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Jim Donnelly of Restore Hyper Wellness + Cryotherapy: “Be open-minded to trying new things”

Be open-minded to trying new things. Be humble and recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know. Stick with the habits that you know work, but be open to trying new things. There is always room to improve and you never know if something is going to help you do more unless you give […]

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Be open-minded to trying new things. Be humble and recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know. Stick with the habits that you know work, but be open to trying new things. There is always room to improve and you never know if something is going to help you do more unless you give it a try.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Donnelly, CEO of Restore Hyper Wellness + Cryotherapy.

Jim Donnelly is the CEO of Restore Hyper Wellness + Cryotherapy (Restore), a rapidly-growing health and wellness company focus on bringing the Hyper Wellness lifestyle to clients across the U.S. Jim began Restore in 2015 with a mission to make hyper wellness services accessible and attainable to everyone in the U.S. so more people can feel better and do more of what they enjoy.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up in a military family. My father was an army officer and my mother was a school teacher. Growing up in a military family means moving frequently and being friends with people of all backgrounds. I think the military is the ultimate meritocracy and I’ve incorporated the idea of meritocracy into every company I’ve created. I loved seeing the world and learning about other cultures and philosophies.

I had a very happy, adventurous childhood. We didn’t have much money as a family, but we were always exploring. I think I saw more places around the world as a kid than most people see in a lifetime. Plus, I was always the new boy in town so I learned to make friends quickly. Fortunately, I enjoy meeting new people and school and sports provided an easy bridge to new friendships.

Early on, I knew that I had to earn what I wanted. My parents espoused a good work ethic and told me I needed to earn the extra things. Plus, I had a large extended family (over 20 cousins) and I got tired of hand-me-downs. I always found ways to make money and enlisted my friends to help. As an example, I sold more raffle tickets than the rest of my senior class combined to pay for my senior cruise. That was the only way I could afford to go.

In addition to being an army officer, my father was also a serial entrepreneur. He tried many things and worked incredibly hard. Even when something failed, he would gear up to try something else. I always knew I would grow up to be an entrepreneur. And I promised myself, I would figure out how to do it well to avoid the heartaches that come from a failed business. I also learned to appreciate the process and embrace the excitement of creating something. My dad instilled that in me.

Luckily, I grew up with three of my grandparents living in our home. In particular, my Granny Lulu had a profound impact on me. She was like a second mother that didn’t tolerate any nonsense from me. She was a force of nature and was always surrounded by good friends and good food. I always saw her be so positive with everyone, while being hard on me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I realize she knew what I really needed. Things came so easily for me and she was the one that always challenged me and kept me grounded.

More than ever, I appreciate the fact that I had a wonderful upbringing. It was the perfect blend of having everything I needed (most importantly the love and support of my family) and not having everything I wanted. The recurring theme was “be good, do good, achieve your potential, and go get what you want”.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I can’t say there was a specific “who” but there was definitely a “what.” I grew up with a big chip on my shoulder about what I could achieve. I felt like I deserved more and I was determined to get it. I always wanted to be the best, be the leader, and prove that I could do more than everyone around me. I was always the team captain and the best student. I got my undergrad degree and my MBA in less than four years. I started my first real company in college. I was always challenging myself and pushing toward more and better. I knew for a fact that I wanted more, even if I couldn’t describe what that “more” was yet. But I knew no one was going to hand it to me. That “more” goalpost is always moving and evolving. It is an “Infinite” goal and remains a driving factor in building my business today.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

It may sound cliché, but my parents and my sister were the most influential people in my success. They let me try lots of new things and they always did what they could to support me. My parents and sister have contributed emotional support and funding to every business venture I’ve ever done. Even if they didn’t have any money, they put in something to make sure I knew they had unlimited confidence in my ideas.

Having said that, they expected me to do well. One story about my mother, I came home one day and was excited to share the news that I had been named the class salutatorian my senior year. I went to a big high school so this was pretty cool. When I told her the news, she didn’t skip a beat and matter-of-factly said, “Why weren’t you the valedictorian”. After about 30 seconds, she gave me a hug, started crying and said “I’m sorry. I’m so proud of you. That is great news.” We cried it out and I’ll never forget that moment. It embodied everything I love about my mom. She was always proud, always pushing, always loving, and not afraid to say sorry.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I don’t know if anyone would call this funny, but in hindsight, the absurdity of the personal guarantees I made for real estate prior to the Great Recession in 2008–2009. At the time, I didn’t see anything wrong with guaranteeing millions of dollars of real estate projects with no ability to fund all of them if they all went wrong. Of course, I had no inkling that they would all become distressed overnight. But, it was clearly an example of hubris that I regretted at the time and won’t repeat in the future. Unfortunately, I was far from alone during that time.

The biggest takeaway from that experience, if it looks too good to be true, and if it’s too easy, there is probably a catch.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

I always tell young people to create a pedigree, take the harder path, and surround yourself with great people. Pedigree involves the accumulation of accomplishments that no one can ever take away from you. It includes getting a good education, taking the hardest jobs, and accomplishing things that tell the world why you are special. If you are pursuing a great pedigree, you naturally end up in the best places to work and find the smartest people. You learn more, you have a thicker skin, and you end up with all the skills you need to do great things. Then you just make sure you surround yourself with the people that are going to keep you on the right track. I have lots of friends who are great human beings. They never lead me astray.

Lastly, I recommend you always try to find great partners. I have some amazing skills, but I also have my limitations. I like doing businesses with partners that complement me in meaningful ways. Pick partners that make you better, that make the grind more fun, and help you achieve more than you can do on your own. Great partners have a shared vision, shared values, and a similar moral compass.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

My favorite book is Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. I loved the absurdity of the military industrial complex described in the book (particularly having been around the military as a kid and as an Army officer as an adult). It helped make me skeptical of big organizations (a thought that was validated when I worked at a series of large companies like AT&T, Coca-Cola and Citibank). I also loved the Milo Minderbender character that turned the war into the ultimate entrepreneurial enterprise. It is the only book I’ve read multiple times.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” — Vince Lombardi.

I definitely ascribe to the “aim incredibly high and achieve great things even if you don’t quite get there” way of building things. I hate the under-promise, over deliver mindset. I’ve always thought that if I aimed for Mars, but ended up hitting the moon I will have still done something special.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

What we are doing at Restore Hyper Wellness + Cryotherapy is incredibly exciting to me. Our entire mission centers around helping every person achieve Hyper Wellness so that they can do more of what they love for longer. Hyper Wellness encompasses so many aspects of our health and we hope to educate people on the importance of making this a priority.

We are literally trying to extend people’s Healthspan (i.e. the number of years people can do the things they want to do). In America, the average Healthspan is 63 years. The average Lifespan is 79 years. When you think about that, it means the average American has 16 pretty crappy years of life. We have a variety of projects geared towards potentially increasing Healthspan.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

Creating good habits is essential to your success. We must each recognize, in a profound way, that life is short and there is only so much time to get things done. Habits are the ultimate bio-hack for getting more things done.

I have a few habits that I try to reinforce as much as possible:

  1. I turn off all notifications on my phone and computer. You will constantly be distracted if you respond to notifications. Do your work on your terms.
  2. Make health and wellness a priority. I have a set routine for my workouts (i.e. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning with some buddies and long walks after work with my wife. On Sundays, I always spend three hours using Restore services (i.e. IV, cryotherapy, red light therapy, hyperbaric therapy, sauna). I sprinkle in more cryotherapy and sauna time throughout the week so that I sleep better and reduce my inflammation.
  3. Once a year, I completely disconnect. I’m on a constant hamster-wheel given the amount I’m trying to accomplish. I take the responsibility of being a good father and husband very seriously. The reality, you can’t be the best CEO, the best father and the best husband simultaneously. So I take some time to get away, turn off my computer and phone for several days, and reset priorities,. Earlier this year, I went on a ten-day survival trip in Panama. I was completely disconnected for the entire trip. Interestingly, I started the trip on March 10 before the world shut-down for Covid and came out on March 20 after the shutdown. It was pretty weird to see the difference in such a short time.

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

For me, the habit of disconnection plays a huge role in my success. This is two-part. One, the disconnection from notifications. I remember when I would be mid-meeting or mid-sentence or trying to write up a proposal and would be in a great work groove. Then, inevitably, I would get a text or a new email notification and the notification was instantly distracting. It was then an uphill battle to get back into the optimal workflow state. I find it next to impossible to do “deep” work when notifications are constantly distracting me. By allowing myself the room to disconnect from trivial things, I have become much more efficient and a better overall CEO.

In addition to that minute-by-minute disconnection, I have developed a habit of complete disconnection once a year. I go on a trip and leave all technology behind so I can reflect on the past year and the next year. I analyze what went right and what went wrong, focus on what my goals should be, and get my mind and body ready to achieve them. This time is purely to connect with myself, my goals, and what I need to do to make those happen.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

You have to get out of the mindset that being disciplined with your habits is a chore. Too often, self-discipline is correlated with depriving yourself of something. This will, ultimately, lead to failure. Humans don’t do deprivation well over the long-haul. Instead, shift your thinking to the idea that you are embracing a lifestyle choice that improves your day to day existence. If you can’t make it part of a lifestyle (one that is desirable), you will usually fail to create a meaningful habit.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

I tend to gravitate towards wellness habits that make me feel well in both the short-term and the long-term. There’s a reason we have the modalities we have at Restore. They are the things I understand, that make my body and mind feel good, and that I know work.

As I said before, your most important habit should be prioritizing your health and wellness. Make exercise fit into your day at least three times a week. Pick an afternoon each week to focus on other health aspects such as recovery or mental health. Find time for bio-hacks that are geared towards solving for your unique wellness needs.

Second, set a habit of disconnecting, both in small and big ways. First, find times of quiet in the day where you can turn off your phone, turn off your email and shut the door. Use this time to reflect and think through your goals and what you need to do, or who you need to find, to help achieve them.

Last, you must make a habit of balancing your life. There will inevitably be times when work will take top priority. That’s normal. However, the bulk of the time, strive to find balance between work and your personal commitments. This plays a key role in your overall mental health and will, ultimately, allow you to be more focused and have higher performance when you are working.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

I consider myself a bio-hacker in the sense that I like to test different things and find what is going to work best for me. We are all unique and each person’s bio-hack habits are going to look different.

Be open-minded to trying new things. Be humble and recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know. Stick with the habits that you know work, but be open to trying new things. There is always room to improve and you never know if something is going to help you do more unless you give it a try.

In addition, focus on creating a network around you that is supportive and consists of those who will help keep you accountable to your own goals. For some, this is family or friends. For others, this is a strategic business partner. Whatever you network is and whomever is in it, you must have people who will both support and push you.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

I don’t know if I have three. However, the top habit I have that leads to optimal focus, which I’ve said before, is turning off those notifications. Turn them off on your phone, turn off the new email ping on your computer, etc. Digest new information when it works for you. If you are concentrating on a project or a meeting, those notifications can be endlessly distracting and cause you to lose focus.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Luckily, this is an easy one. Dive into those settings on your phone and computer and turn off the alerts. Allow yourself the room to focus on the task at hand.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

I think getting into this Flow state comes from being unambiguous about what I want and what I will accept from myself and others. I have a construct and I surround myself with good human beings who are as passionate as I am about pursuing noble causes and finding ways to help people in different, unique and interesting ways. If you are focused on your mission and allow yourself to connect with the feelings behind that mission you will more easily be able to get into that Flow. Remind yourself that the journey is the important part, not the goal. Your goal will always be a moving target, forever changing, but focusing on the journey makes the difference. When you are focused on how you want to make a difference and the path you need to take to get there, you will enter a state of Flow. I also allow myself to be vulnerable. When I’m involved in something meaningful, I tend to get emotional. I tell everyone that I like to feel things. And when I feel things I often cry. A day that I don’t cry is a day I didn’t feel enough (and probably a day I didn’t accomplish anything). Everyone at work has seen me cry. But they know that it is simply my way of processing the enormous magnitude of what I’m trying to accomplish.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

At Restore we are trying to inspire a Hyper Wellness movement. This does not mean that every person necessarily uses Restore services. But, what it does mean is that every person is taking a real, clear look at their overall wellness. If anything, what we are going through right now as a country has put a clear spotlight on the fact that so many of us are not doing what we need to do to have more control over our wellness and immunity.

We should be proactive, not reactive, to our wellness. Our bodies can do so much, but the technology exists now to help it do more if we just utilize the right tools. This is our mission at Restore and if I could inspire any movement, that would be it.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

Richard Branson. I have always admired him for a variety of reasons. He brings such a zeal and an energy to his business and, it appears, to his life. You can feel his passion. He also has an incredible knack for taking things that are, historically, not “cool” and making them cool. He is also committed to doing good in this world and to leaving things better than when he found them. I think we should all aspire to this in whatever we do.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

We are growing quickly here at Restore, both in the number of store locations we have and the services we offer, with the ultimate goal of making sure that our Hyper Wellness services are available to anyone and everyone across the country. To best follow this journey and find out how to connect with our mission, please follow Restore on our website as well as on LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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