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The Debrief is a series of conversations with founders, executives, and talent thought leaders on how they build talented and diverse teams, hosted by our own Teddy Chestnut. 

Kara Goldin, the CEO of Hint, joined the Debrief to share how she turned Hint Water into Silicon Valley’s most popular beverage and why she only hires people with a passion for health. 

Here are some of our highlights from the conversation:

Kara’s favorite interview question (6:30) – Tell me when you failed, and you felt incredibly challenged by this failure, and how you surfaced? 

How purpose can drive a company (19:40) – Hint Water was invented to help build a healthier world by helping people enjoy drinking water. This same mission drives every product they make and every person they hire. 

Customer evangelism is critical (25:00) – Deeply understanding key customers is the only way to win when you create a new customer category. Finding that one customer that gets what you are selling can help you break through when your product is new.

Industry experience is not always necessary (35:30) – Kara is hesitant to hire superstars because they may not be able to adapt their way of thinking. Hiring too many people with the same industry experience can lead to groupthink. Instead, focus your hiring on individuals with a passion for your mission and intellectual flexibility.

Architecting a culture of curiosity (42:00) – Culture comes from your people, but it can be encouraged through systems and processes. Hint provides an hour every month for their team to reach out to someone in the organization who does something different than them to help encourage their culture of curiosity. Think about how you can do the same.

Not everyone has the answer (48:15) – People look to luminaries and business leaders for advice and listen to them. Still, it’s also important to remember that not everyone has the answer. It’s crucial to build your path.  

Having skin in the game (50:40) – Giving equity to your employees, no matter your size or industry, can help your company think about things in the longer term.

The four words that capture a great interview experience (54:30) – Don’t waste people’s time!

Watch the entire conversation below:

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