PEARL LEMON INTERVIEWS:
Kara Goldin is the Founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., best known for its award-winning Hint® water, the leading unsweetened flavored water. She has been named one of InStyle’s Badass 50, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, Fortune’s Most Innovative Women in Food & Drink and EY 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. Kara has successfully navigated the world of large companies and startups in many industries, including media, tech and consumer products. In addition, she has a best selling book out right now, and you can order it here Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts & Doubters.
A Fireside Chat
I had the opportunity to have an amazing conversation with Kara Goldin at Drink Hint today. From talking about SEO for E-Commerce sites, Kara agreed to a quick interview.
She took the time to talk to me and answer some questions so I could get to know her better and hear more about the things that have helped shape her business success to date – let’s get stuck into it!
What Is The Book (Or Books) You’ve Given Most As A Gift, And Why?
I’m an avid reader. I’ve learned more about life and running a business from books than from any other source, so it’s tough to narrow it down, but here are three books I can recommend to people without any reservation: 1. Simon Sinek’s Infinite Game, which taught me to think bigger than my business. 2. Scott Galloway’s The Algebra of Happiness, which gave me new insight into what resilience really entails. 3. Bill Campbell’s Trillion-Dollar Coach, which challenged me to focus on the people around me, and really show up for my team.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
That experts have all the answers. In truth, most big innovations in any given industry come from outsiders – people with fewer preconceived notions about what’s possible.
When You Feel Overwhelmed Or Unfocused, Or Have Lost Your Focus Temporarily, What Do You Do?
I go out for a walk. I start every day with an early morning hike to clear my head and set my priorities for the day. And then at points throughout the day, I will take a work call while I do a lap around the block. Fresh air and physical movement shift your perspective and restore focus. Never fails.
What Is One Of The Best Or Most Worthwhile Investments You’ve Ever Made?
Building a company that matters. I didn’t start my company Hint because I dreamed of launching a beverage company. I started Hint to help people get healthy. Because I saw that by switching from diet soda to water with fruit in it, my health changed significantly. Investing in and launching a company that helps people achieve better health and stay healthy – it’s truly a great feeling.
Find what you want to get up and do every day.
And keep searching until you find it.
- Kara Goldin
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I started journaling about five years ago. And that led to me writing my book Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters. Writing a book, in many ways, was a way to relive many of the challenges I have gone through in building my company Hint. Looking back allowed me to think about many of the lessons learned, but also what we have achieved.
What careers advice would you give to your 21-year old self?
You’ve got this. And if you don’t, you will learn from the experience. Keep going!
If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — what would it say and why?
Just try. Take that first step. If you don’t start, you’ll never achieve.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?
Find what you want to get up and do every day. And keep searching until you find it.
How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?
Hint went into Starbucks in 2012. We were in there for a year and a half when we learned that the partnership was ending. Starbucks made a sudden decision to change strategy and remove Hint from their 10,000 locations in order to make room for higher-margin prepared foods and higher ring items. Being removed from the case was a tough day, no doubt about it. Starbucks was 40% of our overall business. But two weeks later, an Amazon buyer called and asked me if Hint would be interested in selling on Amazon. He explained that he purchased Hint every day when he bought his cup of coffee at Starbucks. I shared that I had plenty of inventory in the warehouse, and I offered to send Hint that very day. And Hint soon became one of the biggest products on Amazon Grocery. It’s a journey. And while Starbucks was a tough lesson, it was a necessary one. Sometimes you need to show up places in order to get where you are really supposed to be. Today, DTC is over 50% of our overall business (primarily through our own site at www.drinkhint.com, but we also still sell on Amazon). And it might not have happened if we didn’t have that “failure” with Starbucks.
What is the most significant thing that someone much younger than yourself has taught you?
Learning is fun!
Tell Us About Your Business. What Does It Do And What Value Do You Add?
I developed the idea for Hint after I realized that my diet soda addiction was having all sorts of adverse effects on my health – weight gain, adult acne, lack of energy. After substituting water in place of my diet soda consumption, I quickly lost 20 pounds in less than three weeks, my acne disappeared, and my energy levels increased. One problem still persisted: water was boring. So, I started adding fruit to my water to make it taste better. Soon, I became obsessed with the idea of helping others enjoy water too – if something like my home concoction was available in supermarkets, it could improve people’s health as it did for me. From day one of getting Hint on the shelf at Whole Foods in San Francisco, we heard that it was doing just that – helping people enjoy water and get healthy. Who wouldn’t want to create and run a company that helps people? And I get to do that every day.
When did you first become a rebel?
Being the last of 5 kids, you get plenty of opportunities to just figure it out. I never really called myself a rebel, but I guess others did. From having my first job in a local toy store at age 14 (and I soon became the store toy buyer) to leaving my home state of Arizona behind for New York City after college without knowing a soul there, I always had a strong urge to explore, enjoy, learn and deliver.
What is a 'hack' you have for success that most people don't know about?
No hack. Work hard. Be a lifelong learner. Face your doubts. Resolve to prove the doubters wrong. And dedicate yourself completely to solving whatever problem is in front of you. You’ll get there eventually if you keep at it.
How has Covid-19 changed your industry?
Health has become more important and more top-of-mind for everyone. And in the last year, many consumers are realizing that they need to make sure that they are putting the best things in their body to stay healthy.
What's your favourite holiday destination?
What's your favourite colour?
What one thing in life do you consider to be overrated?
What's something exciting you're currently working on/learning that only a few people know about?
What one song can you listen to every day non-stop?
“Brave” by Sara Bareilles.
What's your star sign?
Pearl Lemon are an SEO, PPC, PR, and B2B lead-generation agency. We are based in London but service clients around the world.
We have taken the time to interview entrepreneurs and experts (like Kara) in this new series.