Positive University Podcast with Aaron Hinde | Co-Founder of LIFEAID
By Jon Gordon | Released Feb. 24, 2019
Interview with Aaron Hinde Co-Founder & President of LIFEAID Beverage Company ♦ Clean Nutrition for Your Active Life
Hinde sits down with host Jon Gordon to share his challenges and journey as an entrepreneur, overcoming obstacles in business and life, and how he has built a successful brand, team and mindset at LIFEAID Beverage Co.
Jon Gordon: What's your goal & mission with LIFEAID? Why do you exist? Why do you do what you do?
Aaron Hinde: "Well, I'd say the shortest answer is: The big beverage companies in this country and around the world have gotten a free pass for poisoning our kids with their sugar water for 100 years now. I mean, it's poison. Ya know? Look at the statistics — this isn't me being some natural guy saying this. Diabetes rates are through the roof ... Almost all diseases we're experiencing as a country are a result of chronic inflammation due to processed foods, high sugar and lack of exercise. So every person we can get to put down an energy drink, put down a soft drink, put down — ya know — one of these glow-in-the-dark 'sports drinks' and take one of our products, we know that we're having a major positive trajectory. Maybe not with one can, but with multiple consumption habits over time, it makes a big, big difference. That's what we're all about: Replacing all these junk products with something that's very clean, that's transparent, and that's constantly improving."
. . .
Aaron Hinde: There's always challenges, right? It's not (about) avoiding challenges—that's not the goal. It's how you overcome them, how you deal with them. And so I always smile when life throws me curve balls, which happens all the time. I go, 'Okay, what lesson did I need to learn from this?'
Jon Gordon: That's cool. So you're looking at the challenges as opportunities to learn, to grow, to get better.
Aaron Hinde: They are. They ultimately are.
. . .
Jon Gordon: How do you balance big-picture vision ... with where you are now, and the zoom focus that needs to happen to be successful?
Aaron Hinde: What's the goal? Then, reverse engineer it ... That's how you can match big vision with minutiae of what needs to get done to move towards that greater goal.
Read the full transcribed Positive-U podcast with Aaron Hinde below:
Speaker 1: Welcome to Jon Gordon's Positive University Podcast, where Jon and his guests will share positive inspiration, encouragement and lessons to help you overcome your challenges and make a greater impact. Our goal is that you'll know it, live it and share it. Let's begin.
Jon Gordon: Hey, I'm Jon Gordon with Positive University. Today my guest is Aaron Hinde. Aaron is the Co-Founder and President of LIFEAID. Aaron, how are you doing?
Aaron Hinde: Jon, doing great. Thanks for having me.
Jon Gordon: Hey, tell us about what you do and what is LIFEAID all about.
Aaron Hinde: LIFEAID Beverage, we make very clean functional beverages for active lifestyles. You may have heard of our FitAid line. I'm wearing a FitAid shirt now, which is a post-workout recovery drink. Real big in the athletic, functional fitness community. We're the official recovery drink of CrossFit Games and Spartan Race.
Aaron Hinde: We have a whole line of functional drinks including FocusAid, which is our nootropic drink; ImmunityAid, obviously for your immune system; PartyAid, which is our big festival drink. They're all very clean, natural, no garbage, and all have a different supplement blend to promote the various lifestyle choices people are making.
Jon Gordon: How did you get into starting this? Where did this idea come from?
Aaron Hinde: Well it was mainly ignorance and passion. I was a sports chiropractor for 10 years, always had an entrepreneurial streak with little side businesses. If we rewind back to 2011, you remember energy drinks were on fire, getting in a ton of traction. They did a great with lifestyle branding, great job with extreme sports. They were cool, sexy and hip. They worked, they jacked you up, but they weren't healthy. Nobody was drinking energy drinks for health reasons.
Aaron Hinde: Then you had the emerging drinks like kombuchas and coconut waters hitting the scene, but for lack of a better term, they were very hippy dippy, very strange flavor profiles, not broadly accepted. My business partner and I, we thought, "Well why don't we marry these two? Why don't we have the cool aspects and the lifestyle branding of the energy drinks with the health aspects of some of these other drinks emerging?" That was how LIFEAID was born.
Jon Gordon: How did you and your partner come to do this together?
Aaron Hinde: We met at CrossFit gym. It was funny 'cause I used to write for the local paper, some health articles, and he started writing for the paper. He was a Certified Financial Planner. I was sitting on a crap load of gold and silver at the time. I see this front page article, and him just bagging on gold and silver. I'm like, "I can't wait to run into this jerk and tell him ... idiot he is."
Aaron Hinde: I see him at the CrossFit gym where we're training at, and it ends up our daughters were not only in kindergarten together, but actually had become best friends. So we started working out together and hanging out at school fundraisers. Then I find out he's a very accomplished house DJ, and my wife and I love house music, so we just started hitting it off. When you start hanging out with people, and he's very entrepreneurial and shooting the shit, it was a very natural fit.
Jon Gordon: Just talking about this idea together as friends, and next thing you know you're now in business together.
Aaron Hinde: Exactly. Yeah.
Jon Gordon: Let's talk about the success now, and then I want to go back to the beginning and how you built it. Tell us about your success now. Tell us about where you are, the footprint you have. I know it's been incredible about what you've accomplished. Just give people an idea. I'm sure they've seen LIFEAID, FitAid drinks in all sorts of places. But talk about what you're experiencing now and what's that like.
Aaron Hinde: Yeah, it's been an incredible ride. We're still having a ton of fun. From a revenue perspective, we'll close this year over $40 million. We're sold in most major retailers now, all the Whole Foods, Sprouts, Vitamin Shoppe, GNC, most divisions of Safeway, most divisions of Kroger, Earth Fare, H-E-B, etc., CVS as well, Walmart. We're going Walmart nationwide this year.
Aaron Hinde: Team is about 70 people, about half in Santa Cruz, here where we're from, and half remote and on the sales side. Yeah, we have great company culture, great office, good vibe, and we're on a great trajectory.
Jon Gordon: What are some of your key core values about your culture? What do you really stand for as a company?
Aaron Hinde: Yeah, great question. I think there's three pillars that we really look at. The first one is alignment, and making sure that we're in alignment as individuals. I think too often, especially if we're following people on social media, the outward appearance and what is really going are two separate things. That causes friction, that causes stress. Being in alignment with ourselves as human beings, as individuals, we don't look at it as work life or personal life, it's just life. You get in a big fight with your spouse, it affects you at work. If your boss is a jerk, it affects you at home.
Aaron Hinde: Taking a very holistic approach. We've never had any issues with hiring the right talent for any of our positions, so making sure there is a right cultural fit, alignment between me and my business partner, and alignment with our team. We spend a lot of time on alignment, on using Verne Harnish's work on forward-looking Vision Statements, and moving rocks on a quarterly basis, incentivizing the team, both monetarily and through fun activities and trips to get in alignment, move the rocks that make a difference, an impact on the business. When we're doing that every three months, ... the end of the year, we've achieved a lot. At the end of five years, we've achieved a heck of a lot.
Jon Gordon: What's your goal though? As you're saying, I'm thinking, "But what's your goal and your mission with LIFEAID?" Why do you exist, why do you do what you do?
Aaron Hinde: Well I'd say the shortest answer is the big beverage companies in this country and around the world have gotten a free pass for poisoning our kids with their sugar water for 100 years now. It's poison. Look at the statistics. This isn't me being some natural ... saying this. Diabetes rates are through the roof. Almost all diseases we're experiencing as a country are a result of chronic inflammation due to processed foods, high sugar and lack of exercise.
Aaron Hinde: Every person we can get to put down an energy drink, put down a soft drink, put down one of these glow-in-the-dark "sports drinks" and take one of our products, we know that we're having a major positive impact on trajectory. Maybe not with one can, but with multiple consumption habits over time. Over time, it makes a big, big difference. That's what we're all about, is replacing all these junk products with something that's very clean, that's transparent, and that is constantly improving.
Jon Gordon: What's your most popular product, your most popular drink?
Aaron Hinde: Right now, FitAid. FitAid we've spent a lot of time in the functional fitness market. But what I'm drinking right now, FocusAid, our nootropic drink is very much on trend, and is our number two seller, and could easily overtake FitAid in the next year or two.
Jon Gordon: What is in FocusAid?
Aaron Hinde: FocusAid has nootropics. Nootropics are basically supplements for the brain, for mental acuity focus and memory. Unlike an energy drink that's basically high sugar or artificial sweeteners, high caffeine and taurine, this has a little bit of natural caffeine with yerba mate and green tea, but heavy on the nootropics, like GABA, alpha-GPC.
Aaron Hinde: GABA's great for getting into flow state. All entrepreneurs out there, you know when you're in flow. When you're in flow, you're getting stuff done, you're rocking the day. Well GABA helps induce flow state, so that's in the product. Alpha-GPC helps our neurons fire better, so the brain activity is there.
Aaron Hinde: People in the Silicon Valley and around this area have been taking nootropics for many years now. We were the first company to ever put it in liquid form in a drink. The absorption rate's better and it really works. People really love this product, especially after lunch when you feel like taking a nap.
Jon Gordon: I love it. I was curious how long it lives in the product. How long does it stay within the product in terms of the effectiveness of the nootropics in it?
Aaron Hinde: There's two things that degrade the supplement quality, extreme heat and light. Fortunately light's not an issue 'cause it's in a sealed can, and the cans at ambient or cold are completely fine.
Jon Gordon: That's awesome.
Aaron Hinde: Yeah. The shelf life is well over a year. I think about 18 months.
Jon Gordon: That's incredible. Take us back to the beginning. This is Positive University, so I know that you've overcome a lot of challenges along the way, you had to stay positive. Tell us about some of the challenges you had to overcome and how you did it.
Aaron Hinde: Oh God, there's been so many as you know in any entrepreneurial journey, and there continues to be new challenges, different types of challenges.
Aaron Hinde: I'd say some of the first challenges when you're starting out, obviously from a product perspective, making sure you're thinking about the market accurately. So many people think, "Oh, I've got this great product, therefore I build it, they will come." That is the most inaccurate statement you could ever make, 'cause as we know, if you've been around, you got to have a marketing plan, you got to ... to market, you need to have a minimal viable product that people actually, not just theoretically say they'll pay for it, but actually get out their wallet, give you a credit card and actually pay for it. Getting that initial traction was the first big challenge, and it took us a little while to do so.
Aaron Hinde: We've finally started getting traction when we were offering a free refrigerator for an initial purchase to CrossFit gyms. We basically followed the Red Bull model in bars, but we did it in gyms, and there were not other product sin those gyms at the time. So that initial traction. Then once you get traction, I used to be the marketer, the sales guy, helping out with accounting, fundraising, and the trash taker outer. Orion and I did everything, and we did everything together. Well that's not scalable.
Aaron Hinde: Another big challenge was having that very difficult conversation of dividing up the business according to unique abilities, and having me focus on certain aspects, which also mean I had to release quite a bit of my responsibilities, which for whatever reason at the time, and our immaturity and our ego getting in the way, that was a difficult thing to do, to give that up.
Aaron Hinde: Then when it came to hiring, so often we're bootstrapping, and everything is lean and mean as it should be. But if come to a point where something's gonna break, and you need to hire somebody, and people hire quickly out of necessity because the candidate may check the certain boxes, but they're not really vetting to make sure they're the right cultural fit, or doing the reference checks, or doing all of the necessary things, having the right onboarding. Bringing on a couple people that weren't the right personnel and the having to ... that down the road was a big headache. Those are three different examples I'd say.
Jon Gordon: How many cans did you first make when you made your beverage?
Aaron Hinde: That's a funny story in it of itself that probably has a good takeaway.
Aaron Hinde: The minimum run on these things was 202,000 cans. When we started this company with our life savings, which was 30 grand each, so that's not even close to enough to meet a minimum run. Well we heard from talking to people in the beverage industry that there's this thing called a silver bullet. A silver bullet is basically this can but totally blank.
Aaron Hinde: Well they don't really make cans like that because all these cans are made to order by this big can manufacturer, so they're making the can and printing on them, all part of the same run. Very occasionally there would be an overage where they'd stop printing, and there's these blank cans. We called the west coast rep for the major can manufacturer and said, "Hey. This is who we are. Do you have any silver bullets?" You got to see the context here is beverage has a 99% failure rate within the first five years, 95% within the first year. Most of this business is one and done. Very few people have actually make it in this business.
Aaron Hinde: ... ascertain that these guys are broke, they don't know what they're doing, they have no beverage experience, they're one and doners, and then they're not even gonna do a minimum run. They're asking me for a pallet of silver bullets. He said, "Yeah, yeah, guys. That doesn't exist. Get lost. Call me back when you have some real funding, and you can actually do a run." We're like, "Oh, wow. Our whole dreams of this great company have just been shattered, and what are we gonna do now?"
Aaron Hinde: We had this idea. We sent Kevin, was his name, a nice thank you note, and included a hundred dollar Ruth's Chris gift certificate inside, and said, "Thanks for your time. Let us know if anything shows up." Low and behold, about a week later, we got a phone call saying he found two pallets of silver bullets, and we were off to the races. We started with two pallets of product, and seven golf courses with our GolferAid product, and that was the beginning of the company.
Jon Gordon: Wow. I love that. You found a way. Somehow you found a way to get this done.
Aaron Hinde: That's right. You never take no for an answer.
Jon Gordon: How many cans were two pallets about?
Aaron Hinde: Let's see, that would be 104 cases of 24, so about 5,000 cans total.
Jon Gordon: You really started with 30,000 each you said. About 60,000 for the company.
Aaron Hinde: Yup, exactly.
Jon Gordon: All right, so now you make this first batch, you sell them golf courses, GolfAid. What's the next step. How did you get the funding for the next run? How many did you produce on the next run?
Aaron Hinde: We sold in seven courses and it was selling well, so of course we're the next billion dollar beverage company. Dialing for dollars, starting with friends and family, and then extended networks, and pretty soon we had 80 people on the cap table writing checks, anywhere from two grand to 200,000.
Jon Gordon: Wow. How much did you raise total for the next run, I would say?
Aaron Hinde: I think we raised just over a half a million dollars, got us to a full run.
Jon Gordon: So you do this full run, and now what do you do with these cans in the next run?
Aaron Hinde: Keep pounding the pavement. At this point, fast forward a little bit, we did a major mistake. We launched three different products way too close together, so we had three different websites, imagine that, for each product 'cause we didn't want any cross pollinization. We still have different social media handles.
Aaron Hinde: We're literally at a golf show in Sacramento, polo shirts on, slinging GolferAid; going down to San Francisco for a fire show where they're fire dancing with our Burning Man clothes on, slinging PartyAid; to go to a CrossFit competition with our Lululemon and WOD shorts slinging FitAid. It was a wild time when you are literally doing everything, including being a brand rep for your company.
Jon Gordon: As you're selling it, you're trying to get placement with your beverages in their stores, right? That's the whole goal.
Aaron Hinde: That's the whole goal. Yeah, getting placement in the gyms, getting placement in the golf course. We thought inaccurately that we need to get grocery placement. We failed miserably. Most beverage reps, "What are you thinking? You're going on as an unknown product on a shelf that has sometimes hundreds of other products on there." Especially in a convenience store. Someone goes then for 30 seconds, they know exactly what they're looking for and what they're going for. It's not a great place for trial.
Aaron Hinde: The much better approach, once we taxed a lot of our funding and we were at a desperate point, was choose a single target market, go extremely deep. For us that was FitAid and the CrossFit channel. That's the only reason why we're here today.
Jon Gordon: What did you learn from these early stages that you can share with entrepreneurs now, or just people in general trying to build something? What are some takeaways that you can give them?
Aaron Hinde: We're all familiar with going to an ATM machine and pulling out money. I have this concept that really life, whether it's life in general, but definitely business life is also an ATM. That ATM stands for alignment, which we've already covered, the T would be trajectory.
Aaron Hinde: I see so many young entrepreneurs, especially so focused on velocity over trajectory. What I mean by that is if you're doing the right things, if you're accurate in your thinking, if you're putting out a great product or service, you're treating people the way you want to be treated, then you're on the right trajectory. Don't worry about how fast things are going, or when you're gonna get to a million, or 10 million, or 100 million. That's irrelevant. Focus on doing good work, focus on a positive trajectory.
Aaron Hinde: We've all had friends that were on a bad trajectory, and then got an inheritance or something. And then what happens? They crash and burn even faster. Focus on trajectory over velocity. Make sure you have alignment with yourself, with your spouse, with your business partner. Spousal alignment is huge when you're going into business. T for trajectory. Focus on trajectory over velocity.
Aaron Hinde: Then M, momentum. Once you have momentum, it is precious. It's so precious. Continue to do all the little things to maintain that momentum. The ... friction says that it's much easier to keep things in motion than it is to create that motion. Once we have that motion, keep the momentum going. Do all the little things, handwritten notes, phone calls, attention to detail.
Aaron Hinde: For us, there's a thousand things that can go wrong between the time someone puts in an order, to the time it shows up at the doorstep. Really controlling that process, not letting things fall through the cracks, keeping the momentum going, and eventually the ball starts to roll downhill.
Jon Gordon: What are several things that you do to keep the momentum going?
Aaron Hinde: I personally am responsible for the sales team, the marketing team, customer service, and then obviously product innovation.
Aaron Hinde: I have a weekly team meeting with each of those departments. They're all run a little differently, but there's some similarities. We're reporting out what our priorities are, where are we on our objectives and ... our OKR for the quarter, reporting out are we moving rocks or are we just doing busy work, focusing on being effective not just efficient, focusing on doing the right things not just doing things well, making sure that there's good communication. Communication is key. Getting rid of soft talk in my communication, so there's no ambiguity about what we need to be focusing on.
Aaron Hinde: Continuing education is really big for us. Every quarter with customer service, and your book's gonna be next for the customer service team. We're reading it right now. Thanks for the feedback. We read a book together, and we discuss what's this book mean? How can we apply it to our lives? Looking at any reviews that we're getting, again for customer service, good, bad and ugly. What do those look like? If we had a negative review, what could we have done differently? How can we turn that around?
Aaron Hinde: Each department, just keeping the communication and alignment going, and making sure that everybody's firing on all cylinders. When you have ... players that get into that environment and that culture, then the only way to go is up, and up, and up.
Aaron Hinde: I know Henry Ford has a quote that I love. He says, "When everyone is moving forward together, success will take care of itself." That's an alignment issue. Making sure you're in alignment with those meetings is big for us.
Jon Gordon: In terms of the team and having a great team, what do you do to build your team?
Aaron Hinde: Well we have a great list. Most entrepreneurs out there will tell you, especially if you have any direct to consumer business, the value is in the lists. Fortunately we had a great list between social media and email, and so we were able to put out to our list of existing fans when we have job openings, and it opens the flood gates. For one sales position, we had a thousand applications one time. Again, it's not a matter of finding the right skillset, 'cause when you've got a big pool to fish from, and there's plenty of fish, it's then finding the right cultural fit.
Aaron Hinde: We have a process we run through. We use Top Grader, which has been very effective for us. We send out to our list as well as the basic job posting sites, sift through the Top Graders, pick the top candidates. We have someone in the department other than the hiring managers do phone interviews. We want real buy-in from the entire department, and then the department rank and file will give their top suggestions from the phone interviews, and then we'll schedule in-person panel interviews.
Aaron Hinde: Then once we decide on a candidate, we make an offer. We try to onboarding and cohorts, so we'll have multiple people at once go through a couple of days of every department presents, answers questions, we do a workout together, we do wim hof breathing, we go to dinner, we have a good fun couple days, intense training, and really get them ingrained to what it means to be part of the LIFEAID team.
Jon Gordon: Were there any times that you just wanted to give up?
Aaron Hinde: Yeah. A couple days ago. I had a rough morning, a couple car accidents.
Aaron Hinde: Look, there's always challenges, always challenges. It's not avoiding challenges. That's not the goal. It's how you overcome them, how you deal with them. I always smile. When life throws me curveballs, which happen all the time, I go, "Okay what lesson did I need to learn from this," and, "Thank you, God. I appreciate that. I needed to be more humble today," or, "I needed this," or, "I needed that." I realize it's all part of my journey.
Jon Gordon: That's cool. You're looking at the challenges as opportunities to learn, to grow, to get better.
Aaron Hinde: They are. They ultimately are. It's always funny, I always use the relationship example here.
Aaron Hinde: If you recall back in high school or in college, and say there was some girl, and she's awesome, she's the one, and then the breakup happens. That next couple days or a week, it's like the whole world is ending, that my reality is over, and this whole construct I had in my mind has been shattered.
Aaron Hinde: But then fast forward 10 or 20 years, and you're looking back like, "Thank God that didn't work out." We don't see the entire mosaic, we see one little piece of glass here. Sometimes we get very myopic in the moment, but things happen for a reason. We got to have faith it all works out.
Jon Gordon: How do you balance big picture vision of where you want to go as a company, 'cause I know you have big dreams and big visions of what LIFEAID, FitAid, what it's gonna be as you move forward, with where you are now, and the zoom focus that needs to happen right now to be successful?
Aaron Hinde: Yeah, they're both very important. As the entrepreneur and one of the two leaders of this organization, it's a big part of my role to focus on the vision, and be the cheerleader, and get everybody aligned, and that rah-rah-rah, and here's what we're gonna do. Also though it's important to get into the weeds so I'm not totally separate.
Aaron Hinde: How we break things down into these quarterly chunks makes it very digestible. Whatever your five-year goal is, maybe you have a BHAG of being the next unicorn, the next billion dollar company. Well when you're at 10 million in revenue, that's a big chunk. Most people, they can't even wrap their mind around it. But if you start to reverse engineer, and I think this is effective for anything you want to do in life, what's the goal? And then reverse engineer it.
Aaron Hinde: What do we need to accomplish in year one in order to move our rock towards that five-year goal? If this is what we need to accomplish in year one, what's that look like on a quarterly level? Break it down. Then when you break things into quarters, it's very easy to measure it, and have OKRs and KPIs around those specific rocks that need to be moved. That's how you can match big vision with minutiae of what needs to get done to move towards that greater goal.
Jon Gordon: How do you get everyone in the company to buy into your vision and the mission? Or are they joining because they already love the mission and vision?
Aaron Hinde: Yeah, yeah. The latter is true. They're part of the team because they've had experience with the products, and they got them at their gym originally, or wherever the exposure was. But it's rare that we get team members coming on that just don't have familiarity with the product, or the culture, they've seen us at events, or they've met our other team and they love our team
Aaron Hinde: Everybody at this organization represents the brand. It's like, I'm not the brand, I'm 1/70 of the brand, or maybe a little bit more 'cause I'm a little more publicly faced, but everybody represents the brand. Our team is so awesome that when people interact with our brand, not just the cans, but the people, they fall in love with that. That's part of it.
Aaron Hinde: The other part of it is part of the quarter OKRs, people are personally incentivized to hit these OKRs, financially incentivized. Their bonus at the end of the year is tied into how they do individually, and how their business unit does, and how the company does on our OKRs. Keeping alignment there. They're not just completing these to get a pat on the back, they get that, they get recognition, but they also get financially incentivized.
Aaron Hinde: When as a company we achieve 85% or greater per quarter, we do something super fun. We've rented the Chardonnay sail boat here in Santa Cruz. Took everybody out for sushi on a sail cruise. We've done Archery Tag. I think we're gonna go zip lining 'cause we hit our OKRs last quarter. We always do something very team building and fun.
Jon Gordon: So many beverage companies you said fail, so many new food companies fail. Why do you think so many fail but you succeeded? Have you ever looked back and said why were you successful while many aren't?
Aaron Hinde: That's a good question. There's so many things at play.
Aaron Hinde: My sister is a nun, a Greek Orthodox nun. She went in at 15 years old. I know for a fact she has 25 nuns praying for us daily, so there's that whole aspect though to get into. There is something greater going on here that the 12 times that we should have been bankrupt, and for whatever reason something worked out at the 11th hour, there's that.
Aaron Hinde: The team is such a big component of it. Getting alignment, getting the right players that are all firing on all cylinders, removing any toxin or poison as soon as we recognize that that's there and just removing the cancers early.
Aaron Hinde: Orion and I, we're both learners, and just absorbing books, and podcasts, and masterminds. Really deep down we want what's best for our people and for our company. This is a very authentic thing, and I think that authenticity really bleeds through in our culture. It's not like this is just some get-rich-quick scheme. We want to make a difference. We're making an impact, and we're part of these communities.
Aaron Hinde: Our products represent communities that we have intimate knowledge of, from CrossFit, to Burning Man, to golf, to focus, to immunity. These are things that we know a lot about. We lived and breathed these cultures. I think that's a big part of it too.
Jon Gordon: Yeah, you nailed. You said you live and breath it. My next question for you is your passion. You're clearly passionate about this, and you love it. How important is passion for what you're doing, the love you have for this business, and for the people that you're serving?
Aaron Hinde: Yeah, great question. I've always been very passionate about health, and wellness, and fitness. I've sold supplements out of my college dorm room, I've been a personal trainer. Forever I was a massage therapist, I was a chiropractor like I said for 10 years. That's always been part of my passion.
Aaron Hinde: One thing I've noticed, I made an Instagram post on it the other day is the better you get at something, it becomes much easier to become passionate about it. I wasn't passionate about the guitar because I suck at the guitar. Now I still suck at the guitar, but I've gotten better over the last year 'cause I've been teaching myself to play, and now I'm developing a passion for it. I look forward to getting home, so I can practice for 10 minutes. I am passionate about beverage because I know this industry now. Eight years ago, I didn't know jack, but I know a lot more now.
Aaron Hinde: As you develop a skillset, as you hone and you become the top of the knowledge base of a specific thing, then your passion develops about it because you have all this information that you can share, we have these products that we can share. I think it's a combination of some of it's innate, but also some of it comes with time, and just getting better and better at things.
Jon Gordon: It's almost you have to move from the dream of creating this company and having the beverage out there, to now the passion that truly drives it in a real way. You're enjoying real success where in the beginning, it seems like it's passion, but it's more just a dream to get started. That dream gives way to the reality of the passion that must take you through it.
Aaron Hinde: That reality can kill passion sometimes real quickly too.
Jon Gordon: Very much so. You have to go through that journey of the struggle and the challenge where you almost give up or you quit, to then the other side where you're now enjoying success. That was my journey as a writer and speaker. Same type of thing. Now I'm having more fun than ever now, but there are many times I wanted to give up a similar trajectory on that.
Aaron Hinde: Yeah, it's funny Jon. So many of my successful friends, they would always tell me especially a few years ago like, "Oh, enjoy the ride. Enjoy the ride. Don't forget to enjoy the ride." I'm thinking to myself, "Screw you. You're a made man. You've got millions of dollars in the bank. It's easy to enjoy the ride when you're cruising on a longboard in Hawaii."
Aaron Hinde: But I think with time and a little more maturity, I understand what means. There is no end goal some day in the future when my bank account looks like this. There's only now. We could all die tomorrow. We don't know. There is no guarantees in life, so why would I choose to be miserable, and then I cross some imaginary finish line some day, and then all of a sudden I'm gonna be happy? No, no, no. Be happy today, enjoy the ride, be thankful for what you have. There's plenty of blessings, we're here in America. Come on, we could be born in Afghanistan or something, or in somewhere in Africa where they're chopping people with machetes.
Aaron Hinde: We have so much opportunity and abundance here. We can't compare ourselves to other people. We're all on our own journeys. Like Tony Robbins says, "Life is happening for us, not to us." We got to appreciate that and really to learn to enjoy the ride.
Jon Gordon: I love that you said you had these nuns praying for you. It worked for a Loyola basketball in Chicago. They had Sister Jean for them, it's working for you. I think all entrepreneurs should take that lesson there. There is I do believe the power of prayer, and that's a huge part of it.
Jon Gordon: You talked about almost being bankrupt a few times, or just that one thing that had to happen. Would you call that luck, or would you call that preparation in terms of how hard you were working, met the opportunity in that moment. I know I was carried several times in my path where this would not have happened if a few things didn't happen. You can see how these moments align for you.
Aaron Hinde: Yeah. That's really what luck is, right? It's the preparation, with the timing, and opportunity all coming together, and nurturing that environment, and being ready to push the chips all in, or strike while the iron's hot when those things do align. People can manifest and create their own luck, I believe.
Aaron Hinde: The other part of it, yeah. I'm sure there's divine intervention. It gets past the point of luck when it happens multiple times, and it's like, there's obviously a greater calling or meaning here. There's things that are meant to be. It's my job to not screw it up and really how can I nurture this 'cause there's something special going on.
Jon Gordon: Do you and your business partner, and your family also just look at each other sometimes and like, "How did this happen, this is unbelievable?"
Aaron Hinde: Yeah, we definitely do. We definitely do. We have those moments of appreciation. We probably should have them more often than we do, but sometimes we're all hanging out. We hang out, we're all personal friends, and just drink out of the glass of champagne, or a nice glass of wine, and cheers each other and be like, "Man, what a ride we're on." It's phenomenal.
Jon Gordon: What are you excited about going forward in terms of your product, the business? What are you looking forward to?
Aaron Hinde: I'm looking forward to making LIFEAID products a household name. The more distribution points we get, the more familiarity people have with our products.
Aaron Hinde: We've got 70% of the United States now reading labels before they consume something. This is unprecedented. Health and wellness, sugar consciousness, artificial sweeteners, all of this is not some fringe radical hippies from Santa Cruz anymore, this is becoming mainstream. I am looking forward to the day where people no longer are tolerating this soda that's got 35 grams of sugar, a Big Gulp with 70 grams of sugar, or all this artificial garbage, and all this cancer causing inflammatory drugs that we're putting in our body. Food and drink is the biggest drug we could possibly consume.
Aaron Hinde: I'm looking forward to us being a household name, for us really changing the landscape of food and beverage in this country, upleveling peoples' expectations around what they put in their body, and having the big conglomerates, which for the most part aren't going anywhere. They've got so much money, but they're shifting, they're investing, they're buying up these brands, and able to offer them in a much larger scale.
Jon Gordon: Is that part of your future perhaps, a big company buys you to be able to take you forward and reach more people?
Aaron Hinde: We're 100% focused on execution. I don't know what the future will bring. Is that an acquisition? Do we stay independent? Do we go IPO? There's a lot of possibilities out there. All I know is most doors remain open as long as you execute.
Jon Gordon: Would you ever expand beyond beverages?
Aaron Hinde: Potentially. We had a short run with a food product called FitAid Fuel, which was a grass-fed protein pouch. We failed miserably at it. We learned a lot, but it was our only product we ever discontinued. I'm not saying we never would, but at this time, we're keeping our heads down and staying in our lane with what we know...
Jon Gordon: What did you learn about focus from that?
Aaron Hinde: Oh, gosh. So many assumptions. I'll talk about accurate thinking. You can't take beverage assumptions and put them on food. The margins are different, the yields are different, the physical buyer you're dealing with at XYZ account, there's a different buyer for that category. So many things. The logistics are different.
Aaron Hinde: We weren't accurately thinking that we would just be able to plug this into all our existing channels being a different product. It was a lesson. It still made a little bit of money, but for the time and effort we invested, it didn't make sense to continue it. But it was definitely a lesson, and it was partially a lesson in humility since it was one of my little babies.
Jon Gordon: You learned a lot from it, and now how valuable though was that lesson as you go forward?
Aaron Hinde: Extremely valuable. All these challenges, all the things that almost put us out of business, all the pivots that we've had to make, it's only not valuable if you're repeating the same mistakes again. You look at addicts, alcoholic, gambling addictions. It's not that you go through the pain, it's that you're continuing down the spiral of the cycle. You're repeating the exact same thing expecting a different result.
Aaron Hinde: We're very nimble. As the company, we're very conscious of staying nimble. Fortunately, Orion and I very much align on when there's a lesson to be learned, we'll take the lesson, we'll learn from it, and we'll apply it the future. But we're not big on backtracking. I don't even like to go backtrack when I'm driving. If I turn on the wrong way, I'll figure out another way to get where I'm going, but I'm not going backwards.
Jon Gordon: I love that. How have you talked about your culture in terms of as you grow, how do you maintain your culture? Have you and your business partner talked about that?
Aaron Hinde: Yeah. The more people you get, the more challenging that becomes. There's subcultures, so each business unit has its own culture, and way to interact, and everything.
Aaron Hinde: We have a weekly all hands meeting every Tuesday. We've followed the same format for a lot of years now. It makes a lot of sense on keeping people in alignment, reading the forward looking vision statement, so we're constantly visualizing what has yet to manifest but is in the process of manifesting. We tell a joke, we pull from the awesome jar, so anyone can write down anything about anybody else that was awesome that week. We pull a winner and we give them 10 bucks, or buy them lunch. We buy everybody lunch Tuesdays at the office. We have a full gym here, we also have a full bar at HQ. We like to train hard so we can cut loose a little bit.
Aaron Hinde: Maintaining that balance, not being too rigid, not taking ourselves too seriously, and bringing on good people. Good people that are in alignment, that aren't A-holes, that's the biggest thing. That's what life is all about, is relationships. Bringing on the people that you want to hang out with. I'd want to hang out after work and have a beer with them. Not because I have to, but because we're all friends.
Jon Gordon: Aaron, any other advice that you would like to share with someone listening, maybe wanting to start their own business or on building their team?
Aaron Hinde: I would just say a couple big game changers for me was when I started a morning routine. There's a lot that's out there on this particular subject. But get a morning routine and stick to it. Mine has to do with filling out my five-minute journal, so getting my mindset right, doing some breathing techniques and meditation, cold plunges, my diet right. Getting that morning routine is huge.
Aaron Hinde: Another little tidbit that I think is valuable, some people may or may not know, there's a saying, abracadabra. We've always grown up and associated that with magic, abracadabra, and the rabbit pops out of the hat. If you look at the ideology of that word, there's a little controversy, but there's a big school of thought that believes that's Aramaic. What it means, it translates to with my words, I create. With my words, I create.
Aaron Hinde: I would even challenge, and I haven't gone back to the original ... but I would say the intent is probably with my thoughts, I create. With my thoughts, I create. Be conscious of the repetitive thoughts going on in your mind. There will always be ... I almost picture it in a spiritual ..., like the angel on one shoulder and the demon on the other.
Aaron Hinde: We're all "victims" of the programming that happened we were born to seven years old, when we were in download mode. We're always fighting with that. We're fighting with that. Don't let those negative thoughts control who you are. They do not define you. It's not that we can avoid them when that little demon peeks its head and tells you you're not good enough, or whatever it says to you, or that you need another drink, or whatever that negative thing that's trying to pull you back.
Aaron Hinde: I have a nice little tip. Take a deep breath, recognize that that pattern is trying to repeat itself, go outside, and be 1000% focused, even for a few minutes on being totally present, watching the birds, looking at the trees and how the wind is bending the leaves, the sunlight. Whatever is going on, be 100% present. 'Cause I'll tell you what I've noticed. When you're 100% present, which is difficult to be, you are overwhelmed with appreciation. When you have appreciation, you cannot live in anxiety, you cannot live in fear, you cannot live in depression, that demon can no longer talk in your ear.
Aaron Hinde: That is a quick reset for anybody out there to get out of the funk and change your trajectory to a positive trajectory, and get that mindset right. With that, abracadabra with your thoughts, you'll start to create, and with that creation you'll have trajectory and momentum, and you're off to the races.
Jon Gordon: Boom. I love it. That is so powerful. Thank you for sharing that. It's no accident of why you've built this incredible business. LIFEAID, how do people find out more about the product, and also you?
Aaron Hinde: You could always check out our website, lifeaid, A-I-D, bevco.com. All of our social media handles are specific to our SKUs. Our biggest one's @FitAid, F-I-T-A-I-D. Or you could check me out, any social channels, especially Instagram, just by my full name, Aaron, double A, Hinde, H-I-N-D-E.
Jon Gordon: Now that you're so busy and this company's doing phenomenal, everyone's drinking the beverage, how do you find time to just still be you, and really focus on what matters most in terms of your most personal journey?
Aaron Hinde: Life is not about time. There's never enough time to get it all in. It's about intent, and it's about focus. I have dedicated everything over the last eight years to make this a success. At times, especially in those first few years, sacrificed majorly with my wife and my family, especially. I just wasn't there, I wasn't present. When I was home, I was thinking about work.
Aaron Hinde: What I've realized is it's not a zero-sum game. You can have full abundance in every aspect of your life. You can't have full-time abundance, 'cause there's only 24 hours in a day, but you can have full abundance in as much as you can be fully present and your intention, even if it's only for a couple minutes for a day, and have wonderful relationships with everyone that's important to you as long as you're present, and your intent is there. Don't focus on the time, focus on the intent, and focus, and make that time meaningful.
Jon Gordon: Aaron Hinde, thank you so much. I'm going to have a FitAid right now, and then going for a run. Appreciate you so much.
Aaron Hinde: All right, Jon. Good times. Thanks.
Speaker 1: Thanks for joining us for this episode of Positive U. If you enjoy learning from Jon and our guests, you can show your support by subscribing, rating and reviewing on iTunes, and sharing with your friends on social media.
Speaker 1: To get a recap of this episode along with additional tools and resources, visit positiveuniversity.com. Until next time, stay positive.
You can follow Aaron Hinde on Instagram: @AaronHinde
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