Interview Replay: You Can Too

Episode 513.5

In this captivating episode of James Brackin IV's The You Can Too Podcast, we journey alongside Kara Goldin through her transformative life story. James kicks off the conversation by exploring Kara's childhood and early influences, setting the stage for an intimate exploration of the experiences that shaped her path from a budding tech enthusiast to a visionary entrepreneur. The dialogue unveils the pivotal moments and mentors that inspired Kara to make the leap into entrepreneurship, alongside candid discussions about the challenges of overcoming doubts and the skepticism of naysayers.

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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 Kara Goldin show. Enjoy.

James Brackin IV 0:54
Kara Goldin, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. I’m excited to dive into your story. It is profound to say the least, I’d love to dive into your childhood to begin with, because that obviously had a big impact on what brought you into everything that you’ve done beforehand. And everything in between the youngest of five at 14, you created the summer camp you’ve done you’ve always been ambitious and just tenacious in so many so many ways. What were some pivotal moments in your childhood that really created the person I’m speaking to today.

Kara Goldin 1:22
Wow, that’s a that’s a really good question. Looking back. You know, there’s there are lots of stories that come up along the way. Probably one of my, my first stories was when I moved from my parents moved us from Minneapolis, to Scottsdale, Arizona. And I was a little girl and had obviously no say that we were, you know, going somewhere. And I’ll never forget watching I was entering it. I guess I was still in preschool at that point. But the next year, when I went off to kindergarten, my mom announced that she was going to go back to work she had, you know, obviously raised five kids, she had been an art history major and was very interested in the arts, but had decided that she was going to change plans a little bit and go into fashion. And I remember watching my dad think, Okay, well, how is this all gonna work, like, you’ve never really been in fashion. And now you want to change. But that was probably the first moment where I really saw that, you know, people’s ideas of what they want to do with their life actually shift. And sometimes you can’t really explain why they shift. But I think there are many people that end up looking at their shifts and trying to define,

you know whether or not you’re going to be successful at it, because you haven’t had any experience. Nobody sits there and focuses on your curiosity. I mean, they might give you a pat on the back and say, Oh, that’s, you know, really nice, that you’re gonna go and do something. But I think that you, you clearly hear in their voice that they’re sort of not really clear that it’s going to be a great idea or not. But I really hand it to my dad, where he knew my mom needed to go do something, and felt like, stagnant and felt like she was complacent. And she loved all five of his kids. But I think she really wanted to go do something with her life. And I probably didn’t actually realize the extent of how that would impact me later in life when I had a second successful career and tack and all of a sudden, I’m like, Okay, I want to go develop a beverage company and become an entrepreneur. And it was like, Whoa, you know, what, what just happened? Why did it happen? And I think that, again, living in a house where you felt like it was okay to not, not just, you know, go along with whatever, which way the winds are blowing, but really identify what you’re curious about and what you’re passionate about and what you want to wake up and focus on.

James Brackin IV 4:27
Yeah, the curiosity is one thing that I’ve continued to see in every single person I’ve spoke to is that their curiosity is what drives them in so many ways. And you are one of the most curious people that I’ve dove into their story. And I admire it so much, because I’m a curious person as well. What brought me down this path to begin with you were the youngest vice president and in AOL, and then you decided to go to create him and everything that you’ve built, and then take me through your internal narrative at that time, as you say, you’re overcoming doubts and doubters and everyone’s telling you that you can’t do something but you’re coming from Tech where it seems to be that there always is a solution, you just have to find someone that has it. That makes sense. Yeah,

Kara Goldin 5:03
you know, it’s interesting. I think that when you switch industries, it, it’s a little bit different than switching jobs. Like maybe if you’re switching jobs within an industry, you have an opinion that one company is better than other, right. And everybody’s opinions might vary. But when you actually switch industries, it ends up that the majority of people think that’s really crazy, because they’ve identified you as being in one industry. And yet, when you look at people, maybe people you admire, that you read about or you interview or, or people that are your friends that are a little bit older. The majority of my friends have changed industries. And you know, some people thought they were going to be a lawyer. And then they ended up doing something totally different, or a doctor or whatever. And I think that for, for me, starting out in tech, I felt like I was getting recruited to go into another tech company, I was being praised. I was, you know, there was a lot of great stuff happening in there. But for me, I felt like in order to really go learn, I need to go and do something totally different. And I didn’t really know what that was. And I’m not even sure I articulated it to people, because I felt like, I don’t know what it is. And I think there are many people who will hear me say that. And then they’ll think, Oh, she actually doesn’t want to work. And I had four kids at this point, or I was pregnant with my fourth when I was like, trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. So many people counted me out and thought, Well, why don’t you just wait until you have your child and they get a little bit older or whatever. And, and I kept thinking, maybe maybe I’ll do that. But never in a million years did I think I’m gonna go start a company. I’m gonna go start it while I’m pregnant, and continue to do it through his younger years. And I think that that’s something that I guess one of the reasons why I love telling my story is I feel like, it allows people to know what’s possible, right? And it and it doesn’t mean that you are going to go and start a beverage company or even become an entrepreneur. But every piece of your journey is important. Even the failures, even the the things that don’t really seem relevant. For me, what I saw, for example, in tech versus consumer products, is this whole concept in tech of there’s always going to be upgrades, right and add ons that make a product better is, is kind of foreign to the at least the beverage industry, right? It’s like you, you almost they don’t come as frequently as, for example, an iPhone, constantly changing, right? It’s constantly upgrading, almost to a point of really annoying people, right? That they’re constantly getting the upgrade, they just bought a new iPhone or whatever. But that’s the tech industry, right? Where I had, you know, kind of gotten my feet wet and grown up in that. So I come over the consumer product space. And everybody’s saying not only, not only was I not going to be successful, but also I thought, I just need to be able to get a product on the shelf that is safe, that no one’s going to get sick or die, or you know, like, that’s the key thing. And that tastes great. That is pretty good. Because what I learned in tech was that you’re going to get it out there. And you’re you want to hear from consumers what else they want. Right? And that’s like a, that’s a major piece that I think many new entrepreneurs don’t realize is that it’s not going to be perfect. Nothing’s ever going to be perfect. In fact, most entrepreneurs would say that even if they have an amazing company and an amazing product, they’re constantly going to be tweaking it and upgrading it in some way. As things either technology gets better or some aspect gets better or they start to really kind of watch the consumer and see how something needs to be different in some way.

James Brackin IV 10:02
Yeah, that’s one thing that I took from your story was, a lot of people see going into a new industry, not just a new industry, but even carving out a new category in that industry. You were naive to a lot of things. But that allowed you to put you in a position to ask questions that other people wouldn’t ask. And I’m curious, how impactful was that, at that time being able to ask the questions and continue moving forward, when people were telling you that there had to be preservatives in it. And there had to be this there had to be that and they couldn’t give you an answer of why. But you always continue to press forward and just realize that just not taking no for answer was really the way that you you, you went about it. So what was that, like knowing that it was just a you were creating a new category at that time?

Kara Goldin 10:42
Well, you know, it’s, it’s also interesting, because for me, I was actually trying to figure out if people were right, right, because on the one hand, I want it to be right, right. Like I was investing my own money and trying to figure out whether or not this concept that I had created that, frankly, was on the shelf already, but I just had a very short shelf life. And I thought in order to really scale this company, and, you know, getting more whole foods and be able to, you know, really get into larger distribution points, I need to be able to figure out how do I expand the shelf life. So everybody kept telling me that, you know, there’s just no way that you can create an all natural product without preservatives in it. And part of me wanted to believe them. But then the natural question for me, whenever I didn’t understand something was why that probably started when I was a kid. I was that kid that was constantly. My dad. The first thing he would say was and and my mom to some extent, but my dad was much worse was No. Like he was excellent at saying no, probably because my other my brothers and sisters got away with lots of things. And he smartened up. And so he was constantly saying no to me, and I said why. And that was, I guess, taken into this world of business where I would ask many of the manufacturers because they’re manufacturing these products, they know a lot more than I do. And I was stunned to actually hear that many of them didn’t really know. They said, Well, you just can’t. And again, like I had heard that many times from my parents, and I thought, that’s not good enough, right? Like, you know, I mean, what do you mean, you just can’t like, what, what are you concerned about? What are you? I mean, what is it? What is the reason? And so, as I kept asking that question, I think even part of me, sort of thought it was like funny, to some extent that people would actually, you know, they own a company, it’s like, multimillion dollar company, they’re manufacturing products, and they would just accept that as kind of gospel. And I just thought it was sort of funny that everybody just kind of was going along with it. And so every opportunity I got, I tried to find people that might be doing things a little bit differently. And I also looked outside of the industry, because I tried to figure out these products not might not be products that you can eat, but they or drink, but maybe there’s some elements of how they manufacture things that we can bring in. So I I just kept, I was curious, I just kept thinking, and finally, I ended up running into somebody who said, you know, I don’t know, that’s so funny. You’re like the first person that’s ever asked me that question. And if you want to come and test some things, we can play around with some different things. And so we did, and that was like we meaning my husband, we both went to this manufacturer, and and it just started testing things out a little bit. And that was kind of the early days where we realized that you could get kind of a pseudo pasteurization process with something called the hot fill that was not being used on water products at the time. That water today in a bottle water, for example, that doesn’t have fruit in it is just it’s called a cold filled process. So it doesn’t, because it doesn’t have the fruit in it. You don’t need any type of any type of pasteurization or preservatives in order to have a shelf life. So that was that was the component that It really sort of had a stock. And when we started looking at the juice industry, that’s when we started to put these pieces together. But again, like manufacturers of juice versus manufacturers of water products, or on totally different systems. And so that was this component that we needed to find just one person that would test this concept, and see if we could make it work. And once we did that, then I actually went back to some other people who I thought had the capabilities and the interest to go and do products this way, because again, they’re gonna make more money. Like, it’s an element of their business that allows them to expand. So of course, they were listening to me, because they’re going to make more money, I’m not gonna make any money, I just said, Hey, remember that conversation that we had? Yes. And I would share the information with them. And, and they’d be really grateful. And some of them went and made businesses out of it. Others just said, Oh, thanks a lot, lady. And, you know, clicked whatever, and weren’t that interested in it. But I think I was always feeling like, not only did I want to figure this out, but also, I wanted to help people. And that was the whole goal of starting camp in the first place, I wanted to help other people enjoy water. And that’s why I started hands, I wanted to do it without sweeteners in it. And there were many, you know, fake juice products that were on the market that were not soda, but were kind of either super sweetened with sugar, or at that time had lots of diet sweeteners that were not even zero calories, yet, I was never really focused on the calories I was more focused on, I don’t want it sickeningly sweet and with fake sweet, too. So that was really, that was really the goal for me. And I thought, if I can actually help manufacturers to make something that not only helps people in my industry in some ways, you know, create competitors, but maybe it’s actually going to help other people as well. And the reality is, is that, as I mentioned before, some people will do it, and some people won’t, like ideas are a sort of mixing a lot of different metaphors and ideas here. But ideas are a dime a dozen, it’s the people that are willing to go and execute on those things are the ones that ultimately, you know, maybe you have to worry about. But even then, you know, it’s like, it all figures itself out, right, and the cream rises to the top or however you want to view it. I mean, you just have to keep going. Yeah, you

James Brackin IV 18:09
are one of the most resourceful people. Probably the person that I that I hear is, even the jobs prior to creating him Xena, and time and everything that you stepped into you, you really created the role in some regard, like the wouldn’t have been there, if you didn’t fly out and do everything that you did when he when it came to that working for three different entrepreneurs prior to creating him. What were some of the things that you took away from that that allowed you to step into him with? I want to say the optimism to really create something extraordinary today. I mean, it’s it’s never it’s been, it’s growing every single year since you started. So there, you’re obviously doing something right.

Kara Goldin 18:46
Well, I think the thing, again, it’s it’s so great to look back on it, because I don’t think I saw it when I was in it. But when you look back on things that you really like about, you know, your experience, right? And I think that this is this is life, too, right? Like you’re, you know, you think about the things that you got out of something or you learned about yourself or whatever it is that it’s so important to look back and think about things in that way. And so when I went to CNN, I started my career at time and I went to CNN, Ted Turner was running around CNN, and you know, we were only in 40% of the 40% of the US at that time. And I think it was like 12% of the world. I mean, it was just there was a lot of whitespace. And Ted mostly worked out of the Atlanta office, but he would come into the New York office and you would always know that he was coming off of the elevator, right? Like, even if you didn’t know that he was going to be in the New York office that day. Maybe you would hear us laugh. For but there was this energy. And that was probably the first time that I really saw a founder, and like this founder energy that is so powerful. And I think that the, the thing that I think about now about founders is like, it’s their role, whether or not they articulate this or not, but to put stakes in the ground around an idea, right, and there are people who are signing up to follow those ideas, right. And, and, you know, they took a job right at your company, and most times, depending on the stage of the, of the startup, but especially when it’s early stage, or in this case, CNN where, you know, definitely was a distant competitor to things like ABC News, and NBC News. And some of the other ones. Ted was the one that really believed that the world needed a 24 hour news channel. And there were days, especially when he wasn’t in where we were like, I don’t know, I don’t know if the world really needs 20. I mean, it’s, it’s ironic now to think I mean, there’s now competitors to CNN that are 24 hour news, too. But it’s, it’s interesting, because Ted was really the person that held on to those stakes that believed it. And, and I think you have to even hold on to them harder, until you get the consumer to really understand, right, what you’re talking about. And I think that that is so relevant to my journey in life, where I saw firsthand that I could drink water, that had slices of fruit in it. And I just needed to create something like that, that was easier for consumers to just go out and buy because the process, the two step process, at least two step process of slicing fruit and throwing it in water. Consumers might say that they would do that. But the reality is, is most won’t, right, it’s too hard. It’s just, you know, it’s too involved takes too much time, even though it doesn’t really that’s how, that’s what they ended up doing. Right, they’ll say they’re going to do one thing, but then they’ll actually do nothing, or they’ll do something totally different. So I think looking back on, you know, the, the example of CNN is a really valid one in that case, where I just had to make sure that more and more consumers were understanding, and I had to show that I really believed and here’s why I believe and really tell the story, especially to the to the employees and to shareholders, and to also consumers and and eventually get the consumers get the employees, get the shareholders to you know, speak this as well. And I think that the way that you do that is you develop a great product, and you develop a product where, where they feel like they’re owners, right. And I saw that in my next role when he came out to the Bay Area. And the only person that I sort of associated with the Bay Area was Steve Jobs. And I mean, Apple for me was something that was very, you know, inspiring, but also really aspirational. Like, I thought if I could just meet this guy that started. I mean, I just thought he was just the coolest, he was super geeky, but he was, you know, I just thought like he developed a product that was, you know, the designs and the lines of those first computers as crazy as the sounds today. I mean, it was game changing. And you know, versus these massive a frame computers that were so ugly and clunky and you know, he just changed an industry and made it much more user friendly. And I think I I didn’t really know how I was going to get a role there. So I ended up long, crazy story, but I ended up cold calling really doing research initially trying to figure out if there’s another company that Steve is working on, or maybe there’s people that had worked for Steve and I stumbled upon a little company that was doing CD ROM shopping and truly like that was something that I hadn’t really thought about. But I did believe that. I didn’t know that I wanted to be in media outside of New York City, because I felt like that was like such a big change, like New York was the hub of where most media, at least in the US was. And so I thought, you know, maybe I can figure something out. And then maybe eventually, we’ll go back to New York. But what I realized was that there was just a ton to learn, and I loved shopping. And I thought, if I can actually just get some kind of, you know, job at this company, it was called to market and they were doing CD ROM shopping, maybe one day, I’ll just meet Steve, and it just be just cool. Right? Like, it’s maybe he’s like, as cool as Ted Turner is. And so anyway, it was, that was sort of, you know, another thing that I realized was that, again, there are these founders that are, frankly, kind of eccentric, right there, they look like larger than life. And then when you meet them, you know, they’re, they’re a little different, right there. They’re not necessarily the people that you think that they’re going to be right. And I think some of the brightest, brightest, and some of the most creative people are not necessarily the people that you’re going to hang out with all day long. But you appreciate kind of the fact that they’re, that they really understand this consumer and this audience that they’re, you know, trying to go after, right, to grow their products. So, so anyway, so and then finally, when our company to market was acquired by this company called America Online,

I can’t say that I actually went looking for that opportunity. I mean, that opportunity kind of came and acquired the company that I had joined, it was a really small company. But I appreciated the fact that there was somebody Steve Case that really looked at how do we change? A, you know, people are going on to the internet? How do we make it faster for people, and he had this concept of creating a closed system for the consumer. And so unless you were around during the, you know, 90s, and, and, you know, when all of this was happening, this is like 9095 96. And through the 90s, it was dial up modems, where you couldn’t get on the telephone at home and talk while you were on the computer. And if your brother picked up the phone, you’d be disconnected, and you were in a chat room, and then you’ll be disconnected and only one, if you only had one phone line, then you were kind of screwed. And so I saw what Steve was doing, not only from a, you know, closed interface that most consumers didn’t really understand what they were looking at, but also solving a problem. Right. And I think in all three cases, I had an opportunity to see where it wasn’t what they were talking about, they weren’t talking about the problem they were solving. They were talking instead about the front end, right? That the go and, you know, sign up for America Online, truck, go and watch CNN, go and shop you like shopping great, go and try this disc, which eventually, then became America Online shopping. What I saw were three very different founders who had ideas, and they focused on how do we get consumers to understand that, and that, if they start to use this, then it’s going to solve the problem that maybe they didn’t even know they had, but they’re going to like it. They’re going to use it daily, and they’re going to become, you know, loyal. And so anyway, I’m talking your ear off about this, but I think it’s it’s I didn’t think even from those three experiences that I was going to go and become an entrepreneur. I was quite happy working for entrepreneurs because I thought it was cool that someone else was holding the stakes, right? I didn’t have an idea. But when I saw this problem in front of me, I thought somebody needs to Do this. In fact, I tried to give this idea a way to coke and some others before I even launched it, because I just thought, you know, where are the Ted’s in the Steve’s around to actually go and do this? And I thought, well, maybe I should just go do it. I mean, how hard could it be? Nobody expects me to do it anyway. So if I fail, like the bars, pretty low, I mean, what the heck, and and so that’s how he was developed.

James Brackin IV 30:32
It’s profound. And that’s one thing that I continued to take away is that you kind of just threw stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks in such a way that you didn’t really, there was no expectation, like you said, there, there was no expectation of creating anything, because everyone was already telling you that it wasn’t possible. So the fear of failure. I mean, you took 50,000 out of your bank account, you had three kids at the time, once on the way you were, this was like in the process of wanting to call Huawei at the time your husband wasn’t even on board, like there was so many people telling you no, but you still found a way to to create something such so profound. In that time? Was there a fear of failure? Or was that I mean, after the 50,000 out of your bank, and I assume you put skin in the game? Now it’s kind of there’s more on the table. But what was that, like during that time in the beginning, where you just continue to be told no? Well,

Kara Goldin 31:16
I think here’s the other thing that not a lot of people think about when they’re switching industries, they’re maybe your inner circle and your family and people that know that you’re going and doing something some kind of crazy, or they’re watching, right? And, obviously, you know, you’re keeping track of it’s gonna cost you money or whatever, you’re keeping track of that. But you know, you’re your worst enemy is yourself, right? Because you’re trying to create something, and you’re taking the time to go do this. But it ends up that there are many people who, you know, saw you successful in these other industries, that, that believe that you shouldn’t have been doing what you’re failing at anyway. So they’re, they’ll welcome you back. So I kept thinking that the bar is pretty low. In fact, many people when I first launched him, I mean, I was still getting recruited for different tech jobs. And I kept, I like, you know, kept things warm, right. Like, I would go and talk to people. And I mean, it’s, it’s interesting, even after launching Hant, one of the stories that we talk about is how we got into Google. And we got into all the Google offices, they were recruiting me for a role at Google. And it was, I mean, I got into, you know, multiple meetings with this gentleman that actually used to work with my husband. So I felt like I was, I don’t know, kind of, I don’t know, bullshitting I’m sorry, if I if I can say that, but But you know, I just felt like after a while, I was sort of wasting his time, right? Because I just I was, there were too many meetings. There wasn’t like one meeting, it was like too many meetings. And finally, I just thought, maybe I should just tell them exactly what I’m doing and tell them, you know, I’m trying to figure out, how do I create this product to get a longer shelf life, this thing could all go away in six months if I can’t figure this out. And that’s when he brought up that he was working with, you know, the heads of Google on this concept of micro kitchens within the company, and that they had hired chefs, and that they didn’t actually have a drink yet. And would I be interested and supplying this drink for employees, the key thing that he was most focused on was not that I was, you know, a candidate for a role. Or that I was some cool entrepreneur, I was solving a problem for, you know, they wanted to create a culture inside of Google that was, you know, healthy food, healthy drinks. They, you know, really believed early on, and this is 2005 2006, as they believed early on that if they could supply, you know, employees with great food and great drinks, they would be more productive, and they would stay longer, like during the day to be able to do great work, right? Like who wants to go home if you’ve got, you know, this amazing opportunity here. So that was, you know, that was a massive opportunity that again, I didn’t even see coming. I was just trying to be honest and authentic and, you know, was a little bit vulnerable, thinking that, you know, he could come back and say, Well, I’m really pissed, you’re wasting my time. And, you know, and but instead I just said, Listen, I, if I wasn’t doing this, I think I would want to do that. But but, you know, and by the way, here’s a bottle of, of hint. And you know, he kind of chuckled that I pulled it out of my bag. And that’s another thing I always say to founders, it’s like, the, you know, you’re always selling, right? You’re always telling people about your product and what you’re doing. And, you know, if you’re not, then I think that’s, that is not similar to most founders, because I think everybody really associates those founders expecially, in the early days, with the founder, because they’re working so hard to get people to understand it, and understand why they’re spending so much time and why it’s so important, you know, to really get it off the ground and get it moving.

James Brackin IV 36:05
Yeah, as you said, when it comes to Steve Jobs, like the dots always connect backwards, but they don’t forwards. So thinking back, you have the persistence, you have the curiosity, you created the opportunities for yourself. If you think back, what are some of the less obvious reasons that you’ve been able to find success?

Kara Goldin 36:25
Well, you know, I think, I do think curiosity is such a big piece of this. But I also think that I’m a big I’m an optimist, I believe that things work out, for sure. But I also believe that that, you know, it’s somebody said something to me early on, that has stuck with me the early on, in terms of the, the early days of hint, I really wanted to get our product into Whole Foods. And I kept saying, like, I’d been introduced to the sky, Josh dwarf, who his parents had started the first organic, whole wheat flour company, and they were in Whole Foods. And so it wasn’t a beverage company, but I thought, okay, he’s got this massive relationship with this really cool store, store Whole Foods, and I’m gonna figure out, I’m gonna ask him, How do I get into Whole Foods, and he said, Listen, you will eventually get it to Whole Foods. But he said that the, there’s, there’s two things, first of all, you have, you’ll get into Whole Foods, and then some, something will happen, like, you’ll all of a sudden, you know, some one of your other distribution channels will be injured in some way. You know, like, it’s, it’s like, it’s like a walk a ball, or whatever the saying is, where you’re constantly like, one thing goes up, and then, you know, the other thing goes down. And it’s constant like that. And he said, that’s number one. Number two is, is that you have to focus on being sure that you stick around, because it ends up that if you stick around for long enough, and you stick around by making the consumer happy, he was like, you’ll get the distribution that you really want, as long as you’re able to, you know, be able to afford to stay up to keep the lights on. Right. And, and I think that that’s really true. I think that you for any founder, like, you can always have a goal. And it’s so important to have a goal, my goal at that time, was getting into whole foods, but it’s and you have to keep those goals going. Like, never be without a goal. But I think it’s really, I think it’s really important to to remember that, you know, the other stuff never goes away. The you have to make sure that the rest of the business is operating, that you’re satisfying the consumer, that you’re not relying on the consumer to tell you things, as Steve Jobs always said that it’s, you know, the consumer won’t tell you what they want, you have to tell them what they want. And you have to solve problems for them. And I think you have to connect the dots for that and make predictions. And so the best founders, I would say are, you know, the people that are, they’ll place bets, right? They’ll look at a lot of different either their gut will tell them that things are this way, maybe their analytics, whatever. Hopefully there’s some analytics around it. But I think that the key thing that I learned along the way was really that the best founders really hard taking bets, and then are willing to, you know, if the if you talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk, right, you’ve got to make that you’ve got to figure out if it’s going to be able to happen. And you’ve got to, you know, stay close to it until it does.

James Brackin IV 40:25
Yeah. When you think of the book, because it took about four years, it was like a journal prior, which is awesome. What was left out of the book, or if you could add another chapter, if there was another something else that you wanted to put into it? What would you say that that is?

Kara Goldin 40:42
Oh, my God, there were so many. It’s, it’s funny, because my husband joined us very early on. And he’s basically the co founder of Theo talks, we talk a lot about Theo and the book. I mean, he’s got great stories, too. But there’s so many. And you know, we’ll run into people who, who were, you know, in the early days of Hant, and we’ll just start laughing about things like, you know, manufacturers that we have, that we no longer had, and, you know, some of the cast of characters in some of these manufacturing. Like, it’s just you just laugh at so many of those things. So much of this book was, had to be cut, because basically, the, the consumer, the reader isn’t going to read typically a book that is, you know, 600 pages, right. So you want to get it down to a couple of 100 pages. But let’s see. I mean, one of the stories I tell this was actually not a hint story. But this was a story that went back to the to market days. And actually, to the Varrick online days, the early days of Americana online, there was one point where I was kind of trying to develop the still develop the CD ROM, but also, we were integrating the CD ROM shopping experience into the AOL platform. And so we didn’t have a bookseller on on the AOL service, we had gone to Barnes and Noble, and I don’t know if you remember a company called borders, books, and, but they were like, super hot. I mean, everybody was shopping at borders and born borders, and Barnes and Noble were had to had, neither of them wanted to work with us. And I thought, you know, if we can get a bookstore on and satisfy that consumer that was asking us to sell books, then maybe we’ll end up getting Barnes and Noble or borders later. And I had heard about this guy in Seattle, Jeff Bezos, who was starting a small bookstore called Amazon. And so I reached out to him, and I said, Hey, I heard you know, you’ve got a small bookstore that you’re selling books online, it’s, I’ve shopped your service, it’s really cool. Can I come up and meet you? And he said, Sure, but it has to be after five o’clock. And so I gotten got a plane flight to Seattle, and he said, meet me at the warehouse. It’s just outside the airport, and, and be there at five o’clock. And I said, Okay, so I get there. I drag another guy that was working with me. And we actually had one of those large phones. This was before the iPhone or anything. And, and so we’re sitting, you’re driving around looking for this warehouse. And finally, we ended up calling Jeff and it’s 515. And I said, I’m so sorry, we’re late, but I can’t find the warehouse. And he said, What do you mean, you can’t find the warehouse? And I said, Oh, it’s, you know, we’re driving around, it’s getting dark. And he stood outside the warehouse. And he was like, can you imagine Jeff Bezos like flagging me down here? I am, right? And he said, I said, yeah, there’s no numbers on the warehouse. He was like, Oh, I didn’t even realize it. I’ve been inside all day. And then he said, Oh, unfortunately, I can’t meet with you now. And I’m like, it’s almost 530. And I said, What? Like I said, you know, there’s no numbers on the warehouse. And he said, Well, if you want to help me build bookshelves, because I have a massive order that’s coming tomorrow. And I said, Sure, I’ll talk to you while we’re building bookshelves. Never imagined that that’s what I was going to do. And can you imagine Jeff Bezos building bookshelf? So we went in were like, putting these like, what did they call the Pull the plastic poles from Home Depot or whatever together. So he’s got all these, I’m looking around at the place. He’s got, like a folding table for a desk and a chair. I start thinking, like, Oh, this is significantly different than the visual that like borders or Barnes and Noble. And I’m thinking, I don’t know if this is all going to work out. So I looked at them. And I’m like, I’m still building. And I said, Jeff, so. So why do you think you can be successful against borders and Barnes and Noble? And again, like, I’m trying to figure out if I should even be here. This is crazy. And he’s he’s obviously very smart. And he said, So do you read? I said, Yes, Jeff, I read. And he said, so when you go to Barnes and Noble, and you ask the guy behind the counter for recommendation? How accurate? Is it? Like, can he help you? And I said, Well, I mean, there’s a lot of books, there’s a lot of categories. And he said, so the future of book sales is recommendations. This is 1996. And, and, you know, and I was like, I said, huh, and I remember just sitting there, just thinking, wow, like, How’s, how’s that gonna happen now. And he said, The future of shopping online. And here, I had been working with major retailers. Prior to this, in the CD ROM world that the gap and J Crew and really smart, experienced people. And this guy, he came from, you know, finance, he didn’t come from books, he didn’t come from tech, right? Like he was, he was the outlier. And here he is talking about something that is going to solve a problem that people don’t know that they have, because otherwise, I would have heard from a number of different retailers, right? And I remember like leaving that night thinking, wow, like, he’s obviously really smart. I don’t know if he’s gonna make it or not. But I mean, he’s got to put a number on the outside of this warehouse for sure. Like, there’s just little things like that, that just were. But that’s sat with me for many years. And it’s, it’s a story that I actually tell many entrepreneurs that it’s, arguably, it took over 20 years, for him to get to recommendations to be like, primetime, where he was proud of it. And we were, he was talking about it, right. And so sometimes goals actually take a lot longer. He had an idea, he had a vision, maybe his core team knew that he was headed towards recommendations. And you know, and he felt like in order for book sales and online sales in general, to really, you know, be what they are today. I mean, Amazon today, unless you sort of know the history, you don’t know that it was just books, right? And but he really believed that you couldn’t expand into other categories. Unless you really nailed it in books, right. And, and really nailed it in the recommendation side of that. And then you and then, you know, in the back end, and again, this was something he wasn’t necessarily telling consumers about. But I had friends that were working at Amazon over the years, like, he’d launched music, and he’d start to figure out, how does music and how to books define this consumer? And what else might they shop for? It used to be that you would have focus groups and you’d say, Hey, you drink Starbucks coffee. Do you also like reading fantasy? But he is actually saying, if you like, hint, and you you know, read this book, you might actually like the sweater, right? Like, because 90% of other people do already. So you should too. Like that whole concept. He was thinking about this way before others work on a on a, you know, larger scale. So anyway, that book or that story, primarily because it wasn’t necessarily related to hints ended up getting cut out, but I think it’s one of the best it was one of the better ones.

James Brackin IV 49:55
Yeah, yeah, my goodness. I did not know that. That’s that is a profound story. Amen. I’m grateful that this was the place to tell it. Commerce. I want to be respectful of your time, I want to ask one last question I asked every guest Yeah, question to you is, what? What belief are you currently unlearning?

Kara Goldin 50:13
What belief in my currently unlearning? You know, I used to believe, and maybe in some ways, I never believed this. Because I always believe, go back to starting, right and go learn something and don’t be afraid to do that. But I think even when you’re the head of a company, right, and you’ve created something that is very valuable, that that, you know, you’ve scaled it to a point I’m still looking for for those ideas, I’m not afraid to sort of go back down to the bottom to go and, and tinker and figure things out. And I think that I’m running into many entrepreneurs are hearing stories about other entrepreneurs that are very successful. Somebody was just on my podcast talking to me about a Vaughn from Patagonia, and how he has this incubator program called the provisions. And the provisions program has all these like different, you know, little ideas that some of them are incubated from Yvonne, some are incubated from other people, but Yvonne will sit there and tinker. And to a point where, you know, literally, he’ll like weld things, he has a sewing machine where he’s trying to, like figure things out. And I’m, like, fascinated by that. Because I think that the creators, people call founders, you know, founders, and I think at times, it’s kind of like, a it’s an aspirational label. But I think sometimes it’s like, there’s this idea that founders can’t scale companies, right, you have to have, you know, you have to have the professional people come in to actually scale companies. And I think that the problem is, is like, you’ve the founders, are there DNA is there creators, right? And I think that the creators to keep them creating, keep them, you know, continually figuring out like what else we can be creating under a theory, you know, one brand or under multiple brands. And I think that that’s where my head is like, kind of searching through, you know, many, many entrepreneurs that I’ve seen that have done that as well. So

James Brackin IV 52:55
I love it. Kara, thank you so much for coming on the show. Of course, all of your your links to your book, and everything that you’re putting into the world will be in the show notes. But is there any way you’d like to direct people?

Kara Goldin 53:03
Thank you so much. You know, I’m all over social at Kara Goldin, so definitely drop by and say hello. 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