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Lessons Learned From Entrepreneurship With Kara Goldin of Hint, Inc.

Kara Goldin

Kara Goldin is the Founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., best known for Hint water, the leading unsweetened flavored water. She has been named Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs, Fortune’s Most Innovative Women in Food & Drink, and EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California, among many other accolades.

Kara has experience running large companies and startups in many industries including media, tech, and consumer products. As an active speaker and writer, Kara hosts the podcast The Kara Goldin Show, where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs, and other business people across various industries. Her first book, Undaunted, was published in October 2020 and is now a Wall Street Journal and Amazon best-seller.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • [3:02] What Kara Goldin learned about business from her first job at a toy store
  • [6:51] How perseverance and persistence helped Kara in her entrepreneurial journey
  • [15:48] Kara’s advice for success in entrepreneurship
  • [23:01] Kara’s most valuable lessons from working with John McCain
  • [27:37] How to find knowledgeable influences

In this episode…

Entrepreneurs are faced with many hardships and challenges, and success often appears unattainable. So, how can you overcome doubts about your progress and work toward your goals?

Accomplished entrepreneur Kara Goldin affirms that persistence and perseverance will help you overcome pitfalls and maintain a positive mindset. Instead of focusing solely on each long-term goal, entrepreneurs should shift their attention to the progress made and lessons learned along the way. And with a team of determined people, you can develop a method for accomplishing your goals.

In this episode of the eCommerce Profits Podcast, Joshua Chin has a conversation with Kara Goldin, Founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., about acquiring the skills to excel in entrepreneurship. Kara shares what she learned about business from her first job at a toy store, her advice for entrepreneurial success, and how to find knowledgeable influences.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Chronos Agency.

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Our team of passionate email marketing experts has helped hundreds of brands generate over $70 million in return from email alone, and our clients receive an average of 3500% ROI from our efforts.

Chronos Agency has worked with a variety of brands, including Truly Beauty, Alya Skin, and many more. Our mission is to help real businesses achieve real results. 

If you want to take your revenue to the next level using email marketing, be sure to email our team at sales@chronos.agency or visit chronos.agency to learn more.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:04

Welcome to the eCommerce Profits Podcast where we feature top founders and experts in the ecommerce Industry and take an in depth look at their struggles and successes and growing e commerce brands profitably.

Joshua Chin 0:18

Josh Chin here I’m the host of the eCommerce Profits Podcast where we feature top experts and entrepreneurs in the ecommerce Industry. And we go behind the scenes of the struggles and successes in growing a brand. Now this episode is brought to you by Chronos Agency if you run a direct to consumer ecommerce brand that is ready for next level scale and to double your customer lifetime value through lifecycle marketing Chronos is your company we’ve helped hundreds of brands scale profits with email, SMS and mobile push while getting getting an average of 30 500% ROI from our efforts. We’ve worked with brands like truly beauty alive skin, Dr. Livengood and many more. Now the next step is to email us at sales@chronos.agency or you can go to chronos.agency to learn more. Today’s guest is someone really really special. Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Hint, Inc. Best known for its award winning Hint water. I actually have a ball of it right here, the leading unsweetened flavored water. She has received numerous accolades including being named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017, Northern California, and one of in styles 2019 data’s 50 previously Kara was VP of shopping partnerships at America Online, more commonly known as AOL. She hosts the podcast The Kara Goldin Show her first book, Undaunted, overcoming delts. And Delta’s was released in October, just last year in 2020. And is now a Wall Street Journal, and Amazon Best Seller, Kara lives in the Bay Area with her family. Kara, welcome to the show.

Kara Goldin 2:04

Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Joshua Chin 2:07

Now, let’s, let’s dive straight into it. My, you know, my first I guess the first time we met or that I met you was when you were on stage back in Boston at Clay vo boss, I believe 2019. Yeah, that’s right. Like that event isn’t incredible. You talked about your story and how you came to be an entrepreneur. And I think you had you have a really unique path that you took that isn’t isn’t exactly conventional. And you’re definitely not conventional, nothing about you is conventional. So tell me a little bit about your first job as a buyer for a toy store written in the book. Well, how has that shaped you and who you are today as an entrepreneur?

Kara Goldin 3:02

Oh, thank you. Well, it’s it’s so funny. I actually got my first job when I was 14 years old. I was the last five kids and my brothers and sisters, you know, all older all had jobs and little jobs and income. And I wanted that. And so I walked into a local toy store. And, of course, a kid myself and the, the woman who owned the toy store said to me, would you ever want a job here? And I said, Sure, right. I’m 14 years old. And she said, Would you like to do the cash register? What 14 year old doesn’t want to do the cash register? Right? I’m thinking money. I mean, it’ll be a lot of fun. And so initially, I started just doing it on Sundays. And then that was an after school job, it was pretty great. What I didn’t know going into it was that I would learn so much around business. And I started to for example, I would have people come in, and I would recommend, they would say I have a nephew that is 14 years old, and I need to get him a gift. What should I get him? And so I would have two or three things on the top of my, on the tip of my tongue that I would say, Okay, go get that go get Legos, right. And this is the Lego set that you should get them. And what I realized was that I was kind of saying the same thing over and over again, and it was pretty successful. So that part was great. But then my boss said to me, don’t push that product so much because the margins aren’t as high. And I thought, Gosh, that, you know, I didn’t really I mean, I knew what margins were, but I didn’t really understand it. And so I said can you explain a little bit more to me? And so she told me about the different margins and different categories. And so then obviously I looked for other categories that had higher margins. I remember going home for dinner that day and saying to my parents, gosh, I learned so much about margins today. And they said margins. And I explained everything about these different categories. And you know, it’s so funny, because I think there’s a lot of stories and in just in that little story there, when, first of all, when you actually aren’t afraid to show what you don’t know, right? You you kind of show your authentic self self, your vulnerability. I mean, that’s when you’ll be able to learn a lot more, right. Obviously, I knew what the term margin was, but just actually sharing with them that I didn’t really understand what the context was of margins and how it related. And, you know, that’s something that I think back on, even in running my own business today that obviously, there’s different ways to do business, there’s ecommerce and direct to consumer. There’s also, you know, dealing with retailers and different types of retailers, whether it’s specialty retail, or Costco, I mean, very, very different margins. So it all went back to that little toy store story.

Joshua Chin 6:24

You have, kind of as I sew, kind of throughout the book and kind of your journey, a common theme has been persistence and perseverance. And that also landed you your job at Time Magazine. Interestingly, tell us about that story, and kind of helped persistence remain a theme throughout.

Kara Goldin 6:51

Yeah, another interesting story. So when I got out of university, I was a journalism major, I was a minor in finance, I thought, I’m going to go and get a job at a publication called Fortune Magazine, which used to be up until recently under the same umbrella as Time Magazine, and as well as Sports Illustrated, and People Magazine and some other pretty well known publications. And I was living in Arizona at the time on the West Coast of the US. And I decided that I would get on an airplane and invest in myself and go to New York and try and figure out how I could get an interview at Time magazine, or excuse me, at Fortune Magazine. Well, when I wrote a letter to the managing editor of Fortune Magazine, that’s when he wrote me a very nice note back. That said, if you’re ever in the New York area, definitely let me know. And I’d love to meet you. Because I showed my enthusiasm. I showed why I wanted to get into why I wanted to get into Fortune Magazine and be a writer, but he wasn’t committing but I thought I might as well just go and go to the HR office and see if I can’t get an interview. Well, when I showed up there, that’s when I I’ll never forget, I showed up in the HR office. And I walked up to the receptionist. And I said, I’m here to see Marshall Loeb, who was the then managing editor of Fortune Magazine, and I pulled out my letter that he had written to me, and this poor woman had no idea what to do with me. And so she reached out to her boss and said, there’s this, you know, crazy woman who who is standing in front of me, who says she has a meeting with martial love? And I don’t know, I don’t know that she does, but I don’t have it on the books. And so the head of HR said, Actually, Marshall can’t meet with you. I think what he meant is maybe you could let them know in advance if you’re ever coming out. And and I said, Gosh, that’s too bad. I’m leaving tomorrow. But is there any other roles that might be good for me? And she said, like, what? And I said, anything, I’ll do anything to work in this building? And she said, You know, I’ve got a role as an executive assistant in circulation. And I don’t know if you know, you probably know what an executive assistant is, but you may not know what circulation is. And to me, it seemed, you know, like a foreign language. I had no idea. But I said, Yes, I said, Sure. Right. What’s the worst that could happen? I go and learn a little bit. I’m already there in the building, and I get to have one interview, you never know what would happen. And that’s when I ended up having the interview was that time magazine and I don’t even think I actually knew what circulation was and even when I got the job offer and took the job, but I thought, I’ll learn I’ll learn what circulation is and circulation is actually a Uh, the easiest way to describe it is the blowing insert cards that go into magazines where there’s offers where they talk about subscriptions and lifetime value. This was the early 90s. I mean, this is when I was learning about the price difference between how our consumer would respond to an offer that was eight months versus 11 months versus 13 months versus Oh, putting in a, we worked closely at Time magazine with Sports Illustrated, we used to have a sneaker phone that we would give out with subscriptions and how people would respond to that, like a free thing, versus a, you know, an extension on their subscription. And so all of these little things, I think back now, as really the, the bones of what direct to consumer is today. And so often, I think back on that experience, again, a lot of lessons showing up and saying yes, right, when somebody gives you an opportunity, what’s the worst that could happen? You could always leave, right? They could all they could fire you, right? If they don’t think it’s the right match for whatever reason. But I thought, Gosh, I’m going to go in there. And I’m going to be in the building, working on the brand that I think is just so awesome. Maybe eventually, I’ll get to Fortune Magazine, which by the way I never did. But I every day, I would wake up motivated and excited to go and learn something. And then one day, I actually ended up getting a call from another media brand that had just started out called CNN. And it’s crazy to think back that CNN was a late stage startup back then it wasn’t a tiny startup. But Ted Turner was still running around the office. And I remember, you know, getting this opportunity to go for an interview. And it was he was working. He had this idea for the airport channel when you go inside of airports and you see these monitors, and how do you sell advertising? And he knew that I had been working on some airlines circulation for Time Magazine and some other publications. And so he was like, Do you think you could actually do this job and help get the monitors into airports? I had zero experience doing any of it. But I thought, Wow, it’s really interesting. Sure. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? I just, you know, I go try. No one’s ever done it before. So it’s not like, I’m going to be compared to somebody else. Instead, I need to just try. And I need to figure out what are the steps in order to do that. And anyway, ended up helping with that, which was super exciting. And anyway, I just, I think there’s, there’s a lot of, again, a lot of lessons just in looking back on, on kind of history. And what I learned I didn’t know, for example, when I was at CNN, we didn’t call things a late stage startup. All I knew that was that Ted Turner wore a suit and cowboy boots, which I had never seen anyone do that before. And he was a little crazy and a little out there. And but he was making it happen. And he was funny, right? And he was just, and he was just going for it. And a lot of people we would ultimately I ended up also then going into just national sales at CNN. And I remember, you know, going up against the big networks like ABC and NBC. And everybody thought, What are you guys crazy? I mean, how are you going to compete against these big national networks, and, again, being driven and led by a leader that believed that said, you just have to keep showing up, you just have to keep moving forward and making progress every single day. Even if you you go back two steps. Tomorrow, you’re gonna go forward three steps, and we’re gonna keep doing this and we’re gonna keep doing this so little did I know that even taking that first job at at time, would that lead me to be able to really have kind of my first first step into the startup world.

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