competitors, not actually, in our backyard, but across the world. And people would, you know, try and knock off the trademark, we had many people who would say to us, don’t worry about it, like, there’s nothing you can do about it. And I always tell entrepreneurs that, you know, we fought those trademarks. And we won. And we actually spent real money on fighting trademarks in Korea and Germany. And again, we had minimal product, you have to have product in some of those countries in order to actually hold on to those trademarks. But things like, you know, that are things that can sink accompany, you know, if you are not thinking about them, or, you know, again, we kept thinking about it as really the value of the overall company and being able to not have somebody who we have this one trademark in particular remember, and, and Australia, and they put sugar in the water. And that was a whole mission and purpose behind our product. And so it was, you know, it was something that we really had to, you know, pay attention to and defend along the way. But, again, I mean, that could have been our full time job working on that, but we couldn’t let it be the full time job and so there’s so many things that come up, and I think that you’ve got to be able to juggle, you’ve got to be able to be okay with you know, some ambiguity as to when things are going to happen. You know, for me, the hardest thing is always I want it done yesterday, right? And so it’s always you know, that’s that’s the toughest thing, but I think it’s being okay with doing puzzle every single day and without the picture, right, you you are trying to build it. You’re also trying to paint a picture, oftentimes not only to your consumer, your employees, your buyers that are buying your product. And our I mean, there are a lot of different customers, right that don’t fully understand your vision. They just want a product that tastes good. Yeah. And that’s it. And so I think that there’s a lot of components to being an entrepreneur that I think people just don’t really think about. That can be super, super challenging.

Girija Patel 45:33
Yeah, thank you for sharing some of this chat with us today. Because a lot of things stood out to me in your book, by the way, like a lot of things. But one of the things that I had marked about is the fear of asking questions. As an entrepreneur, we not just entrepreneurs, but professionals, whether you are doesn’t matter what kind of professional you are also asking you a question. And then fearful of what the audience will think about you or fearful of the answers might be sometimes something that dissuades you from asking that question, but I’ve noticed that you’ve never been fearful of asking questions, especially in the arena of the unknown. Yeah,

Kara Goldin 46:12
I mean, it’s interesting, because if you have no experience at all, it’s I always, you know, say to my kids and to their friends, anybody who will listen, I’m like, you know, nobody expects you to have all the answers. Because you don’t have experience, you’re actually like, you know, set yourself up, when you try and create this bigger picture about yourself, how much experience you have, just tell people you don’t and show them that you’re smart, and you’re inquisitive, and all of those things that is way more interesting to so many people. But I think, on the other side of the fence, especially when you’re switching industries, there were a few people that would say, Wait, you did what you did, and tack and, you know, built a billion dollar business inside of AOL, you know, led a team that helped build this group. But yet, that didn’t count for anything, because I was switching industries. And I thought, people are so narrow, right about their definition of success. No one was ever going to take that away from me. I had done what I had done. And now I was inquisitive. And I wanted to start over again. And I think so often, society doesn’t allow us to do that. Instead, we just assume, okay, we leave this tech company, we’re gonna go to the next tech company. Yeah. You know, and yet, I think there’s a lot of people, sadly, who almost need permission to go and start all over again. I mean, I think one thing that the book has really opened my eyes to, and a lot of people have written to me over the last year and a half after reading it is that, I think that when you rise up in an organization, and you, you know, get to that next level, maybe you broke the glass ceiling, maybe you didn’t feel like you ever even wanted to break the glass ceiling. And that’s why you couldn’t break it, whatever that is. That’s usually not the Mecca, right for people. And I think for people where they get really excited is to go and do it all over again, yet, there are so many people who, you know, become so senior, that they actually don’t feel like they can, maybe financially, they don’t feel like, you know, they can, but I think also mentally, people have so many questions about, like, why they’re doing that. And I think that I just never really believed that titles, were the thing that defined people. And, you know, I think my dad had worked inside of a large company, inside of ConAgra, where he had developed, actually a product that is still live today called Healthy Choice. And he did it inside of another company that was acquired called armour food company, and they were acquired by ConAgra. And I remember thinking, I mean, he’s a manager, yet, he’s a product manager, and he’s developed this incredible products. And he’s not a VP, he didn’t have an MBA. He’s like, I mean, that was sort of the definition of you got, you know, these VP bridles, and yet, he was creating products. And so I just thought it didn’t really matter. You know, I was able to get a bird’s eye view of that, I guess what I’m trying to say, as a kid. And, but I think sometimes we have to go back and ask ourself, even as we get older, and we move into, you know, the great positions and do what we think we’re supposed to meant to do, why can’t you switch? Especially if you feel like you’re not learning? You know, the last thing I’ll say to on that Is that I think so often too, as we get older and have all this experience, we get asked to mentor people. And I always tell people that I think that the best mentor relationships are one where it goes both ways that you’re going to learn stuff, because there’s a lot of things that you can learn from, you know, the generation below you or two generations below you, whether it’s Gen Z’s or, you know, having teach you about social, or having teach you or whatever it is, that if you’re sitting there teaching all the time, I mean, that just gets mundane, right, just just like another checkbox, you feel good about it, and it’s great. But if you’re actually going to learn something as well, from that person, and so I think like, that’s a really important thing to recognize, as well. And I think it really speaks to the importance of people needing to learn as humans, when you stop learning, that’s when you stop growing.

Girija Patel 51:02
Absolutely, I was, I was like, gonna say just that. You know, growth is absolutely essential. It’s oxygen to everything that we’re doing, and how do we grow by learning by experiencing by trying new things and not being scared. And I think, you know, speaking to you reading your book, and having this amazing conversation with you and your journey, just your living example of that. You’re a living example of that undaunted life as you call it. So, thank you so much for being with us. But before we leave, I always like to ask a couple questions. One of them is what is your anchor in life when things are super chaotic around you? What holds you steady?

Kara Goldin 51:44
Well, my dogs, so as my, I just got two new puppies as I lost one of my Labradors, I’ve stayed. Who’s a picture in the back of me right now. But who is still with me, she’s over here. She’s not snoring today. Oftentimes, she sits on the floor and stores but then I also got two puppies. So I, I’m learning. I never so many people had said to me don’t get two puppies at the same time. And I’d say why no one, no one had a great answer. And I thought, oh, they’ll be friends with each other. And I could write a book on that now that I just laugh and fit again, putting myself in situations where I’m learning. And definitely the anchor me. They make me laugh, and they have a great time. So

Girija Patel 52:30
yeah, I love that. I love that just pure joy and pure love. Totally. Yeah. And then what are some of your favorite books? I know you are an avid reader. So give me some books.

Kara Goldin 52:42
Yeah, well, there. There’s a few different ones. I actually this one I’ve actually been going back to lately. It’s called the category design toolkit. It’s really interesting. I actually, I was on his podcast, this, this was one of his a podcast as well. And it was one of the podcasts that I was on. And it’s his name is Christopher Locky. And I guess he’s the co author, but with two other authors. But anyway, it’s really, really interesting. And he talks about when there’s only one company, like what he was doing, it’s actually much harder. And how do you get the consumer to like, you have a lot of responsibility, because you’re not only making the world understand your company and your brand, and why it should have space in their home or on the shelf, or however you want to think about it, but also what it means for other people that will come to find you. So you have a big, you’re carrying the weight on your shoulders. And so I think it’s really, there’s a lot of meanings in there. And again, it’s not about anything specifically, but we just, he has an incredible podcast that is really interesting. And he really touches on a lot of different categories. So I find it really interesting. So the book is great. And then the other one that I just really love by a by an attorney, actually who teaches at Columbia. Do you know Alexandra Carter? By any chance her book is?

Girija Patel 54:19
Yeah, it’s amazing.

Kara Goldin 54:21
It’s amazing, right? And it’s simple. It’s easy to understand, but it’s like, you know, good reminders more than so I really liked the book a lot.

Girija Patel 54:31
In fact, it’s right here on my desk, like

Kara Goldin 54:35
have you had her on? No, I

Girija Patel 54:37
haven’t. But

Kara Goldin 54:38
she’s great. I know her as well. And she’s, she’s terrific. And she’s just really insightful and reminded me and again, you don’t have to be an attorney to sort of appreciate great negotiation and how we, you know, so often don’t think about the other side of the table and all of those things. So

Girija Patel 54:58
exactly like negotiation Since when you think about it, you’re thinking like what you see on TV. And it’s really not like that. You also being a seasoned, you know, leader of your company. And entrepreneur can also attest to the fact that negotiations are never like that. Never. They’re never that easy. They’re never that, you know, where you’re just kind of saying, hey, this doesn’t happen. And this one happened, people like we don’t care.

Kara Goldin 55:24
Absolutely. So yeah. So I just think it’s, you know, it’s great to just be surrounded by just people that not only give reminders, but I feel like I’m learning all the time. And I’m always looking for those books. And I wish there were more hours in the day to read and I tried to actually listen to a book on Audible while I was reading the other day, and I thought, Oh, my God, this is gonna make me crazy. I can’t do this, because I have so many books that I’m behind on.

Girija Patel 55:52
I love it. Thank you for all your tips and all the wisdom that you have shared with us today. And this was surely a treat. So thank you so much.

Kara Goldin 56:00
Thank you so much.

Girija Patel 56:01
Thank you so much for joining law chat. I love these kinds of conversations where we can be real honest and open. I hope you’re inspired and motivated to keep doing the amazing work you are doing. If this is something that truly motivated and inspired you rate the podcast, leave a review, take a screenshot tag GBP law and share it with your community. Because this is truly one of the best ways to spread the word. And to have this podcast come in front of more eyes. I look forward to seeing you next time on another episode of wall chat.

Kara Goldin 56:35
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