This post on life advice written by hint founder & CEO, Kara Goldin, originally appeared on LinkedIn here
Thomas Edison, prolific inventor and businessman, famously said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Being rejected is part of the game when it comes to doing business and is inevitable in life. And while it does sting, I’ve learned that sometimes, being told “no” can be the best thing that ever happens to you and your company. Follow these steps below to turn any setback into a breakthrough:
1. Be nice, no matter what. It’s frustrating and difficult when what appears to be a roadblock gets in your way. However, what I have found is that it’s just as important to handle yourself with dignity when you’re rejected…even though you may feel like telling someone off. (Don’t. Just don’t.)
A few years ago, Starbucks included Hint water (drinkhint.com) in the cold case in their 10,000 stores. We were so excited to and ended up exceeded their expectations and goals for sales. Unfortunately, their plans changed and they decided to add more food—a higher-margin business—to their cold case. To make room, they needed to remove some beverages…and we went by the wayside. When we heard the news, it was one of the worst days in Hint history. (Or at least, that’s what it felt like.) And hearing that it would be effective immediately really hurt! But we kept our cool and professionalism.
2. Present them with a plan B. We told Starbucks that we were really disappointed and still wanted to figure out a way to work with them. A week later, they called and asked if we could be in all the Starbucks branches located inside Target stores. Today, the number of Starbucks outlets within Target stores has grown to about a third of Starbucks’ stand-alone locations. We still have a good dialogue and relationship with Starbucks, and are hoping to work on additional business with them.
3. Embrace the haters. Beyonce shuts down criticism with a simple, “I love haters.” Early on in the development of Hint, I went to a friend-of-a-friend who worked at a big beverage brand with a technical challenge. I explained that I was trying to figure out a way to give Hint a long shelf life, sans preservatives. Instead of advice on how to solve the problem, he told me, “Listen, sweetie, this might work in San Francisco but it’s never going to take off anywhere else.” Hearing him call me “sweetie” in such an offhand, condescending way, instantly ignited my fire. And in that moment, I realized that he—and the rest of the beverage industry—was stuck in and old way of thinking. And I also realized that I would win, because he didn’t recognize that the consumer was thirsty for a water that was delicious without being sweet. Today, Hint is available in more than 20,000 stores and counting, nationwide—and sold online.
4. Extend the rule to everyone. Mom was right: It pays to be polite to everyone. I make it a point (and communicate it to the entire Hint team) to always be polite and professional to buyers, reporters, and customers. After all, people always remember those who are very mean or very nice. Which reputation would you rather have in the market?