Bootstrapping Your Dreams Show


053 | Market Your Valuable Ideas | How to turn Thoughts into Value | With Sky Cassidy

Season 1, Ep. 53

Welcome to this inspiring interview with Sky Cassidy & Manuj Aggarwal, the CEO of Mountain Top Data, a company driven to help marketers spend more time marketing and less time digging through data.

Data consisting of contact information such email addresses, phones numbers, physical addresses, and website links are really valuable for any company to spread their business and reach out to consumers (B2C) and other companies (B2B). But, there are always some ethical points which any company should follow before being in someone’s spam folder permanently. We will explore this and many other marketing ethics in this episode.

What are you waiting for? Tune In Now!

In this episode, we will learn:

• The key to selling anything

• Laws about spam email

• Key differences between B2B and B2C marketing

• The difference between marketing and sales

• Ethics of emailing

• Working on an idea and being efficient at it

• Branding yourself

• Integrating different marketing channels

• How to deal with demand and lead generation

• Avoiding business death pitfalls

About Sky Cassidy

• Education: Sky holds a bachelor from Sonoma State University.

• Experience: 20 years of professional experience, running various startups by himself. 

He is the CEO of MountainTop Data, a company that provides data services and help marketers by handling their data. MountainTop also provides data cleaning and verification services, targeted B2B marketing list, data appending, and email campaign delivery management services. The data experts at MountainTop Data are here to help their clients cleaning up databases, find new customers, and target the right people.

• Accomplishments: He has two daughters.

• Fun Facts: Sky was captain of his college wrestling team. Can catch a lizard with a piece of grass and fix anything.

• Obstacles Overcame: He has cheated death 3 times and is also a survivor of chronic laziness.

Social Media Handles:

• LinkedIn:

• Business LinkedIn

• Twitter: @mountaintopdata

Links and Mentions in this episode:

TetraNoodle consulting services:

TetraNoodle professional training:

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Thanks, so much for being with us this week. 

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#237 Innovate and discover your potential | Lt. Col. JJ Snow

Season 1, Ep. 237
Shownotes(0:55) Introduction -Colonel Jennifer JJ snow is the Chief Technology Officer at the United States Air Force. AFWERX is a United States Air Force program with the goal of fostering a culture of innovation within the service. It is intended to engage inter and extra service innovators and entrepreneurs in the operations of the United States Air Force.Jennifer serves as the government representative for technology outreach, and engagement on behalf of the command and 756 interagency action officers spanning 40 different government agencies. Snow has over 23 years of experience of successful federal civil, civilian and military leadership and management experience.She's a top innovative and focused individual recognized for the ability to consistently overcome obstacles in the defense and intelligence community. Jennifer's background is in counter prolexic approach can pronounce that counter proliferation. And that counterterrorism operations, which includes tours and deployments with Air Force, Special Operations Command special tactics, Joint Special Operations Command, the 17th training wing National Security Agency, which is known as NSA generally, junior officer crypto cryptologic, career programme, serving seventh intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance.JJ’s work has been presented to the members of the National Security Council and the White House and key senior leaders across the department Department of Defence, intelligence community, and interagency to inform and highlight emerging risks and opportunities in involving technology, and technology influence environments. In our current role at AFWERX.JJ serves as the military representative for technology outreach and engagement, bridging the gap between government and various technology communities to improve collaboration and communications, foster a culture of innovation, identify smart solutions to wicked problems, and guide the development of future technologies to benefit the US Air Force Department of Defence, interagency and allied partners. JJ truly believes that anyone can be an innovator no matter their age or background. According to her, the best innovation stories exude passion, vision, and cross-cutting impact.The interview-(4:03)1. Can you tell us about your journey? I mean, you started off as a science fiction writer, you were doing so many things and now you're pushing the boundaries of technology for the United States Air Force and innovating. All these amazing things. So please help us get to know you better.(4:28) I actually started off with Fish and Wildlife Service as a wildland firefighter and a park ranger. Five years and my love of technology came through there. I was using radio telemetry to track endangered squirrel populations on the Delmarva Peninsula, sturgeons, up and down the Chesapeake Bay to study their migration. So a lot of the technologies that I started to play around with started in the Fish and Wildlife Service, and then I joined the Air Force.They were a part of the plan to pay for a master's degree and actually go back to the FBI, which is a completely different story. But doing that, I decided that, hey, I really love this and I want to stay on board as an intelligence officer where I'm looking at different types of technologies. What are the risks that they pose? What are some of the opportunities that they bring? And then how do we bring that together, you know, on behalf of national security, and then that led to my current job, which I've been doing for the last six years as an innovation officer.Every job I'll tell you has been great. By far this is my favorite line of work, I get to work with kinds of amazing people. I learned something new every single day and, and I just was fantastic. I am just so pleased with my experience in the Air Force and all of the wonderful opportunities I've had.(6:10)2. Tell us how your role is different because I know you work at a different pace than the rest of the Air Force. So can you shed a little bit of light on that?(6:59) I'm part of the challenge. And this was under former secretary of defense Ash Carter, is the fact that our acquisition cycles were moving slowly. And he really wanted to foster an environment that enabled agile acquisitions, so that when we had military personnel coming in with a need, we could respond much faster. And that was born, the works models, di UX, navel x, and several other innovation hubs. These are fantastic. So when I first came out, I was skeptical because everybody knows how slow the government moves in acquisition. There's a lot of policy behind that regulation behind that, that we're looking at how can we tweak this? How can we change it? What do we need to keep? And what do we need to improve upon or dispose of and make better like break it to make it work? Models, really, were one of the foundational models to help do that. It's a public space.It's a digital and physical space, where all kinds of bright minds can come together with government and private sector, academia, hackers, and makers and come around these really wicked problems, and bring in unique technologies in ways that we never imagined how to solve those problems together. And then that brings that forward in a way that benefits the individual innovator and the small business. But it's also benefiting the government and helping us to move faster. And so what you saw is a number of different interesting acquisition mechanisms that came into play that then allowed us to move much faster.For example, we have the zippers and the sitters that are brought into play here that Small Business Innovation Research and the science tech transfer research that are brought into play with the Air Force. This allows us to bring in a small company and see if the tech that they have is of interest to an Airforce partner, if it is, they've got $50,000 to start, and they can talk to all of our liaisons if it is that partner does a letter of interest. And then that moves them on to a phase to the partners a major command, they can choose to match funding with AF works. So they can put funding in and we'll match that. And sometimes we'll have a private sector partner that comes in that has an interest in that area, too. They will also do matching. And so you've got a number of exciting options there.In-house, we use Spark, which is for our airmen to come forward with great ideas. When they encounter a challenge in the field, they can bring that forward and say, Look, this is a problem. And it touches all of these areas in the Air Force. And others can upvote that and say yes, this is a problem for us, too. We'll partner them with the right technology, and the right experts to develop that out rapidly iterate with them in the room. And then they tell us this is perfect, we need to tweak it like this, make this change. And then we're able to roll it out very quickly, a lot of that is done open source, in many cases will team up with one or more small companies.That can move very, very quickly under a year, sometimes under six months, sometimes under three months, if it's something all over and we're able to get that going quickly. Um, for a lot of our SBR grants and our STARs, you're able to put in for those and I think we had Oh, close to 4000 this last time, our team will review those and then go ahead and send a letter out and we try to turn those in about 45 days well heard of before, it would take you 18 to 36 months and the larger contracts will still take that time period. But now we're also establishing really unique transition mechanisms. So for the first time, instead of waiting, you know and Okay, we've got our first 50k and now we've got our second round of funding and a customer that's working with us and now we got our third round. Oh gosh, we don't have a contract yet. What happens is I'm figuring out those smartpass. So, one of them, we're teaming up with the Naval Postgraduate School because they have all of the services there and a bunch of our interagency partners. And in this, we're leveraging off of the joint interagency tech bridge that they have bringing everybody together and allowing our students that are there for 1824 months, sometimes 36 months to come in with a problem that they've had on their last assignment.They can work as a team or individually and say, I've got this challenge, and then reach out to the right companies or reach out afterward and say, Look, I need help on this, that becomes their thesis or Capstone. Hmm, 8 months or 36 months, when they graduate, they've now worked with that company to evolve a solution that also counted as our capstone or thesis work. And that gives a clear transition pathway because many of them go on to their next command, bring that technology with them, and deploy it into the field for the first time.(11:49)3. How do you prioritize evaluating all these proposals or technologies or solutions that you're working on?(12:39) What we decided to do was open it up. So our interagency partners who are looking for some of the same solutions, were there to help us vet it, but we broke it down. So we can have one person review as few as 12 technologies, rank them, and then push it back to the overall group. And we can do it by segment.A specific focus area, or we can do it by an interagency focus area. And then they can match it against what the airforce is doing. In this case, we have all of these interagency partners, sister service partners, and the Air Force team, they're actually evaluating this with help. What that does is it creates this really cool collaborative environment where other people, other teams that may also need the same technology can now look at it, they don't have to duplicate the effort of reaching out to say, hey, we've got all of these needs, they can see what we have. And if it works for them, then we can team up on that knife. If we save time, everybody wins.(13:44)4. How do you make sure that information is disseminated and, and it's organized in a way that is digestible? And I can say, Okay, yeah, this one looks good. For me. This one doesn't look good to me. Like how does that happen?(14:11) There are several different databases that we're working with. One of the longest-running and I would say the legacy database is a database called Vulcan is a joint database that actually creates a tech Bazaar if you will, where companies can come online and set up their own free tech card. And in case they can put all of their information, their contact information, they can do an overview, they can share a white paper or a slide deck. And then at the same time, government customers can come in and view a series of texts. So if, for example, say I was traveling to San Francisco, and I wanted to look at all of the artificial intelligence companies that were in that specific area, because I want to set my trip up around me. Of course, this database allows me to go in, I can click on San Francisco, and then I can sort for artificial intelligence companies, and it will pull up everybody that has filed a card in that database and the companies to do this. And then I can click on it, and I see their point of contact, I see where they're located.I can set up my time around the city to meet with all of them and go around and, you know, tell them, Hey, this is what I'm looking for specifically, and come back home with a fantastic list of capabilities. What we started doing before the pandemic, and we started doing this virtually after the pandemic was we actually have a joint technology scouting team. So the army was involved. The Department of Homeland Security got involved. The Air Force, of course, was involved in Special Operations. So we had all of these different team members coming in bringing their requirements.We'd sit in a room and we'd say People who were coming out to San Francisco or, you know, we're coming to Austin, they would meet with us. And we would each go around the room and say who we were and the organization that we represented and what some of the funding opportunities were, they got 10 minutes to run us through a pitch and then 10 minutes to answer any questions.If we were interested, we exchanged cards, and then we followed up with them. Now we've switched everything digitally. So we tech conferences, Joy tech conferences, with the folks out in Washington state, the Northwest defense conference, folks. And then we've done a bunch of meetings, ridgeline partners were the last one in New York City.They set up a bunch of companies for us to look at. It makes it really easy for you to get to know people and understand their technology quickly. the right resources that matter to you, not all of the tech will meet all of the requirements for the people in the room, what everybody comes away with a win. And after each one of these trips, we do a full report. And that's shared out across the defense department, our interagency partners with all the contact information and a brief summary on each company.So anybody can follow up with them. And we also encourage them to go back to Vulcan and share their data. And then in that space, the government can actually put a call for specific technologies, or can actually post an upcoming event, all they have to do is drop their company card in their virtual card, and then they're registered and the service can reach out or the interagency partner can reach out to Hey, yes, we want to include you in this.(17:37)5. So it sounds almost like you're removing a lot of barriers to work with the government and inviting pretty much everyone who can sort of contributing?(18:58) One of the biggest pieces that we wanted to do was find a friendly front door for small businesses and individual innovators to find their way in a lot of cases, you have large companies and they overshadow the little guys. Yeah, try to create equitable environments. So I know when I was at softworks, one of the conferences or conventions we held was a cybersecurity convention.We invited, I think, to different companies to get a table and two chairs. So it didn't matter if you were one of the very big companies, a company just getting started. The little guys that were coming in thought it was hilarious, they were like, this is great. We're all on equal footing. Now. You know, the big companies actually, like this is actually cool, we didn't have to bring all of this stuff to set it up. It was more personal, more engaging. Everybody had a really good time, we got some great feedback. But a lot of the changes we're making come from the feedback that we've been given over time, and we're trying to listen to our customers on all sides and adapt and improve.(19:53)6. Can you tell us a little bit about what are some of your favorite innovations that came out of this?(19:58) One we recently had a discussion with is a company that is doing space-based refueling a satellite. So this is a gas station in space. Super, super excited about that, because you all have joint satellites up there. stead of having a satellite degrade because you no longer have propellant. And this would allow us to fuel up our satellites.We are actually about how we could leverage things like small-scale robotics that could add repairs on the satellites to keep them up in the air longer and give them a longer life. So this was really exciting for us to see the company actually resupply the International Space Station with water. They're moving forward very quickly. Another company I just talked to you about this week.They have a concept into a prototype for reusable launch containers. These would actually launch with a regular rocket going to space and you could put an experiment onboard or test equipment, or resupply. And here's where it gets really exciting. They're reusable up to five times. You want to put them in outer space and there's a crisis that happens.There's a tsunami that happens someplace. If the military deploys to that location, they can actually reach out and hit their phone and say I want a resupply cargo crate to land within 50 yards of this location, and they hit it and 30 minutes later it comes down to their location. My goodness, right? Isn't that cool? Things that we're seeing. And it's so exciting because people are doing this really innovative collaborative stuff. And it feels like this year in particular, it's really, really picked up people are being really thoughtful about interesting combinations of technology and what comes next. It sounds like people are giving some competition to Elon Musk here.They're going to leverage off of what he's built and push up. And so and that's the other exciting thing, you see all these incredible space platforms moving forward. And then people are figuring out well, that platform exists when it didn't before. So now I can do X, Y, and Z. They're combining new technologies and interesting ways around that, you know, we were talking about additive manufacturing, 3d printing, of course. And so there's a lot of discussion about new materials, lighter materials to reduce the launch loads, cereals that are biodegradable materials that are, you know, responsive to different stimuli. So sunlight or water, just really fantastic capabilities that we have thought of before, but people are paying tech in interesting ways. And that's generating these brilliant new ideas.I mean, I've spent some time in, in 3d printing, and, you know, coming up with new materials, and, and this was a totally new world for me. And yeah, I mean, just understanding how far we can stretch the technology is mind-blowing, because some of the things were not even possible, you know.So they’re talking about, okay, now we can 3d print metamaterials that create self-assembling, like microstructures, or nanostructures that heat or sunlight or water. And so they're flat, and then you put them in water, and they form this like solid, or they start to float. It's kind of like the movie Batman, where you know, his cape is flat, and then he gets it with an electric charge. And it turns out that he can fly that happening, but with 3d printing now.(24:06)7. You also wrote science fiction novels, and you're a good, great storyteller. And so tell us a little bit about that. How did you develop that skill over time and or what got you interested in writing stories and telling stories?(24:20) I've always been a reader since I was a kid. I love science. I love science fiction, science fact, I'd love a good mystery. And so as a reader, it's almost natural that you also become a writer and sort of writing short stories and poetry. And that turned into scientific articles. And then a couple of books, which belong to a trilogy that I finished in my family. Where the last book was big was a cliffhanger that the second book was on the finger and there's no third book yet. They're like, so um, yeah, I hope to get back to that one day, I don't know if that series will end.Storytelling is all about relating and experiencing in a meaningful way to others. And in the best storytellers that I've met, they're able to convey information in such a way that there's a lesson there, and I'm able to retain that lesson, learn from it. And it becomes part of me, right? I'm doing a good job as a storyteller, and I'm talking about innovation. When I walk into a room, my first one or two sentences have to get the audience excited. It has to get them engaged. And it has to tell them why they care, especially with Metairie, because our senior leaders are very busy people.There are men and women who do not have a lot of time. And so you've got to get to the bottom line fast. And that lets them know, Hey, is this a meeting I want to sift through? Or is there something I can be catching up on? And somebody else is going to follow up on this? It's really important to let them know right up front, here's why you care about this. Yeah, telling a compelling story that lets them know, is why this technology is important. Here's how it solves your problem. That's the biggest part.I love stories because I feel like it brings us closer together as inter lessons. And then it also helps us to share information but in a meaningful, meaningful way. If I throw a bunch of facts and figures up on a board or whiteboard, people are gonna be bored, they're yawning, they don't get it. But if I tie that together, now they're going to get excited about it. Now they're going to enjoy it, and they're going to engage with me more and they're more willing to ask questions or feedback.(27:10)8. You are an expert network and everything. So can you tell us how this skill of yours helps you in your career?(27:16) Most of the work I'm doing now innovation is core to everything and telling a story that gets people involved makes them part of what's happening, a big part of what I try to do, especially in and around the different events, because we'll bring in a lot of different people from different walks of life, all ages, sometimes you have an age of 13 to 84 in the room, whoa. And so they'll come in, because there's a problem that they want to solve, and they want to understand more about it. They want to contribute and give back and they want to have fun in the process. But they want it to be meaningful.You have to understand how each of them brings a different type of expertise. And, for me, a lot of this ties into mentorship. And as you know, I'm part of the mentor project, which is all-volunteer private nonprofit, right now around mentoring. This is also, you know, the core of the heart of what you do as a mentor. It's including people and making them feel like they're also part of the story.when you bring them in, and they understand, well, this is the problem. And then you open that aperture, and you let them know that hey, this is a space where anything's possible. Let's brainstorm, let's throw out all the crazy ideas we possibly can. And then you find out that the idea initially thought we're crazy. We're not so crazy. After all, cool things come out of that. We had a process where we were looking at how a special operator that works with a dog jumps out at a high altitude, while the dog needs to be on an oxygen mask, especially on an oxygen mask. The dog has to be oxygenated before that without stressing the dog out. Yeah, we had a very young teenage girl that had actually fit the gun around her neighborhood and measured all of the muzzles on the difference. And she had new measurements, and it was wonderful. And then we had an older gentleman that came in and was thinking about, you know, we don't want the dog to be stressed out, we want him or her to be comfortable.It was a super cool conversation, what came out of it was a square kennel size bag that has a top and the dog would be put in there as a plane was taking off that had oxygen flowing to the and it's got some gloves that you reach into the box. And right before they're getting ready to jump out of the plane, the special operator would reach in and put a little oxygen mask on the dog and unzip the top, lift the dog out, strap the dog to his chest and jump out the back of the airplane. Well, it worked beautifully. And he but you know that wouldn't have happened without all of these diverse perspectives.(29:58)9. what do you think like, you know, obviously, I don't expect you to reveal any secret that you may know. But do you think aliens exist or not? Like, you know, recently there has been a lot of talk about our Mamula which is the object that flew by? Yes, yes. And they were talking about a lot of debate about you know, you know, it's like, artificial or natural. What are your views about it?(30:50) It's an interesting challenge, right? Because the way it came into our solar system, and the way it left was very irregular. Physics didn't quite make sense. So, um, I love the debate that's happening around it. I think it's really important. I hear people saying, Oh, it's just, you know, an asteroid that has this visual shape. I hear.There's another gentleman that says it's actually a spaceship. I don't know that either of those is correct, and maybe someplace in between. I'm leaning more towards that it's an unusually shaped asteroid at this point in time. But I've got to tell you, it would be crazy to not think that there isn't life on other planets and that there are other life forms that are higher intelligence.I mean, we're discovering today here on Earth, that you know, you've got, I think they had what was it cephalopods, cuttlefish that are able to do delay. gratification and experiment he would do with a child with Mars. Yeah, wow. I had no idea at Burning all the time. So, you know, my personal opinion is I think that the universe is vast. And we have a lot of exploring to do. And I'm excited to see that happen. And yeah, I'd be really surprised if we don't encounter other life out there.(33:33)10. I think maybe five years because the James Webb telescope is coming. When is it like next year or next year?(33:37) I think it's next year, I have to go back. And look, I think it's next year. So much getting launched right now. Yeah, many cool things are happening. It's not just NASA or the European Space Agency. But you now see all of these private insurance companies that are coming in and doing amazing things. I mean, Musk, Jeff Bezos.These other small companies that are popping up all over are really surprising me and saying, Hey, we're doing this, we're doing that. I talked to a company a few months back, they actually are launching low Earth orbit satellites out of the back of a pickup truck. Now, though, in a few weeks, because they're very low in orbit, but you can use them for, you know, monitoring of, like different areas for agricultural crops, you could use them for low-level communications during a disaster.So it's that kind of mindset that's helping us to really probe our planet. But that will also be useful on other planets, like the first helicopter, the drone that's on Mars, I can't wait to see that thing fly and see what yeah, that's so cool. I think of all the areas we can cover now, because we have a flight-capable copter.(34:49)11. So what is your view is going to sort of will be the long term impact of what we are going through economically help, you know, public health-wise, and also from the perspective of like, adoption of science and how it's going to impact how we educate our children because I think a lot of things are going to change, in my opinion, I just want to hear what you think.(35:47) So this has been so interesting last year. And I say that from the perspective of, you know, encompassing the idea that it was an extremely tragic year from the pandemic perspective, but it was extremely triumphant here, from the perspective of people finding their humanity coming together, even though we were remote to make a positive difference for others.So many incredible advances this year in various technology areas, ones that I didn't expect, and some that really surprised me. Because people have been, you know, unencumbered by a lot of other distractions. we've kind of been put in this, this timeout zone, it's really helped us to focus and create and be creative. But also, as we're working remotely, I feel like, at least in my experience, this last year, my network has grown tremendously. I'm people around the world with amazing ideas. we're teaming up on different problems.They've got some great texts to share that we're bringing here to the stage. And the impacts that I'm seeing are, instead of just developing a technology for a country, it's a technology for a region, it's a technology for the world. And people are focused more on social good. And the impact that can come from uplifting and elevating so many others in power, I'm so many others. So I don't I don't think we're going to be going back to business. As usual, I see a lot of companies that I've spoken to that are going to go to a hybrid structure, hmm, fast, a lot of office space. And you see, companies like we work that are going to really flexible housing and office models, where you now have like a swipe card, right, and you go, you swipe your card, and it's like going to the gym, and you're able to go and as you travel, you have a place to stay no matter where you are, if companies find that attractive and appealing, because their teams are able to work from home, it's saving time.In many cases, people are happier. And if they get to go into the office a couple of times a week, they've got that flexibility where they can see people, and then they can still do stuff around the house when it's convenient for them. things and so it's a really interesting combination. I know, for me, I've been really, really productive. And then at the same time, I also miss that face-to-face interaction and it's really important when you're establishing those new relationships. So I think it will be a hybrid model, I don't think we're going to go 100% remote because humans like to be around other humans.Of course, I think that's an interesting and interesting development that will help us globally as far as climate goes, because it's going to cut down on traffic and but it also may, it also may result in how we restructure the way cities are designed and the way we use buildings in the future. I think we're gonna see some interesting changes there, and especially around green tech. Yeah. So I think there are some really exciting changes coming for healthcare two. We were talking about telehealth for years. It took a pandemic to actually get us there to where people are using telehealth and finding it more pleasant than waiting for a couple of hours in a waiting room.They can be at home getting stuff done that, you know, if their child is sick, they now are looking at, you know, a thermometer or a biometric device that can actually scan your child and give feedback biofeedback to the doctor. And if it's a fever, if it's a toothache, if it's an earache, you know, there are a lot of different things that are being examined right now, as far as how can we make this beneficial in a remote fashion? And they're doing it? And then how can we make this accessible, the accessibility part really excites me because there's a large portion of the globe that does not have access to health care, yeah, we're able to do this in a meaningful way. And we're able to provide that in a format that works across a variety of infrastructures robust to austere, now we've got something new we can use people even when they're remote, and get them the basics that they need.(41:58)12. Can you tell us how people can reach out to you and connect with you if they want to?(42:05) Yes, the best way to find me is to go to JJ snow on LinkedIn. And if you find me there, just go ahead and click and drop me a message and say, Hey, I heard you on a monogamous podcast, or just tell me Hey, I'm interested in app works. And I'll go ahead and connect with you and see how we canツCONNECT WITH ME ツConnect with me on different social platforms too:• LinkedIn: • Facebook: • Website:

#236 Why are startups failing?

Season 1, Ep. 236
Shownotes:The reason so many startups fail is that people think too much about their business and not enough about their business.What that means is, they don't go meet new people or spread the word about their business.Here are the three reasons why startups failCosts and pricingMost startup founders focus too much on growing their business and not enough on funding it.This means they don't go out and spend a lot of time on lead generation, spreading the message.The improper teamsSuccessful teams don't focus on building the wrong team. It has a lot to do with people.If you want to have a successful startup, one of the key elements that I have found is that you should be curious about both people internally and externally.Being curious about your employees' well-being, i.e., treating them as people rather than just as employees, will help you discover their potential and include them in building the culture of the company.Insufficient market demandMany people think that if they just push on and keep doing more and more and more, building new products, creating new services, reaching out to new markets, but if they don't focus on the people aspect, their startups will fail.At the same time, if you just focus on business growth, you will forget about the people's needs.ツ CONNECT WITH ME ツLeave a comment on this video and it'll get a response. Or you can connect with me on different social platforms too:• LinkedIn: • Facebook: • Website:

#235 Secrets behind the success of leading creative minds in business | Kara Goldin

Season 1, Ep. 235
(0:33)Introduction -Kara is the founder and CEO of hint Inc, which is best known for its award-winning hint water.Kara is skilled in entrepreneurship, brand management, sales, e-commerce, marketing leadership, and public speaking and has been involved in the sales department for leading companies like CNN, and Time Magazine.Kara has been named one of the InStyle badass 50 fast company's most creative people in business fortune's most powerful women entrepreneurs fortune, most innovative women in food and drink, and Ei Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California.The Huffington Post listed Kara as one of the six disruptors in business alongside Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg.Kara has successfully navigated the world of large companies and startups in many industries including media, tech, and consumer products. In addition, she understands retail and is direct to the consumer market as well.She's an active speaker and writer and hosts the podcast, the Kara Goldin show where she interviews founders, entrepreneurs, and other disruptors across various industries.kara's first book undaunted, overcoming doubts and doubters, published by Harper leadership was released in October 2020. and is now a WSJ and Amazon bestseller.The interview-(2:06)1. So you've had a very successful career. And you know, you've done some amazing things. Help us? How did it all come about? Maybe walk us down Memory Lane? How did it all get started?(2:25) I started my career in New York City and media, and I was at a magazine called Time Magazine. And I actually wrote about it in my book that I wanted to work for Fortune Magazine, but they wouldn't hire me. So that was probably my first big hit where I thought, why won't they hire me? I mean I'm a great writer and I thought of it when I was at age 21.I was very interested in finance, and I would love to work for them but they weren't hiring people unless you had experience. I ended up getting a role at Time Magazine in circulation, which was direct to consumer businesses and subscriptions. That was really where I was trained. in sort of that first role. I left after a few years, was recruited out to a late-stage startup called CNN. I was there at a time when Ted Turner was still running around the office, he was bouncing between Atlanta and New York.It was definitely my first experience with a visionary entrepreneur, there were plenty of people who thought that he wouldn't be able to do what he was setting out to do, that he wanted 24-hour news across the world. He was lucky at this point to have it in 50% of the households because people didn't have cable.So watching somebody who I believed in, but I also thought there was a chance that it's not really going to play out the way that he wants it to. I watched him build the brand, put stakes in the ground, and he never floundered. I mean, he was always very consistent about his messaging and what he believed was such a pleasure to even see him and hear him talk in the kitchen because you think like, he is a little crazy, but he believes and I believe, because he believes I got to spend more time with this person.Anyway, it was then the Gulf War rolled around when Iraq learned that they were being bombed, frankly, that's that, they turned on CNN, and now really the hockey stick for CNN and I was there during that time. So I was there for a few more years. And then I decided to move to Silicon Valley and was engaged.My husband had just graduated from law school and wanted to do technology law. So we moved out to Silicon Valley, the only person that I thought of when I thought about Silicon Valley was Steve Jobs and I had had in college, a computer, one of the first Macintosh computers.I was fascinated by how small it was a little bigger than they are today. But also just that it was, it was aesthetically interesting. It was simpler than the rest of the computers out there. So I thought, How do I get a job at Apple? And I couldn't figure that out. But instead, in my research, I saw that there was this little company that was doing CD ROM shopping that had spun out of Apple that was halfway between Silicon Valley and San Francisco where I was living.So I picked up the phone and called one of the people that was quoted in this wall street journal article, and I said, I think I probably hoped it was going to be Steve Jobs on.It wasn't. And instead, I said, Hey, I'm really interested, I know that there's this whole idea of broadband dial-up services are out there, I and you know, more than anything, I love the idea that graphics could be put onto a disk and then basically, you're telling consumers to insert it into the machine, which is a little known Steve Jobs idea. And I thought, I would get it, I'd love to just grab coffee with you, I'm not really looking for a job, but it'd be great to do that. So I go for coffee. And suddenly, I have a job offer. And my job offer was, you know, to go out to cataloguers and retailers. And I remember thinking, What in the world am I going to do? While I'm here, right? I mean, it's just crazy. I don't have any experience in tech or technology. I'm not an engineer, but what the heck, I mean, what's the worst that could happen? and see what happens.Instead, I took on this role, and it was a business development sales role. And my job was to call the crew and all the gaps and LL Bean and all kinds of retailers and help really build out this kind of online mall. One of our investors, America Online, invested in the name of the company, alongside apple. And then they acquired us when we needed more money. And part of the acquisition was to build out exactly what we had done on the CD ROM on America Online. They invited me to come and run their retail partnerships for America Online.There was a small period of time where I was running the disk, as well as the online partnerships. The idea was that we could offer retailers to different platforms, while broadband was catching up and all the different technologies. I think more than anything, what I learned during that time, was watching people like Ted Turner either working directly or indirectly, for people like Steve Jobs, then Steve Case, incredible entrepreneurs, who there was a chance none of this was gonna happen and they were having fun.They were learning along the way. And they made mistakes, and they made failures. I loved all of those experiences because I thought, you know, it's risky, maybe to some, but I'm enjoying it every day. We're building and continuing to go on.Well, at the end of seven years at America Online, that's when it was a billion dollars in revenue. many stories from working with retailers, including working with Jeff Bezos, where I was helping build a bookshelf up in Seattle with them because I took the time to his time, basically at 5:30 in the afternoon to do so many amazing stories along the way. But basically, it was a billion dollars in revenue after seven years, and I decided to take a little time off.It was at that moment when I didn't plan on launching my own company or and certainly not launching a beverage company, I really thought that I was probably going to do something else in tech. But it was one I looked at my own life and what I really cared about and really kind of the puzzle that I was trying to solve in my own life around my own health. I was trying to lose weight and to clear up my skin that had developed terrible acne and my energy levels and I thought I never used to be like this. Why am I like this now? And when I started looking at everything that I was eating, and drinking, I finally stumbled upon my diet soda, my diet killer.I thought if I can just do this little test to swap it out for plain water, maybe it will make a difference. It made a huge difference in two and a half weeks, I not only got my energy back and cleared up my skin, but I lost 24 pounds. In two and a half weeks holy cow by getting off of diet sweeteners. The last thing I'll say is that the idea of stumbling onto something that I didn't really expect to stumble on, my curiosity was piqued and I thought, why is it just by giving up diet sweeteners? Am I able to get healthy when there's a whole industry out there? That has been telling me that if I drink diet, low fat and vitamins and all the rest, that I'm going to be healthier? Isn't that the opposite of what really happens? So I became really interested in this.The only problem was that plain water for me was boring. It was something of a chore to drink it. So I started slicing up fruit and throwing it in the water. And then I would share with people about this, what I had created because people were noticing that I had lost this weight and my skin cleared up.I would like to share my story and they'd say, That's incredible. Can you make some for me? and then I thought while I'm taking a hiatus from Tech, maybe I'll maybe go get a product on the shelf at Whole Foods. I mean, how hard could it be? I never thought about taking on the soda industry taking on big sugar, you know, all the things that I'm known for today, I never really thought about that. Instead, I just thought I'm gonna try, I'm gonna go get it on the shelf. And it kind of be a kick, if it actually worked if someone else bought it.But more importantly, if I was helping people. That's how I really thought about it. It would make me feel good to know that I was helping people with something that is as important as health. And I think having my own experience, having my own, you know, challenges, that that was the thing that I was most passionate about.It's a lot of what I talked about in the book as well, that while I thought it would work against me to actually come from Tech and not having been in the beverage industry, what I realized was actually a lot of the skills that I had developed, combined with my own passion and my own curiosity and interest in health and the change was exactly what was needed to go in and disrupt an industry and not only was developing a new product but also developed an entirely new category for in the beverage industry, which hadn't been developed called unsweetened flavored water. Yeah, so that is the story.(14:58) 2. You know, the more people the more successful entrepreneurs I talk about, or talk to, in my own journey, I find that same common thread like there is something that happens in their life, which sort of gives them the passion to keep pushing forward. Because as you said, it's not easy at all. I mean, you know, once you reach a certain stage, people just look at the tip of the iceberg, but they fail to see all the struggles and the failures behind the scenes. But if that passion was not fueling it, you know, it's very easy to give up, isn't it?(16:06) I describe the journey of an entrepreneur like this, and I know you're a serial entrepreneur, so let me see if this resonates with you. But it's like, if you don't enjoy doing puzzles, yeah, then you won't really love being an entrepreneur. Maybe you don't get a chance to do puzzles very often, but it is a good gauge for me whether or not you allow yourself to do and I should say, a new puzzle that you've never done.No one's given you the picture, no idea what's in front of you, but you think I'm gonna go try. And then along the way in your journey, somebody walks up, and they take a handful of the puzzle pieces, and you're like, Wait, what? Where are you going? You can't do that. With this, everything's going great, everything's wonderful.You know, I'm not going to be able to finish the puzzle if you don't give them back, but they never do, and they walk away. you just keep trying and thinking, what else can I do along the way to finish this puzzle, then you find out that those puzzle pieces, you didn't even need them. Right, they left, you were very upset about him, but you kept going and you kept figuring it out. Along the way, you find out that those puzzle pieces end up coming back, and then you're like, awesome, they ended up coming back, because I was able to finish the rest of the puzzle.Now they're coming back, and now I see the full picture. Things like that, I think, are the mindset no matter what industry you're in. if you need the picture to solve the puzzle, if you can't handle the fact that someone is going to come in and take things from you, you just continue to figure out how to move on, then being an entrepreneur isn't for you. Part of the reason why I wrote my book as well as really to share this idea with people. I think that the glamour of being an entrepreneur is often overstated. I always say to people, there are ways to make can't, it's not a nine-to-five job. Even as you're building along the way, if you don't really understand every single role in this company that you're working in, that you've built, then you know, somebody can leave and you have to be able to do that job, right? I mean, that's what happens along the way. you have to make payroll, there's a lot of things that you have to be able to do along the way.I think that the idea of, I guess, my background in working for other entrepreneurs, I never really get a renewed interest and appreciation for other entrepreneurs when you set out to do it. I also tell people, there's always a chance in an entrepreneur's head, that you could fail, there's always that doubt. But the worst thing they can do is surround themselves with doubters that are gonna feed into that.The most important thing for an entrepreneur to be able to do is to knock down the walls in front of them, figure out how to go around the wall, constantly innovating in order to get through something. I have a lot of people who talk about hustle and about never stopping. I think it's okay, actually, to slow down sometimes to stop and think you talked about, having a situation in front of you where you don't exactly know what to do. I think that the best entrepreneurs are able to kind of look at what's in front of them, and the fork in the road and make decisions.Also know that they can go one way, and they're hopeful that that way is going to work. But they also know that they can't make the same mistake twice. So they're going to turn around and maybe go the other way, even if it'll take them a little bit longer to assess the situation. That is the most important thing, I think, in not only building a new company and being an entrepreneur but also building something totally new, like a new category.(20:56)3. So it's a very dynamic environment like that. And I think the way I look at it is, it's almost like a discovery of yourself, you know, self discovery in the sense. Okay, what are you made of? What are you capable of? Right?(22:04) Absolutely, these challenges and failures along the way build resilience. It's important to look back on those times. I still have those times today, when I've had many challenging moments, but I'll have challenges that maybe I didn't expect the pandemic, for example, when we're an FDA regulated company, that is that we've always known we were an essential product, but there are regulations in the US around being an essential product and your responsibility to actually stock shelves and have enough supplies for stores for consumers to be able to access.So people said to me, You seem very calm in this process. I think I joked one day and said, when you've been through the 2008 2009 financial crisis when you almost had your shot, your company shut down, when you have had to, you know, go in and deliver your fourth child on your way to get your product on the shelf that you just sort of roll, right? And then you just learn that it's important to think about those times, and maybe you didn't think that it was all going to work out. But then it did and maybe it turned out a little bit different than you had thought.And, and so more importantly, I think, even shows like this are ones where it helps people to know, and especially the people who are going through dark moments that are really challenging, if you're not, and you've never been through those times, some of the stuff that we talked about here, or we talked about on my podcast, don't make sense to people until you've been through it.The people that are going through really, really challenging times. That's the, that's where it's like misery as company is, as you know, the saying goes, it's it to be able to hear the stories that people had moments that were really dark, when they didn't know how they were going to get through. But then this happened. And then this happened. That's what people need to know in order to know that they can go on. So it's a really, really important piece of it.(24:26)4. Now let's move on to your book, which is sort of the theme. You know, undaunted, what made you write it? And I'm sure, like, it is all about what we talked about already. But tell us what prompted that and what are some of the you know, some of the key things that people can take away from that book?(25:38) The main key thing so it really is my journey. And it's from the start, I grew up in Arizona and had these dreams of being a writer. I didn't even have a dream of being in tech until I just got in and I found what I was interested in and so actually making the moves to start somewhere, I think is a really important lesson in this book. One of my chapters is called build the plane, build the aeroplane as you're flying it.I talk all the time that it's, you know, that the lessons I've learned in not only my company but in other companies that I worked for is that you don't always have the roadmap and you spoke about the support that you get inside of your company. If you don't have people that are a little bit bendable? Maybe they've, I used to think, because this was my first startup that I had started, I used to think that I've got to go and hire lots of people from Coke and Pepsi to come into my company, not having experience.They joined the company. But then those people were not the right people, because they were used to following orders. Right? They were used to thinking that this is the way you do it, versus actually saying, could we do it this way? They'd say no. And I'd say why. And then they didn't have the answers, because no one had gone through that process. so you need people who are curious, you need people who are willing to fail, you need people who are excited and passionate about your product, but also excited and passionate about you and believe that you are going to do this, but also are willing to test things along the way.Those are the stories that I tell in the book to not only my own experience, but also finding the right people to recognize that, you know even if, in our case, when we had one of the stories in the book we were getting kicked out of Starbucks. we were in Starbucks, and you know, almost 7000 stores across the US. And as we were, that was a very exciting day, when we got in there we were surpassing our goals in Starbucks. But when they got a new buyer and they started having strategic discussions internally at Starbucks, they decided they wanted to offer food. In their case, they didn't have food prior to us being there, that was a couple of cookies, but they didn't have any when I got the news that they were going to pull us out of the case, that was a bad day, I thought you can't do this. We've been meeting all of the expectations, but they had expectations for their business too. so it's a story about learning. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Things can happen when people change strategies that are better for them. also become aware that you can't stop, you need to figure out what else I can be doing. And that's when we got an email about two weeks after the Starbucks situation from Amazon.Amazon was just starting their grocery business, and they hadn't launched beverages online. And the buyer from Amazon said to me, You know, I buy your product every morning at Starbucks. Now, I didn't know if I should share with him that we had just been eliminated.I just said, Oh, that's, that's terrific. And I'm thinking, Oh, what if he finds time? I said, I have a lot of extra products that we can ship out to you right now. Like this minute, I can ship it out to you. And he said, Oh, that's great. I'll wire you the money right now. That's terrific, because we really want to get lunch.So again, understanding that if you were open to other possibilities along the way, we didn't have online direct to consumer in our plan today, during the pandemic, that business tripled. For us, almost 50% of our business is direct to the consumer. Yeah, and having that relationship with the consumer, versus going through a store for 100% of your distribution is not only important for you to have that consumer relationship during normal times, but during a pandemic, when things are out of control in terms of you know, where this virus sits if stores are closing down, the safest way to get products to consumers, etc. So, lots of lessons in the book about that.(30:47)5. There's one question I have is, you know, the other part the other part of the title is doubters and doubt and doubters. And you also talk about fearless risk-takers, entrepreneurs are fearless risk-takers. At the same time you also say you know you, you have been through times where things didn't look as good and you know, Fear sets in anxiety set. And so these are two different dimensions. So how do you reconcile them? How do you know, overcome these fears? And then keep on taking these risks?(31:22) It's so the name of the book is undaunted, overcoming doubts and doubters and I think there's always been this idea out there about entrepreneurs that they are fearless risk takers that they don't have doubts. they'll just go and do whatever because they know they'll be successful. I've always shared with people that I actually think that most entrepreneurs actually do have doubts, and they do have fears. But the fun of going and trying the adrenaline of going out into a world that hasn't been tackled before, is consistent with what I've seen in so many entrepreneurs.It's not that they don't think that, that, you know, they're going to fail, or there's a tiny little bit of doubt sitting in their head. But instead, it's figuring out, what if it could actually happen? Wouldn't that be amazing? think about Steve Jobs, and how many people thought he was crazy, putting this computer together and sticking a little apple on it. I mean, it's just crazy, right? And, and I just think like things, thinking about those people. knowing their stories, and ones that I've been very fascinated with for so many years, are the things that have allowed me to know, I could go do it.probably the most surprising thing for me, if you don't mind me. Say about my book that I knew it would be great for beverage entrepreneurs, or people in the food space, or maybe even female entrepreneurs, or maybe even mothers who wanted to go and launch a company. But the most fascinating thing for me about this book, for the feedback that I've gotten on the book, is that there are so many executives that have hit C suite, who have read the book, who have said to me, I'm questioning why I haven't gone out and done my own thing, right? I've made enough money.I'm not very challenged, I'm not learning along the way, why can't I go and take a chance. do they come to their own conclusion about the fear that they have, the fear of failure for people, and the higher you get in an organisation when you've never really failed? Yeah, it's a big one, right? Where you think to yourself, I don't want to look stupid, why would I want to go and do that? Yet, the intrigue of it, the excitement of doing something, in the case of him doing something that actually betters people's health, where you feel that it's actually helping people to drink water and, and get healthier.That's a powerful poll for me. So I wanted to be able to share that story with people and, and also just the one last thing on that to my concern, the concern of even my publisher, when this was first out there was that, you know, there, it's a female isn't going to be too focused on female entrepreneurs, um, which, of course, is is a big topic, worldwide. But the number of men who have reached out to me touching on the topic that you talked about in the beginning about not having it all figured out. And therefore, they or maybe they've had failures in the past, and they don't talk about those things.I think it's, it's a, it's a big conversation, that owning your own hard times and your own challenges, it doesn't mean that you can't do something better going forward. In fact, those are the people that we all root for, right, that have had challenges and failures. And therefore they've learned from their own experience. So it's an exciting day, you know, the book launched last October, it's still going very strong, and very, very exciting. Thank you for having me on to this show.(35:50)6. Can you tell us if people want to reach out to you? How can they do that?(37:11) All over social media platforms where we actually met Kara golden with an eye. And absolutely, I would love to hear from you. Hopefully, you'll get a chance to order the book. It's available worldwide. It's also on Audible. It'd be terrific to see it and to hear more from people.RESOURCESLinkedin:ツCONNECT WITH ME ツLeave a comment on this video and it'll get a response. Or you can connect with me on different social platforms too:• LinkedIn: • Facebook: • Website: