Grey Goose Notable: Eric Diep has partnered with Grey Goose, the World’s Best Tasting Vodka, to celebrate an exclusive series of Grey Goose Notables: young professionals and entrepreneurs who are influential taste-makers. For the next 10 weeks, we will feature two unique Notables who have made it – young professionals who have reached success beyond their years. We’ll show you how these Notables enjoy what they’ve earned – how they entertain friends, where they travel, what drives them from the office to the golf course – and how they celebrate life and all it has to offer. So, raise a glass as we toast to the Grey Goose Notables…

Eric Diep grew up in downtown Toronto – one of the few who can really say they spent their adolescence in the city’s core. Throughout high school, he consistently looked for challenges, which led him to head to the University of Waterloo to take math, because he assumed it would provide the toughest educational fight. After a year and a half, he grew weary. Eric dropped out in 2007 and caught a flight to San Francisco and decided to stay. He had an inherent feeling that he needed to be in California, and all he knew was that he wanted to learn more than his education was providing him and wanted to meet and experience different connections with people from all walks of life.

A couple weeks into his new life, and he and a friend began working together and building apps, notably on the Facebook platform. This is where he got his feet wet, and where he was able to truly network – thanks in large part to the fact that the breed of Facebook app developers at the time was a small one. After building solid foundations, Eric co-founded A Thinking Ape, which is currently one of the leading developers of apps on Apple’s App Store.

Because A Thinking Ape was on the forefront of Apple’s new technology, and they always adhered to the stringent rules Apple has laid out, Eric and the rest of the team were able to help define some of the parameters and truly were on the cutting-edge of this technology boom. A Thinking Ape has grown exponentially since it began in 2008, expanding from a team of 3 to now 25. Because of this, Eric is experiencing a level of success so many developers and technologists can only dream of, and he’s too consumed with his current work to try to forecast the future. We’re betting it’ll be a bright one.

Eric Diep is a Notable, and when asked what’s notable to him, he replies, “Bruce Lee once said, ‘Knowledge is power. Character is respect.’ That’s becoming truer and truer.”

What is your general life philosophy?/What advice would you want to share with others?
Take more risks; get used to challenging your own comfort threshold. When I dropped out of school to move to California, I didn’t know anyone or anything about my destination, but I decided it would be a one-way bet. I had myself kicked out of my own university program and had my vision set solely on the future. Whenever life tests you with a snarky opportunity, I always encourage my close friends to take it and never look back.

Why were the early stages of your career (which can be some of the toughest years of any successful business person’s life) worth what you are now able to enjoy?
I once heard someone say that overnight success is always 10 years in the making. Every successful person that I’ve met has reflected this and the longer I work the more true it becomes for myself. When I first set out on my own, I barely had enough funds to cover my rent. At one point, my bank balance read negative. In the end, it’s all about risk tolerance and your ability to keep moving forward when any other rational person would have turned around. I look back and I realized I took a leap of faith multiple times early on when others wouldn’t have dared. I just believed that I could figure a way to make things happen and that’s the same way I think today.

How do you enjoy life? What are some of your life indulgences?
Most of my close friends know that traveling is my life and life is my indulgence. I like to spend a week in Hawaii every December and I’ve always made my best decisions on that sunny island.

You have 3 weeks to vacation, cost is not a factor, where are you going and who are you taking?
I’d get my closest friends from Toronto and fly them out to California and introduce them to my world on the west coast. I guess I would entertain them for a week or so before flying everyone out to Hawaii to enjoy real beaches, surfing, and toasting in the sun. As a side note: I disagree that cost is the bottleneck for a great vacation with others. It’s really just time and friends and making sure you have enough quality of both.

If there was one location that every person must see, what would it be? Why?
Beijing or Shanghai. The rate of growth in Asia, and especially China, is historical and one day we’ll look back and talk about the days when North America was the epicentre of the world. For anyone who grew up here, a trip to Beijing or Shanghai is an experience that’s hard to forget.

What is one of your favourite lounge/restaurants? Why?
In Vancouver, Guu is really good. I haven’t been to the one in Toronto, but I assume it’s just as good considering the lineups stretch so far.

What is your favourite drink?/What is the best drink that you make?
I spent the summer living in Montreal two years ago, where I roomed with visiting bartenders from France who worked in the city during the weekdays. Every Saturday, we would all get together and mix mojitos on our rooftop deck with rum, soda, cane sugar, and mint leaves that were grown in our backyard. Those were the best drinks I’ve ever had. It was a fun summer.