Why Your Kid Hates School

I’ll preface this by saying I have some fairly strong opinions on the education system in the US. To be blunt, the traditional US eduction system is, by and large, a complete waste of time for an intelligent student. It teaches young people bad habits, sets unreasonable expectations, and differs in most fundamental aspects from the reality of the adult world. Continue reading

Building a Better Night’s Sleep

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I’ve been told that I look like I’m about to exit the Matrix when I’m getting ready for bed. I consume a variety of pills, install devices on my body, insist on complete darkness and shiver in the bone-chilling cold.

You might be thinking, “how is it possible that you’ve ever had a girlfriend?” or, “this guy is awesome!” (in which case, I’m wondering, how is it possible that you’ve ever had a girl/boyfriend?). Let’s face it – by the time the relationship progresses to a sleepover, it’s probably too late for them to make a smooth exit. They’re going to have to get used to your strange sleep habits.

Besides, the ends justify the means – according to my bedside brainwave monitor (seriously), I usually rank upwards of the 90th percentile for sleep quality scores.

Here’s how I scare off potential bedmates achieve great sleep. Continue reading

How to Apply Business Principles for a Better Personal Life

We’ve all heard stories about the workaholic corporate-type with no personal life, or the driven entrepreneur with a singular focus on business. But in reality, there’s a lot we can learn from the business world – ideas, practices, and philosophies that can be applied to lead an easier, more fulfilling, and more productive life.

I have a few favorites that I’ve raided from my entrepreneurial war chest and implemented successfully in my day-to-day routine. Follow along as we transform boring corporate jargon into Zen-like awesomeness.

Businessman meditating

Today, we're going to breathe some new life into stuffy business concepts.

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Are you happy? (My year in review)

For me, New Years Eve was never so much about resolutions as it was about drinking champagne. Sure, on December 31st I can’t help but think back nostalgically on the year that has passed, but I have always felt that the holiday was too public a time to really reflect. Besides, champagne has a way of…uh, narrowing your focus down to the moment at hand, rather than looking at the big picture. Continue reading

How I Make Money, Part II: 5 Steps to Creating a Product

In my first post of this series, I wrote about some common myths that stop would-be entrepreneurs. This post outlines how to make a list of potential product ideas, determine which one is best, and get the ball rolling on finding a supplier.

Since you’re reading a blog post about starting your own business, we’ve already established that you aren’t satisfied with hate your job because:

  • your boss is an idiot
  • you don’t get paid enough
  • you work too many hours
  • you’re underappreciated
  • you’re bored
  • all of the above

Low risk, high profit. A good place to be.

I’m going to give you a crash course in idea generation and product development. It’s not the risky, dark art that “they” want you to think it is – once you know the key steps and some good tools, it’s as easy as…dealing with China. Continue reading

8 Simple Philosophies That Changed My Life

We’re all faced with complex challenges – even exciting new opportunities often come wrapped in a frustratingly delicate package. When you know what is important to you on a basic level, you can quickly distill complicated problems down to a digestible and navigable decision. Simple solutions are often the most elegant and there are a few philosophies that have guided me through some particularly difficult situations – and ultimately led me to follow my dreams to Argentina.

Here are the eight guidelines that keep my life exciting, meaningful, and most importantly, unusual.

Zack’s 8 Simple Philosophies for a Happy, Healthy Life

Portrait

Smile = proof of a happy life

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The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Learn

I’ve never really been one to follow the masses or participate in the rigid march of conformity. I sold candy on the black market in 5th grade, started an auto parts company when I was 16, skipped my senior year of high school, and was on a one-way flight to Vegas during my college graduation.

Buenos Aires Balcony

Looking out from my balcony in Buenos Aires

At age 23, I was making plenty of money and was only working a few hours a day. It was every guy’s dream – living in Sin City, improving my Call of Duty skills with previously undiscovered dedication, and embracing a general lack of responsibility that I hadn’t experienced since…well, college. So, after a year in Vegas, I took the next logical step – I moved back to New Jersey (where I grew up),  started working for the family business, and signed a 15 month lease with a new girlfriend that I met on Match.com.

Wait, what?

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10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Life Today

Changing or improving your life doesn’t have to be a long, frustrating, drawn-out process. I’m always in search of the smallest changes that yield the biggest returns, and below is my collection of quick tips that can make your life easier, more fulfilling, or just less of a pain in the ass.

Try one or two of these and tell me how great they worked.

Sleeping at the desk

Zack’s Not-So-Secret List of Simple Ways to Increase Happiness, Productivity, or General Awesomeness

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How I Make Money, Part I: Top 3 Myths That Stop Would-Be Entrepreneurs

“So, are you here to work or to study?”

I get this question almost every day and it’s really a tough one to answer. It’s been 60 days since I got any real, tangible work accomplished, but January’s revenue is almost double what it was last January. I can’t say I’m proud of my obsolescence – I love being productive – but the results speak for themselves. As you may already know, I’m in Argentina indefinitely and I’m taking Spanish classes to improve my somewhat limited communication skills. I skipped class the other day to catch up on work – the pangs of guilt finally put the perpetual hangover in the backseat – and I sat down at my desk to plug away at the next big task.

There was just one problem: there wasn’t anything major for me to do. You see, 18 months ago, I read the 4-Hour Work Week and began to systematically outsource or automate all of my day-to-day tasks for the auto parts company that I started when I was 16. I’m the only employee, and even though I have a dozen major projects underway – from developing an all-new website to engineering a line of indestructible ball joints – they’re all in the hands of subcontractors now. Every few weeks, I have some updates to review and approve, but at the moment the only things on my to-do list were lingering, non-critical tasks that I’ve been putting off for the better part of the decade. Continue reading

Running errands in Buenos Aires

In my last post, I mentioned that I need a blender because buying groceries has been a disaster.

I’ll start by saying that the trend of putting your business into Google Maps hasn’t quite reached the tipping point yet in Argentina, so I have to rely on a combination of word-of-mouth referrals and wandering around aimlessly. Although my Spanish has improved since the blender blunder, the latter is actually quite a bit more productive at the moment. Verbal communication is still difficult, as I haven’t been able to hear out of my right ear since I fell asleep on the beach in Pinamar and woke up to a plane with a loudspeaker strapped to the bottom screaming at me about a “Motoshow MAS IMPORTANTE.” I don’t know what they were yelling about but it sounded like a mix between an American monster truck commercial and an episode of Sabado Gigante (Pinamar is a beach town about four hours away from here – picture a swimsuit contest, a Sweet 16 party, and every NASCAR sponsor, shaken up and dumped onto a beach at the Jersey Shore. And I mean that in the best way possible). Continue reading