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In honor of the launch of Vital Proteins new Collagen Water™, we’re kicking off a weekly series on Lively called “How I Uncap My Potential,” where we feature amazing people doing incredible things in their field. Today, we’re spotlighting Eric Hinman, an entrepreneur and investor who “retired” at age 34. Get to know Hinman in our Q&A below, and learn why he seeks out discomfort, why he makes it a point to meet new people every day, and his advice for 20-somethings everywhere. 

Lively: Your Instagram bio says you “retired” at 34. How did you get to that point?

Eric Hinman: I get to do what I love every day now and that came through starting several businesses. My first business right out of college was property and casualty insurance agency that I operated for seven years. It was a residual income opportunity. And in 2009, I hired someone to manage the day-to-day and that was my first lesson in entrepreneurship – of delegating duties and putting businesses on autopilot, so I could focus on other opportunities. And then the second business I was involved in was a software company called Rounded, building mobile applications for clients early in the app revolution. Back in 2010 I started that, and then I sold my shares back in 2014, which is when I say, “retired at 34.” And then since then, I’ve just been reinvesting in different concepts. I co-own a healthy fast-casual restaurant in Syracuse, New York called Original Grain. I co-own another restaurant in Syracuse, New York called XO Taco, and I co-own a fitness facility called Urban Life Athletics. I’ve also invested in a bunch of consumer brands and now my day-to-day is mainly just content creation and helping brands build out ambassador programs.

eric hinman

L: What has been the most rewarding experience in your career so far?

EH:The rewarding part of my career so far has been starting companies and just seeing the elation on people’s faces when they experience it for the first time. With the restaurants, seeing the excitement, people coming to visit, and just seeing your entire vision come together, and allowing other people to experience it. Another thing in my career that has kind of paved the way to freedom and flexibility and my following on social media is Ironman. I’ve completed five Ironman’s, twice qualifying for and competing in the Iron Man World Championships in Kona, so that was definitely a highlight of just putting in a lot of time and effort, purposeful practice into something, and then seeing the results from putting in such hard work.

L: And of course, with a successful career come challenges. How do you overcome those moments?

EH: Yes, there are challenges. I’ve really learned with Ironman to just take things as speed bumps. And also, with various businesses, if something were to go wrong, I’d be stressed out in the moment but then realize that it’s just a speed bump in life. So now whenever I’m faced with adversity, I just look back at my past, at all my other adversities I faced, and I just tell myself, “Hey, it’s going to be stressful in the moment, but life is a long road. There’s. going to be lots of speed bumps and don’t stress too much about it.” Also, on the same topic, I seek discomfort on a regular basis and I’ve trained my mind to embrace discomfort. That has eliminated a lot of anxiety around any obstacles that I face, like sitting in cold streams or sitting in ice baths. Or sitting in infrared saunas or CrossFit workouts. All of those things have trained my mind to just adapt to stressors, so when someone cuts me off on a road, it doesn’t ruin my day. It takes something monumental to really ruin my day now.

L: You’ve talked about how you make it a point to meet new people every day. Why is that a goal of yours? 

EH:I try to meet in person at least three new people every single day. That’s built over a coffee meeting, a lunch meeting, or a dinner meeting. I tend to eat out every single meal, and I tend to combine that with meeting new people. For me, it’s a lot of new inbound messages that I get from social media. If I feel like there’s a likeminded person that’s reaching out and I can add value, or I just think we’re going to have an engaging conversation, I’ll normally say yes so I can meet that person. By doing that, I usually end up connecting that person with several other people. And the same happens on my end – they connect me with several people so that’s how I’ve been able to build such a large network. It’s just by meeting new people and not looking for anything but just knowing that the world reciprocates. If you’re adding value to the world, value is going to come back to you. What I would recommend if you’re not getting inbound messages, is just DM people on social media that you feel like you can add value or get value from. You just have to reach out. I think too many people look at this little number next to someone’s name and think that makes them that person unattainable and unreachable, and that’s not the case. Most people who, in publicity’s eyes, become successful is because they’re out there adding value and meeting people, so they’re generally looking to give back and meet new people, so just reach out. That would be my biggest advice. Don’t be afraid and hey, if someone doesn’t return your message, just move on to the next one.

eric hinman

L: If you could give your 20-something self some advice, what would you say?

EH: If I can go back to my 20-something self, I would tell myself to never go through the motions and to continually seek writing thriving chapters in life instead of surviving chapters in life. My father gave me an incredible opportunity right out of college to build my own business of property and casualty insurance, which gave me the residual income needed to be able to start other things. There was also a period of time then when I was just going through the motions and I was working just to play on the weekends. And now, I’m very, very mindful on just maximizing my time every single day towards those things that bring me positive energy and saying no to anything that gives me negative energy. If I’m waking up and I don’t feel like I don’t have purpose anymore it’s time to write a new chapter. Don’t go through the motions. That’s what I would tell someone in their 20s. You may have to write a surviving chapter for a little while just to build the base but just to write a thriving chapter. And to get there it’s like figuring out what you’re really passionate about, what your purpose is in life, that life chapter that you’re writing, and just focusing on that one thing day-to-day until that no longer serves you.

L: How do you "Uncap Your Potential?"

EH: The key for me for uncapping my potential has been being really mindful of those people, places, and things that bring me positive energy and filling my day with those things, so that I’m in a flow state and that I exude positive energy. So, my days are very structured with workouts, adventure, meetings with likeminded people, various recovery routines that also release dopamine, and I’ve just built my day around those things that really serve me and I’m doing everything with passion and purpose. That’s how I’ve been able to be the best version of myself.

L: How do you incorporate Vital Proteins into your daily routine?

EH: I put the Collagen Peptides in my smoothie bowl in the morning. I’ve been drinking the Collagen Waters, usually one at night before I go to sleep, and I’ve also been taking the Sleep Collagen Shotbefore I go to sleep. I love the new products, they’re awesome. Occasionally, I put the Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer in my coffee as well, so those are the products I use the most.