July 5, 2018 / 10:01 AM / 17 days ago

CORRECTED-Home-brewed life lessons from Honest Tea's Seth Goldman

 (Corrects company division that bought Honest Tea to Coca-Cola
Co from the Coca-Cola Bottling Co, and removes reference to
Coca-Cola unit after Goldman's title in third paragraph)
    By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
    NEW YORK, July 5 (Reuters) - Twenty years ago, Seth Goldman
succeeded in his years-long quest to find an after-run drink
that was tasty, yet low in sugar and calories. 
    His Honest Tea is now ubiquitous in stores. But Goldman
started brewing and distributing the initial tea samples from
his home. 
    After originally partnering with his former Yale professor,
Barry Nalebuff, they sold the company to the Coca-Cola Co       
in 2011. Goldman, 52, lives near the company’s Bethesda,
Maryland, headquarters and remains involved - his current title
is “Co-Founder & TeaEO Emeritus of Honest Tea." 
    In 2013, he and Nalebuff wrote a graphic book, “Mission in a
Bottle: The Honest Guide to Doing Business Differently - and
Succeeding,” telling the story of their company and sharing tips
with entrepreneurs.  
    For the latest in the Reuters series “Life Lessons,” Goldman
shared more advice on his strategies in business and in life.
    
    Q: What lesson would you say people can learn from the risks
you took in order to start your business?
    A: Not having a lot of money in the beginning actually
provided a healthy discipline. We were forced to be creative and
resourceful with everything - our marketing, our staffing, our
office 'décor' (i.e., dumpster diving for used desks, which I
still use!).  
    
    Q: Where did you get your entrepreneurial spirit?
    A: Although both of my grandparents ran their own small
businesses, my role model as an entrepreneur was my father. He
was a professor, which is normally not an entrepreneurial
profession. But he led such a dynamic life – creating academic
programs and seminars, serving as a founding board member of
several charities and a local bank. He ingrained in me the
mindset that if you think something should be done, you don’t
wait on someone else to do it.
    
    Q: Tell us about your first job - What did it teach you?
    A: When I was 8, I sold used golf balls and lemonade with my
next-door neighbor at the local golf course. The retrieval of
the balls from bushes and rivers was almost as much fun as
selling them. I learned early on that not getting the sale was
just part of life – not a personal rejection of me or my golf
balls or lemonade. That thick skin still comes in handy.
    
    Q: As you became more established in your career, what did
you learn about handling money? 
    A: Entrepreneurs who focus only on accumulating money as
their goal can be disappointed in several ways – first, they may
not see a pay day. Second, if they do have a pay day, it can be
anticlimactic because once it comes, there’s not much more to do
but accumulate more money, and that has diminishing returns in
terms of satisfaction. 
    
    Q: Is giving important and if so, who do you support?
    A: Before we sold Honest Tea, my wife and I donated a
significant portion of our shares to a charitable vehicle called
Impact Assets. It allowed the proceeds of the sale to be donated
to non-profits, such as Urban Alliance, where my wife works, or
to be invested in dynamic social enterprises, such as Ripple
Foods or Beyond Meat (where I serve as a board member). If those
companies have a successful exit, the proceeds go back into
Impact Assets – so we get the chance to continue the virtuous
circle.
    
    Q: What money or life lessons have you tried to pass on to
your sons?
    A: We were happy as a family before Honest Tea’s success
because we understood what made us happy – being able to take
joy in each other, in nature, in Boston sports teams and in
close friendships. We continue to be happy as a family because
we still value those things. Money doesn’t change that.


 (Editing by Beth Pinsker and Dan Grebler)
  
 
 
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