“Ditch the Ego: Embrace Your Weakness” was originally posted by hint Founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, on LinkedIn here:
Someone recently asked me to name the secret to my success as founder and CEO of Hint water. I really had to stop and think about that: If I could narrow it down to one thing, what would it be?
A younger version of myself might have said education—having a degree from an Ivy League school. But I proudly hail from Arizona State, and am living proof that you don’t need to go to Harvard to make it. Early in my career, I might have said ambition, but I’ve been around long enough to see a lot of people who soared to the top of the ladder, only to find out they hated the ladder they’d chosen and were lackluster leaders as a result. There also might have been a point when I would have said hard work. But I’ve seen people slave away without ever being promoted because they were too negative, or too timid to advocate for themselves.
If you’ve watched the amazing TED talk by Brené Brown on vulnerability, you’ve already seen the incredible leaps and bounds a person can make just by understanding who they are. I’d seen that video not long before this question was posed to me, and it helped me realize that the reason I’ve been able to achieve the success I have all comes down to one thing: self-awareness. Here’s what I mean…
Playing to Your Strengths Is More Subtle Than You Think
How many times have you been in a meeting with someone who was trying to sell you something, and it just wasn’t happening? They kept flipping through their binder looking for answers, they stumbled over their words—the whole experience was just awkward. The reality is—that person is great at something, but sales ain’t it! That’s an obvious example, but this can be a subtle thing. You might be good with numbers, but you’re a knockout in front of a crowd. Following a path in accounting wouldn’t mean disaster for you—but it certainly wouldn’t be the best choice for you, either. Really take time to figure out what you’re good at doing, what you’re great at doing, and where you’re an outright rock star. Knowing those subtle differences in yourself will have a huge impact in your life when you’re at a career crossroads.
Let’s say you have a pretty clear understanding of your strengths and where you’re headed, but you’re not dead-on yet. That’s okay! It can take time to get crystal clear on your trajectory. When I got my first job at Time Magazine, it was because I knew I loved communications, and I really appreciated the integrity of Time Inc. Publications. At the time, my dream was to work at Fortune, but I decided working at the family of magazines was a good start. If you don’t know precisely where you’re headed, but you have a general idea—follow that. It’s only a matter of time till the puzzle pieces fall into place.
Ditch the Ego: Embrace Your Weaknesses
The flip side of that is that you have to know what you’re not good at doing, lest you learn the hard way that pride goeth before a fall. For example, maybe you’re an excellent strategist, but when it comes to motivating teams to get behind your strategy—you fall short. That’s not something to be embarrassed about—in fact, it’s the opposite! If you can see that, you now have a key piece of information that’s going to make a massive difference in your business. With this insight, you can build a team around you to fill in your gaps. Hiring the right people comes down to understanding where you, as a leader, need support, and placing people who compliment both your strengths and your weaknesses. Don’t get caught up in the ego stuff—you can’t be the best at everything. Take the time to get clear on what makes you stand apart the most, and delegate the rest. Your business growth will thank you.
Your Passion Is Your Power Source
Plain and simple: If you don’t know your passion, you’re wasting time. For years, I woke up every morning for a job in the technology sector. Sure, it was fun at first and definitely lucrative, but after the initial excitement wore off, it was physically exhausting and spiritually draining. Eventually, I realized that technology wasn’t what I loved—I didn’t get up in the morning thinking about it, and I didn’t go to bed mulling it over. That in itself put me at a disadvantage to the people who did. I wasn’t obsessed like they were; I was sleepy. Not a great way to dominate my field.
I didn’t have to do a lot of soul searching to find my path—it was right there in front of me. I’d been thinking about my health non-stop, trying to figure out a way to break from my soda addiction (brought on, of course, by an attempt to stay animated and awake at a job I was less and less excited about). As bad as colas were for me, they were a lot more fun to drink than water! I started scouring the market for truly healthy, hydrating water beverages that weren’t packed with sweeteners or hidden preservatives but were flavorful and able to curb my soda cravings. When I came up empty-handed, I began experimenting with fruit-flavored water at home. Eventually, I figured out how to make the exact drink I’d been trying to find in the grocery aisle, and when the pounds started shedding as a result, I got really excited thinking about how I could spread my secret to others and help them restart their lives. The idea of helping people get healthy was all I could think about, and I knew it was time to shift gears in my life.
This passion is about living the brand. If you’re working behind the counter at SoulCycle, and then you’re going home and eating junk food—that’s a pretty good indication that you’re in the wrong field. Or let’s say you work at LinkedIn, but you yourself don’t have a profile—what are you doing? You’re wasting your time. Forget what looks good on paper; forget making your parents happy when you go home for the holidays. Truly successful people are in love with what they do, period.
Speaking of being the best at what she does, Oprah has a great quote that I often go back to: I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace—a connection to what matters. In order to achieve that joy and success in your life, you have to know what matters to you. Hint was born because I was totally invested—mind, body, and soul. The idea of developing a product around something that would help me get healthier didn’t even seem like a job, and to this day, I’m energized by what I do. It’s not just my money source; it’s my power source. I breathe life into my company because my company breathes life into me.
Kara Goldin is Founder and CEO of Hint Water, the fastest growing flavored water in the United States. Kara started Hint when she couldn’t find a healthy water that tasted great without questionable additives like sweeteners. Hint Water has 0 calories, 0 sugar, and 0 diet sweeteners and can be purchased online at www.drinkhint.com in a variety of flavors including Blackberry and Watermelon, in both still and sparkling.