In October, Kara Goldin took part in a guest speaker series at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The author of the book Undaunted has been making her rounds in the entrepreneurial world, inspiring women everywhere to go fearlessly after their dreams. The savvy businesswoman made the list of Forbes 40 Women to Watch Over 40 and Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs. She is the Founder and CEO of Hint Water with a gift for storytelling. The mother of four is an example of how much power there is in showing up as yourself. Authenticity can help launch you to a position of leadership influencing others to believe in you, as much as, you believe in yourself. The lifelong learner has become a figure of empowerment. It would seem like the naysayers who underestimated her, only fueled her motivation to plow through challenges.
Kara’s resume reflects countless wins from working at Time Inc. for several years to a role as Vice President of Shopping and E-commerce Partnerships at AOL. She walked away from a booming career in the tech industry, which some may have thought of as risky, to start her own business in a completely different sector. Kara did not have experience or knew anything about the beverage industry but did have something to set her apart – a mission. In the early 2000s, tired of unhealthy, sugary drinks with too many sweeteners or preservatives, she took to building out the concept for a line that would offer a healthier option – unsweetened water. The goal was to solve a problem that many people were experiencing. Today, award-winning hint is on shelves all across the country in places like Walmart, Target and Sam’s Club, just to name a few.
I sat down for a Zoom interview that exceeded my expectations. Kara is down-to-earth, open to insightful conversations about business, politics, the environment, and family. She is compassionate about the issues affecting our society and remains hopeful that things will get better. I was enlightened and happy to experience the exchange with such a beautiful mind.
This venture gave you financial freedom but also helped unravel your purpose. Where did you find the courage and confidence to take a chance on yourself? People have called me fearless or brave but I’m not sure it is so much about being unafraid. Stopping in the middle of anything has never been an option for me. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned was in sports. During my early days in gymnastics, I learned to appreciate that there will always be other people better than me at something. This does not mean, I should stop trying for the things I want to do – I won’t. “You cannot allow fear to get in front of you – you must get in front of it.”
You began the business while your children were all under the age of 4 years old. Encounters with doubters during the journey did not discourage, you moved forward to create a multimillion-dollar business. Women often make sacrifices to create the life envisioned. What has been the biggest pivot you’ve had to make in your personal life to generate this level of success? I don’t have as much time with my girlfriends, as I may like but one adapts. We figure out ways to enjoy whatever time we get with the people we care about. I have always enjoyed working, there is a harmony between work and home. Somehow, work trickles into the personal and vice versa. It is good to have boundaries but as long as, everyone is in agreement with the needs that need to be fulfilled and work out an arrangement to balance it all, things fall into place. We make situations work for us in different ways.
It is my understanding the book project began with writing things down. I’ve been writing journals since the age of 14 years old. It helps me sort thoughts, feelings and clears my mind. You like to jot down ideas and experiences, eventually, your notes became part of “Undaunted” your new book. How has journaling helped you during challenging times? When I began receiving invitations to discuss entrepreneurship and being a female CEO raising children, it was important to share the different stories. There are countless tales throughout my journey as a business woman. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t repeat the same experiences over and over. Initially, the journaling started as a way of writing about everything I went through on the roads traveled. I wrote the stories down to help me coordinate my talks in the various cities. Didn’t want to recount the same story to an audience that may have already heard it! I also wrote prompts, thoughts about things people could ask during these talks. Who would have imagined 600 pages of notes would be collected? Friends convinced me to consider a book, it’s not something I thought about doing but I took some calls. Eventually, a meeting with Harper Collins presented the right opportunity. It felt this was something others could use during their own journey. Never imagined the book would be a Wall Street Journal Bestselling book! The purpose was always to help people. Share my experiences to encourage people to stop scaring themselves out of their dreams.
In an interview with Luminary, you said that you wrote “Undaunted” as a way to motivate its readers. Entrepreneurs or not, we can all use encouragement on any given day. You want us to be undaunted, unafraid of going out there to grab our dream without letting anyone destroy the vision. Overthinking often leads to self-doubt, however, the only way to set a plan in motion is to consider all the possibilities. How did you get to a place of unrelenting determination where the risk felt bigger than the idea of falling flat? We are on a journey to be the best we can be but things will happen when they are supposed to. The sliding doors philosophy talks about how certain decisions put you on a specific path. If a decision is altered, the outcome of your life would be completely different. What if I had not taken that train or gone on that trip, how would it have changed my life? I work from a place of doing the best possible and seeing where it takes me. I enjoy learning, challenging myself which includes trying new ideas that sometimes don’t work out.
As entrepreneurs, women – human beings, enthusiasm for projects or goals fluctuate when life gets in the way. We get motivation from different sources but it can lack from time to time. Where do you draw motivation from on the days that you are falling short of it? My motivation comes from talking to people – students to leaders, or customers. I enjoy mentoring students of life, the craft of educating myself and others. The more we share, the more we learn.
I like to end AW interviews with a positive message. Is there is a piece of advice, quote or mantra you can offer readers to encourage them while working on their own vision? As you said, “It takes a while to make things happen.” I would say, it is good to have goals. Don’t get caught up, work on steps towards what you want then the dream won’t look so far away. Become more educated, knowledgeable so you can become that much closer to everything you wish for.
The journey as a woman and entrepreneur has its fair share of challenges. The path is everlasting and tiresome, often with little or no support on the sidelines. My conversation with Kara refreshed the importance of perspective. The things we believe about ourselves and our dreams can propel us to do the impossible. We defy anxiety and hesitation, the moment we make an intentional choice to confront the difficulties and forge ahead with our goals.
AW appreciates having Kara share her experience and vision during our interview. I hope it spurs energy into your own ventures, as you create the life envisioned.
The book Undaunted can be found on Kara’s site, Amazon and other sites where books are sold. You can find more nuggets of wisdom by listening to The Kara Goldin Show. The podcast has been described as thought-provoking, insightful and uplifting, you can find it on Spotify.
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