An ‘À la carte’ Society

‘À la carte’ is an esoteric term whose original meaning has been long-lost. For centuries, scholars have debated the etymology of these words. In modern-day times we have all come to accept its meaning to describe a pricing model in which goods or services traditionally bundled together are separated out, giving the end-user (“free” humans beings) greater choice at lower cost.

I can only presume this term came from somebody hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years ago mispronouncing the phrase “on the cart,” which of course we all know would be referring to a cart that buyers would often use in the old times to carry their goods as they shop, paying only for things that were on the cart. Anyone with a first grade education understands that this is where the modern-day grocery shopping cart evolved from.

cart

Believed to have been first discovered in 3492 BCE

Our modern-day society seems to have lost its way with respect to the easiest & most humane way to charge its residents for the goods & services it provides. In today’s day & age citizens are taxed at absurd rates of 30%, 40% or even 50% of their income to fund goods and services whether the citizen uses those goods & services or not. This is practically the equivalent of somebody loading your grocery cart up with items regardless of if you need them or not and then forcing you to pay whatever price they deem appropriate. Clearly none of us would stand for that when trying to feed ourselves & our families however we are forced to stand for it in virtually all facets of life with regard to paying taxes.

Before your head explodes, understand that I do not believe that these goods and services should be provided to people for free.  I believe the system should be opened to the free market and that people should only be charged for what they use… whatever is “on the cart” so to speak. I will gladly pay my fair share of any good or service that I consume but I find it increasingly difficult to justify paying absurd amounts of money for things that I do not use, have not used, and will never use. I also find it hard for any contrarian argument with regard to an à la carte system. How can you convince me that I should pay for things that I do not use? More importantly why would you want to?

An added benefit to an à la carte system would be the emergence of the benefits of the free market. If people are truly only paying for what they use, we will have a clear gauge of what free human beings actually want to spend their money on, instead of the money being forcefully taken from them via the threat of jail and then being spent as a small number of bureaucrats see fit.

Opponents believe that using a logical model like this would result in the elimination of things public parks, festivals and fairs. While there’s no way to prove this without actually trying the à la carte model, if that happens to be the result it would be nothing other than the free market responding as it should. If free human beings do not choose to spend their money in a way that supports parks, fairs or festivals it simply further evidences how criminal it is to steal their money & spend it on items that should not exist.

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The Monotony Of Working From Home

An elephant points the wayWhat’s the easiest way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

As an entrepreneur who doesn’t work in a corporate office, I’m constantly looking for things to improve my daily routine. Despite what many 9-to-5 type people think, working from home all day can be harder/more stressful than driving to someone else’s office if one is not careful about how they go about each day. The reason for this is simple: with no one else holding me accountable for my daily workload, I have to create my own incentive to get things done. This isn’t just because the daily tasks are what keeps the businesses blood pumping, but rather because if the daily, weekly, & monthly tasks are not completed one can never find time to work on the business as opposed to in the business. If we don’t have time to work on our business from a macro prospective, it can be very hard to grow, improve and even survive in the long-term.

I am a big fan of creating and improving upon process & procedures on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I utilize weekly and monthly task lists to break my workload down to simple daily tasks. Being my own boss, I still have room to change-up my schedule as needed, but in general I find that I’m much more productive if I stick to my routine.

The power of positive distractions

A huge part of working as efficiently as possible is creating positive distractions. Despite how counter-intuitive it sounds, my 10+ years of working from anywhere on earth have proven this concept to me time and time again. Sometimes as entrepreneurs we think we are invincible or we convince ourselves that if we aren’t working during every waking moment of every day, we are being lazy. The truth is that we are actually more efficient if we are smart about how and when we work and don’t work.

For example, I am simply not as productive on a daily basis if I try to attack my workload at 7am with a “head down” mentality of work until there’s no more work to do. I get burned out, I lose focus and end up being quite inefficient. To ensure I don’t get caught up in this vicious cycle, I introduce positive distractions into my day. Things such as planting seeds, background noise, & personal tasks are all positive ways I can step away from my businesses without losing efficiency or feeling guilty.

seeds

Planting seeds

Despite being single with no children & only my Beagle to care for, there are still plenty of things to do to keep my apartment up to the standard I desire. Laundry doesn’t do itself. Dishes do not clean themselves. Floors do not sweep themselves. Dogs do not walk themselves (ok, dogs do actually walk on their own, but they also do this). These tasks are all things that any reasonable human can do for him or her self, and most of us are accustomed to doing these chores and many more. However, when working from home, I’ve found that I can work many of these tasks into my daily routine, breaking up my business workload while efficiently completing my personal objectives. I do this by planting seeds – that is I set something up early in my day so that I can complete it later when I want/need to step away from my business. An example would be putting in a load of laundry at 8am so that I can move it to the dryer or hanging rack during a scheduled 10am call. Folding laundry is one of my least favorite things, but if I am doing so while on a business (or personal) call it feels like it just folds itself as I’m concentrating on the call, not the folding.

noise

Background noise

Background noise can sometimes be welcomed, even wanted, as I work from task to task on any given day. Silence is golden in certain cases, but in general I prefer the chatter of Bloomberg News or a great album streaming on Spotify over being left alone with nothing but my thoughts all day every day. This isn’t to say I advocate sitting around watching TV all day – but rather finding a way to introduce some background noise into your environment. Often times my mind can begin to wonder if I’m sitting in a silent room for hours at a time, but if I’m streaming Keane over YouTube or working from an awesome coffee shop I actually focus on the task at hand better as my mind is not left to wonder.

Best beverage cart ever

Best beverage cart ever

Personal tasks

Balance is one of life’s most important concepts. Too much or too little of the things that make us tick can have harsh effects on our business & personal lives. Finding ways to do things for myself that make me happy outside of my business is a crucial part of each and every day.

For years I found myself feeling guilty if I tried to play golf at noon on a Monday or if I talked on the phone with a friend for an hour in the middle of a workday. Now, however, I realize that not only should I not feel guilty about these things – I should actually be doing them more!

Working personal (non-business) items into my daily routine helps to both keep me happy and to help me work efficiently on my business as I’m fresher and more focused when I turn my attention back to work. Finding this perfect balance isn’t easy, but it’s not extremely hard either. You are the only one who knows your true business workload so you are the only one who should assess how much time you can devote to personal vs business tasks each day. Take an honest, open look at your workload and then actively try to balance your personal life into each work day. If you’re like me, every day is a work day so mastering this concept is a very important part of having a healthy work-life balance.

Working from home can be the best thing ever

Despite the downsides of working from home (or better yet, not working from an office), being your own boss can be (and should be) a very positive experience. There’s a reason that I choose to work for myself as opposed to going for the structure, stability, & guaranteed paycheck that comes with a job in corporate America and that reason is that when done properly, I know that I can be as efficient as possible in business and as happy as possible in life when working for myself. So can you.

 

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‘I Look Forward To It’ :: A Phrase To Burn Into Your Mind

My favorite poem, Desiderata, couldn’t be more spot on when it states that “whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

As the universe often does, it recently put me in a place to hear exactly what I needed to hear at that exact point of my life. During a commercial from the Peter Schiff Radio Show, Andy Greenberg gave a brief and simple talk about a phrase he works into his daily life: I look forward to it.

I didn’t know a thing about Andy before hearing his take on this phrase. After listening to Andy for the first time, I became so overwhelmed with inspiration that I wrote down this phrase and have made it a point to use it daily and often. I went on to research Andy and to find that he is one of the most listened to speakers in the United States, with good reason. His “Your Daily High With Andy Greenberg” is heard by millions of people and surely inspires most just like it inspired me.

I look forward to it. Simple. Short. Powerful.

Five words that when used genuinely, can convey a true sense of enthusiastic, happy thinking to anyone they are spoken to.

Five words that put the speaker and the receiver in a state of mind to think forward – to think about the future – and to think about it in a positive & proactive way.

Five words that can be synonymous for phrases like “see you then” or even just the word “yes” but have much more meaning and a much deeper impact on both parties involved in the conversation.

For years I’ve struggled to control my brain and to tame its thoughts. Like most people, I can dip into negative places from time to time and amongst other things, the ability to look forward is a huge part of reversing my negative mindset. Actively working I look forward to it into my daily vernacular has been a tremendous boost to my mindset. I even set up a text shortcut so that the letters ‘ILF’ auto correct to ‘I look forward’.

Give it a try – actively make it a point to say I look forward to it as often as possible. Then try to mean it. It can be as simple as confirming plans. Instead of (or along with) saying yes, say I look forward to it. Make eye contact and smile. Before you know it I look forward to it will be your natural (and honest) reply when confirming things that you care about. Your positive, forward-thinking attitude will have a profoundly positive impact on your life and the lives of people you interact with.

 

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Desiderata

Desiderata is a 1927 prose poem by Max Ehrmann that contains life lessons that are as timeless as time itself. Since I first discovered this poem in 2011, I have been a huge fan, purchasing it on a print to display in my home and buying the same as gifts for others.

Much like my mantra, meditating to the words of this poem brings a calming feeling to me that is hard to put in to words. Regardless of your views on life, love, religion, politics, etc, I strongly believe that reading, understanding and living by the words in this poem can be beneficial to anyone.

Desiderata

by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

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No One Is Entitled To The Earth

I was excited to see one of the examples I often use (grocery store!) in this fantastic piece about “Should you teach your kids to share?” The author does a great point of explaining something I agree with unequivocally: No one is entitled to anything just because they want it.

Yet all too often so many people (and businesses, special interest groups, bureaucracies, etc) forget that life requires hard work and determination. Things aren’t just given to us. Even if they are, they aren’t supposed to be.

An example of this entitlement mentality that makes me nuts is how people drive. The vast majority of society adheres to this (unwritten) rule that certain lanes are the “fast” lanes, despite the law (and common sense) providing no such regulation. People get extremely frustrated if you are in front of them in “their” lane and you are not driving as fast as they would like (with no regard for the actual speed limit).

Go around you? Fuck that, you need to move over for me!

Go around you? Fuck that, you need to move over for me!

These people will ride as close as possible, honk their horns, flash their lights, throw their hands up in the air, all as if to say “move the fuck out of MY way, motherfucker!” As if it’s their inherent right to occupy the piece of earth that I currently occupy. As if they have zero regard for me as a human being, not to mention how insanely dangerous it is to be within feet of another vehicle. It drives me nuts.

Could you imagine if you did that at the grocery store?! If you were in line behind someone and you just continually crowded them, getting closer and closer all while saying “move, move, move, move, move” as loud as possible?! No one would stand for this kind of childish, immature behavior in the grocery store (or anywhere for that matter) yet it’s somehow acceptable on the highway?!

Move over or get run over!

Move over or get run over!

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Hollywood Poker Open: Columbus

HPO-WEB-HEADER-logo-C26112

Columbus will soon play host to the last of six regional Hollywood Poker Open tournament series. The series will consist of 16 events spread out over 9 days, beginning Friday 5/16 and concluding Sunday 5/25. Event 1 will have two starting days and guarantee a prize pool of $50,000, although my guess is that it absolutely crushes that number.

Single-table satellites will run daily beginning Wednesday, May 16th, with $200 buy-ins offering a seat worth $1,800 to the Regional Main Event (Saturday 5/24 $100k guaranteed) and $400 buy-ins sending players to Las Vegas to play in the HPO Main Event June 27-29, 2014 ($2,500 buy-in + $1,000 cash + $300 hotel).

I am very excited for the first multi-event tournament series in my city and I plan to take full advantage of it by playing in as many events as possible and making a run at the regional leaderboard. With any luck I may even make a few deep runs.

I’ll be tweeting about my action (@donniccolo) as well as buying shares of as many Columbus beasts as possible via CJ Nicholas Poker. Good luck us!

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Pelotonia 2014: Cancer Will Be Defeated In Our Lifetime

For the past 2 years I have been proud to call myself a participant in Pelotonia. 2014 will be my 3rd consecutive year riding in this grass-roots effort in Columbus (#Cbus) that brings together thousands of people from all over the world to unite in an effort to defeat cancer.

Pelotonia 2014 logo

The bike ride itself lasts just one weekend, but the battle against cancer rages on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I am convinced this is a battle we will win and one we will win in my lifetime. In order to do so, the men & women who are working toward finding a cure need to be properly funded. They already face plenty of obstacles (read: they are trying to cure cancer!) and the last thing they need is to fight a two front war – one vs the disease that steals our loved ones from us and another vs inadequate research funding.

With help from you, me and the thousands of other people who step up to ride, volunteer and donate, we can easily win the fundraising war. Funding research is step one. Step two is end cancer. Amazingly, because the Pelotonia sponsors cover all operating costs, 100% of every single dollar raised goes directly to research. 

So many of you have stepped up and donated in years past and I cannot thank you enough. If you can afford to do so, please consider donating again this year. Every dollar helps and no donation is too small. Like last year, I am committed to raising $1,250 and like last year, I want to crush that goal! Thanks to the generosity of my friends, family & a few internet strangers, we’ve raised over $3,000 during my first two rides, adding to the $61,000,000 total funds raised in just five years!

Click here to visit my rider profile or simply to donate to my ride. It’s hard to put into words the emotions I feel when I see how generous so many of you are. Even if you cannot make a donation, simply asking a friend, family member or co-worker to take a look may inspire them to ride, donate or volunteer!

Ride day 2013!

Ride day 2013!

My Peloton: Stephanie's Team of Hope

My Peloton: Stefanie’s Team of Hope

 

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Jailing Human Beings Needs To Stop

The idea of incarcerating a human being for anything other than a violent crime is insanely archaic. Not only is it an egregious waste of money, it can be about as inhumane as it gets.

To put this into perspective, think about a human being, sitting alone in his or her home. If this person wants to snort cocaine, smoke cannabis or inject heroin, they are doing so at risk of being jailed. They cannot willingly put certain things into their own bodies, in the privacy of their own homes, without risking other men & women coming into their home, removing them and placing them in a steel cage, where there is a good chance they could be raped.

THINK ABOUT THAT.

Now substitute salt, parsley & bath salts in the above example. No one would be kicking down their doors or shooting at their supplier. They are “free” to snort salt, just not cocaine. They can smoke parsley, just not cannabis. They can shoot up with bath salts, just not heroin.

#ButFreedom

#ButFreedom

When did it become OK for one human to dictate what another human does with his or her body?

When did it become OK for one human to forcibly take another human (note, one who has not negatively affected anyone) and place them in a steel cage to be raped?

If you physically hurt another (negatively affect another), you should face serious consequences, including jail and perhaps worse. However the idea of jailing “free” men & women for anything other than violent crime is dangerous, archaic and just plain wrong.

MEN & WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE FORCIBLY PLACED INTO CAGES FOR CHOOSING TO EAT, DRINK, SMOKE, SNORT OR INJECT IN A WAY THAT YOU DON’T APPROVE OF. SIMPLY PUT, YOU DON’T HAVE A SAY IN THE PRIVATE AFFAIRS OF OTHERS.

rogan

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The Dangers Of Bureaucracy

A bureaucracy is a “body of nonelective government officials” and/or “an administrative policy-making group.”

Quite the polarizing topic, bureaucracies are often called a necessary-evil with regard to organizing large groups of human beings as efficiently as possible.

Regardless of one’s feelings on the organization of humanity aspect of defending bureaucracies, there is no way to rationally defend the desire of a group of humans to exert control over others in their personal and/or business affairs.

Simply put, no one should ever have a say in the private dealings of others. 

Yet it’s the exact opposite. Private businesses, and even worse, our private homes, are under the strict control of whatever local governing board awards things like building permits & zoning variances.

We think we own our homes and businesses, but we do not. We are simply glorified renters. Sadly, most people do not understand this. True ownership would not require us to continually pay taxes. True ownership would mean we can do as we please with our assets. True ownership does not exist.

Sadly, I am witnessing the madness of a local bureaucracy first hand. A local investor wishes to finish the basement in one of his buildings. He owns the building. He desires to make changes to the interior. He’s trying to do the “right” thing by going through all of the various commissions & departments who somehow have a say in what he does with his property. Despite the fact that these entities & people should have exactly zero say in what he does with his property, he’s still jumping through their hoops. After all of his jumping, he is still told by one of the local bureaucracies that he is not allowed to further finish his own asset.

How is it right that anyone other than the owner decide what can and cannot be done with regard to finishing floor space? It is so unfair that it is literally making me sick.

Worse off, if the owner were to proceed and finish the space anyway, other men & women could then use that as a reason to “punish” him. The idea of jailing someone for anything other than a violent crime is insanely archaic, yet in this case doing as he pleases with his own property could lead to exactly that.

Yet this man is told that he lives in a “free” country. Like ownership, freedom does not exist. Open your eyes. Think for your self. Don’t blindly accept the state-sponsored narrative. Strive to learn the truth about laws & how humans should really be able to live.

 

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Tax Day: Time To Feed The Sheep

This morning, like millions of other humans, I have to send a check to the federal government. If I do not, I can be taken from my home, against my will, and placed in a steel cage, where it’s likely I’ll be raped. But I am constantly told that I live in a “free” country and that I’m a “free” human.

Sure, if by “free” you mean “tens of thousands of dollars per year.”

We don't even have to live in a cage!

We don’t even have to live in a cage!

Not only is the idea of prison for non-violent offenders one of the worst way it’s been things in modern society, it is literally the other end of the “pay me or else” mentality that rules the world we live in. We are told that we are “free”, we celebrate this “freedom” and mouth off to the rest of the world about how “free” things are in America, yet essentially we are being held at gunpoint to do so.

I do not dispute that there are things common to society that I use and should pay for, however I don’t like doing so with a gun to my head. I’d prefer a much simpler solution: I will pay for what I use. You pay for what you use. Neither of us pay for what we do not use.

This is the simplest and easiest way to break it down, yet there are so many people who can’t understand it, or even worse, they fully understand but they want to dictate how other spend their money anyway. I simply cannot understand the desire to control others.

It’s NEVER ok to direct how others live their lives, what they MUST give away (taxes, etc). The system has really grown to the point of just blatantly fucking everyone (those of us who pay) yet only a small minority of us realize it. The rest of you actually defend the exact thing that keeps you down. The joke is on you.

Ironically, I do not blame the 545 people in power. I don’t really blame anyone. I am just frustrated that the way it is, is just blatantly and unequivocally accepted by the 99%ers (sheeple) while I get called crazy for questioning things.

It’s not easy being the smartest person in the room.

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