Q&A with Kara Goldin, Author of Undaunted

by Heather Caliendo
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Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Hint. Her book Undaunted is part autobiography, part business memoir and features lots of insights on self-development.

Kara Goldin is an active speaker & writer and hosts the podcast Unstoppable with Kara Goldin where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs and other disruptors across various industries.

Here’s the synopsis for Undaunted:

Undaunted will inspire you to move past your fears and defy the doubters. It doesn’t matter whether you feel confident; it matters what you actually do.

Author Kara Goldin turned her unsweetened flavored water into one of the most successful beverage businesses of our time and has been named one of InStyle’s Badass 50, Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs and EY Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California.

Undaunted is a rare opportunity to gain insights and proven advice unlike anything you’ll find in the conventional business press. Kara combines real honest stories from her life with observations that might just change how you think about your own.

Whether you want to get healthy, start a company, break an addiction, find a new career or just grow in life, Undaunted will inspire you to just go for it and help you find the courage to get there.

As she started to achieve her goals, Kara found herself being called “fearless”, “confident” and even “unstoppable,” but nothing could be further from the truth. In Undaunted she shares real stories about her own fears and doubts, the challenges she encountered and what she did to overcome them to eventually build a great business and a life she loves.

Her secret? Be Undaunted.  Deal with your fears. Move forward despite uncertainty. Turn criticism into motivation. Just go for it!

Setbacks will come, but Kara shows you can learn from failures and frustrations and keep advancing toward your true purpose. What if not having “the right” credentials or vast industry experience was the secret to making things happen?  And what if we didn’t let our fear of failure stop us?

Get to know Kara as she talks about what undaunted means to her, key takeaways and lessons, kindness in business and much more!

What inspired you to write Undaunted?

People often ask me for advice and I usually respond with a story from my own life that might help them think differently about the challenges they are facing. Many of them have found these stories helpful and suggested that I write them down. Undaunted is the result.

What does Undaunted mean to you?

Undaunted is about never letting the very real, sometimes even scary, obstacles of life stop you from going after what you want to get out of life. Sometimes you’ll fail, but if you let fear of the challenges keep you from trying, you will never succeed. Undaunted is all about finding a path forward. It might lead you somewhere you never expected, but that’ll almost always be better than having gone nowhere.

What do you hope are some of the key takeaways and lessons from your book?

Life has enough challenges without adding fear of challenges to the list.

You have to try!

When it turns out that you can’t do what you wanted to do, ask yourself “What can I do?”

When someone trashes your idea or belittles your dreams, use it as motivation. Show them. Show yourself that you can do it.

Work hard. It will make you resilient. 

What advice would you give to those who are looking to start their own business?

Do your homework and know as much as you can upfront, but don’t feel that you need to answer all possible questions or solve all possible problems before you even start. You’ll never get started if you feel like you need to know absolutely everything and some of those questions and problems may well become irrelevant anyway.  Figuring out what’s important to solve now and what can wait is a key part of running a startup.

In the book, you mention how important kindness can be in business. Can you expand on this?

My first job after college was at Time, Inc. and while I worked extremely hard, I had mentors who cared about my career and about me. That not only motivated me to continue to put in a ton of effort, but it made me feel like I belonged there. I thrived in that type of caring culture. Years later when we started Hint, hiring people who really care about what they are doing AND about the team was a big part of how we built the team. There are a lot of folks at Hint who have been here ten years or more because they value that culture. Kindness is about giving of yourself to those around you, more than it is about giving out benefits, but we do think a lot about what benefits are most important to our team as well. 

Why was it important for Hint to expand into other product lines such as sunscreen and deodorant?

We have always been a purpose driven, mission driven company focused on health.  As Hint has grown, we have realized that the relationship with our customer is strong and that it doesn’t stop with what they are drinking.  Sunscreen was the first brand extension, followed by deodorant and hand sanitizers.  With each, our goal is to help solve a problem for our customers that we believe we can.  And we do.  

How has COVID impacted Hint and how you approach the business?

Hint has been extremely fortunate to have set up distribution that makes our products available in stores, online and where people work, but when the Pandemic started really spreading across the country in March last year, we had to scramble to adapt to dramatic shifts in demand. Our biggest workplace customers, Google, Facebook and other technology companies, led the nation by sending their employees to work from home before any of the mayors or governors had taken action on the pandemic. We were proud of their quick decisions to lead and be part of the solution but we also realized that a huge piece of our business was about to disappear literally overnight. Soon after that there was massive disruption in stores, as the grocery industry struggled to adapt to the changing shopping behavior and the new buying strategies and precautions that would required.

Even with the disruption and shifts, by the end of June we had actually pulled ahead of our annual plan because of two things: (1) the employees of all those businesses who were now working from home, started ordering hint delivered from drinkhint.com and Amazon and a lot of other folks discovered hint online as well, (2) we shifted our food service sales team and our field marketing team into the grocery stores to help make sure that our products stayed in stock wherever consumers were shopping. To ensure that people knew where to get their hint water, we dramatically ramped up our advertising spend online. We found that during the worst of the uncertainty, many advertisers had pulled back, so advertising prices dropped dramatically. By being ready to take advantage of that, we were able to get the word out and get people over to drinkhint.com.

Our online business grew tremendously and we were even able to introduce tens of thousands of new consumers to our products. Advertising prices have now gone back up a lot, but we spent our entire 2020 budget while they were low and ended up with a very successful year as our new customers continued to purchase and drink our products. We have heard from many of them that they’ve been thinking they should get in shape, lose weight or generally pay more attention to their health and they see hint water as an easy way to start doing that.

What are some of your favorite business leadership books?  

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, Trillion Dollar Coach, Shoe Dog.

What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?

Currently reading: Can’t Even: How Millenials Became The Burnout Generation 

TBR list: Recalculating

What’s your favorite Hint flavor?

Honestly, I drink multiple hint’s a day, so I love to switch from one flavor to another. That’s what I hear from customers as well. Even those who have a clear favorite love to mix it up throughout the day and week.

Click here to order Undaunted on Amazon.

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