“Winners never quit and quitters never win.” - Vince Lombardi
Vincent Thomas Lombardi is arguably the greatest football coach of all time, and is on the short list of history’s greatest coaches, regardless of sport. His ability to teach, motivate and inspire players helped turn the Green Bay Packers into the most dominating NFL team in the 1960s
Just like Vince, I have had a passion for sports and education and teaching all of my life.
When I was a kid, I did it all – played Baseball, won the local Little League Championship twice
in four years, played street hockey. Playing hockey in the streets of Brooklyn will toughen you up, since there was hardly any protective gear back then, and the other guys were tough as nails.
Since my father passed away when I was four, it was my mom who took me to see the Yankees playing at the old stadium. Sometimes we would take the two-hour train ride out to Shea to see the Mets play. It was so exciting to see the stadium come into view as the train was creaking and rattling along the tracks. I would ask my mom to let us ride in the very first car so I could look out the window and see, what to me at the time was, the whole world, as we moved from neighborhood to neighborhood until we reached our stop.
The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”
Even at that young age, I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. While the other kids my age would spend time dreaming and talking about the latest TV shows or chasing after some bully in the schoolyard, I was spending my spare time studying. I remember my love for books and reading. I had a natural gift for writing and drawing for as long as I can remember.
I started my first ‘business’ at the age of eight. I would draw all sorts of different characters from superheroes to cars and motorcycles, and they were good – so good in fact that I would actually sell some of my drawings to the other kids in school. I learned very early the importance of using one’s talent to not only enrich the lives of others, but also to earn money and to save and invest.
It was the 80’s, and as a kid, I would watch my mom work hard to provide for us. She grew up with eight brothers and sisters. My grandfather died before I was born, so my mom, being the oldest, was actually taken out of school to help earn money for her family by my grandmother. Times were tough to say the least for her. I am proud to say that this didn’t stop my mom from earning a degree later in life, landing a position at Columbia University, and having an amazing career. Not bad at all!
The reason I bring this up for my readers is that I want you to look at your life right now. No matter how difficult it may be, you have the power to control your own destiny. There are a thousand stories times a thousand people who have had it far worse than you or I. And they have achieved greatness. So can you!
My entrepreneurial spirit would really start to shine once I graduated college. I pursued a degree in business and pre-law. My original plan was to go to law school, but I included pre-med classes, as my love of science had me yearning to also consider becoming a doctor. As fate would have it, those plans would change when opportunity presented itself, as it often does for many of us.
The event that changed my life was really quite simple. I had supported my way through college, like many people of that age, by working in the restaurant industry. Unlike most people however, I had the good fortune of working for an amazing businessman who ran the local pizzeria. His name was Alfonso, and his shop was Al’s Pizza. It was a little shop in Brooklyn, located on a busy corner right under the BQE (which is a highway that runs through all of Brooklyn). Just like the highway, that little shop would provide me the cast of characters and advice that would inspire me to launch businesses and relationships that allowed me to realize my dreams and live the life I am living today. When I first met Alfonso, my first mentor in life and business, I was only fourteen. I was your average fourteen year old, who couldn’t see past his nose unless a cute female of the species was walking by. But Alfonso showed me how to look at the world in a new way.
Having experienced first-hand how someone’s kindness and support could change a person’s life, I now look to do the same by sharing what I have learned, and mentoring those who could benefit from what I have learned about life, business, and the human spirit.