MOM.CEO is thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint water who is a respected business icon due to her inspiring accomplishments against incredible odds in the highly competitive beverage segment. Even more impressive is how she manages to make all this happen while raising 4 wonderful children.
With her company's continued growth, a new book, Undaunted coming out this October 20th, a must-listen-to podcast, and public speaking appearances that are more in demand than ever, we are grateful that Kara Goldin agreed to find the time for MOM.CEO in her busy schedule to share some of her wisdom about business, life, and being a dedicated mother.
MOM.CEO: What's the secret to raising great kids while growing and leading a successful company without compromising on both? Is that even possible?
KG: I think it's critical for kids to feel safe and loved and for them to learn good values. Kids learn the most important lessons by watching what you do, not just by listening to what you say to them, so the company you run and how you run it will have a major impact on who they become.
My kids have grown up watching me and my husband work together to build a company that we feel good about because it makes products that people love and that help them make healthy choices. Growing up around hint, they’ve learned the importance of hard work and of owning your mistakes among other things.
Both of us have always been very involved in our kid's lives and their schools. Sometimes that means putting in a little extra work after they’ve gone to bed or getting up earlier to get a start on the day, but you can integrate work and the rest of your life if you love what you do for work.
The Goldin family on a well-deserved vacation.
MOM.CEO: How do you handle patience and attention at home when you have serious challenges at work?
KG: Well, of course, we all have our moments, but the key is to truly focus on whatever you’re doing. When I’m talking with my kids they have my full attention and they learned early on that if I’m in the middle of something to try to let me finish it rather than interrupting.
MOM.CEO: Have you discovered how to separate work life and home life, and if yes, what is your secret?
KG: The truth is that I don’t separate work life and home life. I’ve created a business that started with my home life and I’ve found a way to integrate the two.
In the early days of starting our family, I had put on a lot of weight, had very little energy, bad adult acne, and just didn’t feel well. I realized that the problem was my diet soda addiction. After each soda, I would feel hungry and have something to eat. Those calories added up until one day I decided I had to switch to water.
I lasted three weeks drinking only water and just when the boredom got too much for me, I stepped on the scale and couldn’t believe how much weight I had lost. I had to find a way to stick with it, so I started slicing up fruit and putting it in water overnight, or muddling a berry and letting that sit in the pitcher. It worked, but eventually, I needed something a bit better. I wanted water that tasted like fruit but without the sweetness. It took a few months of experimenting in the kitchen, but I finally was able to figure out how to use fruit essences to make the drink that I had in my mind. When my friends and family told me they loved it too,
"I realized that maybe it could become a business."
By solving a personal problem that affects many, Kara created a highly successful business in the process.
The kids have been along for the ride from the beginning and so has my husband. In fact, I told him about the business right after I realized I was pregnant with our fourth child, saying “I decided to turn the fruit-flavored water I’ve been playing around with into a real business and I think I can launch it in about 8 months, which is right around when we’re having our fourth kid, so I may need you to help.” It took him a few weeks to wrap his head around the idea of a fourth kid and of the business, but he jumped right in running operations and we’ve been building the business for the past 15 years.
Hint water now generates more than $100 million dollars in annual sales.
MOM.CEO: What lessons did your parents give you that you feel are still relevant in today’s digitally connected world?
KG: After college, I took a job in New York at Time, and when I came home to pack I really felt the weight of what seemed like a huge decision, moving to a big city far away from my home in Arizona. I shared my doubts with my father and he said:
“What’s the worst that can happen?”
We talked it through and I realized that if it turned out to be a bad decision, nothing horrible would have happened. I could always come home or switch jobs. Any time I feel anxious about a big decision, I think about that question and the conversation that came afterward and I realize that I can afford to take a risk and that usually, it works out ok. I think people often overvalue their fears and doubts and the doubts other people put on them. I actually wrote a book about lessons like that and it comes out October 20.
Kara Goldin's new book 'Undaunted' will be released on October 20th, 2020
Undaunted. Overcoming Doubts & Doubters. It tells a lot of great stories including many of the stories about how we built Hint water, but I hope the lessons in those stories can really help anyone trying to build a life for themselves, whether they want to run their own company or want something else out of life.
MOM.CEO: Do MOM.CEOs have it harder at balancing their work/life duties than DAD.CEOs?
KG: It is still harder for women in a lot of families, but I doubt it will be another thirty or forty years from now. There are people who still think that taking care of kids is “womens' work” and I feel sorry for them. When my oldest son had just started grade school he said to me one afternoon that he didn’t realize that other people’s moms don’t run companies or even work. I’m not saying every mom should work, but by working, I know I’m showing my kids that there isn’t anything a man can do that a woman can’t do. So my sons see unlimited possibilities not just for themselves but for their sisters and for the other girls in their classes too.
"The world has truly changed and every enlightened child in the world moves those changes further forward."
Kara Goldin: "If you love what you do, work can be integrated into the rest of your life"
MOM.CEO (follow up): Do you feel that COVID-19 is pushing back women’s advancements in the workplace due to the forced 'double-duty' (work and family) that has been thrust on them with very little outside help or understanding?
KG: I think that the pandemic is causing a lot of problems, but the greater threat to the advancement of women is the shameful attempt being made to stack our courts with judges who would like to move our laws back to a time when women were expected to be subservient to men. Tremendous progress has been made in our courts to correct injustice and create a more inclusive society, but the more things change, the more we will see outrageous and hypocritical behavior from the small minority of people who want to disadvantage women and minorities.
Public speaking is another platform where Kara Goldin inspires people to help them reach their life goals.
MOM.CEO: In your opinion, is it smart for a parent to invest financially in their kid’s start-up?
KG: If it is a great idea and the kid is prepared to do what it takes to make it a reality, why not?
"But you should expect them to run a business like a business, not like a lemonade stand, where the cost of ingredients gets ignored because mom paid."
MOM.CEO: Are you mentoring your kids in the art of business so to better prepare them for business life?
KG: I didn’t formally train my kids to be business people, but they are smart and involved and my husband and I both are very open about the decisions we make and why we make them. Seeing the business built from the inside is a great experience and hopefully will let them avoid some potential mistakes later in life
MOM.CEO: You have an incredible career with hint water along with so many other interesting projects. But, with all success, comes sacrifices. Looking back, do you have any regrets that you wish you could have changed?
KG: One of the most important things we did as parents was to realize there was a learning issue with our oldest child and to get help figuring out what it was and how to handle it. A lot of schools will let issues persist for far too long before speaking with the parents about them. It turned out great for our daughter, who got the help she needed and is about to complete her college education at a great school, but I can’t help thinking it would have been a lot less stressful for her if we had got her evaluated a year or two earlier.
I do know several busy moms and dads who waited too long because they didn’t want to believe that there might be a problem with their child. Especially during the grade school years, it's important to pay attention to how your child learns, what is difficult for them and if you can’t help them yourself, then get a professional to help you figure it out. There is no stigma to learning differences, especially if they are addressed early on.
Kara attending an event with her family. Photo Credit: Kara Goldin, Twitter
MOM.CEO: Your new book ‘Undaunted’ is being released on October 20th, 2020. Can you tell us what inspired you to write it and what you hope others will learn from it?
KG: I’ve learned from a lot of peers and mentors who’ve shared their stories with me and because I’ve always been encouraged to take chances in life, I’ve collected quite a few stories of my own. I had fun weaving all of my own stories into a fun fast-paced narrative that I think people will enjoy and I hope that it will encourage readers to pay just a little less attention to the voices that say “no” and a little more to their inner drive to just go. Everyone has to find their own path and I hope that people who read my stories about how I handled some pretty challenging times will be inspired to get through their own challenges and not let anything stop them from leading the life that they want for themselves.
MOM.CEO: How do you want to look back and be remembered as a MOM and a CEO?
KG: I’ve been working hard to try to make things better and more enjoyable for our customers and for my family. If they agree that’s what I did, that’s all I need.
MOM.CEO: What would be your top 5 tips for being a successful MOM.CEO?
1) Family first. If you try to prioritize work over family, you won’t do either well.
2) Expect your partner to be just that and appreciate them for what they do, just as you expect to be appreciated.
3) Be realistic about what you can do in a day and make sure that you have a great assistant who understands that. Being overprogrammed is the quickest way to burning out. You need time not just for family, but for email, errands, THINKING, working out, and for you and your partner. There is enough time for it all.
4) As you build a business, make sure you hire great people who you can rely upon. Hire people who are better than you at the job that you’ve hired them to do. That allows you to work on the business instead of working in it. You’ll be a lot less stressed if you are the boss/coach than if you feel like you have to constantly jump in and be the hero.
5) Breathe. Take a moment to catch your breath and center yourself, especially when you’re feeling like you are riding a roller coaster. Taking a meeting on the phone while you are outside on a walk is a great way to avoid feeling trapped in an office (or home office).
It's all about raising a healthy, inspired, and connected family!
MOM.CEO: Any last words of wisdom?
KG: Things don’t seem so bad when you know that others go through similar challenges. Make sure you have other business leaders to talk to and if you just want to hear some stories that will make you feel better about it all, please read my book Undaunted. Overcoming Doubts & Doubters available on Amazon or at karagoldin.com
ABOUT KARA GOLDIN
Kara Goldin is the Founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., best known for its award-winning hint® water, the leading unsweetened flavored water, and the author of Undaunted.
She is an active speaker & writer and hosts the podcast Unstoppable with Kara Goldin where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs, and other disruptors across various industries.
She lives in the San Francisco, Bay Area.
Follow Kara on all social handles @KaraGoldin