CEO Trailblazer: Don't let anyone crush your dreams

Kara Goldin is the founder and CEO of Hint and author of a new book Undaunted. Goldin spoke to Ray Wang and Vala Afshar about how successful entrepreneurs can innovate and disrupt industries.

Kara Goldin is a disruptor, builder, thought leader and a successful entrepreneur. She is the Founder and CEO of Hint, the leading unsweetened flavored water. Goldin 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. HuffPo listed Goldin as one of six disruptors in business, alongside Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Goldin has successfully navigated the world of large companies and startups in many industries including media, tech and consumer products. Goldin is an active speaker and writer and hosts the podcast Unstoppable with Kara Goldin where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs and other disruptors across various industries. Kara's first book, Undaunted, is released in October 2020. Undaunted will inspire you to move past your fears and defy the doubters. 

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  Kara Goldin, Founder and CEO of Hint and author of Undaunted 

To better understand the how CEOs can disrupt incumbent industries and the undaunted mindset that is required to be a trailblazer, Ray Wang, CEO and founder of a Silicon Valley-based advisory firm Constellation Research, and I invited Kara Goldin to join our weekly show DisrupTV. Here are my takeaways from our conversation with Goldin.

Proactive doing is more important than having a playbook. Goldin and her team at Hint had to respond to the supply chain challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers were bulk purchasing products and restocking shelves became a challenge. Hint team got involved early to help suppliers stock their shelves. Hint sent trucks of products to stores. In addition, Hint has over a million direct consumers. So they reached out to their consumers and offered e-commerce options for delivery of their products to their loyal consumers. 

You do not have to be first to market in order to achieve success. Hint entered the mature beverage market in 2005. People often doubt you because they assume you are the same as other competitors in a market. Goldin created a water company that was not trying to compete against the soda industry. The mission of Hint was different than the soda companies. Goldin met with a soda executive that poo-pooed her proposal of delivering fruit flavored, healthy and delicious water simply because it wasn't soda. I am reminded that Google was the 2st search engine to enter the market in 1998. 

 "It doesn't matter whether you feel confident; it matters what you actually do." -- Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint 

Adjust your game plan by getting in the game. Are you solving a problem and will the consumer respond to it? Goldin suggests that entrepreneurs should launch the product. Then listen and learn from your products and the consumer response. You do not need a perfect product. Goldin gave examples of lessons learned when Hint bottles were launched. Go out and see the details that no one will actually tell you unless you see your products in use and in the hands of your customers. 

Leaders are able to get past their fears. Goldin talked about how people put up walls around themselves in order to not try new things. The difference between leaders and others is that leaders go out there and try. They face their fears by not being fearful of failure. Goldin reflects on how she faced so many of her fears by simply having the courage to pursuit her vision and dream of delivering new products in a mature industry. Goldin shared advice with radical transparency and humility. 

Great companies stay in touch with their customers. Hint is fully engaged directly with their customers across multiple channels including digital and social channels. Goldin actively engages with consumers and key stakeholders on social channels. Goldin and her team also focused on automating their plants in order to develop business resiliency. Goldin advises other CEOs to focus on localizing and automating their operations as much as possible in order to be more immune to supply chain and economic disruptions.

Build business resiliency by developing strategic partnerships. Goldin talked to us about developing partnerships with companies that can streamline the delivery and improve the customer experience for their stakeholders. Goldin shared examples of how companies can create opportunities for the last mile by partnering with companies to expand e-commerce and delivery options. 

Goldin shared numerous examples of how Hint prepared for responding to the pandemic. She also shared additional leadership lessons in her new book Undaunted. I encourage you to watch our interview with Goldin.