“I didn’t realize how few of the big wins would come to fruition.” with Nicoya Hecht and Chaya Weiner

Chaya Weiner
Jul 31, 2019 · 13 min read

Focus on the little wins. I spent so much time focused on the big wins that I missed the little ones. I didn’t realize how few of the big wins would come to fruition. Now I fill the success jar with the little wins and let the big ones be the bonus on top.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicoya Hecht, co-founder of RISING SPRINGS, a natural mineral supplement (NMS) water, comprised of 100% geothermal spring water from the purest source in Idaho’s Sawtooth National Forest. Rising Springs is the steward of this incredible source, and in addition to being committed to making the purest, unfiltered water on the planet accessible to those who seek it, Nicoya also ensures that the Rising Springs SPC (Social Purpose Corporation) respects the environment. She has built a close-knit team whose sole purpose is to protect and responsibly share Rising Springs in its most pure form, and bring an awareness to the importance of pure drinking water, minimal packaging and environmental preservation.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I was born in Costa Rica to quintessential hippie parents — and named for the Nicoya Peninsula. My first years were spent on a 45 foot trimaran sailing the seas and I took my first steps in the Galapagos Islands. I was raised in Maui surrounded by the beauty of Hawaii. I was a tall, gangly, shy, self-conscience adolescent who hid my insecurities behind the mask of a bubbly, outgoing teenager. It’s taken me a while to find balance between those two extremes.

In my 20s, I had my two incredible sons and became a homebirth midwife. In my 30s, I co-founded an eco-boutique with my sister-in-law and joined the Waterkeeper Alliance movement. And now in my 40’s, I have co-founded Rising Springs with my brother-in-law, and husband, who is Rising Springs’ CEO.

I am passionate about water, and both awed by its complexity and dumbfounded by the lack of education and differentiation in the marketplace. I am acutely aware of the value of water and feel the need to protect it.

Can you share your top three “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

Meditation, gratitude and sleep!

Incorporate a gratitude practice: For the first half of my life, I focused on what wasn’t working in my life. In an attempt to be real and combat that fake bubbly mask I had worn through adolescence, I emphasized the negatives and paid little attention to the positives. I also believed that if I talked about the good in my life, bad would soon follow- a little like knocking on wood. It was startling when I realized how much these thoughts were increasing the negativity in and around me. I believe one’s emotional state affects their health as much as, or more than, what they put in their body. Through continual practice, I am changing the pattern, spending time each day appreciating the world, people, things, and experiences, and focusing on the positive. At first I had to make a point of finding and naming my gratitude and it felt somewhat contrived and inauthentic. However, gratitude has now become part of my internal world and I notice it bubbles up naturally. Today I feel grateful for a good nights sleep, the sunshine, a quiet house to write in, a facetime chat with my son and an exceptional cup of tea. Recognizing and expressing gratitude feels good, I can feel it throughout my body, and affects those around me. It’s contagious.

Get quality sleep: So many of us are dealing with sleep issues- from not being able to fall asleep to waking in the middle of the night or not getting enough of the right kind of sleep. Sleep deprivation affects various parts of our lives, from mood and energy levels to clarity of mind. Getting a good night’s sleep can take forethought and attention, but it’s totally worth it! It’s important to follow your personal rhythm. In my family, my nickname is Bed Time, and I’m often teased for being the first one ready to turn in. Many tools can support healthy sleep. I often take a bath before bed. Good pillows are a must, and snacking after dinner is a no go for sure.

Meditate: I’d really like to have a consistent meditation practice but have been challenged to incorporate one into my life, I won’t share my list of excuses with you- even though it would probably make for a good laugh. Practically every person I respect in the health and wellness movement considers meditation to be one of the most important tools to support our wellbeing. I believe meditation practices are further undermined by our culture’s addiction to technology and the constant external stimulation we experience. We as a society have forgotten how to be silent and still, and I think some people feel uncomfortable without constant input. Currently my meditation practice consists of not picking up my phone in the in-between moments like at the stop light, or while in line at the grocery store. Instead I take a few deep breaths and try to quiet my mind. I know, I have a long way to go- I’m working on it!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

The path to co-founding Rising Springs is the most interesting thing that has happened in my career so far. My husband, Grey and I had just built a home in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica and become empty nesters. We were planning on living abroad part-time and traveling a lot. I had few commitments and my only focus was on non-profit work with our family foundation. My husband had work in both Costa Rica and the states, so could work from home and travel when needed. Think: yoga, meditation, romantic trips to exotic places, juice cleanses and spontaneous visits to see our boys…you get the picture. So how did I go from that lovely story to having a startup that requires most of my attention, leaves little space for self-care and requires the multi-tasking of raising toddlers? Frankly it was the water’s fault. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

When my extended family purchased the Spring and the land around it, we were excited to become stewards of the source. We were aware of the value and rarity of a single source spring. The water had previously been bottled under the name Trinity and we knew there was a latent consumer group who wanted to be reconnected to the spring source. My husband and I talked a lot about the water and its benefits. We asked ourselves if the water was worthy of being shipped and if it made sense to launch a new company. We also wondered if we could incorporate what we had learned in the nonprofit world into a for-profit company (and by we I meant he). I have often been fortunate to be involved in the creative side of my husbands ventures without having to be “officially” a part of them. When Grey asked me to work with him to launch Rising Springs, my initial response was to say no. First, I questioned if it was a good idea to work with my husband- the person I’d known since I was 12, been married to for 20 years, and who I spent 90% of my time with already. Wouldn’t working together put unnecessary stress on our relationship (that’s a different story)? Second, as previously mentioned, I had few commitments and intended to implement a long list of self-care practices — why would I screw that up? Third, I had very little experience in business and none in marketing. The learning curve was daunting.

But every time I said “No!”, my husband kept asking, I could hear the water calling me to it and to the project. I ignored it for awhile but it persisted and so I started showing up at the office dressed for the job with zero idea of what to do. It was challenging and I googled EVERYTHING. But what blossomed was the realization that I am passionate about water, excited to learn more, and have a desire to be part of a larger movement. I also developed newly-found confidence in not only my abilities but in myself. I’m thankful to my husband for continuing to ask, support and encourage me!

When things get challenging, I turn to the water to show me where it wants to flow. Passion for water brought me into the company, and I trust it to show me how to move forward.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I can’t think of one big mistake I’ve made. Instead, I’ve made a series of smaller mistakes that ultimately led me to become better at my job. I repeated some mistakes over and over until I finally learned those particular lesson but there are many mistakes I still notice and some I have yet to recognize. The one I repeat most is trying to impress people who I respect in order to feel worthy or of value. But ironically, when I’m trying to impress someone, I have left my true self, and therefore the interaction is inauthentic and hinders genuine connection.

I found myself in this situation recently at a wellness retreat weekend sponsored by Rising Springs. I needed/wanted a particular person I admire to validate me as a person and business woman. As I kept noticing that neediness in me arise, I would take a few deep breaths and have a sweet little chat with the part of me that was seeking validation. Then I would find something around me to be grateful for. The energy would dissipate and I could return to what I was doing.

When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

We have helped to start important conversations about water- particularly the importance of paying attention to the water we drink to the same degree we focus on the food we eat. Our bodies are 70% water. We encourage people to know where their water comes from. Water is the great dissolver — it is the product of everything it has ever flowed through — so it is important to know what has happened to it along its journey to your body. The source really matters. People should be able to easily identify where their water comes from, what’s in it and how it’s handled or treated on its journey. We hope that the conversation will also help people focus more on protecting natural fresh water supplies. It’s an urgent issue. Once a spring is contaminated, the damage is done.

By studying to be a water sommelier at the Fine Water Academy, I am deepening my understanding of and relationship to water. I am on a mission to help shift the conversation in the United States from ‘water is a commodity that can be processed to be made drinkable’ to ‘water naturally pure and unprocessed is an essential key to wellness’.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Sharon Egan was the marketing director for Trinity, the company that previously owned and bottled at the source, and we were lucky enough to hire her when we started Rising Springs. She holds institutional knowledge about the source, the water that rises, and the industry. She has been a gracious and patient mentor to me and other members of our team. Sharon has put in many years of hard work and she is helping me short-cut a lot of those lessons by taking time to help me understand. That said the greatest gift she has given me is her encouragement and belief in my abilities. I’m not really one to put myself out there until I feel very confident, which all to often means never. Time after time after time she encourages, supports and praises me for the work I do. Recently, I did a spur of the moment podcast at the Paleo FX expo in Austin. I was able to go for it with no prep because of all the support and training from Sharon. When she listened to it she sent me this text- “truly — I cried. thank you for doing such a wonderful job”. I have needed that kind of support in my corner and I am truly blessed that I can depend on her to be there for me.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Gratitude Everyday — many health/wellness providers and followers speak to and incorporate gratitude in their lives, but if the general population joined in the daily gratitude practices, I believe it would create positive change on a huge scale- swinging the pendulum from fear to love.

What are your “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Don’t get attached to the moment, it will change. Launching a startup is a bit like riding a roller coaster everyday- so many ups and downs and loop-de-loops. I had to learn not to get too excited or too disappointed because things shift on an hourly basis.

Don’t worry- just Google it! I was intimidated by everything I didn’t know about both water and business in general, and I’m not talking about nuanced business strategies. I’m talking about how to use collaboration software as a management tool, what the hell a COG was, and that OOO wasn’t a typo. Luckily, Siri knows 99% of what I don’t.

Focus on the little wins. I spent so much time focused on the big wins that I missed the little ones. I didn’t realize how few of the big wins would come to fruition. Now I fill the success jar with the little wins and let the big ones be the bonus on top.

Do you have a “girl-crush” in this industry? If you could take one person to brunch, who would it be? (Let another “woman in wellness” know that you respect her as a teacher and guide! )

There are so many incredible ‘women in wellness’ that I would love to have an afternoon chat with. At this moment in time I would take Esther Perel to lunch and bring my husband along! She is a pioneer when it comes to the landscape of relationships today, and Grey adores her.

I have read her books Mating in Captivity and The State of Affairs, and have been fortunate to hear her speak a few times. I gained numerous insights into myself and my marriage that have helped me uncover some unrealistic expectations I didn’t know I had and shifted the way I viewed my marriage, for the better.

My husband and I married and had children at a relatively young age and have now been married for 22 years. In this day and age, our long marriage is unusual and we therefore don’t have much of a peer group in the same situation. I have read a lot of books and gone to a ton of workshops gathering tools for navigating my marriage. Esther’s work has been infinitely valuable in that journey. I am proud of my husband’s and my relationship- the tough times we have worked through and the incredible gifts we have received from each other. I know there are still so many ways to learn and grow separately and with each other. I would love to chat with Esther about it, she has been married for a long time so has lived the journey I’m on, plus she is super funny and I love her accent.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Sustainability and mental health are both important to me. But if I had to choose one, it would have to be sustainability. If we don’t start to make significant changes in our behavior and policies, our very survival is at stake, regardless of our mental health. I became a vegetarian at the age of 20. It was a personal decision and I didn’t judge others for their dietary choices. However, now I believe people need to consider how their diet affects the environment and make changes accordingly. We all need to participate in shifting to a more sustainable model.

It’s challenging to change patterns. I feel strongly that we are responsible for not only the items we buy but the packaging it comes in. That plastic at the top of a tincture bottle I buy is my responsibility. So I invested in terracycle recycling boxes- I can put any plastic item in it and it will be upcycled. I am paying for an alternative to the landfill. It’s not the answer but a step in the right direction. But every time I take out the trash, I find plastic bits that me and my family members have thrown away because we are still learning to shift our patterns. My next step is to look at offsetting my carbon footprint. I drive an electric car but am on a plane often, which I know contributes to carbon emissions. I’m not ready to give up travel but I want to offset the pollution I am participating in creating.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Instagram is the best place to engage with us on social media. We need to up our social media game, which basically means we need to hire a dedicated social media manager. I want to work with an individual rather than a company- We’ll be accepting applications in 2020!

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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About the author:

Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Chaya Weiner

Written by

Director of branding & photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator, helping leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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