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"Humble Beginnings with just $100 to a 100-store chicken wing chain, Rick's extraordinary journey began on March 17, 1999, just a day after his daughter's birth. He fearlessly took on industry titans like Buffalo Wild Wings and the Oprah Winfrey Network in trademark battles. Transitioning from food to film, he sold his successful chain in 2015 to pursue filmmaking. On March 17, 2024, marking 25 years since his venture, Rick launches his 'Rags To Rick' podcast, sharing the wisdom from his life and business." 

Story Of My Life
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Rick's mother, Nedeljka, (Neda) played a significant role in his life. She named him Richard after seeing Richard Burton in a movie and always wished for him to have blue eyes. She was always Rick's biggest supporter, and they shared a special bond. Before going to clean offices, they would have a white dinner cloth ritual, which taught Rick the value of hard work from an early age.

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Richard Nicolas Smiciklas, also known as Rick, was born in Toronto on June 9, 1963. Interestingly, he shares the same birth year and day as Johnny Depp.

His father Nikola (Nick) escaped from the Mountains of Croatia in 1956, with just $18 and was shot in the back of the leg on his way to Canada in search of a better life for his family.  

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Rick's journey to success started with a simple lunch with his dad in 1975. Little did he know that his job at KFC would lead him to become a fried chicken wing founder. Despite his father's tough love, Rick always strived to be his own man. It wasn't until his father's last words that he finally felt acknowledged as his son. Rick credits his father's firm but fair discipline style for contributing to his success.

Rick's first dog, Chima, left a hole in his heart when she got hit by a car in 1974. This painful experience taught him the value of life and how to make the most of every second.  Rick's Golden Retriever, Girlie, has since filled that hole, they are inseparable and like Rick says, there are no friends in business and if you want a friend "Get A Dog"   

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 Despite not finishing Grade 9, Rick never gave up on his dreams. From working as a mud wrestler named Mountain Man to pursuing an acting career in California, his determination and hard work paid off. His story is a testament to the power of perseverance and the belief in oneself.

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Rick as a bartender

"Risk Takers, Money Makers" captures Rick's life ethos, reflecting his journey through gambling, bartending, and ultimately business man. A former bookie, Rick's affinity for numbers and risk-taking led to run-ins with the law, but with the legalization of gambling in Canada, he pivoted towards legitimacy. At age 20, an $1800 bet transformed his life, propelling him to Fort Lauderdale where he parlayed his winnings into a successful bartending gig at the famed Button On The Beach, known for his bottle-flipping flair and speed. This stint marked a pivotal shift from the gamble of nightlife to the gamble of business, culminating in opening his first restaurant. Rick's narrative demonstrates how embracing risk can chart a path to unexpected and rewarding destinations.

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Rick's path to sobriety was fraught with challenges, yet he emerged victorious. His journey began abruptly on August 23,1993, after a blackout on a boat cruise led to an intervention by his father and a swift placement into detox, a moment that left Rick in a state of denial and confusion. Despite initial resistance, his time in a halfway house fostered a newfound appreciation for nature and living minimally. Six weeks into recovery, the necessity for dual support systems led Rick to reconnect with his ex-girlfriend Caroline ( pictured )and her mother Eleanor. Eleanor, having lost her son to alcoholism, extended forgiveness to Rick, teaching him invaluable lessons on staying sober and forgiveness, despite Rick's past mistakes with her daughter.

Eleanor's guidance became a cornerstone of Rick's recovery, equipping him with essential tools for sobriety. Meanwhile, Rick's attempt to find additional support through Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) took an unexpected turn when his father, also struggling with alcoholism, appeared at Rick's third meeting. This encounter prompted Rick to leave the meeting, deciding not to return. Instead, he leaned on the wisdom and teachings of Eleanor, which have played a crucial role in maintaining his sobriety to this day. Rick's story is a testament to the power of personal transformation, forgiveness, and the impact of meaningful support in overcoming addiction.

Rick Smiciklas's journey to success is a poignant narrative of resilience, family dynamics, and the indomitable human spirit. Shaped by the profound influence of his parents, Nick and Neda, Rick's story is one of overcoming adversity through strength, independence, and perseverance.

At the tender age of 16, Rick faced a pivotal moment that would forge his path to resilience. His father, Nick, with the assistance of police, made the difficult decision to remove Rick from the family home and exclude him from the last will and testament. This act, though seemingly harsh, instilled in Rick a sense of self-reliance and the importance of persevering against all odds. Rick's relationship with his father was complex, characterized by a deep-seated love, shared challenges with sobriety, and eventual reconciliation. This reconciliation was symbolized by Nick's final words to Rick, "MY SON," providing Rick with a profound sense of peace. Nick's passing from ALS on November 23, 2009, left Rick with a blend of sorrow and cherished memories, underscoring the complexity and depth of their bond.

In stark contrast, Rick's relationship with his mother, Neda, was marked by closeness and unwavering support. Neda's encouragement, especially during Rick's most challenging times, such as finding him homeless in a frozen field and urging him to "GET UP ONE MORE TIME," imbued Rick with a lifelong resolve never to succumb to self-pity. Her passing on September 11, 2020, deeply affected Rick, further compounded by the exclusion from her funeral orchestrated by his sister, who had previously disrespected his daughter during a critical time of need. This exclusion did not deter Rick from honoring his mother's profound and positive influence on his life; he paid his respects privately the following day, reflecting on the invaluable lessons and support she provided.

Family matters, particularly those involving conflict and reconciliation, are complex and deeply personal. For Rick, his daughter's well-being always remained his priority, illustrating the depth of his familial loyalty and love. Despite the challenges and heartaches, the legacies of Nick and Neda are integral to Rick's resilience and success. Their lives and lessons highlight the significance of facing adversity with courage and the impact of parental support on personal and professional growth.

Rick Smiciklas's story, with its trials and triumphs, exemplifies the power of perseverance and the enduring influence of family, both the struggles and the supports. It is a testament to the strength of the human spirit to overcome adversity and to the profound impact that family, in all its complexity, can have on our lives.

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On March 16, 1999, Rick's life changed forever with the birth of his daughter, Savannah. From that moment on, he found a true purpose in life and took pride in being a father first. Parenthood has a way of bringing out the best in us, and for Rick, it was no different.

Young Rick

On March 17, 1999, Rick opened his first  Wild Wing a day after his daughter was born. With only $100 to his name, he built a successful chain of 100 restaurants. His journey from humble beginnings  is a testament to his favourite quote " Begin With The End In Mind"

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In December 2010, Rick Smiciklas established Wild Card Promotions (WCP), motivated by his profound passion for boxing, which was sparked by witnessing fellow Croatian and national hero George Chuvalo battle Muhammad Ali on March 29, 1966. Chuvalo, a revered figure in the boxing world, has expressed his admiration for Smiciklas and his advice to Rick " Keep Punching"

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 In 2013 "Undercover Boss " episode featuring Rick. In the episode,  a struggling company founder breaks his cover and confronts a franchisee due to perceived deceit. This intense moment highlights Rick's dedication to the company's values and excellence. Despite initially resisting the show, Rick credits his staff for pushing him to participate and is now happy it led to a career in reality TV.

FIGHT CLUB

In January 2011, the Canadian Wild Wing franchise, led by owner Rick Smiciklas, filed a lawsuit to prevent its American counterpart, Buffalo Wild Wings, from entering the Canadian market under its  Emphasizing his commitment to his enterprise, he expressed no interest in their money, but rather a resolve to safeguard his business.  His unyielding response was with the words"Let's Go, I'm not scared"  

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In December 2014, a classic David versus Goliath scenario unfolded in the legal arena when entrepreneur Rick Smiciklas bravely stood up against the media giant Oprah Winfrey Network which aired a show called WingMen. Smiciklas, an entrepreneur with modest beginnings and little to his name found himself embroiled in a trademark infringement lawsuit that would challenge the very core of his rights and identity. 

DO WE LOOK WORRIED
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On March 4, 2015, Rick sold his complete interest in Wild Wing, a company he founded and expanded to 100 restaurants, a milestone that marked the achievement of his goal. However, upon receiving the proceeds from the sale, Rick felt an unexpected emptiness, realizing that the completion of this venture brought him no special satisfaction. This moment of reflection led him to understand that fulfillment comes from continually pursuing new goals and challenges. Despite others referring to Wild Wing as his "baby," Rick maintained that his business endeavors did not define him. Instead, he identified more with his passion for film and television, an interest that persisted despite significant financial losses.

Undeterred by his past setbacks, Rick will  embark on creating a podcast dedicated to educating others about the pitfalls of business and media. Following Wild Wing, he launched a film studio the next day, sound familiar and produced 2 movies. Among these was "Toronah," a self-deprecating comedy heavily criticized due to Rick's friendship with the late Rob Ford, a figure both loved and controversial. Rick valued Rob's friendship and his struggles with sobriety also , aiming to honor his dying wish in "Toronah" so that Rob's  kids could remember their father fondly in a positive light.

Another of Rick's projects, "Croatia With Love," aimed to pay tribute to his parents' homeland. This film, however, went largely unnoticed as it was not formally released or promoted but was instead posted on Rick's YouTube channel. His journey to Croatia was work related and short, and he hopes to one day have an extended stay , as he described as " The Best "and having  ever elusive " Peace ".

Rick's story is one of resilience and the relentless pursuit of new dreams. Despite his ventures into the film industry not yielding the desired success, he harbors no regrets, embracing the lessons learned from business failures ,showcasing his undying eternal optimism and determination to move forward, no matter the obstacle.

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Rick may have turned 60 On June 9 2023, but he still has a sense of humor. He often jokes that he and Johnny Depp are doppelgangers, which adds a bit of excitement to his introverted homebody ways. Rick prefers being home with Girlie and cooking opposed to going out to restaurants, making him a bit a mystery wrapped in a conundrum.

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"On March 16, 2024, Rick's daughter Savannah celebrated her 25th birthday. She is now a proud mother to a lovely boy who affectionately calls Rick 'Papa Clause'. It's amazing how time flies with humble beginnings and great memories

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On March 17, 2024, Rick commemorates the 25th anniversary of Wild Wing, who is gone but never forgotten. He remains grateful.  He may feel alone, but he finds elusive peace in the love of his daughter, grandson and best friend Girlie his beloved golden retriever. He is launching "Rags To Rick" a podcast," hoping to inspire others through his extraordinary journey.

Rick and Girlie

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