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Archive for the ‘Risk’ Category

The making of “In The Crease”.

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“The Dive”.

It was all the rage/hype at the Johns Hopkins University “Blue Jay Lacrosse Camp” during my time in high-school in the early-to-mid 90’s, because Doug Knight (UVA) kept on doing it & doing it.  Maybe those extreme “Mountain Dew” commercials, back then, were to blame?  It was one of the wildest things seen and coolest way to score instead of a “BTB” (behind-the-back) shot.  But as a goalie, when I saw 2 “keepers” at camp get hurt from attackmen/middies crashing into the net, I was more scared of “The Dive”  than facing the 95-100 mph shots coming at me!

When asked to portray this in a rendering for Jim Rood’s business, “In The Crease Lacrosse” based out of Maryland, my mind went right back to this personal time and experience of mine on the field.  However, off the field, I did remember doing an earlier version of something like “The Dive” for a customer in Melbourne, Australia (Mr. Alan Lewer/Altona Lacrosse Club):

Mr. Lewer not only hung the piece up in his “bar room” at home, but got it permanently “inked”…

Development:

I got approval from a quick sketch, but needed original reference pics… I just couldn’t “execute it cold”.  So an early morning pose on the living room couch simulating “The Dive” was done.

Final piece.  Pen & Ink, 8″x12″, 3 hours total time.

Written by theartoflax

May 24, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Posted in Art, Business, Childhood, Inspiration, Lacrosse, Risk

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The IMPORTANCE of being FIRED.

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“Packing up, Resigned, Terminated, Let go”.

Different words, but the same meaning.  The recent and huge ‘shifts’ of Div. I coaches: Tony Seaman (Towson), Richie Meade (Navy), Jim Stagnitta (Rutgers) and the overlooked programs at Wagner College and SUNY-Binghamton, reminded me of a very personal, yet VERY important experience and lesson – being FIRED.

Winning is memorable.  Losing is UNFORGETTABLE!

1996.  We were defending a New-England Lacrosse Championship title in our league.  The first full-time start against The Gunnery School my senior year in boarding school and I had a very strong 1st quarter (about 6 saves in).  Soon enough, I “tanked” and folded like paper – letting in about 15 goals in total at the end of competition.  Head down and disappointed, I was at the front of the line to shake the opponent’s hands.  Coach Brande pulled me aside from my teammates, who were all heading to the fieldhouse, and told me “as the captain, you really need to look at yourself in the mirror and question your performance…

I’m always asked what spurred my starting The Art of Lax™.  Yeah, I might’ve been drawing lacrosse players during English class in boarding school or my failed attempt for a “senior thesis” in art school.  But I think there was something else behind it.

Having enthusiasm shows.  Not having any enthusiasm shows, too.

2005.  There was not a lot to like about that current job, looking back, but I knew I hated it.  The work was more of a job than a career step.  Regardless, I thought I did my job well but my boss didn’t see me in that situation, thus my reviews weren’t spectacular.  I was told of a meeting with my boss was to come and I knew what that meant.  I talked to my parents for advice and my Dad mentioned that back in World War II, the 2 most successful, yet feared U.S. Generals by their enemies (Gen. George S. Patton by the Germans & Gen. Douglas MacArthur by the Japanese), were both eventually fired by their superiors, Gen. Eisenhower and Pres. Truman.  My Dad, being a very laconic person, left it at that for me to figure it out.

The Mirror Test.

As the meeting with my boss got nearer, I decided to meet up with some friends of mine at a bar to “take things off my mind” – that was easier said than done.  I showed up about an hour early and sat down at one of the ‘red & white’ checkered tables at Dorrian’s Red Hand in the Upper East Side of Manhattan.  With a blank sheet of paper and a pen, I questioned “if I had to describe myself in 5 words to somebody, what would they be?” 

1. Art

2. Lacrosse  

I don’t remember what order these two words came in but they were definitely the first 2.

3. History – AP History in boarding school and always known for watching The History Channel more than ESPN.  Ironically, Art History never appealed to me in art school.

4. Food – Cooking (and dining out), another thing I do a lot during the week. 

5. Travel – Love to travel Internationally and experience/learn the many different cultures of the world.

Getting into hot water hurts, but hot water keeps you clean.Malachy F. Cleary (former assistant Headmaster, St. David’s School – NY, NY)

I looked at Art & Lacrosse and realized the very rare combined interests of two polar opposite audiences and genres.  That rare combination, I thought, could be unique.  It turned out to be the BEST decision to have ever happened to my professional career.  Eventually, I had that meeting and I was “forced to resign” but that felt more of a relief, rather than a disappointment.

Hindsight is 20/20.  Lesson Learned.

2011.  Of those 5 words, the first two, simply put, describe me the most and the venture I decided to embark on.  Somebody told me “you have to do the things you do not like in order to find the things you do…“.  That situation, forced me to look at what I really LOVE to do.  Looking back, I shouldn’t have waited for something negative to have happened first, rather I should’ve drawn the line and “fired myself”.  But making mistakes is how you learn and if I wasn’t “let go” I wouldn’t have known what I wanted and wouldn’t have accomplished the many things to this day with The Art of Lax™.

It doesn’t matter what happens to you in life, it’s how you react to it.” – David Neeleman (former CEO, jetBlue Airways)


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May 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm

“Excuses are like @$$holes. Everybody’s got one!”

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“Excuses are like a–holes, Taylor!  Everybody’s got one!” – Sgt. O’Neill (played by John C. McGinley in the 1986 movie “Platoon”)

“Snow-magedon”

“Snow-pocalypse”

“Snow-torious”

The snow-storm that recently hit the northeast after Christmas and literally buried NYC made me think of a lacrosse photo of mine.  The photo was taken back in 2007 when the post-collegiate lacrosse team that I help start became competitive in the American Lacrosse League.  Excited to be playing a very high-level of lacrosse each week, my mind was focused to one team in particular that always stood out – The New York Athletic Club a.k.a. “NYAC” or “The AC”.  I looked at their roster and each name (except for two) was a Div. I All-American in college, consisting of current/former Major League Lacrosse, National Lacrosse League players and have either tried out/made a U.S. National Team in the ILF World Games of Lacrosse.  I was soon going to find out what 4-years of art-school and earning a BFA in Communications Design, was going to get me on the lacrosse field facing this kind of talent.

“FAILURE to prepare, is a preparation for FAILURE” -John Wooden (Former basketball coach of UCLA. October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010)

The days leading up to the game I asked my friend, Drew Andreotti, to meet me at the turf field (Chelsea Waterside Park) on W. 23rd St. along the Westside Highway and shoot some lacrosse balls at me.  A heavy snow-storm the night before decided to hamper our plans but we decided to ‘screw that’ and go ahead regardless.  As I arrived to the field, Drew graciously labored well-ahead of time to clear out the snow for a goal crease and ample shooting space.

“Stick-side high” 8x

“Off-stick-side high” 8x

“Stick-side hip” 8x

…and so on and so forth with the goalie warm-up/shooting routine.  We braved the freezing elements and the harsh glare from the snow and ice called for a thick layer of eye-black.  To keep our sanity and for some laughs, I kept on screaming out loud “NYAAAACCCC!” to mimic the winter, outdoor training scene in “Rocky IV” where Rocky yells his opponent’s name of “Ivan Drago” after reaching the top of a mountain.  Before the training session ended Drew took out his cellphone and got a pic of the crazy, 1-hour experience.

The opening quote may be of poor taste, but it’s something I hear a lot of, even from my own mouth – excuses.  But the pic and the experience is a constant reminder that if something is important to you (whatever it is) you will make time for it.

 

 

Written by theartoflax

December 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm

The GREATEST Risk Is Not Taking ONE.

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“The Greatest Risk Is Not Taking One” – American International Group (AIG)

Over the weekend I celebrated the 2nd birthday of The Art of Lax™.  The celebration did not have a cake with candles or party favors, and such, rather it consisted with a lot of reflection accompanied with a smile or 10.  :o)

In the Fall season of 2008, The Art of Lax™ was being built and slowly taking shape – 25 drawings, 5 paintings and a lot of sleepless nights “working and wondering” into the unknown.

“He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”– James Allen (author, “From Poverty to Power”)

On Dec. 18th 2008, I took those images and created the Facebook Group Page – “The Art of Lax™ – by Vincent Ricasio“.  Crossing the line and pushing the boundaries, I “invited” as many friends (mostly lacrosse related) on the group page, hoping that they might ‘spread the word’.  After that, it was back to a state of “wonder”.

The next day, Dec. 19th 2008, I received an email at exactly 10:04 a.m. requesting a specific reproduction print for a last minute Christmas present.  I did not have a website up, nor any way to take orders and make online transactions, but I didn’t care (at the moment) because I was excited to get a response within 24 hours from launching [it] to the public.  I printed and framed that customer’s email and it hangs next to my computer at home, where I stare at it to this day as a positive reminder.

(My first business/promo card)

I opened this post with a quote from an old AIG commercial in the late-90’s or early-2000’s that is a favorite of mine.  It combines footage of the “Space Race” along with a narration of lines from T.S. Elliot’s poem: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.  It is a lesson and reminder that being scared is a realistic behavior when stepping into the “unknown”.  But The Art of Lax™ and entrepreneurship has taught me just that – risk, push, learn and REPEAT.

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December 20, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Everything Counts

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“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.  Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” -Colin Powell (former Secretary of State)

One of my lacrosse coaches in boarding school was a man named David Reece, who has most definitely, taught me the importance of life in two, simple words.  It happened before the start of one particular practice when we did not have a game scheduled during the week.  A player asked Coach Reece if we could skip the routine (and often boring) stretch and warm-up, in the interest of just getting practice started and finished.  Coach’s response was very simple:

“No, because we will not skip what is important!”

The player inquired how it [stretching] was important and coach responded by saying:

“…because it’s one little thing that adds to a big part of our regimen and responsibility… whether it’s stretching out, tying your shoe laces, taping your stick, tweaking your pocket… even in practice… Everything Counts!

He would always say that in a commanding voice when somebody would try and “cut corners” sort-of-speak.  I take those words very seriously.  It has not only helped me as a player on the field but as a professional – trying not to overlook or take anything for granted, especially in the “real world”.

2 years ago to this day, the foundation of The Art of Lax™ was being finalized.  I promised myself, 24 drawings and 3 paintings done before the deadline of my 30th birthday – Nov. 16, 2008.  One of those paintings is titled “Everything Counts” and it is based on my experience and lesson from Coach Reece and the sport of lacrosse.  It is a reminder that if something is very important to you, make Everything related to it CountEVERYDAY.

Written by theartoflax

November 16, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Accountability

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“Accountability breeds response-ability.” – Stephen R. Covey

Yesterday was Veterans Day.  I’m very thankful for those who have and presently serve in the Armed Forces.  I think of the word accountability a lot in work, owning a business and running a lacrosse team.  I’m reminded of General Eisenhower, the night before the D-Day invasion landings in Normandy took place.  Some historians and authors have called it “the most important day in the 20th Century.” In the event the invasion failed, General Eisenhower drafted a note which he kept in his wallet,

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

The landings were not perfect… but he never had to “use” that note.   Eisenhower eventually became the 34th President of the United States.

This is accountability.

Written by theartoflax

November 12, 2010 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Leadership, Risk

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Calling the SHOTS!

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“If you want to call the SHOTS, you have to take all the RISKS!”

That’s a quote I flat out believe in.  Lacrosse goalies have to be alert and call the shots, or else!  Being a goalie, a co-founder, president and captain of my post-collegiate club lacrosse team isn’t an easy job.  There’s coordinating meetings, game scheduling, travel/logistics, finance/budgeting, etc., etc. and then trying to stop a blistering shot at 95+ mph in goal!  But the hardest part of the job is when your teammates don’t live up to their responsibilities.  In my perfect world, they would be able to fully pay their seasonal dues on time, clearly read ALL my emails, not play phone-tag with me on game day, arrive on time and play their perfect game of lacrosse for a win.  But we do not live in such a world.

The same thing goes in business.  Entrepreneurship has taught me that there are two kinds of leaders:

1) The one who sits behind the desk and calls on certain people to “call the shots”.

2) The one who stands on their feet at the “front line” and “calls the shots”.

Ever since grade school, I’ve always had a major interest in military history.  I highly respect those who have served/currently serve in the armed forces.  Success in the military, just like in business and lacrosse, depends on management.  Here are two vids from the movie “Gettysburg” (1993) that display the true and amazing acts of leadership from two (probably less-known today) “front line” generals in the famous Civil War battle.  These two individuals “called the shots” because they took the risks.  Doing just that, enabled a strong faith among the personnel that followed these leaders into battle.

Union Cavalry General, John Buford (played by Sam Elliot).  Defending Gettysburg on the 1st day, all on his accord.

Union General, Joshua Chamberlain (played by Jeff Daniels).  Defending “Little Round Top”.  The BEST defense is an OFFENSE!

Bonus clip from other military genres –

Lt. Spears from “Band of Brothers”.  Knowing you have a job to do.

Leadership is ACTION, not position.

“In any moment of decision, the BEST you can do is the RIGHT THING.  The worst is doing nothing at all.” – Teddy Roosevelt

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November 4, 2010 at 2:46 pm