Archive for the 'Personal' Category

Wishing You a Very Merry Christmas… Looking Forward to 2013

A Fivecat Christmas

Every October, my lovely wife and architect business partner, Annmarie McCarthy, starts sketching out the Fivecat Christmas greeting card. It’s been an annual tradition since before Fivecat Studio even existed and each and every year we find ourselves licking envelopes during the very last minutes of “it’s not too late”.

Each set of Annmarie’s illustrations feature our furry family of cats, dogs and guinea pigs. She calls her four-legged cast of characters Anntics (stay tuned for Anntics.com). We have three kids too, but somehow they always fail to make the cut to the final piece. (Don’t worry… they have the entire stage during the rest of the year.)

If you click the Baltica lever to open the door, the link will take you over to my Living Well in Westchester blog, where you will enjoy the full effect and be introduced to our whole crew of fuzzy rescues.

Looking forward to 2013

I have very mixed emotions about this past year.

Financially, 2012 has been the absolute worst year in the history of Fivecat Studio… but because of the crisis, we shifted gears, restructured the firm and became more efficient at what we do. As the market begins to regain its balance and gets back up on its feet, we’re ready. We have survived the crisis, and as I declared in the introduction to the new Entrepreneur Architect Podcast, “survival is success”. Thankfully, the end of the year has brought several new projects.

As bad as its been, at the same time, I will always remember 2012 as the year when I made the full commitment to the idea of Entrepreneur Architect as a platform for supporting architects, designers and creative professionals throughout the world. As Entrepreneur Architect grows beyond this blog (and it will grow WAY beyond this blog), we’ll see its effects on architects throughout the world.

I am truly looking forward. The year 2013 is going to be very exciting.

The Entrepreneur Architect Podcast will be launched in January and will feature a monthly episode of inspiring iTunes audio. I will be interviewing architects, designers and others with a “creative spirit” who have something to teach us about everyday success.

I am working on my first e-book. The Entrepreneur Architect’s Manifesto will more thoroughly define the idea behind Entrepreneur Architect and how it will change YOUR life as an architect.

In addition to the podcast audio, I have also started experimenting with video. I expect the Entrepreneur Architect TV YouTube channel to launch sometime later this year. Where the podcast will feature thoughts and inspiration from others through interview, EA-TV will feature MY thoughts and ideas. I am excited to get that rolling, but first-things first.

If you like what we’re doing here at Entrepreneur Architect, please share a link with a friend and encourage them to subscribe to the blog. As I have stated several times before, everything I do here will be done to the best of my ability and I promise to never waste your time. As a father, husband, leader, business owner, entrepreneur architect, I know all too well the value of our precious limited time. If it doesn’t inspire success in business, leadership or life… it’s not going to happen at Entrepreneur Architect.

The future looks bright. Thank you for joining me on this ride.

I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a spectacular new year. See you in 2013.

God bless!

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We Are Architects. We Can Help Them Heal.

I apologize for the lack of development this post may seem to exhibit. Thrown into complete darkness by Hurricane Sandy, I am writing this from my warm bed on a Droid Incredible smart phone. We have not had power since 3PM Monday (October 29).

We are blessed to have survived the storm of our lifetimes with very little damage and are doing just fine. Thank God. Electricity is our only need. We will be patient as the ConEdison crews work overtime to help us return to normal routines.

We sent the kids off to the inlaws where they have heat, light and chocolate cake. My mom and dad surprised us yesterday and delivered a portable Honda generator. It’s tiny, but its enough to plug in Aunt Maureen’s old ceramic heater and warm up the bedroom.

This coming week is going to be very busy for us at Fivecat Studio. As our region begins to recover from the hurricane, there will be many homes in need of repair. In the wake of the storm, we have already scheduled three interviews and signed contracts for one major project, all directly related to storm damage.

Interestingly, all are prospects or clients with projects previously “on hold”. The damage caused by the storm gave them incentive to proceed with projects which were delayed due to the economy.

So, as dark as the clouds have been, we are seeing a very thin lining of silver glistening on the horizon.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost loved ones or watched as their homes burned to the ground. My heart is with the people at the Jersey Shore, a very special place where Annmarie and I both spent summer vacations as kids. The boardwalk and amusements we enjoyed with our own children have all been destroyed.

It is our responsibility as architects, in times of crisis such as these, to help our neighbors in need. Our expertise in building design and construction can help this region heal. As people start to evaluate the damage caused by the storm, we can be there to assist and be there to rebuild.

Please do what you can. Say a prayer. Send a donation. Volunteer your time. There are people who need us. Be there for them.

Deep Breath: A Weekend of Broken Cars and Things that Matter Most

I am the son of a retired auto mechanic and worked many weekends and summers at the shop (most likely where my entrepreneurial blood started to simmer). My Dad taught me what I need to know, to fix just about anything a vehicle can throw at me (and he has always been just a phone call away when things get beyond my skills). So, looking to save a few dollars, save time without my car during the work week and wanting to get my hands a little dirty again, I decided that I was going to perform some required maintenance on my Lexus.

The project this weekend? Brakes. My plan was to simply replace the rear brake pads and be done; a task that should have taken about a hour and a half.

Two days later, today the car is still on the jack. Half way through the job, I discovered that the left caliper was frozen in place and would not accept the new pads. I spent much of Saturday trying, with all my mind and might, to loosen the rusted parts with absolutely no success. It would not budge. — Deep breath!

On Sunday morning I started a search for a new part; not the preferable day for such a task. Many of the local auto parts stores were closed and the locations that were open did not carry the correct caliper. I finally found what I was looking for online, but of course, it’s not available until Wednesday. So, I wait. — Deep breath!

“Not a problem.” I said to myself. I have my ’69 Camaro home for the summer. I acquired my black Camaro RS in 1986, two years before graduating high school (the story of how I saved enough to buy a classic muscle car before my seventeenth birthday is one for another post). I keep the car stored elsewhere for the winters, but the fall is its favorite season, so I still have it home in Chappaqua. With the Lexus out of commission for a few days, my plan was to take the Camaro to work… or so I thought.

Late Sunday afternoon, the Camaro too decided to kick back. The short story is that it lost oil pressure. Without oil pressure, it will not run very long before the engine seizes and you’re saving your pennies for a new engine. Luckily, it’s parked in a safe place and I have a good friend with a car trailer who is always ready to help (good friends are awesome, aren’t they?). — Deep breath!

Without going into all the other little things that didn’t go as planned this weekend, let’s just say, it was “one of THOSE weekends”. — Deep breath!

But there is always a lesson to learn. Throughout all this mess, I was reminded that life is good. The cars are just mechanical objects. They’ll get repaired (eventually).

Throughout the weekend, when I felt most depressed with my consistent misfortune, my kids, one by one and individually, found me and gave me a hug. They asked if they could help and if I needed anything. I was shocked. They are 10, 8 and 5 years old. I was so proud of them. Tears filled my eyes. My wonderful wife was there too, every step of the way, to keep me calm, help me find the missing parts and take over when I had reached my mental limits. She’s the best wife ever! (I should get points for that.)

So, what really matters most? The broken cars?

I often research the backgrounds of highly successful people. Entrepreneurs, CEOs, athletes, artists. I want to learn from their lives to reach higher levels of success in my own life. What I have discovered is that more often than not, in order to reach the very highest levels of success in whatever these people pursue, they must sacrifice… big time. They must be so focused and determined to succeed, that everything else in their lives must be neglected and eventually fails. They are well known for their successes, but few know of their ultimate failures.

I struggle with this phenomenon. I want to succeed at the highest level of what I do, but I am not willing to sacrifice the things that truly matter most. When I die, I would much prefer to be remembered as a great father, husband, son, brother and friend, than an entrepreneur architect who reached his dreams of ultimate success. — Deep breath.

Lessons Learned from a Boy and His Boat

There are times in a man’s life when he just needs to stop and focus on the things that truly matter most. This past August was one such time for me. My son Henry and I built a boat.

Yes… a real, wood, floating, boat. It was an amazing experience.

Below is the story of Henry’s boat.

***
Seven year old boys have big dreams and Henry was no different.

On October 3, 2011, his 7th birthday, Henry LePage received exactly what he asked for.

Well, not exactly what he asked for.

Henry wanted a boat. Not a ride in his Pata’s boat. Not a boat he needed to share with his brother and sister. He wanted his very own boat. A real, wood boat.

On the morning of his birthday, Henry ran from his bedroom with hopes high. Would his dream come true? Would a boat be waiting for him somewhere in the house? He searched every room high and low and no boat. With disappointment setting in, he saw a small wrapped gift placed by his seat at the breakfast table. With a puzzled look on his face, he thought to himself, “That’s too small to be a boat”. It wasn’t.

It was a book from Mom and Dad… a book about building boats (Ultrasimple Boat Building: 17 Plywood Boats Anyone Can Build, by Gavin Atkin) and a promise from his dad that they together would build his dream craft… and it would be complete before their annual trip to the 1000 Islands next summer. (Dad had big dreams too!)

Autumn turned to winter. Then spring arrived and before they knew it, summer was upon them. Months went by and no boat. There just wasn’t time to start such an involved project. Mom and Dad were busy with work. The garage was full and the proper materials were not simple to acquire. There was one excuse after another, but time was running out.

With no time remaining for another excuse, a week before their August trip, Henry and his dad headed to Condon Lumber and purchased a load of marine-grade mahogany plywood. They brought it home and finally started the project. Dad helped… and Henry built his boat; an authentic Poorboy Skiff.

Dad didn’t quite know with what he was getting involved. The book was filled with “ultrasimple” boats, like the mouse boat, but Henry fell in love with the Poorboy Skiff. So the Poorboy Skiff it was.

Each day Dad came home a few hours early to be Henry’s assistant. Henry wanted to build the boat himself, so Dad would help when Henry needed some extra muscle or to make sure the power tools were being used safely. They worked into the night and made good progress.

Within days, the hull was complete enough to load onto the roof of the Suburban and travel to Mata and Pata’s river house at Arcadia Park in Fishers Landing, New York.

At the river, the true importance of the project became apparent. Henry finished up the details and, with help from his Pata, he painted his skiff a beautiful medium blue. One boat. Three generations. It was then we realized that this boat would become an heirloom; a part of our history passed from generation to generation of LePages to come.

On Saturday, September 1st, a day before heading home, Henry christened his Poorboy Skiff with a bottle of river water and launched Miss Arcadia II (the name was inspired by the historic Gold Cup racer Miss Canada III, which Henry rooted for at the Antique Boat Musuem Race Boat Regatta). The whole Arcadia Park neighborhood attended the event and celebrated with cheers and horn blowing.

It was a great day.

As the boat skimmed smoothly across the water’s surface, Henry finally experienced the joy and freedom of rowing his very own boat (and Dad discovered the importance of stopping to focus on what truly matters most).

A Boy and His Boat

Are there important things in your life that you should be getting done? There will never be “enough time”. Stop what you are doing and make time for the things that truly matter most.


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