Golidz: A Bad Date Sparks A Brilliant Idea


GoLidZ: A Bad Date Sparks A Brilliant Idea featuring Bonnie Sussman Strominger

Episode 10, Tales of Misadventure with Nicole Donnelly

Fear can prevent us from pursuing our dreams or making necessary, uncomfortable decisions. Bonnie Sussman Strominger, CEO and Founder, of GoLidZ opens up about the mortifying first date that inspired her award-winning revolutionary food containers on today’s episode. She and Nicole chat about the fatherly business advice they’ve received, mental health for entrepreneurs, the marketing advice to grow a successful business, and so much more. 

Nicole Donnelly

I am so honored and delighted to be joined today by the lovely, massively hilarious, super talented tenacious CEO and founder of GoLidZ, Bonnie Sussman Strominger. Bonnie, welcome to the show. 

Bonnie Sussman

Happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

Nicole Donnelly 

I hear today is a special day in your house. 

Bonnie Sussman

Today is my husband's birthday. So we're gonna celebrate, go out for dinner. He's been a tremendous support system for me, for our team. He supports, backs, everything we do. And honestly, I don't know where we'd be without him because you can't go on this journey without that. I mean, he has been there, he has seen everything, lots of things he didn't wanna see. But you know, it's not always a pretty day when you're an entrepreneur.

There are a lot of salty and disappointing, upsetting days, and he's here for all of them. And we're still together. So that says a lot about him.

Entrepreneurship and Mental Health

Nicole Donnelly 

You're absolutely right. Entrepreneurship is the biggest roller coaster. The other day everything felt like it was going wrong, one problem after another. Literally, it went from one meeting to the next and it was just like, oh, another problem I gotta figure out, you know?

Bonnie Sussman

I have those all the time. I'm with you.

Nicole Donnelly 

And then the next day you land a deal and you're like, amazing. 

Bonnie Sussman

I love what I do. I hate what I do. We're successful. We're not at all successful. It's a box of chocolates. You have no idea what's gonna happen.

Nicole Donnelly 

I love that part about it. I love the uncertainty. How do you feel about it? What keeps you going, Bonnie?

Bonnie Sussman 

Honestly, I think just the belief in what we do. It's not easy, especially when you're creating a brand and for us, starting a new category. it's daunting. It really is daunting and you just have to find that strength.

There are a lot of days, everyone can relate to this that you're not motivated. You don't feel that energy you had yesterday or maybe that you're gonna have tomorrow, but on that particular day, you just feel somewhat lifeless. But you have to just pick yourself up and, and keep going, whether that's getting on the phone or setting up a Zoom or you know, collaborating with the team.

Something to just put the fire back in. 

For me, that's what keeps us going. It's just the inspiration of everyone around us and everyone in our network. Some days, honestly, I don't force the energy. Meaning, if I'm not feeling it or if there's not a lot going on on that particular day and I just need to think or, or figure out our next move, I will sit silent.

Sounds a little crazy, but I will sit in a room dead silent, no TV, no radio, no nothing, and I will sit there and kind of like in a zen way and just think. Someone might say, okay, well you just sat there for two hours and you could have been doing something. 

I am doing something. I'm thinking. 

In these moments of silence, some of the greatest ideas have come to me or affixed to a problem. Where we honestly couldn't figure out the solution - maybe we were in a Zoom after Zoom after Zoom meeting with no resolution. I realized it's, it's too much energy in the room. Me sitting in silence, closing my eyes, and thinking through what is going on here. How do we fix this?

Nine times out of 10, I come up with something. 

Nicole Donnelly 

I love that. I do the same thing. I have to go into my room, close the door, and not do anything. I literally will lay on my bed and curl up and just sit there. I used to feel guilty about it.

I used to feel like, oh, I'm just being lazy. I need to keep going. I need to keep working. To be honest, now I relish it. 

Bonnie Sussman 

I used to feel guilty too. I actually can relate to that. Cause I'd be like, okay, could you be any lazier? Maybe you're having a bad day because of this.

Maybe cuz you're not doing anything. Now understand that is not actually what's going on and it's not laziness and it's not even procrastination. 

I find, in moments of procrastination, there are some genius moments. Where because you're not doing anything, you can actually think clearly instead of you getting ready for a Zoom, looking at 25 emails, and getting pinged a million times on social media. 

Or there's a problem going on, the manufacturer called, there's an issue on the line and 19 different things. So you lock all that out and, and pull some peace in and some quiet. It's amazing what the mind and the brain can achieve in silence.

Here's something else I do, and this is even stranger. This is gonna really make you laugh. So there are days where there are tough days, right? But then there are days when you're just in a bad mood. Everyone can relate to that. I don't think there's a human being that can say, I'm never in a bad mood.

It's impossible. A lot goes on. It's exhausting. It's stressful. 

There are days when everything goes wrong and you are in a legitimate bad mood and it's tough to pull yourself out. People have a hard time doing but you have to find a way to do it. My solution, I put on a sitcom.

One of my favorite sitcoms that makes me roll and fall off the chair. I swear it's just enough because once you start laughing and you start smiling, it signals your brain that you are happy and that you're not in a bad mood. You can't, you know, sit there in a room and smile like a psycho, you look a little weird.

Nicole Donnelly

What's your favorite sitcom?

Bonnie Sussman 

One of my favorites is King of Queens. If you haven’t seen it, I implore you to watch. I'm jealous that you've never seen it. There are nine seasons. You are going to laugh so hard. You don't even know how funny it is. Kevin James is beyond hilarious.

Nicole Donnelly

I will. I love this suggestion. These two examples of you taking time for yourself in quiet and you making time is like you're training your brain. You're training your mind, and I think being a successful entrepreneur is all about intentionally training the mind to have a nurturing mindset so that you're in a good, healthy spot. 

Bonnie Sussman 

I agree. I think every entrepreneur has to find their own coping mechanisms. So you have to find what works for you. There’s a lot of advice on LinkedIn that is well-intentioned but you need to make sure the advice starts creating habits that don't actually fit with who you are as a human being.

I'm not saying don't read the posts on LinkedIn and not inhale the advice because it's fantastic. I love to share advice about entrepreneurship as well but ultimately you do need to tap in and, and have self-awareness. If someone says that they like to bike five miles, on the weekends, are you gonna go buy a bike and get on a trail, even though you're not a biker, and bike five miles?

You can kill yourself. S take everything with a dose of reality on who you are versus what they're telling you to be. 

Nicole Donnelly

I think people see a selfishness there in thinking about yourself. I should be doing something for other people. I can't, can't spend time with myself. But I disagree, when you intentionally spend time with yourself, in quiet, like you're just mentioning, that gets you in more in tune with your body and your mind. It allows you to become much more self-aware because you're aware of what your thoughts are on what’s happening.

You can acknowledge them, and adjust them. Then you really understand who you are and what you need to be successful. It's different for everyone. You gotta be authentic to who you are.

What is a GoLidz?

Let's talk about GoLidZ. I wanna talk about this amazing product that you've developed. It's incredible. I remember the first time I saw this, my eyes popped out of my head and I was like this is so ingenious.

So the straw just fits perfectly inside this bowl-like lid, which you can open. Wow.

Bonnie Sussman 

Yeah, I mean these lids are so rock solid, and every customer that we ship these to say the same thing. They're not flimsy at all and that's why we say we reuse, reuse, reuse. Do not use it once and discard it. That's the last thing we want anyone doing. 

I understand if it's out being served at a QSR that the consumer may or may not take it home, but it's education. So if we're educating and the QSR is telling their consumers to take it home, sanitize, wash it out, and use it and use it and use it again, then maybe they'll listen. If they don't say anything, then they might think it's a disposable single-use, chuck it in the garbage, and we don't want that to happen for obvious reasons.

Nicole Donnelly

I love it so much. I'm just thinking how convenient this product is - like if you're at the ballpark, if you're in New York City, and you're walking around, and if you have kids, trying to juggle everything, the convenience this product brings.

Bonnie Sussman 

Theme parks, water parks, strollers. 

Nicole Donnelly

Yes. Strollers!

Bonnie Sussman 

Mom can have some food and drink while she's taking care of everyone else, which is what moms do. 

It's mind-blowing how many names I see that come from LinkedIn. So many people that have not even engaged with us on our posts before. So many people ordering GoLidZ and, I can't believe it. I mean so many people following our journey decided to get a consumer pack.

So supportive. We're so appreciative, so grateful for it.

Finding Innovation in Misadventure: The GoLidZ Origin Story

Nicole Donnelly

I think that's a testament to just how a great job you've done at branding. Whenever I see your posts on LinkedIn, you're so authentic. I love that you also post a lot of user-generated content and stories which bring that social proof in.

People really resonate with that. They see your authenticity. They see your realness, your tenacity, and your grit. Frankly, it’s an ingenious product.

Bonnie Sussman 

Gotta mix it up so it’s not too much of one thing. I think everyone on LinkedIn has to do that.

You have to kind of come up with a strategy where it's not one thing, you know? You can still talk about your product so long it isn’t salesy, salesy, salesy. You also have to mix in personal stories.

So I share the story behind GoLidZ. How did I come up with the idea?  

Back in the nineties at a movie theater. I was on a date, a very bad date. We were at the concession stand getting a hotdog and popcorn and sodas and candies. Somehow this moron gave everything to me to carry. 

I have no idea why I took it. I was young, I was definitely stupid. I didn't wanna rock the boat. 

I was on a date, you know, I was in college, so I took it all. I was carrying everything. We got into the theater and we had to sit in the middle of the row. Climbing in, you know, there's always a guy with like big knees, like a big person. I climbed over and the back of my leg got stuck on this guy’s knee.I flipped over and the popcorn went all over, the lids came off the sodas, and the hot dogs went flying. 

I didn't just soak the people in our row, but the people behind us and the people in front.

Nicole Donnelly

How mortifying did you stay for the movie?

Bonnie Sussman 

I did stay, albeit I was sitting in my chair kind of crying, but the lights were out so nobody could see. 

Nicole Donnelly

What did your date do? What his response is? You said he was a terrible.

Bonnie Sussman 

He was such a jerk.  

He said, you should have told me to carry something. 

What now? What's this? Are you kidding? Are you kidding?

But I have to tell you, I sat there the whole time thinking that this is so outdated. That should not have happened. There must have, something should have been connected to something else. The hot dog should have been sitting on the soda. 

There should have been an easier way to get in and get out of our seats and that's honestly how the lid concept was born. I went home from the theater and drew a sketch. 

I tell everyone if you have a great idea, write it down. Sketch it and write it down.

Write a brief description cuz ideas come, we all have great ideas, but if you'll notice, they'll come to you for 10 minutes and then you get busy doing something else and you have no idea what you thought of. Now I keep a pad next to my bed and when I think of an idea, I pull it out. 

It could be five in the morning, four in the morning, three in the morning. I will write it down, a brief description, so when I wake up, in the morning, from a coma, I don’t forget my idea.

So that's what I did. I wrote it down but didn’t do anything with it until years later.

It was different times then. We didn't have a cellphone. We weren't down a hand and hadn’t yet given our life away to social media, overloaded on the go. It's kind of a life burden you just accept, right? We're always lugging stuff around. You got strollers, bags, packages, sports equipment and you have to carry your phone.

Everyone's lugging everywhere you go, and that's just kind of life. You just expect it and you accept it. But when this phone came out and I started watching everyone outside Starbucks and Dunkin and all these places, you started to see something very different happening, which was, yeah, they're still lugging and still have laptops and everything else, but now there's a fixture that’s become a part of your hand.

No one puts this thing down. No one wants to put it down. They're afraid they're gonna lose it. If it rings, it's too annoying to go dig it out. So it's constantly in your hands. Gen Z, millennials, no one puts this thing down. Truthfully, I do more business on this phone than I do on the laptop.

Documents and contracts and things like that that has to be the laptop, but, all social media and interaction, emails, social messaging, all of that. It's the phone. The smartphone kind of revolution didn't happen until 2007, 2008, but my lid idea started germinating. 

It took me a bunch of years beyond that to figure out, logistically and how this thing would work. So we really didn't begin until 2012. It's crazy - to think of something in 1990 and not begin until 2012 is just, it's a little crazy.

Nicole Donnelly

It's brilliant. 

What your story illustrates is how important timing is. You knew exactly when the right time was for you to bring the product to market. And I also love

Bonnie Sussman 

Timing is more important than money.

Nicole Donnelly

Interesting. I've never heard that before.

Bonnie Sussman 

The order of things of an entrepreneur's level or barrier to success, the probability of success rather, is timing. It’s one of the most important aspects and more so than capital.

Nicole Donnelly

Did you just see more people with cell phones and that's how you knew it was the right time?

Bonnie Sussman 

I just knew. The idea sat in my head and I was thinking that it's always been a problem, uncomfortable, carrying things but the phone, it literally took away your hand. It became inconvenient to grab something on the go.

So that's what I started thinking about it then, and then a whole revolution on our end started because the businesses wanted to offer convenience. They're consumers, but they're not gonna use it but won’t crush their bottom line to do it. There has to be something in it for them. We realize, well, yeah, there is, consumers make decisions based on convenience.

We do it every day. Look at delivery, look at Uber, look at Amazon. It's all based on how convenient can you make it.

When you make it convenient, just like a Starbucks or McDonald's, if you go in, you don't go to Starbucks for lunch. No one says, Hey, Nicole, wanna go to Starbucks for lunch? Go to Starbucks to get a nice coffee or something to drink. When you're there, what do they wanna do?

When you're at Starbucks, you would love you to buy something to eat. If it's inconvenient, it's, it's more often than not, the people say, eh, I'm okay. But if you say, would you like something to eat? We can put it in the GoLidZ and hand it to you and it's handy. It's all in one hand and it's covered and sealed.

The consumer is more prone to say okay, yeah, sure I can have something to eat. Why not? So, that's a revenue driver. That's the aspect we came up with, you know, for them so that we could mail out the value proposition.

Nicole Donnelly

How you came up with this product is like, a perfect tale of misadventure. It was a blunder that happened in the movie theater, pilling everything all over people, and in that embarrassing moment, genius happened for you.

Bonnie Sussman 

It was so horrible. I can’t repeat the things that these people were calling me. I just soaked everybody. The man that I tripped over, was a big man, bald. When I looked up from the sticky, disgusting theater floor that I fell to, all I saw was this man and a popcorn toupee cuz he just had popcorn sitting on his head. There was so much anger on his [00:24:00] face.

I soaked dozens of people. I would be angry too. Look at this klutz.

Nicole Donnelly

That one small incident, and now it's turned into this thriving business. Incredible.

Bonnie Sussman 

[00:24:14] Bonnie Sussman: I should, I should thank this guy.

Nicole Donnelly


If You Don't Try, You're Never Gonna Know

One of the things I  love about you is that you talk about your dad a lot. 

My dad passed away a couple of years ago and he was a very successful entrepreneur.  I always looked up to and admired what he was able to build. So I'd love to learn a little bit about, more about like, tell me about your dad. What are some of the qualities he had maybe like, that you feel like you carry on in you? How do you honor his legacy?

Bonnie Sussman 

Oh God, that's the best question. My dad. Was the absolute best. I miss him every day. He just had this big personality and he was able to be so firm. So powerful with his words without being an abrasive jerk. It's hard to pull that off.

He was an entrepreneur. He had a big business. His people loved him because he could be really firm and say, this is what I need, and this is not up for discussion but had a kindness about him. And a soft side to him. 

He really had a great leadership quality that I admired because he was able to lead, but also have empathy and, and kindness and treat his people right.

He also had this awesome personality that's where I get the funny. When you say I'm funny and I go on other podcasts and they're like, you're so funny it’s because of my father.

Life without laughter is not life, right? I mean, that's my favorite thing to do is laugh. If you could just sit and laugh all night long with friends or family or spouse or loved one. What's better than that? That's a great night. It doesn't even matter where you are. You can be sitting on the floor of the living room with the lights out and, and nothing special ambience going on.

But if you could sit there and laugh and have a great time, that's the ultimate tell that you've had a great night or a great day. 

So that's what we used to do with him. He just was so supportive. 

I'm so disappointed he's not here to see our journey continue - he's been gone for over three years.

He always said something to me my whole life. He said, if you don't try, you're never gonna know. Because anytime I told him growing up that I didn't wanna do something, or I was afraid, or I was convinced even before trying that I would fail.

I'd say, no, I'm not dad. I'm not doing that. I'm not doing that. 

He'd say, if you don't try, you're never gonna know. How are you ever going to know? He drilled that into my head my entire life. So that's what I hear every time I decide in my mind I'm not going to do something because maybe it's not gonna work or it's a bad strategy, or it's gonna fail for us.

Nicole Donnelly

Drop the mic!

What’s the Worst That Can Happen? Pushing Fear Back.

So beautiful. I think I was just talking with a friend of mine the other day about this. Fear is always there and it’s up to you whether or not you choose to see fear as a deterrent or propellant.

Like leaning into the fear and saying, you know what? I'm going to overcome this. 

My dad used to always say, make it happen. All the time. I remember hearing him as a kid on the phone and he'd be like, let's make it happen. He'd be talking to whoever I don't even know, whoever he is working with.

So every day I hear his voice in my head telling me, make it happen, Nicole. Make it happen. I think that's really beautiful.

Bonnie Sussman 

It's really the same kind of message which is just go out and just do it. 

Get it and make it happen. Create your own opportunity.

Something else my father use to say to me and resonates even more is what's the worst thing you envision happening? What is the absolute worst thing if you do this one thing that you're terrified of doing? Whether it's calling a company or going to a networking event, or showing up to a party where you literally know nobody, you're by yourself.

All these things that put you out of your comfort zone, that make us all want to cringe inside and, and send our heartbeat racing cuz we're so filled with anxiety just to step out of our comfort zone. He would ask me, what's the worst thing that can happen? And he would say, actually, I want you to answer the question. Tell me right now what it is. 

Are you gonna fall in the pool at the party? Probably not. Are you gonna knock over the tray with all the beverages?

Now this is what I sit and think of all the time in business. Every time I hesitate, what's gonna happen? Then actually I pretend that it's already happened.

Nicole Donnelly

Brillant advice! When you do this you realize the worst-case scenario really isn't that bad and it's not right. You know, it's not gonna be, the worst-case scenario and it’s never worse than what it could be if it goes well.

The opportunity is always way more of a positive. 

Bonnie Sussman 

It's always so much worse in your head. It's amazing what the mind does to us because, and we believe what it tells us. It can scare the living daylights out of you and has the power to talk you out of something so quickly.

I have that kind of mind. I'm sure you do too, where it's constantly running. I have sleeping issues.

Nicole Donnelly


Bonnie Sussman 

It keeps me up and once the engine starts and the motors go it, I don't know how to shut it off. A lot of it is fear.

Let’s say tomorrow I planned on calling the CEO of XYZ Grant.

Probably not gonna get through but I'm gonna try, what's the worst that's gonna happen? 

Probably gonna feel a little sick when you call the office. A little nauseous when you dial thinking who am I trying to get this person on the line? The gatekeepers are there for a reason and are going to screen a lot of the calls. Some messages won't even make it to that CEO because the gatekeepers have decided it's not even worthy.

What's the worst that's gonna happen? You are going to blunder your words. Or may this guy is never going to call you back and you'll have to call again. Probably going to have to call six more times. You know, if you think you're gonna call once and get a returned phone call. 

If you do get a callback, maybe it’s one out of a hundred calls, that’s great! There's a good chance that the other 99 at some point will regret not calling you back, that'll take some time.

Successful Businesses Need Feedback

Nicole Donnelly

What an inspiration. What do you think your dad would say to you now if he was sitting in the room with you?

Bonnie Sussman 

I think he'd be really proud, but I also think that he would have some criticisms. And I’d loved it. 

I like the criticism. 

I always solicit feedback from people who don't want to do business with us. I am dying to know why and not. I don't wanna hear the good things. I wanna hear all the stuff that they didn't like. 

It's an opportunity to learn to get better and it's hard to get that feedback.

So I always say you kind of really have to put your foot in the door and beg for the feedback - make it okay for them to kind of insult you a little. You can take it, you're asking for it, take your best shot cuz I could take it and it's okay to tell me why you don't like us and why you don't want to do business with us.

Most companies don't really step in to do that, but if you let them know we’re going to get better next time. 

Nicole Donnelly

Marketing gold. Anybody who's listening to this, if you wanna grow a successful business, you gotta stay as close to your customers as possible as Bonnie is suggesting.

You need to ask for that hard feedback. I would love to know, Bonnie, what is some feedback you've gotten from a customer that you heard? And you acted on?

Bonnie Sussman 

Let me go get my complaints box. It's so big. I just recently posted about one in particular. 

For the greater part of GoLidZ’s time, we've been B2B. We’d only ship pallets of our product, which kind of excluded small businesses around the country who didn’t want to buy a pallet of product and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to try an innovative product. 

So during the pandemic, we started getting a lot of nasty messages. Some of them were a little too harsh. But one of the emails basically said the customer was very disappointed and they didn’t understand why we’d only offer pallets. They shared we had a  very innovative product, but the way we were doing business was not a characteristic of an innovative company. He also shared that we didn’t care about small businesses.

Nicole Donnelly


Bonnie Sussman 

I honestly felt the knife go in and turn and I was like, oh, okay, okay. When I read that email I called someone on our team and I was like, you have to read this. I feel sick because innovation, I mean, that's what we do. That's who we are.

 I understand why he wrote it, and I personally know the author which made it even more difficult because I've spoken to him several times. I was a little shocked that he sent the email to customer service. He didn't send it to me.

So of course I called him but putting that aside, I was like, okay, what do we do? It was during the pandemic, not an easy time to maneuver, and everyone was just trying to stay afloat.

It sounded like an easy fix but weren't set up for it. If we do this, we would have to move all of our inventory across the country to a 3PL. Not easy. Load up all the trucks. Truckloads of inventory. Trucking was expensive during the pandemic and it's still not good. What normally would've cost $600 to go from New York to Chicago suddenly was $3,000.

Nicole Donnelly


Bonnie Sussman 

It would entail multiple trucks and signing with 3PL which incurred fees for setting up the system and setting up e-commerce online. We also had to think about a phone ordering process but decided if we were going to make this change, we're gonna do e-commerce and let customers order cases online.

It's too time-consuming to start taking phone calls from food service customers around the country for one case, two cases, no less - that's not the best use of this team's time. It was daunting.

I went into a room and sat there and I was just silent. I had to lower the light and I just sat there thinking, okay. That's the final straw. I cannot read something like that and not do something about it.

Change is Uncomfortable

Nicole Donnelly

Well, yeah, because what he was saying was completely against the ethos of your brand. You’re an innovative company that cares about the small businesses. He was saying something like that and calling you out, you realize like, in order for us to stay true to our brand and who we are, we have to make this change short-term. I bet it was incredibly painful, but I love how you saw the long-term vision of it.

Bonnie Sussman 

It was a root canal.

The vision of doing it, actually now lines up with the brand because if you look around, everyone's talking about B2B e-commerce. Every company needs to offer B2B e-commerce. 

Everyone's looking to get into e-commerce. How do we do it? And for us, we did it already. We have a lot to learn. Have we perfected it? No. Have we perfected the art of driving traffic? No, you're getting the traffic and not being the best-kept secret. 

We'll get it straight eventually, but at least we're so far ahead of the game.

Nicole Donnelly

That's the beautiful thing about a business, you know, growing a business and marketing a business. Is just what you just said you're still working on it. It's never gonna be done. 

I think when you accept that and embrace that there's not really an end game. There's just this process of becoming, and that's the beautiful part, this journey that you're on and that you're constantly trying to improve your company, your product, and serving your customer.

I think the more you stay in that zone and mindset, rather than trying to get to this, like in, in this what arbitrary end zone. That's where you're, I think that's where you're really gonna find the most joy and where your customers are really gonna resonate with you. So I, I love, love that so much.

Bonnie Sussman 

Agree. It's not easy. Change is very uncomfortable.

There's nothing comfortable about change. It's painful and it's awkward and you know, nobody really ever wants to do it. We deal with it all the time. You know, we have this product, but in order to take GoLidz in, you need to change.

A lot of companies talk about innovation. They're innovative, they're all about innovation. But behind closed doors, they don't really wanna change. Not if it's going to mean upsetting multiple aspects of their business.

Nicole Donnelly

That fear of cannibalizing business, right? A lot of companies are afraid of cannibalizing existing revenue streams, especially with e-commerce, if they've been inside sales and distributor networks and all of that. Disrupt the disruptors. The ones making the impact are the ones that are saying, screw it, I'm just going for it.

I’ll find a way.

Bonnie Sussman 

It's a really delicate dance and it requires a lot of finesse. I don't have all the answers. We don't have all the answers. We're all just learning as we go. But, but if you sit there as a company and you're frozen and you're not making any moves strategically to learn or to get i then you're really gonna wind up screwed.

You're not following the ethos of commerce now. What's going on now, and you can't live the way you did two years ago. Whatever you did two years ago, nobody cares. And it's probably no longer valid because so much has shifted. Look at AI. 

All of a sudden, AI is the thing. Two years ago nobody was talking about chatGPT. Now they are. So if you're not constantly evolving, then you're sleeping at the wheel and then you really just, you're waiting around for it. I mean, look what just happened to Bed, Bath, Beyond.

Nicole Donnelly

That's so true. And I think like earlier, like constantly evolving, you have to develop this massively thick skin. I'm gonna hear the feedback we're getting from customers.

I'm gonna stay close to that. I wanna know exactly what's happening. I'm gonna ask them every single chance I get. That to me is like you are staying on the cusp because the closer you can stay on that, do that and get that thick skin and hear that feedback, but actually act on it.

Bonnie Sussman 

You gotta be willing to take the punch and not fall apart from it. If you want to hear someone's feedback and think you're gonna crumble when you hear it, you should not be in this business because there's nothing more wonderful than someone telling you, look, you guys don't make the grade.

We had that happen to us several times. We went to a show, actually it was a show a while ago. It was in Vegas, and it was still early for us and our iterations. We, we weren't, you know, we weren't at this size.

It was way smaller. It didn't really hold even like a full hot tub, you know, we were still iterating and commercializing, but I sat down with a lot of CEOs and a lot of them were like, okay, do you wanna really know what's wrong with this thing?

And I was like, yeah. We're never gonna buy this the way it is now. 

Gut punch. 

They're like, it's too small. You need to make this thing four inches wider, four inches deeper. You think you have something fantastic and you find out that they don't see it that way.

Nicole Donnelly

Yeah. It's ego.

Bonnie Sussman 

It hurts. Especially when you realize that it's gonna be time, resources, and money to fix it.

Get over the ego and decide how you’re going to fix it. In our case, I flew home, got off the plane and went straight to the manufacturer. I threw it on the table, and I was like, all right. Well, let's get to work.

Now, why did I take what this person said as gospel? Because I didn't hear it from one person. I heard it from 10 different heads of companies all saying the same thing. 

Nicole Donnelly

What a gift.

Bonnie Sussman 

Turning it around that part of it sucked. Because now we have to change the whole product. Everything. When you're manufacturing and you change width, depth function, functionality, it's not a quick sketch of the pen. It's not a new CAD.

It's so much more than that. It's prototyping and finding out if it actually works. Can it be made bigger? Or did we hit the wall with the smaller design? So much time lost.

Nicole Donnelly

Thank goodness you didn't hit a wall, engineering-wise. It worked.

You figured it out.

Bonnie Sussman 

Yeah and imagine if I hadn't asked the question. We might be sitting here today with something a smaller product. So what if we didn't force it? What if they said we're not interested, and we walked away? 

If that's all we did and we never got the truth, then we might still be sitting here pedaling the wrong thing. 

Nicole Donnelly

This is like a Masterclass, Bonnie. I wanna talk to you all day.

Bonnie Sussman 

10 years. 10 years of torture will teach anyone.


Connect with Bonnie Sussman Strominger on LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/bonniesussmanstrominger/. Discover GoLidz by visiting their website https://www.golidz.com/.

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Bonnie Sussman Strominger is an accomplished entrepreneur, inventor, and CEO of GoLidZ. After 20+ years working in management, product development, consumer marketing, and sales, she decided to focus her attention on her revolutionary cup lid idea. 

Today, GoLidz is an award-winning company changing the way people sustainably enjoy their favorite snacks, and drinks while on the go.