The founder of the $150 million Honest Tea company Seth Goldman shares his process and how he fought through countless rejections in route to landing distributors and bottlers for Honest Tea. Clay Clark also explains why persistence and resilience is the name of the game when you are doing cold marketing to your “Dream 100 List” or your prospective ideal and likely buyers.
Grabbed the duck tape and mentally prepare yourself for yet another mind-expanding knowledge bomb from America’s number one business coach. Clay Clark.
Yeah. I had the opportunity to interview the living legend in and the guy who was the founder of honest tea. Now if you don’t know what honest tea is, honest tea was the first organic tea on the marketplace and that company has now been acquired by Coca Cola. Honest tea has been acquired by Coca Cola. It’s $150 million brands. And, uh, my friend Seth Goldman is the founder of this company and during the interview had to, it’s so many knowledge bombs and so many great things that he was teaching. Um, our listeners here, there’s so many great things he was teaching me, teaching you. Uh, but I think there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that really get stuck, uh, when it comes to implementing their dream 100. If you listen to this show with any regularity at all or you’re a member of the coaching program or you’re the part of the online school or you’ve been to a conference, you’ve, you’ve inevitably heard me talk about the dream 100 and the dream 100 is the system that was created by Chet Holmes.
No, Chet Holmes is the bestselling author of the ultimate sales machine. It’s a red-covered book, the ultimate sales machine. He was a partner of a, of a, uh, Charlie monger and a Warren Buffet. His name was Chet Holmes. And we discovered is when you go to a hundred of your ideal and likely buyers and you ask for the deal a hundred of them, you’re usually going to get about 3% of them that, that, that say yes. So if you go, let’s say you’re just selling insurance and a, you want it to get referred by realtors. If you go meet with a hundred of them, you’re probably going to get three of them to refer you if you consistently show up on a weekly basis or a monthly basis. But the key is consistency. Because when you first show up, when you first show up, uh, whoever you, you know and we’re going to go visit with is usually annoyed because they don’t expect you to be there.
Step one is, is really annoying people, right? Step two, as they, they kind of get curious that, wow, you came by again and step three is now they’re, they’re sort of going, okay, I kinda trust this guy shows up consistently and then step forward as they begin to like you and trust you. Then step five is they actually start to refer you or to say yes to you. And so during this portion of the interview with Seth Goldman, he explains how he was able to find a bottling plant willing to bottle his products because when he landed his deal with whole foods, he was still making the honest tea out of his kitchen. Yes, this is, this is true. He was still making the tea beverage out of his kitchen when he landed the order from whole foods. Now when you got the order for 15,000 bottles, you’re still making it out of your kitchen? I believe so. What did you, did you want to expand your granite countertop? Did you knock out a wall and make the kitchen bigger? How’d you do it?
I sprang into action and traveled up and down the east coast and I went to every type of different facility that did Bob link. So I went to soda plants. I went to a beer brewery. I went to a place that made jelly and eventually, and I had a friend helping me. Eventually we ended up at an apple juice packing plant up in buffalo that had some extra line time available and they let us make tea in their facility.
Did you drive to all these places or did you call them or how did you get
I drove, yeah. I mean it had to meet with them in person. I mean, we, we, we would, you know, I would talk to him first on the phone and explain what we were looking for at first of all, if they returned my call that sometimes they wouldn’t return the call, but when they did return the call, then I would, um, you know, have the conversation and if they felt like there was closed and that’s a line that then I’d go meet them in person. And you know, so much of it is like any entrepreneur when you’re starting out, um, because you, you don’t have much to go on. And so you have to meet these people. You have to be able to demonstrate that you’re a genuine person and doing this the right way and, and, and have the, the right ideas behind it to build it. Because you know, these, these bottling plants there, they have a lot of people who come through and maybe they don’t know if someone’s for real or if someone’s gonna be able to pay them. That’s often the case. They, they would insist on being paid upfront because I’ve seen it happen so often. The, the entrepreneur, you know, get something and then disappears.
What kind of a suite of vehicle were you driving back then? Were you driving?
Ah, we had a Saturn station wagon.
In fact, what happened was I, um, I picked up our spices for our first production run. We had this wonderful chai recipe, but I ordered and picked up the spices from a, a spice warehouse in Baltimore and I had to drive it up to buffalo for eight hours and it was a freezing cold day, so I had to keep the windows closed for that eight hour drive. And by the time I got up to Buffalo, that car had a permanent aroma of Chai spice, which was very good
It’s dramas, a lady’s Saturn station wagon. What year was this?
Ooh, so this was 1998. Right at the beginning of the business.
Seth Goldman. are you a big music guy?
Oh yeah. I was listening to music and, but partially because it’s an eight hour drive. So I just had, I had just, um, there was a, you know, a whole soundtrack for that year because I had spent tons of time in the car. Uh, it was, it was pretty intense.
Did you listen to my heart will go on. No, that was not the song that kept me going, but, um,
you know, I heard a lot of youtube. There was matchbox 20. It’s through AEM, which really felt like it was, it was my, uh, hearing that at 3:00 AM. So I related to it.
Some of your favorite musicians that you’d like to listen to.
Well, there’s not as much of their recent stuff, but I love Tom Petty you too.
Um, but um, yeah, a buddy of mine, I went to college with Ryan tedder. You went to her old Roberts University with me. His goal someday was to write the song. He actually got it done. And so one republic has opened up for you too. And Ryan tedder is one himself, a couple grammys, but he had this goal. He kept sending us, I’m going to write a song some day with Peter Gabriel Bano and uh, Paul Mccartney, and he actually pulled off the trifecta and so he, he did it. So pretty the listeners out there who thinks that your dream is not possible, what advice would you give them? They’re set for anybody out there who says, you know, I’m driving around this 1998 Saturn station wagon. I’m listening to Tom Petty. I’m driving around trying to find my eye. What advice would you have to encourage the entrepreneurs out there?
No, we’re number one, when you walk into our office, the first thing you’ll see on the wall, it’s a quote, it’s from one of our bottle caps. It says, those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it. So, you know, there’s always going to be skeptics out there criticizing or, or second guessing you. And you know, if you have a passion about what you want to do, you got to do it. Um, I think the other thing I would say, and this is another quote, this is from Oscar Wilde says, be yourself. Everyone else has already taken. So there’s no point in trying to bring a brand life if it’s just copying what somebody else has. You’ve got to, to really succeed. You have to have a clear point of difference that clear a competitive advantage over whatever else is out there and to stand alone and the night. The third one I would say is, um, is the quote I once heard on a cartoon show, which is ms from fat Albert.
Said he who throws, muddle and he loses ground. You know, don’t you, you never want to try to elevate yourself by disparaging of see what you can do to, you know, sign your own light.
What was the most difficult aspect of scaling back on it?
Yeah. For us it was the distribution. You know, we had a product we knew consumers wanted. The problem was that, uh, we, we couldn’t get it into their hands. We needed distributors to do that. And that’s where we had that challenge. And so we went to the distributors and they would say, oh, we don’t like this because it’s not what we’re used to. It’s not sweet enough. It’s a little more expensive, it’s a different taste. And so we had to basically go around the beverage distributors to get to market and we ended up working with charcoal distributors or cheese distributors or coordinate distributors, just anybody else who was going to the shelf. And eventually the beverage distributors started taking us on, but we had to earn that, uh, that opportunity. And we did it by basically going around them when the, when the wall was put up in front of us, we went around it.
Did you cold call everybody? Did you show up? What was your, uh, moves to get ahold of? A little bit of everything.
I wouldn’t say I was a pretty good at stocking as well. So there was one particular distributor here,
That Atlantic area and I were hanging out in their lab. The general manager would come in and say, you hear again? And eventually he got the methods. I wasn’t going to go away until I gave it a shot. And it was a big breakthrough for us when we got it.
Looking back on it, why was owning a bottling plants such an epic disaster? For you guys.
Oh my gosh. Yeah. So not too different from the distributors after disturbance where the toughest, but after that, the, the onward bobolink tents were talking and I said, we’ve got that chance with the plan up and uh, at the apple juice plant in Buffalo. But then the problem was when it got to apple sees and they said, well, we can’t make any more tea. I’m like, well wait a minute, we’re going to be out of business. So we ended up buying a portion of a bottling. Yeah.
Do you want to be successful as an entrepreneur? You’ve got to get a lot of nos in order to get those big yeses again. You’ve got to get a lot of rejections before you get anybody to say yes. So I would encourage you today to make a list, make that dream 100 miss to make it the dream 100 list. Make a list of the 100 ideal and likely buyers that you want to do business with. And then after you make that list, write it down somewhere. How many times are you willing to be told no to get that? Yes, Seth Goldman can do it. I could do it, and I know you can too. And now have any further ado freak.