Interview Replay: Kara on On The HomeFront

Episode 381.5

Enjoy this recent episode I did with Jeff Dudan in his podcast, On The HomeFront where we talk about leadership, passion and entrepreneurship. A great discussion you won’t want to miss.

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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. I also often say ignorance is bliss, right? When you don’t actually know what you’re getting into and building your company. It’s probably a good thing because you don’t understand competition. You don’t understand how much it’s gonna cost.

Jeff Dudan 1:06
Hello, everybody. This is Jeff Dudan with On the homefront podcast and as always, this podcast is brought to you by Homefront brands Homefront brands is simply building the world’s most responsible franchise platform, encouraging entrepreneurs to take action and transform their lives, impact communities and enhance the lives of those that they care most about all the while delivering enterprise level solutions to local business owners out there on the home front where it counts. The sounds like you check us out at Homefront today and start your next chapter of greatness building your dynasty On the homefront and I will be looking for you right here and today we are in for a huge treat. Our guest today is Kara Goldin Kara is the founder of hint Inc best known for its award winning hit water the leading unsweetened flavored water she has been named one of styles badass 50 Fast Company’s most creative people in business fortunes most powerful woman entrepreneurs fortunes most innovative women in food and drink and E why Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California. The Huffington Post listed her as one of six disruptors in business alongside Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and that is a short list of people she is active speaker today and writer and host the podcast the Kara Goldin show where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs and other disruptors across various industries. Kara’s first book on daunted was published in October 2020, and is now a Wall Street Journal, Amazon bestseller she lives in the Bay Area, follow Kara on all her social channels at Kara Goldin and I will tell you, I read on dotnet yesterday, it is the first book I’ve read cover to cover in one day, since since goodnight, Moon. And that’s a short book. It’s a page turner. But it was so great. It’s so great to have you on Kara. Thank you for being here.

Kara Goldin 2:57
Thank you. Well, that’s so nice. I’m happy that I was part of your weekend. So very nice.

Jeff Dudan 3:03
100% you know your story, I felt the same reading your book as I did when I read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight story. And so many similarities, building a brand, multiple adventures in your life, a real real problem to solve real threats and Risk of Loss along the way. And then just standing up and making a great place to make it all happen. And you know, it’s just, it’s just inspiring. So would you care to just kind of let the audience know, just you know, however you do your your background right now, I’d love to hear from you. And I kind of catch people up. I’ve had a little of an advantage over them right now.

Kara Goldin 3:39
Yeah, well, first of all, thank you for that nice introduction and, and comparison to Shoe Dog. It’s one of my favorite books for sure. I’ll top it off by saying sometimes if you think too much about the end, you’ll never get past the beginning. Because if you overthink things, then it’s hard, right? And if you really focus on how hard it’s going to be, you’ll never get started. And I think that that is a mantra that I carry with me every single day, you’re gonna make mistakes along the way. But you got to get back up, and you’ve got to just keep moving forward. And I also often say ignorance is bliss, right? When you don’t actually know what you’re getting into and building your, your company. That’s, it’s probably a good thing because you don’t understand competition, you don’t understand how much it’s gonna cost you don’t understand, as Steve Jobs used to say, you’ve got to have the right latte machine. It’s not just about the the service and the products that are out there. And I totally, totally get that. But I started hints, which is an unsweetened flavored water about 17 years ago, and 17 and a half years ago, and I was not a beverage executive. I started it it after being in tech for many years, I had actually been at a company called America Online, and had built out their early years of direct to consumer, and the business relationships with lots of retailers that you are familiar with the J cruise and the Nordstroms of, of the world, the Amazons of the world when they were just a bookstore. The main reason I decided to actually start hint was because I had realized that there was a lot of stuff in my diet soda that I was drinking every day that I didn’t think my family should be drinking, there was this focus for me when I had young kids that I wanted to really understand what I was giving them like a lot of other parents, you’re probably focused more on them than you are on yourself. And when I looked back at myself in the mirror, I realized that I was not living the same rules that I was setting out for them that I was putting a lot of chemicals in my body that I just really had never stopped to think about until that moment. And that’s when I decided cold turkey that I was going to stop drinking things that I didn’t understand and eating things that I didn’t understand the ingredients. And so my favorite drink, diet soda, diet, coke, in particular, was part of the agenda, I guess, so to speak. And so I threw it in the garbage. And the next few weeks were very difficult, I won’t lie. And that’s when I woke up from my fog after a few weeks and realized that I not only didn’t have sort of a fog, or headaches mid day, but I also had lost over 20 pounds and two and a half weeks, and my skin cleared up from adult acne that I had developed. And I was like, This is crazy. The only thing I’ve changed in my life is not drinking this diet soda. So why is that? And that was the beginning of me saying this whole life of diet, diet soda, it might not be better for me. And maybe I need to take a step back and really look at what it is that I’m putting into my system. That was kind of the early days of where the idea came from, I started realizing that I was very thirsty, and I was trying to drink water. But for me, water was super boring. So I started slicing up fruit and throwing it in pictures of water and drinking that. And what I realized is that having a little bit of taste in my water was all I really needed to enjoy water. I didn’t have any sweeteners in it, I looked for this product on the shelf, I truly did not want to start a company, I never thought that I was going to be an entrepreneur, I wasn’t that kid as a you know, little child saying, I’m gonna go and be an entrepreneur. They didn’t have majors for entrepreneurs, and none of that was going on at the time. Instead, what I realized is that if I didn’t ultimately do this, it seems so clear to me the purpose, the mission, the product, that if I didn’t do it, no one else was going to do it. And that was the beginning of hint.

Jeff Dudan 8:28
Well, I’ll tell you, there’s there’s a lot to unpack. So this was maybe 2005. Correct. When you started hint. And prior to that you were a kind of a Robin stop and key account winner would from what I could understand you started in the publishing business, though, at a time, right? Yeah. So you started in the publishing business? Maybe maybe we go back there. I study inflection points in people’s lives. Because when I looked back, and I talked about my entrepreneurial journey, there’s three or four things that just happened along the way. And, you know, inflection points usually include three things. Number one, there’s people involved, right, number two, there’s an adventure, an opportunity, and then there’s some risk of loss. And I think it said in your book that you had always wanted to work as you were reading Fortune Magazine, and you’re out in Arizona, and you’re like, Oh, I’m just gonna show up out in in New York, and I’m gonna just show up and ask for an interview. Because he had gotten a letter from the CEO and said, Well, we have we’d love to interview at some point in time. So you just show up out there. And you asked for an interview. But then you went to your dad and your dad said something like, well, well, what’s the risk? Like what do you have to lose? I’m setting my daughter to New York to law school this fall. My wife and I are we’re concerned about and your dad said, Hey, New York sounds great. Go on, like read just like it’s the best time to take a flyer an opportunity right now. And and how did the outcome of that inflection point affect your decision making going forward as you went through these different, you know, am I going to AOL Am I an Omega? Stay here, or am I gonna give up this great career that I have and have a huge opportunity, but also a lot of risk with him?

Kara Goldin 10:07
Yeah, you know, it’s interesting. It’s really interesting doing interviews because it’s almost like a therapy session. Ya know? You think about those moments, those inflection points along the way. But I think growing up the last five kids, I was frequently trying to, you know, push the needle or get my way as, as my parents used to say, and because my parents got very good at saying no, so probably started there where I thought, what’s the worst that can happen? I would always think about that, whenever I feared like, should I really be doing something like this? And I thought, what’s the worst that can happen? So that was probably the first moment. But even before I got to New York, it’s funny I was I was waitressing through college at TP Mexican restaurant, which is still there. And it is definitely a stop I make whenever I go to Phoenix or Scottsdale, but it’s you know, it’s interesting, because when people know that you’re in college, I guess it’s sort of an icebreaker in some ways. But I had a lot of people around me asking me what I was going to do. And here I was a journalism major. I was a minor in finance, I wanted to work at Fortune Magazine. But I’m a girl in Arizona, right? Working in a Mexican restaurant. And like, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to pull it all off. And fortune wasn’t coming to campus to interview and I didn’t really know how to connect all these dots. But it was when this gentleman came in to this restaurant. And he came in a few times. He was actually there fairly frequently. And and he was always super nice and was always sitting in the restaurant. And one day, he said, Oh, you know, graduation is coming up? And are you getting excited? What are you going to do? Maybe I got a little tired of people asking me what I was going to do. And I always tell the story when I’m talking to college students that, you know, if somebody asks you, what you’re going to do, ask them what they do. And use it as an information session, because people enjoy talking about themselves. And especially if they’re asking you, maybe you deflect the conversation a little bit, but you also get a lot of information from people. And so I started doing this kind of by accident. But so that’s what I did that at that moment. And that’s when he shared with me that he was in town a lot because they filmed a lot of movies for the company that were actually the company that he works for does product placement on a lot of these movie sets. And I said product placement. I said, So what’s the name of your company? And he said, Anheuser Busch, and I was like, wait, you put beer on movie sets? And I’m like, Sign me up. That sounds amazing, right? College Student What better job than that. And so I said, Can you get me a job and he said, I can probably get you an interview, if you’re interested in entry level position myself. So sure. And I thought, wow, it’s that easy to actually get a job interview with with a company. And so that was what I did. For the next like month, I just I found any person who was older than me. And I asked them what they did. And I was amazed at how many people actually wanted to help me. And some way a lot of them might older brothers and sisters. So I was able to ask them and they were like, sure I’ll send your resume to HR or whatever it was. So it was like this. I sort of gamified it in some way. As I was on this journey. That’s when I thought okay, the place I really want to be is in not necessarily in New York, but at Fortune Magazine. And editorial was in New York. So I thought okay, well how do I get to New York? How do I get to Fortune I have not come across anyone who works there. So I should send the managing editor in the masthead of the magazine you see his name and you see the address. This is before email was commonly used. And so I wrote a letter. And I said, Here is why I want to come and work for you. And I had been a minor in finance, I loved stories. Fortune did an excellent job of covering leaders and their stories. So he wrote me a very nice note back and he said if you’re ever in the New York area, let me know and I would love to meet you. And that was a good enough invitation for me. So I bought a plane ticket. And I thought once I get the blame ticket, I’ll reach out to him. I reached out to him a couple of times he didn’t respond. I already had a plane ticket was non refundable. I had a place to stay with my sister’s friend. So I thought, I’m going, I’m going out there. That’s when I marched into the time. At that time, it was the time in life building. I walked in the door of the city for security in the building. And I thought, HR is where I start. So I asked people in the bottom of the concourse, what floor is HR on, and everybody said, 14. And so I got up to the 14th floor. That’s when I’ll never forget the look on the receptionist’s face. When I said to her, I’m here to see Marshall lope. And she said, Do you have an appointment? And I said, I have a letter. And she said, just looking at the letter, she couldn’t figure out who would come if they didn’t have an appointment. That’s when her boss came out. And she said, I don’t think you have an appointment. I think you have a letter and it said, Well, is he available? And she said, No. And the reality is that you don’t have any experience. He’s not going to hire you. So I did something that I probably never expected I would. But what’s the worst that can happen? I said, Is there any other jobs in the building, since I’m here, and she must have just gotten off the phone with this woman, Brooke MacMurray, who ran circulation for multiple magazines, including Time Magazine. And she said there’s an executive assistant role. I kinda knew what an executive assistant role was, I didn’t think of as as glamorous as doing product placement in Anheuser Busch. But I thought, if I can just get my foot in the door, then maybe, eventually, I’ll get over to Fortune and work on Marshall lobes team. You know, it’s it’s interesting, I think back on those moments of that interview, and the power of storytelling, the first thing that Brooke said to me when she was interviewing me, she said, So how did you get here, like, this wasn’t on my calendar this morning. And HR called me and said, there’s a person here that I think you should meet. And she might be able to fill that executive assistant role. And so tell me how you got here. And I said, Well, I bought a plane ticket. And I have this letter for martial love. And I went through the process. And she’s just like, Are you for real? I mean, she just couldn’t, she thought it was hysterical. And she’s like, You have to come and work for me. I’m dying. It was a two hour meeting. She is cracking up. And I mean, you’ve been there when you’ve been interviewing, especially junior level people, where you just you want to work with people that you enjoy. Right? And, and so that was the moment when, you know, she said, Listen, you know, this is not a fancy job, you have to support me, you have to do lots of things, but I promise you, you’re gonna learn a ton. And I did. So I took the job at a bunch of other job offers just going through that process of asking people for connections along the way. I knew nothing about magazines going in. I should also say I never ended up working for Marshall Loeb at Fortune I definitely had some press from from Fortune late in later years and have been in the building many, many times and have lots of friends who worked at Fortune. But that is not where I ultimately ended up. But it was. There’s multiple lessons in there. Ask for the opportunity. It’s definitely a pivotal point, to your point where there was some sort of surprise in there that you didn’t expect some sort of journey. But I also think it’s a story of you have to be able to think right about what other opportunities are in front of you. And I think anyone who’s been in business knows this to be true that you can’t allow roadblocks to get in your way. And what is there in front of you at that moment may be the thing that ultimately you’re supposed to the the road you’re supposed to be going down. And I think that that is the story and the lessons learned from that story.

Jeff Dudan 19:33
First of all, what a confidence builder early in your career. I mean, what a win. The other thing that stands out to me and I you know, I kind of tie it back to you shared a story about when you worked, I think at a toy store and you ended up being a buyer and working with the owner and running the cash register and having all these conversations but what stands out to me your curiosity and your willingness to pick up the phone and call people over and over and over again and in your career you realize that the First thing you have to do is get into a conversation. I had a mentor that shared with me and it’s been impactful in my life. He said, some people get paid by the hour salespeople get paid commission, but leaders get paid by the conversation. And getting into these conversations. Nothing great happens until you get out there. Nothing great happens until you’re engaged with somebody on the other end of the line. I mean, I took a couple of flyers. So when I graduated college was on a football scholarship. But I built a painting business, very successful painting business, I was doing all the student housing, then I didn’t know what the next step was not built. I mean, it was a real business with employees. And we were doing 15 apartments a day over the summer, and I could make ends meet on it. And then this hurricane hit South Florida at the time was the largest hurricane that that had hit the US. And a buddy calls me and says, you know, we need help down here. And my business partner and I just literally jumped in the truck and drove into the center of the hurricane down in South Florida. And we just started knocking on doors and talking to people and seeing what they needed. And we didn’t have a plan. And we played that ball from where it lied. And you wherever it goes. Like that’s where the next shot comes from. And but you got to take the first shot, and you’re just you’re just get started and show up is really resonates with me thinking about that, if you want to advise an entrepreneur, when to take a leap and when to take a jump? How do you check in on that decision? Do you have decision filters that you’ve learned over your career that you make? Or like how certain do you need to be like, is it 60 70%? I know it’s not 100? at all, it’s not 90? But how certain do you need to be before you decide to you know, really start putting some time and energy towards something?

Kara Goldin 21:53
Well, I think first of all, I you know, you talked about, you know, the stories that leaders tell and the connections, I think is another piece of that. But I think it’s also about, you know, the best leaders in any industry, whether you’re a founder or CEO, or whatever, are really thinking about the consumer, right? And is this really going to do something that makes a consumer, you can call it satisfaction, I always call it smile. Right. And that’s the thing that I think about when I think about businesses, whether it’s businesses that I’m sitting on boards for or creating or or working on. And, and so I think that’s really the key thing that I’ve been able to see that I think is is super, super important for any entrepreneur to think about. And then I think so often entrepreneurs will put so much pressure on themselves to create a business plan and build a business in two years, and then flip it for a billion dollars. And you know, they’ve got this whole idea of how the world is going to work. And I think the chances of it actually working out the way that you think it’s going to work out is probably very slim, most entrepreneurs, it takes longer, it takes more capital, there is an inflection point in there that causes you to create other products go in a different direction, lots of different things come up along the way. So I think that the most important thing to realize is that you have to set your goals at a point where you don’t crush your goals before you even get started, right. If for example, if you were to come to me and say that a business is going to be a billion dollar business, in the next two years, I’m going to crush your goal by saying it will not be right. And that’s going to that’s going to hurt, right because you’ve got a passion for an idea. And you think it’s going to happen, blah, blah, blah. And instead, I think being able to look at a business and see go back to the satisfaction, is this actually going to serve as a consumer in a way that they’re not being service today? So your example of painting houses, right, and painting businesses, they needed that right? That was going to help a lot of people. And I think that you probably made a lot of people smile, because you got it done fast faster than if you weren’t there. Right. So being able to see first that you’re going to be able to satisfy people and this is how you’re going to do it and the amount of time. Those are the businesses that turn into money making businesses, right because then you start to look at audiences. Are there going to be other areas that are going to need this as well and this is how they’re going to grow. And, you know, again, once you built one business, if you’re like me you study lots of different businesses across lots of different industries. You’re able to see the patterns right? And be be able to see exactly what happened. That’s why I think these stories, you know, the founder stories are so important for people to read about and, and look at a little bit closer, because there’s a lot of similarities no matter what industry you’re looking at. Yeah,

Jeff Dudan 25:21
that’s a note that I made that you had said that your story is what gets you through the tough times?

Kara Goldin 25:26
For sure. And, you know, I think there’s so many stories, the book, by the way, was a, my notes from from life, and that we turned in, and I’m sure you have many, since you’ve built businesses as well, where the book was over 600 pages. So there’s so many stories that had to be cut, because nobody is going to read a 600 page book. It’s just over 200 pages. But you know, it’s it’s the stories that make you laugh, right, that they’re not funny often when you’re in it. And it’s the stories that actually help you to realize that you can when you feel like you know, you’re doomed. I think that there’s there’s so many things that happen along the way that I felt like I couldn’t even share with my investors necessarily, or I couldn’t share with even real good friends of mine, because it was so difficult to actually connect everything. I remember this one story, this got cut out of the book, but we had one bottler that we were interviewing, I guess. So we’re in his office, and all of a sudden, I’m looking back of his desk up on the wall. He has all these crates with all this coating on it. And I said, Oh, what’s what’s in the boxes? They’re wooden boxes. And he said, they’re their arms. And I was like, arms,

Jeff Dudan 26:50
arms, like, what kind of

Kara Goldin 26:52
arms are they? You know? And he said, I have another business where I sell guns. And I’m like,

Jeff Dudan 26:59
Oh, those kind of arms. I got it. I thought like mannequins.

Kara Goldin 27:07
My husband, who has been our Chief Operating Officer, we were like, oh, okay, and so we’re like, trying to figure out, Is this a really good idea for us to get in business that this guy’s just told us? He sells arms? Like, of course, I’m like, so who do you sell arms to? Trying to connect the dots and but again, like their stories like that, we still laugh about some of these stories along the way that, you know, we’re just, you can’t make it up. Right? Yeah. The stories of founding companies I think are all similar. 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 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 interviewer that you get a chance to be inspired by. And if you’re 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.

Jeff Dudan 29:07
When we sold the business, we had nine people that had been with us over 20 years and we had dinner and the spouses looked at us like we told stories from the beginning and all the crazy you know, every every deal dies three times. But every business builds that reaches a certain level probably almost imploded that dozen times along the way and you know all of these different things. But so here’s a quote, here’s something that distract me, Theo, your husband’s chief operating officer, he decided he got in from the very beginning and you did this together. Can you imagine going through everything you went through and building this business and then going to have to go home and try to explain it to a spouse with all the ups and all the downs and all the risks. I wonder if he decided to stay, you know, doing the corporate legal work and had not decided to come into the business with you? Well, how that might have changed. He thinks,

Kara Goldin 30:01
you know, it’s so funny. We just celebrated 20 years and people are alike. You guys are just I mean, the fact that you stayed married, you had four kids ran a business together, you know, it’s, I mean, it’s, it’s funny, it’s not for everybody, now to be able to run a business. But I think when you have very different skill sets, and you have a curiosity about what each other does, again, we didn’t start right out of college working together, we both had our own careers. And in some ways, I think it is harder, because you have to explain all these, you know, pieces of your day to people and the ups and the downs. We both sort of filled in each other sentences. We knew the cast of characters, as we said that, you know, we were dealing with, we also had moments, especially as our kids were getting older, were some times they needed one of us more than others. And so we were able to jump in, he was the chief operating officer, and so did a lot more in the production of the product. And he was also legal officer and all that. But I mean, it’s amazing. I’ve never went to law school, but I can actually read a contract pretty well and actually tell you what’s good, what’s, you know, not so good. And he had a lot of choices along the way, because he did have a career in in Silicon Valley. He worked at a company called Netscape and was their first intellectual property attorney. I mean, what’s interesting about our career too, and I kind of realized this after the book was published, I’ve had a lot of people comment to me on this is that when I left New York, I had gone from time to CNN and then moved out to San Francisco, primarily, we got engaged, moved out to kind of follow his career that he had graduated from NYU Law School, and he wanted to do this thing called technology law. This is 1994 technology, law, IP law for the way it is today was not what was happening. I mean, nobody really understood it. online ordering and direct to consumer was non existent. He ended up going into a law firm for a year, and then was pulled out really quickly to go in house, which is very, very unusual. I went to a small little startup that I had read about the sky for years. His name was Steve Jobs. It was the only person I saw associated the Bay Area with, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to get a job at Apple, because again, I had been in publishing and also in broadcast or cable, but I had had a Macintosh computer when I was in college. And I was curious about how different it was and how it was not only stylish, but it actually was graphically so much better. So I thought, I’m just going to figure out how I’m going to get a job at Apple with Steve Jobs. Well, that wasn’t going to happen. But instead, I ran across a startup that had five guys that worked for Steve that’s that spun out of Apple. I was never afraid to pick up the phone again. What’s the worst that will happen? He hangs up on me doesn’t pick up the phone. But guy picked up the phone. It’s funny because I offered to take him for coffee. He said, Well, what were you doing in New York? And I said, Oh, I was working for this guy. I was working for CNN. And he said out is Ted Turner ever around the office? And I said, yeah, he’s around all the time. And he said, I’ve always wanted to hear about him and sort of how he thinks about things like he’s, he’s really, really impressive. And I was like, well, that’s great, because I know that you worked for Steve Jobs, and I want to hear about him. So I’m going to take you to coffee, and we’ll swap stories he was like, that’s terrific. And it’s amazing how working for a founder talk about inflection points at CNN was probably the first place where I really got the bug to be able to kind of see what working for a founder would be like he was primarily in Atlanta, but whenever he was in the building, you sort of knew that he was in the building, like he was getting off the elevator is larger than life had the craziest ideas. You believed when you heard him speak that CNN was going to be the biggest thing when it was, you know, in maybe 40% of the country of the US at that point in time and 1992 It was not what it is today by any stretch. It was after the coffee. You said you should come work for us. And I said now what in the world would I do? It sounds fun. You guys are all wearing jeans. T shirts, not what we would wear in New York, I saw, you know, a culture that seemed very cool. He said, Well, we need somebody to go out to retailers and get them to be on our disc, bring their catalogs onto our disk. And I’m like, I have no idea what you guys are doing. But how do you make money? And he said, Well, we haven’t figured that out yet. But we will eventually. And I thought this amazing, they’re gonna pay me a salary, and they don’t even know how to make money. And that’s when I thought, wow, you know, what’s the worst that can happen if they, if they go under, or they fire me, because they don’t think I can actually accomplish this, at least I get to learn a new skill set. But I didn’t have the map all figured out. In fact, I thought that there was a pretty good chance that this was not going to play out. Well, right. Yeah. But I really thought that if I can learn something from people who have worked for somebody that I really admired, in an industry that I knew nothing about, then I win, right, I get to learn a little bit, even if it’s hopefully it’s going to be for more than a couple of days or a week. And what I didn’t know, was about six months into the journey, we had an investor that walked in the door, we were having a meeting with them. And he was seeing the kind of traction we were having. And a lot of it was the partnerships that I was setting up and we needed capital. And he said, We should just acquire you guys because it would make more sense for our company and your company to do that. And his name was Steve Case, from America Online. And so we became part of America Online. It’s It’s funny, when I think back on going through an acquisition and you’ve been through, it sounds like a few. But it’s funny, because again, I never thought of joining them and being a part of a hockey stick or part of an acquisition. I don’t know if Steve would want to hear this or not. But, you know, America Online, was not the number one online service in the market at the time, either. I mean, they were probably number two or three, what Steve focused on and watching him as a founder manage the journey, as well as that you have to focus on you and your company. And how do you provide for consumers? And do things that make them satisfied make them smile, I think learning under that umbrella allowed me to really pick up little pieces that ultimately would give me not only the knowledge, but the confidence to go start my own company.

Jeff Dudan 37:55
That’s just that’s amazing. There’s so much there to tap on. Well, first of all, I’ll say yeah, about cutting stuff out of a book, my editor told me had to tell me multiple times, Jeff, this, this book is not everything you know about everything. Right? Have a theme. Right? So I mean, so here’s, here’s what I think about what I take away from what you just said. So first of all, all experiences are creative, good and bad. Sometimes things don’t go well you learn but you know, pains pains, our greatest gift man, that’s when we’re really paying attention. When we’re really learning when things don’t go well. One thing I’d love to hear your perspective on and scaling businesses, you’re sitting on boards, you’re looking at a lot of businesses now I’m sure you get all kinds of stuff that crosses your desk and, and you can invest or, or help or you know, just just being in the position that you’re in, and I get to look at a lot of businesses all the time. So the first two questions that that I ask is, to your point, who is the customer, and why. And then the second thing I’ve learned to ask is who is the natural owner for this business, because over the years, I’ve caught myself getting into businesses that really didn’t have a clear path to scale. When you looked at the beverage industry, it was clear it was a big industry, a red ocean of very entrenched players that were doing it so if you could navigate those waters, you could scale a brekford business because they were all scale, it was gonna be hard to do so. So I asked those two questions. And then I look at the founder or whoever’s operating the business. And and this came through in your story. This this alignment, so your personal beliefs, your personal story, your personal need to get healthier to get off the diet sodas to have water, translating that directly and absolutely into a company. That was the sole purpose was to solve that problem. And then the third connection, which is where scale happens is can you connect that with the world? If you can get personal alignment with company alignment with World alignment, like I see that’s where velocity happens and entropy and friction fall away because cuz that’s where the passion happens. And you’re just like, we will die making this company successful. Because it’s not just about, like you said, starting with the end in mind, like, I’m gonna just sell this company for the money, it’s got to be more than money. It’s so hard to do these things that it can’t just be about the payday. I think when you’re founding, when you’re founding companies, you got to look at the numbers, and you got to look at the market opportunity, you got to do all the good work. But that passion is a little harder to define. How do you how do you assess that and companies that you look at? Yeah, you know,

Kara Goldin 40:33
it’s interesting, because I, I’ll tell you a story. So my, my dad, I call him a frustrated entrepreneur. He passed away a few years back, but he worked for a large company, armour Food Company, which when I was in high school was acquired by a company called ConAgra. And he developed inside of armour food company, brand called Healthy Choice. And I didn’t really realize this until many years later, actually, after he had passed away. That he, he really believed that the story of not only why this was a great product, but also the backstory. So he was one of the first in product marketing to actually put on the box, the story about where the shrimp come from. So he had these stories where he would talk about, you know, the shrimp fishermen, and they would often miss breakfast with their children because they valued the the fish the the shrimp that they would get at 4am. Like he would have all of all of these stories. Now, the the large companies didn’t want to tell the stories, because it used to be that if you actually told the stories, that that made your brand sound small, right? It sounded too hokey to family. Today, lots of large companies are actually trying to do that. Right. They want the brand story, they call me and asked me to help them figure out our founders all round anymore. We’re 100 year old brand, how do we actually invigorate our brand by sharing what our beliefs are? And that there’s a person because people want to buy from people, it sort of starts with why did they do it? What was the mission? What was their belief, you know, founders when they just naturally have to be telling everybody why they believe that something is going to be a business that they should invest in, or scale or whatever, it is very rare that a founder has the skills, I guess, to be able to scale a company, unless they’re wise enough to bring in people who are different skill sets, I often say better than them or better than me. And they they really are passionate about different aspects. So we talked about my husband earlier, we are very different people to the point where the guy who went to NYU Law School with him that was a high school buddy of mine who introduced us, he still says to me, 28 years later, I never would have put you two together in a million years. That’s like never, but the fact that SEO loves the details. He loves the operations. He loves it. He would sit there and be at a plant all day long, and talk to all of the people that are running things, ask them all kinds of questions, because he’s curious about that. I would much rather focus on the consumer, the brand overall, trying to understand, you know, the look and feel of everything. But again, if you are not aware enough of what are the things that you are either not great at or you’re not interested in it, you’re not interested in learning it. You’re not interested in doing it every single day and hiring somebody who is it’s very, very hard to scale it so I think an answer to your question when I’m looking at different businesses deals, the first thing I do is really look at, you know, the team hopefully get to meet the team primarily to really understand Are there lots of different spokes, right in the wheel? Is this just like, the same people? Is it two people from business school that were buddies that like doing the same thing? It’s not gonna work?

Jeff Dudan 44:50
Yeah, we became more wildly more successful when I got out of the way of a lot of things. So you had a goal when you started the car You need to get your products into Whole Foods, and you were on your way to deliver a baby. And you said, we have to drop off these 10 cases, to Whole Foods. And then you you have your baby, and they call you and they’re like the waters gone. And you’re like, did somebody steal it? Sold it at high dislike I just because I you remember, like, I remember the moments when we got our first job, like they were yesterday or our first real this or this opportunity? Yeah, that had to be. First of all, you had a baby. So you’re already like flying high. Your perspective is one with the universe. It’s a great time. And then, you know, you get this call, and they had somebody had come in and your water just flew off the shelf. Is that a fond memory for you guys? I mean, do you think about that occasionally?

Kara Goldin 45:48
Yeah, I mean it, you know, again, it’s easier to look back at these moments, years later, any founder, any entrepreneur, no matter what industry it’s in, you’re right. They remember those moments, though, those early moments, I just was focused on getting the product on the shelf. Of course, you know, somewhere in there, I thought it’d be great if lots of people bought it. But I had just gotten the product on the shelf, I left while the 10 cases are sitting on a dolly inside of Whole Foods. I didn’t know if the guy was actually going to, you know, put them on the shelf or not. So when he told me that the cases were gone, I was like, wait, you let somebody just take the cases. And I had no idea. Right? Because that was not really what I thought would ever happen that quickly. I mean, we sold 10 cases, overnight. Now we had a new problem that we never expected, because I didn’t think that the cases 10 cases were going to sell overnight. He said, Look, I know you guys are in the hospital, and you just had a baby and hope the baby’s fine. But someone’s got to get over here because my boss is like, Wait, where did this product come from? You gave him like prime space now what’s gonna go in there? Are they coming back and your husband calm? I know. You’re like, recovering. But is that possible? I’m like, Yes, sure. Yeah, he can come. And so he, he comes over. And I don’t even think he thought he was actually working for hint. At that point. He was just being a nice husband. And he came back and he said, you know, everybody’s asking me in the store for a business card. It makes you official to have this business card. So we went to FedEx Kinkos. And he said, I hope I hope this okay, I didn’t know what to call myself. So I made myself Chief Operating Officer, because I’m operating right now. It was like a joke. I mean, we were just he’s an attorney’s Silicon Valley IP attorney, you’re like, I’m no, I’m his chief operating officer. And I’m like, terrific, like, also a story of a support system. Right? That I think a lot of people have have said over the years to that, you know, you guys support each other. And I think that that’s a really powerful thing, whether you’re married to your co founder or you’re you know, just looking at your your team, you’ve got to have a team of people that is supporting otherwise you don’t have a team.

Jeff Dudan 48:24
Well, that is a perfect piece of advice to wrap this up on today. Here I find your your story to be so inspiring. I know you’ve helped a lot of people, not only you know how generous you are with sharing and how open and authentic you were in the book, but also with the product. I mean, it’s we need to drink more water. It needs to taste good for us to be able to do that. As I knew that we were going to be doing this together. I was really surprised how many people said I love that.

Kara Goldin 48:55
Oh, that’s so great. I’d love to hear that.

Jeff Dudan 48:58
So last night I had I had coconut and then this morning after my workout, I had a watermelon. So those are my two flavors. What’s your favorite flavor?

Kara Goldin 49:06
You know, that’s like asking me who my favorite child. I have four of them. But you know, it’s it’s interesting. I go back and forth. I think today, pineapple is probably my favorite. So I’ve already had six of them this morning. I had a hike. And so I’m constantly drinking at all different flavors.

Jeff Dudan 49:26
Awesome. Awesome. Well, I can’t thank you enough for being on. I really appreciate you investing this time with us today. So people can get your book undaunted anywhere, Amazon or anywhere else, and it’s a great book. So you can do that. Is there any other way that people can tune in and consume your content

Kara Goldin 49:43
all over social media but also started my own podcast five years ago now that interviews people of all different industries who are founders and disruptors and people that are growing companies lots of learnings on it for sure. Kara Goldin show so tune in. To that to probably less about me. It’s more about stories that I’ve met a lot of these people along the way. And they’re not the usual people that end up coming on podcasts. It’s it’s more of a coffee conversation that I have with them more than anything else.

Jeff Dudan 50:18
Well, that’s fantastic. I have certainly subscribe to it. And thank you so much, Kara. Thank you. You’re welcome. And as always, this podcast has been brought to you by Homefront brands, simply building the world’s most responsible franchise platform and encouraging entrepreneurs to take action and transform their lives, impact communities and enhance the lives of those that they care most about. So that sounds like you, then you’re ready for your next chapter of greatness. Reach out to us and build your dynasty On the homefront. I will be looking for you. Thank you.

Kara Goldin 50:50
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. And thanks everyone for listening. Have a great rest of the week, and 2023 and good bye for now. 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