Interview Replay: Up Next in Commerce with Stephanie Postles

Episode 256.5

Kara Goldin fought against an archaic beverage industry to bring her revolutionary product to market, and along the way she had a transformative encounter with Jeff Bezos and negotiated getting her product into Whole Foods the same day she gave birth to her son. Want the full story? Tune in to this episode.

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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 from when I was a guest on Stephanie pastels podcast up next in commerce. I hope you enjoy it. And please make sure to tune in on Monday for the next episode of the Kara Goldin show. Have a great weekend everyone. To have an entrepreneurial idea to actually change an industry. It’s not that you don’t go and speak to people in that industry and try and learn from them in some way. But understand that they may not actually see your vision. As Steve Jobs used to say you don’t ask the consumer what they need. You tell them what they need.

Stephanie Postles 1:25
Hey there and welcome to up next in commerce, your number one podcast for E commerce insights from some of the biggest names and fastest growing startups in the industry. I’m Stephanie postales, your host and CEO of The term disrupter gets thrown around a lot these days. But if there’s one person who truly earned the title of disrupter, it’s Kara Goldin, the founder of hint water. She fought against an archaic beverage industry to bring her revolutionary product to market. And along the way, she had a transformative encounter with Jeff Bezos, and negotiated getting her product into Whole Foods the same day she gave birth to her son, you want the full story, and you’ll definitely want to stick around for this whole episode.

Kara, welcome to the podcast. I am so excited to have you on today. Thanks for hopping on in joining me

Kara Goldin 2:18
so thrilled to be on. You know, I knew you got started in the Bay Area. And we got to talk a little bit about Austin, so very thrilled to connect with you. Yeah, maybe

Stephanie Postles 2:29
eventually, you’ll end up here like everyone else that don’t know, maybe

Kara Goldin 2:32
never know how to be good Mexican food for sure.

Stephanie Postles 2:35
Yeah. So you just mentioned before we started recording about being in Google offices, and I actually think this is a really fun place to start. Because, you know, I worked at Google for quite a few years in the Bay Area before I started mission. And I was just talking to our producer, Hillary that, you know, I feel like hint to me was a household name. I mean, especially in the Bay Area, going into Google offices, they lined all the micro kitchens there. I mean, they’re on every single shelf. It’s just like what you had every day. But for people you know, who maybe look at you and see that success story, which is what I would have seen back then I wanted to start in a different place around a certain executive, you were meeting with early days of the company, and him calling you speedy, which I’m sure you loved. And I kind of wanted to start there instead of a, you know what it is today?

Kara Goldin 3:23
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I’ll set this up a little bit of some background on that story in particular. So that chapter in my life came at a time when I guess it was probably just over a year into launching our product on the shelf and some Bay Area stores that we were getting a lot of pressure from some of the stores that we were already in to increase our shelf life. So for those of you who aren’t that familiar with this, or have never really thought about this, so products that you buy in stores have expiration dates, right. And so if you’re a beverage, and if you are a shelf stable product, meaning that you don’t have to be refrigerated, the requirements and a lot of stores are that you have to have at least a few months. In our case, we were hearing six months. And so we had gotten the product on the shelf at Whole Foods. But I felt like right when I felt success and that I felt like we were kind of in the game and everything was going great. The bar was getting higher. And so they were saying okay, four months, you hit three months now it’s four months now it’s five months, and I’m like, Oh, come on, coach. I mean, what what are we doing here? I’ve already achieved that. And the only way that we could really figure out how to get a longer shelf life was to add preservatives. Nobody was doing a product that was using real fruit and not using some kind of preservative in it. And when we asked the industry again, I didn’t come from the industry, it came from PTAC. The response that I was getting back from people, including the people who were developing our product was, it’s impossible. And what I learned in tech kind of growing up in tech, as I like to say is that when you’re creating something in tech, it’s all about, it’s not available to do now, I would rarely hear the term that’s impossible. Instead, it’s not possible today. But people would actually be very careful about saying that it’s not possible, it just hasn’t been done. It was much more common than it’s impossible. And so I think having that mindset, even though I was hearing that what you’re asking to do create a natural product without preservatives is impossible, was something I kept searching for the answers, I was sharing with a girlfriend of mine, because I really felt like I was gonna get kicked out of some of the stores that we were in, I was sharing with my story with her that I was really nervous about getting booted out of some of the distribution that we had created already. And she mentioned to me that she had met the sky on the airplane, she didn’t know him well, but he worked at Coca Cola. And he was, you know, very senior experience guy. And she said, I wonder if I could reach out to him, and he would talk to you. And maybe he can give you some other advice of where to go. And I also was looking for distribution, because I was so far loading up my car with my grand cherokee with cases of hints. And I thought, you know, it’d be really nice to get some of those big trucks to take it around the country and be able to sell it in other states. So when she asked this gentleman to do a phone call with us, I remember being really nervous because I thought he’s very senior, he’s, you know, super experienced, I have no idea what I’m doing. I have all these crazy questions, I was very prepared for the phone call about 15 minutes into the conversation. That’s when I was describing how well we were doing how I had left my addiction to Diet Coke, and moved into drinking plain water and decided that water was boring. And that’s how I decided to create this product tent. And there was definitely this need. We were doing well in stores. But we were trying to figure out the production side of getting a longer shelf life combined with I’d love to talk to them about potentially distributing the product. And that’s when he jumped in and said, Sweetie, Americans love sweet your product isn’t going anywhere. And I thought, oh my god, did he just call me sweetie across the phone. As my dad said to me, when I shared that story with him. He said, thank goodness, you weren’t actually sitting in his office live. I mean, that probably wouldn’t have been such a great situation for any beddings would have gone down but has sort of gone down. Right. And you know, it’s funny, because I’ve had people over the years when I’ve shared that story. I’ve had people say to me, did you correct him? Did you say to him? Wait, you’re calling me, sweetie. I mean, why didn’t you hang up on him? I mean, all these things were going through my head. And instead, I decided just to listen and hear what he was saying. And so many of the things that he started saying that he believed was counter to what I was seeing in my consumers who were buying our product. So he was saying to me that the goal was not to create a non sweetened flavored product, the goal for consumers was to get less calories. And I thought, but what if getting healthy isn’t necessarily about less calories, maybe we’ve been told that getting healthy is about zero calories. At the time, we were at 10 calories, the industry hadn’t really perfected zero calories in a product like diet or vitamin or any of the other flavored waters with sweeteners out there. And I thought, here he is just saying the same stuff over and over again. He’s probably teaching people inside of his organization, the exact same thing. And yet, he doesn’t have the same consumer that I have. And after about half an hour to 45 minutes of hearing him basically share his strategy about you know who the next consumer was. That’s when we hung up the phone and I thought, Okay, I have a choice. He’s not going to distribute my product. He isn’t going to help me actually figure out how to do a preservative free product because he didn’t have any and instead I had a choice do I You throw the pedal down hard, and just keep going, or do I quit? And I thought, I think in many ways, hearing him say, the word sweetie call me, sweetie. Kind of helps me in some ways to maybe sort of lose trust, if that makes sense. And what he was saying, kind of disconnect his qualifications in some bizarre way where I just thought, oh, you know, anyone who would call me sweetie. I mean, why should I listen to him, right. And instead, I just, I really viewed it as something that I had to maybe experience that I was didn’t love. But I was going to be able to live through it. And it taught me a lot. But it also made me go, I was the underdog who was, you know, had the vision. And I wasn’t going to stop. And that was the that was the biggest lesson that I learned out of that experience.

Stephanie Postles 11:05
Yeah, I mean, how much would you say is your childhood that kind of gave you that kind of drive? I was reading a bit of your book, undaunted, which was awesome. And you highlighted how I think you were the youngest of five, and you kind of just had to do your own thing. Your dad said, Okay, every time Kara, here’s a no, she thinks it’s a Maybe, and maybe is always a yes. And to me, it’s like you had this way of thinking, and also what you grew up in that maybe, you know, you get into a situation like that. You’re like, wow, I’m not so sure. I actually trust what you’re saying. Like, do you even know this area? And move on? How much was because of that?

Kara Goldin 11:36
Yeah, well, I think my house was, at least, for me, it was a negotiation, everything was a negotiation. And it was about me being able to convince my parents that I should be able to do stuff. I mean, you have to understand, too, when my parents had me, they were the oldest parents on the block. They were 40 years old when they had me which, you know, nobody was having kids. That was 40 at that time. And so it was, you know, I had four brothers and sisters, two wild kind of wild brothers. And basically, my parents had no, that was like their first response. Can I go to the party on Friday? No, can I do this? No. Can I do this? No. So then I’d have to figure out, okay, well, what if I go in that way? What if I talked to him about this, whatever it is. So I think that that was, you know, a lot of what I had experienced, and who would have thought that those would be life lessons life skills that I’d be able to take into everything else that I thought about doing in life? And, you know, I think more than anything, something that my parents also used to say to me, besides, you’re always negotiating, it’s they get mad at me sometimes saying, you’re always trying to turn maybe into Yes. But you know, what’s the worst that can happen? And I think about that still to this day. And I encourage everybody to really think about that, too, because the worst is usually not as bad as you’re sort of making it out to be. And it generally doesn’t go down that way. In fact, most of the time, it turns out much better than you expected, or totally turns out totally different. And you were completely paranoid and afraid of something that actually never happened at all. And I think that that’s something that no matter what industry, you’re in, no matter what role you’re in, whether you’re a CEO, a leader, a founder, brand new on the block working, trying to start something, you know, whatever you’re doing, I think what is the worst that can happen is rarely, as bad as you think that it’s going to be.

Stephanie Postles 13:43
Yep. And your mind, I feel like solves things quickly. I’ve done this a couple of times, whether it was, you know, when the company was having problems, or when I was back working at Google or Fannie Mae and just mapping through like, Okay, if this happens, and I want to have insurance for my twins, okay, and then I can do this, I’ll maybe go back to Google and like, my mind started solving all the problems, and it got to like, okay, worst case scenario, not as bad as you know, my mind maybe thought it was high level, like, once you start getting into the nitty gritty, you figure out like, what could the alternatives be? And it’s actually not as bad as you think. But you have to get down to that like mapping every step of it to make it feel real, and even envisioning what that feels like to then know. You know, okay, that’s passed down. You don’t need to worry about.

Kara Goldin 14:22
Yeah, I mean, the most dangerous aspect when you freak yourself out about something and you think, Oh, I can’t do that. And is that you stop, right? And you don’t do anything at all. And instead, you have to figure out okay, well, while I’m thinking about that, maybe I go and do this. Maybe I take baby steps in that direction to try and see if it’s even an opportunity or possibility or whatever it is, and and oftentimes, even trying to figure out how to move forward actually alleviates to your point your concern, maybe it’s researching something, maybe it’s actually seeing what is the possibility or talking to other people who have been through that situation that will actually get you out of the gate, but figuring out how to move forward is the most important aspect.

Stephanie Postles 15:08
Yep, I agree. So I want to kind of back up a bit when thinking about approaching different industries. Because to me, I think when you’re in tech, you know, as an example, there’s not really much of too many knows, like, people are willing to kind of step in and help. And there’s, like you said, no one’s gonna come in and say, Okay, that’s just not possible. Outside of that, though, I actually feel like many industries are kind of like that, like, we’ve been doing it this certain way for this long. And you will have someone like you experienced just say, that’s not how we do things. We know how it works. What would your advice be to entrepreneurs who are, you know, trying to get into these more archaic industries that have been doing things the way they have? Like, how should they approach that? Because yeah, from my mindset, I go, and I ask for help I approach the people who are, you know, doing what I want to do, and that feels pretty normal. But I think maybe once you get into a different industry outside of tech, then maybe that’s actually not the best way to do it. And you actually just want to stay startup mode, you know, tunnel vision, and don’t let others dissuade you. But what do you think about that?

Kara Goldin 16:07
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s so many ways to actually feel like you’re being mentored and get information, even if you’re not actually physically meeting with people. I mean, today, you know, you can find out how to do most everything on the internet, right? And definitely, there’s, there’s lots of webinars, there’s, I mean, if the pandemic brought nothing else besides this, from it, that’s good. It’s like there’s so many people doing zoom talks for so it’s a lot easier to be able to access a lot of this information. But I think that the competitive advantage and whatever industry you’re in, for an entrepreneur versus, you know, whether it’s an industry or actually kind of a behemoth company, inside of an industry, too, is that as they get bigger, maybe they’re a public company, which I think adds even more complexity to it to when things are going well, and large companies and public companies, then you continue to do what you do every single day. Because why rock the boat, right? You don’t want to pop the bubble. I mean, you just continue doing and when you’re in have an entrepreneurial idea to actually change an industry. It’s not that you don’t go and speak to people in that industry and try and learn from them in some way. But understand that they may not actually see your vision, right, as Steve Jobs used to say, I mean, you don’t ask the consumer what they need. You tell them what they need. And it’s the same thing, when you’re looking at industries, you want to go start a company, you’re not going to go and ask permission from somebody that’s in that industry, because of course, they’re going to tell you that, you know, that’s not necessary, because they haven’t seen that consumer. Instead, what you do is you go create, you figure out how to create something great that maybe it’s not fully fleshed out, but it’s actually good enough to take it to the market to learn from it. And then if it’s really getting attention, then you got to figure out how to throw the gas on it. And I think that that’s the most important thing. But again, it’s interesting that you bring that up, because it’s a little bit of imposter syndrome. And I think that this happens a lot for founders. Because you’re, you know, starting a company, you’ve got this vision for what it’s supposed to be, you know, what problem you are solving, but you still have doubts about whether or not it’s actually going to work, right? You may be telling everybody, oh, it’s going to be the greatest thing, but you don’t have customers yet. Or you’re significantly smaller than everybody else out in the industry. You’re rolling up your sleeves, you’re trying to get it out there. And you’re looking at the Google offices with all the pretty stuff around and then, you know, hints in the micro kitchens, and you’re like, Oh, I’m just trying really hard. I mean, this is, you know, it’s just everybody’s got a little bit of that. But I think really understanding from other founders, what it’s like to grow. And I always think it’s really helpful to and thinking about founder stories to the different stages, because so often, I’ve met people who have started companies and maybe they didn’t think entrepreneurism was for them. I have a friend who actually worked at Deloitte for years and then left Deloitte and decided to go with a startup. And the startup actually didn’t have a product. They were like pre product, they wouldn’t have a product for like a few years. And she said she really wasn’t into being an entrepreneur. It just like wasn’t for her. And when I heard about the fact that they didn’t actually have a product that it was like, pre product, it was in the pharmaceutical industry, and they were waiting and waiting. I was like, Well, was it the fact that you didn’t like the entrepreneur or like a Pre revenue pre product thing because it’s a very different company than somebody who’s starting out that is really trying to get revenue. Now, maybe somebody who’s, you know, a $10 million company and trying to grow to 100 million, I think all of those things are really, really important to know.

Stephanie Postles 20:19
Yep, I love that. I also think there’s a piece to kind of holding on to that imposter syndrome, or at least questioning your ideas and thoughts of just listening to a really good interview with this guy, Graham Duncan, I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. But he’s written some really good things around like how to hire teams, and you know, a lot of really good content. Oh, check him out. Graham Duncan. Yeah, he has this blog post, I think it’s called, who’s that human there. And it’s very interesting when it comes to how to hire a team, how to actually ask good reference questions. And I mean, you’ll be in an entire wormhole. If you’re trying to figure out hiring, I highly recommend that. But his point was that, you know, you want to see how hard and strong someone’s holding on to an idea. And if they are like, You should be questioning that. So for instance, people who are out are people in older industries who basically have sent a message so many times, it’s like calcified, and they just keep repeating it. And they hold on so strongly to that idea that like, no one’s allowed to question that even themselves. And so there’s a piece of that impostor syndrome, like you’re mentioning that I actually think is really important. We’re constantly questioning, you know, is this the right way to do it? Is there a better way? And having those, you know, strong opinions weekly held kind of mentality that I think, you know, you should always hold on to?

Kara Goldin 21:29
Yeah, definitely. I think it’s really interesting to to bring in, you know, not only people who sort of have a passion for, I mean, let’s say it’s its supply chain, right? You bring in somebody who’s really has experience maybe, or an interest and kind of taking on that role, but in addition, at different stages, right? Because it’s not just about a spec of finding that person who will like fill your slot, but somebody who can actually expand the team to go with these different stages as well. I mean, I know I’ve interviewed people in the past who have said, for example, that, you know, they really loved the early stages of the company. But when they had the experience of going from 10 million to 20 million, it was really tough. And here’s why. Having somebody like that on your team, how you had to change some aspect of your team that you didn’t know, for example, that kind of thinking, I think, too, is is really how to build out the best teams. And I think a lot of people don’t think about that when they’re interviewing. 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 a 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 learned 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.

Stephanie Postles 23:57
Yeah, trying to think about how do I hire someone who’s agile? And yeah, I can get through great times hard times startup times, and it can be flexible and grow into a role is a an interesting challenge when it comes to hiring for sure. So I’m a mom of three boys under four. And I know you’re a mom, I think a four

Kara Goldin 24:16
four I started in when I for under six. So

Stephanie Postles 24:20
okay, so yeah, I saw that. And I was like, Ah, this is my woman. She understands a lot of the struggles right now that I’m going through with these children. But there was a really fun story you had around. I think it was your plan C section with your last son, I think and it was around that and Whole Foods and I was hoping you could talk about that because I thought it was an epic story, especially for anyone who’s like, I’m a mom, how can I do this? I’m like Elizabeth Garrett story. It’s pretty funny and great. So could you please

Kara Goldin 24:48
Sure, absolutely. Well, it was you know, in the when I decided to actually launch hence and I had made the decision that the world needed a product like Can’t, I wrote the business plan and then I just decided I’m going to get it on the product on the shelf prior to my son Justin being born, because I knew how hard it was I had three other babies, I knew that I would have, you know, a few weeks after I brought him home from the hospital where you know that he’d sleep a lot, but then he’d really need my attention. And I wanted to be around for that too. And so I thought, if I can just get it on the shelf, then maybe I’ll have a little bit more time again, I had no idea I’d never, you know, started my own company, I’d worked for entrepreneurs, but I didn’t really understand what I didn’t know. And that’s when kind of the first lesson in launching a physical product. Really, any product, I learned kind of the hard way, which is you’re always going to have delays right there. It never will be on time, there will always be a little bit of a delay. And so we had our first shipment that actually came in my garage the day before I was launching my my fourth child, I was having a plan C section, I’ll set this up for you here i Here I am, I’m living in San Francisco, I’ve got three kids, we’ve got babysitter coverage, right coming to watch the kids while we’re going and having a plan C section my husband Theo and I are, it’s like going to the Ritz Carlton basically, because we’re checking in, you know, to the hospital, he’s gonna stay in the chair, the foldout chair and my room, it’s gonna be great, we get a little bit of a break. And that’s when I woke up that morning on May 27 2005. And my husband said, so what do you want to do this morning, we don’t have to be at the hospital till one o’clock. And I said, let’s go get her product and Whole Foods because that way, we only have two spaces in our garage, and one of the spaces is being taken up with these pallets of water. And how is the babysitter going to watch the kids in the house and like jungle cars on the street, that extra car, like I was like, oh my god, this is gonna be crazy. I’m like trying to figure out the logistics of all this. And so he looked at me and he said, so I didn’t really think that you were gonna say, Let’s go work on getting the product in Whole Foods this morning. I thought you were gonna say brunch, or maybe go on a walk or something like that. Like, no, I would feel so much better if I got the product and Whole Foods before I went and delivered, Justin. And so Theo was nice enough to load up some cases in the car. I had talked to this gentleman at Whole Foods a few months before, but I really hadn’t been in there. I didn’t share this part with you. But I hadn’t been in there lately, because I was busy right doing other things. So I thought there’s a 5050 shot whether or not I’m actually going to get the product in. Hopefully he wouldn’t say maybe because I probably would have missed my window to have Justin if that would have happened trying to get him to Yes, we got to Whole Foods. And I recognize the gentleman who I had kind of had some banter with before about this idea and tapped him on the shoulder. And he looked at me and I said hi, do you remember me? And he said, You are really pregnant? And I said, Yeah, I am. I’m super pregnant. He said like, are you going to deliver a baby in the store? And I said, Gosh, I hope not. I’m actually scheduled to have a baby this afternoon. And he said, What do you mean, like you’re scheduled to have a baby? And I said, Oh, I’m having a plan C section. And he said, So what’s the difference between a Plan C section and an emergency C section? Because a friend of mine had an emergency C section. And I like in detail oriented this right? And I he’s taken a break at this moment while he’s not putting product on the shelf. And he wanted to be educated about you know, C sections. So my husband laughed and kind of left me standing there. He thought, oh my god, is she really going to take this guy through having a C section? Why not? And so I explained where babies came from and how you have planned C sections and answered all the questions. And after I was done. I said, By the way, I have my product can’t hear. I’m wondering if you could put the product on the shelf because I have to be at the hospital at one o’clock. And he said I will try. It wasn’t a maybe. But he said I will try and I thought okay, he didn’t commit, but it’s kind of close, but he didn’t quite commit. And my husband at that point said come on Kara. We have to go we need to go to the hospital and I said okay, so I laughed, not really knowing whether or not he was actually going to put it on the shelf and I didn’t learn until the next day after Justin was born, and I got a phone call. And the phone call was from him from the guy that I was talking to at Whole Foods, and he said, your product is gone. And I said, who took it? I mean, I hadn’t focused on actually replenishing the product, we just dropped it off. And he said, the product is all gone. The 10 cases that you guys dropped off, are gone. Here, I was thinking that maybe somebody took them stole them. How could anybody buy the product to me, and I was really just focused on getting it on the shelf. And he said, No, I mean, you guys need to get back in here, because I’m gonna get in trouble if we I mean, this is hot product, like people are buying it. And I thought most of my friends, you have to understand too. We’re in tack, all of my friends were intact. I didn’t even tell people that I was making a beverage at home, people would ask me, oh, what are you doing? Many people didn’t even ask because they knew I didn’t have a job, I wasn’t getting paid. And so that was, you know, an interesting kind of moment, because I thought here I’ve created a product where people are actually buying my product. And they don’t even know me. Like it was mind blowing to me, that I had created something that people really wanted. And that’s fascinating. We checked out of the hospital a day early, and my husband, like went and replenish the cases and everything was fine. But you know, I remember thinking something really interesting, we put on the bottle, that first run, something that hadn’t really been done, we put an email and a phone number on the bottle. And the emails went directly to me, I didn’t have a customer service team or anything. And so here I am sitting in bed recovering from having Justin. And I remember the note from this gentleman who had bought the product. And he said, Thank you so much for creating this product. I have something called type two diabetes. And I had never this is 17 years ago, a very small percentage of the population had type two diabetes, I’d heard of diabetes, and type one diabetes, but never really had heard of type two diabetes until I received this email. He went on to share how he had struggled with trying to figure out how he got this, he wasn’t born with this and he was healthy and active. And then suddenly, he, you know, had gotten type two diabetes. And the more I heard from this consumer about his challenge, and connected the fact that he was thanking me for creating a product that was helping him achieve something, do something which was maintained as type two diabetes. I thought, that’s pretty special. Right? That’s pretty awesome. And I thought, maybe this is hard. Maybe there’s a lot of things to figure out. But I still think about that 16 and a half years later, how if you can actually build a product, if you can do something, whether it’s a service, or no matter what industry you’re in, or a physical product, if you can do something that helps somebody be better, and some way and achieve something that they didn’t know that they could do that they had been having problems doing that solves a problem. That’s a powerful thing. I mean, that’s a personally a very powerful feeling that you created something that is better. Right? And that and again, it it fascinates me that you can actually do that and be helpful to people without ever meeting them without ever knowing them, just by creating something that just helps.

Stephanie Postles 33:57
fast forward through today. I mean, sadly, I’m like, we need another five hours to go through the entire journey. But you fast forward to today. How would you start again, if you were to say, Okay, I want to start something new, like the world is in such a different place now? And what would you do? Or where would you even start out with? I feel like you’ve probably had so many experiences, so many lessons, so much advice from people probably, and you’ve probably given advice for a lot of people but like, I want to kind of see how your brain works today and like how would you go about it?

Kara Goldin 34:28
I think it would be really challenging for me not to do something that actually helped. Right? And that that better the world in some way. And it wouldn’t have to necessarily be in health, although that’s a pretty powerful Bagnet. Write something that people care so much about, that stumps them, when you can actually do something like that. I think that that’s success, right? That’s an achievement. And I don’t know. I mean, look, I started out in media went on to tech came into beverage, mission based consumer products. Maybe it’s something, all of those things, you know, but I think in the meantime, I’m very focused on making sure that hint gets bigger, that it’s, there’s a lot of whitespace a hint is only in the US today. So International, the sky’s the limits. And, you know, I think health is something that is really a puzzle for many people, right? I mean, we just are dealing with two years of a pandemic, where it’s, it definitely is whether you believe in vaccines, or masks, or no matter where you living in the world, or gender or any socio economic background, any of those things. Everybody wants to stay healthy. And I think people figuring out what you put into your body, what you do on a day to day basis might actually be more powerful and more helpful to you than actually trying to fix yourself when you have to.

Stephanie Postles 36:13
Yeah, completely agree. Okay, I also I was reading through your book, which is awesome. And I want to hear one of your favorite stories, while writing it that you’d love to talk about. Or maybe that enough people don’t talk about from the book, or like this is a really good one to reminisce about.

Kara Goldin 36:30
I will tell you a story. There were a few stories that were cut from but

Stephanie Postles 36:34
clearly that’s even better. Yeah, once every cut.

Kara Goldin 36:36
This was one that was cut from the book. So I’m in the middle of a transition from my little startup that I was at, when I was just had come to Silicon Valley called to market. And we were kind of moonlighting helping our investor America Online, actually develop out their marketplace. And so small company, company, but you know, it’s interesting, this is, you know, 1996, we were, they definitely weren’t ahead, they had competition, they were kind of the underdog versus a couple of other companies, prodigy and CompuServe, if you remember any of those no services in the 90s. But, you know, underdogs can win. And definitely they were AOL was one of our investors. And that was kind of the connection. But as I started to help build out, you know, this, this marketplace, and I had to market I had been responsible for bringing retailers in, including the gap. And I have a story and, and the book about that. And also some like online, only companies that were out there some catalogs like Omaha Steaks and Ella bean, etc. But it was a lot of fun building those out. But the one gap that we had that, you know, America Online, we really felt needed was books. And we had talked to Barnes and Noble, and this other brand called borders, books that is no longer around, asked, you know, tried to get them to work with us so that we could offer our consumers the ability on America Online to be able to purchase books. And when we kept hearing No, and we were waiting, and we were really lacking this category, I had heard about the sky and Seattle, Jeff Bezos, and he was, you know, scrappy guy, it was a lot smaller, we thought maybe we could go do a deal with Amazon with Jeff Bezos. And that would get borders and Barnes and Nobles attention to eventually come online with us. And so reached out to him, he reached back out. And you know, this is when Amazon was just books, right? And so I’ll never forget, he sends me an email back and he said, I can’t meet before five o’clock. So if you can make it up to Seattle, I’ll meet you at five o’clock, and I’ll meet you at my warehouse. So I get off the plane, go drive around, I’m looking for the number, the warehouse, and it’s 515. And I call them and he said, I can’t meet with you now because it’s it’s past five o’clock. And I said, Well, I can’t find your number. And he said, there’s no numbers on the warehouse. I thought, Okay, well, how am I going to find the warehouse? If there’s no numbers, there’s no address. So all of a sudden, I see this guy out in front of the warehouse, and he’s waving his arms, Jeff Bezos waving his arms like, Oh, I’m over here. Okay, so I get over there. It’s now like going on 530 And he said, I can’t meet with you. And I said, Oh, come on. I flew up here from San Francisco and meeting and you know, he said, I’ve got to build bookshelves and I said, I can help you build build bookshelves I’m like, I am the best bookshelf builder there is. And he started laughing. And I had never built a bookshelf before. But I thought How hard could it be? Why not? So here we are building bookshelves, me and Jeff Bezos, and I had another colleague with me. And I mean, I remember thinking, Okay, this guy’s the CEO of the company, um, and he’s building bookshelves at 530, I’m not sure that they’re going to be able to scale with us or do any, you know, grow with the company. I mean, he’s kind of funny. He’s sort of like an interesting meeting, to say the least he doesn’t have numbers on his building. All of these things. Were going through my head. And in order to size them up, I thought, Okay, what is it that I needed to hear from Him? That is really going to help me to make this decision whether or not this is the right decision. And so I asked him, I said to Jeff, why do you think you can compete against like the big guys like borders and Barnes and Noble? And he said, you read right? I said, Yes, Jeff, I read and I read a lot. And he said, Do you ever go to the bookstore? And ask for a recommendation? This is 1996. And I said, I do and he said, and how good are those recommendations in the store? And I said, Well, you can’t expect the person behind the counter to really know you, and know what your likes and dislikes and interests are in every single category. And he said, The future of book sales. The future of all category sales online, is recommendations. And, and I remember thinking, wow, at that moment, and that was the thing that really essentially I said, I remember calling my husband when I was coming back to get back on the plane. And I said, this guy’s really smart. And I told him what he said. He was at a company called Netscape at the time. And they had just done a deal with Amazon as well. And and I remember just thinking, I wasn’t sure whether or not he was going to be able to scale or not, but he was really smart. And he was thinking about the consumer and the future. I also share that story. Because how long did recommendations take to actually get off the ground? And how many people had he said that to? who doubted him and didn’t believe Barnes and Noble and Borders weren’t doing recommendations? Like he must have been the person that looked a little crazy, right? And, you know, where is he today? I mean, on his yacht, and doing all kinds of stuff, right, like, so I think that that’s the thing that, you know, the the visionary entrepreneurs, the people that are actually figuring out what can be done, they look a little crazy. But in addition to that, how long do things actually take? People get frustrated? Because they’re like, oh, it’s taking a long time recommendations. It took 20 years. Yep. And they’re still getting better. And I bet Jeff Bezos didn’t think it was going to take 20 years.

Stephanie Postles 43:19
Yeah, he wouldn’t have started. I think all founders always say like, if they knew what it would actually take, it would have never started the company they started and yeah, I mean, it reminds me of this quote, actually just have it in my little notepad and upper left hand side that I’ve never brought up in an interview, but it’s by this guy, George Bernard Shaw. I don’t know if you’ve heard. It says, the reasonable man adapts himself to the world, the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to Himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man or woman. Like that is how I want to act every single day. And with that, Kara, thank you so much for hopping on here today. We will have to do more podcasts together, because this is super fun. Until next time, where can people learn more about you and what you’re up to

Kara Goldin 44:05
all over social media at Kara Goldin with an eye and hopefully you’ll get a chance to pick up the book as well. Lots of good stories in there. Even if you’re not a beverage entrepreneur, or even if you’re not an entrepreneur, I think it’s it’s a story of a journey, resistance, resilience. All of those things, I think are really key. So hopefully you’ll reach out and share what you think with me as well.

Stephanie Postles 44:31
Amazing. Thank you so much.

Kara Goldin 44:32
Thank you. 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