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4 ways to get your career off to a great start this year

January 5, 2021

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the winter 2021 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Written by May Busch, a former COO of Morgan Stanley Europe who is now an executive coach, speaker, adviser, author and executive-in-residence in ASU’s Office of the President. Find her at

How has the new year started out for you? Whether you’re off to a roaring start, feeling underwhelmed, or something in between, this is a natural time to do some thinking and planning for the year ahead. And as my father says, “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

Here are four things you can do to get your career off to a great start. 

May Busch

May Busch.

1. Choose your theme for the year

This can be an overarching theme that will guide you through the year. For example, it could be “the year of the promotion” or “the year of getting your degree.” Or you can choose a set of words or phrases that really embody the intention you want to live out, such as, “Let’s make everything simple, easy and fun this year.”

In my case, I’m going to choose growth as my theme, both as it applies to my business and to my personal development. How about you? What possible themes are you considering? As someone who’s attracted to taking on “shiny new opportunities,” this will be a challenge, but I know it will guide me in the right direction, and I can’t wait to tackle it.

2. Identify the three big wins you want this year

Predetermine and preselect three big wins that you want to have this year. For example, they could be landing two new clients, passing an exam (e.g., the CFA or CPA exams) and getting over your fear of speaking up in meetings. So, think about what your three big wins could be. It’s a more energizing way of asking yourself, “What are my main goals for the year?”

3. Decide what investment you’re going to make in yourself

Think about which exact things you’re going to spend your time, energy, mindspace and money on this year to build your foundation and make you even better in new dimensions.

For me, I’m going to reinvest in the mastermind groups that I’m part of, because I now realize how foundational they are to my current and future success. What are your investments going to be?

4. Join an online summit

There’s a special fourth item that will be available soon to help you get your career off to a great start. It’s my annual online Career Mastery Kickstart Virtual Summit, featuring 25 incredible experts from around the world sharing their latest insights and advice on how to be more successful in your career. 

This is all about you and your career, so I can’t wait to share it with you.

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Hint Inc. CEO Kara Goldin shares leadership tips

January 5, 2021

ASU alumna and beverage entrepreneur on how sticking to her values helped her company succeed and grow

Editor's note: This story originally appeared in the winter 2021 issue of ASU Thrive magazine.

Kara Goldin started her company, Hint Inc., to help her family and other people drink more water and get healthier, and her business now employs nearly 250 people. Here she provides her hard-won advice for starting a business, raising capital, managing people and sticking to your values.

Question: What is your advice for people thinking about starting a business?

Answer: I created Hint to solve a need that I discovered in myself. After having three kids fairly close together — and I now have four — I had gained a lot of weight and lacked energy. After trying diets and exercise and seeing several doctors, I realized that my problem was the diet soda I had been drinking all day for many years. I tried switching to water and, after a few weeks, I had lost a lot of weight and was starting to feel better, but I found water so boring! After experimenting in the kitchen all summer, I decided to start Hint to help people fall in love with water. With fruit essences, I was able to make water taste great without tasting sweet. 

Kara Goldin book

Kara Goldin's book "Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters" is available now.

It helped me break my addiction to sweet drinks. So the need was personal, but it quickly transformed into something bigger: a mission. I knew nothing about producing a beverage for sale, but I did have a deep feeling I could develop something healthy and positive and that there was nothing else quite like it available. 

I thought, “This might be the opportunity to make a difference in the world. I could help make people healthier and feel better.”

Q: Hint’s value system includes transparency and the desire to help people. Has it been challenging to keep this value system front and center as the company has grown?

A: Once you get past 50 people in a company, it is very difficult for everyone to do what they’re supposed to do without much supervision. By that point you’ve moved well past the stage where it feels like one big family and you better have a few good people in place to manage the team. That’s also the point where the mission is at the most risk if you haven’t laid it out clearly. I try to share stories with the team that illustrate why we’re on our mission and what’s important to us. 

The other thing that reinforces our value system is aligning the brand with a cause. In Hint’s case, it’s several causes: clean water, breast cancer awareness, Alzheimer’s disease research, even ad-hoc stepping in to distribute water to firefighters during the California wildfires. Some of this work takes the form of fundraising, but what I’ve realized over time is that we can be contributing our knowledge and our time to champion these causes. That’s where we’re bringing that sense of mission front and center, when our employees can give of themselves and truly embody our values.

Q: What was your biggest challenge in making Hint successful?

A: The hardest thing was getting an industry built around sugar and preservatives to help me bottle a fresh-tasting, unsweetened water infused with fruit flavor. I wanted to have a drink that most people would enjoy, that didn’t taste sweet, that didn’t contain preservatives but that had a decent shelf life. Basically that was impossible when I started Hint in 2005. My initial solution was to give up shelf life to find out if people liked it enough to buy it.  

Q: Have you turned to mentors over the years?

A: I’ve got people I can turn to for advice as things come up. One of my favorite things is hosting my podcast where I talk to entrepreneurs and business leaders. And through those relationships, I’ve learned many lessons about building a thriving business, managing through change, overcoming obstacles, and so on. It’s a different kind of mentorship, but those connections have been incredibly inspiring and enriching to me. 

Q: What advice would you give someone who is thinking of starting a business?

A: Building a business can be fun, but when you’re the boss you have a lot of weight on your shoulders and you need to recognize and be comfortable with the risks and responsibilities. Also, always be learning.

Top photo: Kara Goldin, ’89 BA in communication, is the founder and CEO of Hint Inc., a flavored water brand founded in 2005. The company has expanded into other markets with an oxybenzone and paraben-free sunscreen, and a plant-based, aluminum-free deodorant. Goldin has donated to scholarships at ASU and volunteered to help mentor student entrepreneurs.