How Losing My Mother Made Me A Better Entrepreneur

     Losing somebody dear to you is never easy; especially when that loved one is a parent. I lost my mother to the awful disease of cancer on December 12th, 2015. I’ve lost loved ones before: family pets, a grandmother and even my best friend and first business mentor. While all of them were difficult in their own right, none even come close to losing my mother. My mom was only 66 years old when she passed. There was still so much life I wanted to share with her; continue sharing my success with her and showing her my growth, making her proud by purchasing my first house in a few years and having her at my wedding in 2016. While she is no longer physically with us, I do know she will always be by my side. She was with me for 23 years. 

     As an entrepreneur and business owner, hardships and obstacles are a part of everyday life. We learn to adapt, think differently and overcome any hiccup in our grand plan. My mother’s passing taught me a lot about dealing with obstacles; the biggest lesson was that nothing is permanent and everything will be okay. The shock of losing her was so great to me, that I couldn’t be sad, nor angry. I was just…stunned. It wasn’t until the day after the funeral, over a week after her death, that the fact of the matter began to sink in. And when it did begin to hit me, it came at me like a freight train. After a few days of grieving and contemplation, I began to realize that no matter how hard it got, I still had myself. I was still here. I was able to persevere and move forward. The world had not ended. Life went on. And once I realized this, a weight had lifted off my shoulders and my head had rid of the fog over my conscious. I thought of all the petty issues with my business that I originally thought of as catastrophic and damning, and approached them in a new and positive light.

      I learned that time is limited and nobody is immune from time, even when it seems like that’s all they have. My mother’s death set in stone the concept of “now” and threw away the toxic idea of “tomorrow.” After utilizing my newfound wave of positivity and clarity, I noticed an increase in my positive thought process, business revenue, customer connectivity and self gratification. And you want to know what the best part of all of it is? I know my mother is watching and I know I’m still making her proud.

     Death and hardship are the ugly presents wrapped with a silver-lined bow and ribbon. Once you stop looking at it for what it is and start looking at it for what it MEANS, the gift becomes clear and your own personal growth is inevitable. Embrace change and accept hardship at its worst, for it will show you your best.


McLaren P1 | Ferrari LaFerrari | Porsche 918 Spyder - A Photographer’s Perspective

     Like most people, I set a few goals for myself at the start of the new year. One of which was to photograph each of the three hypercars - the McLaren P1, Ferrari LaFerrari and Porsche 918 Spyder. After photographing the McLaren P1 in the barren desert of Death Valley, California in January, the Ferrari LaFerrari in the race garage of Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California in April and the Porsche 918 Spyder in an empty airport hangar in Reno, Nevada in May, having accomplished my goal makes me a very happy photographer. Just like the driving experiences these three hypercars provide, from a photographic standpoint, they couldn’t be more different from each other.

     The McLaren P1 is the most alien looking of the three hypercars, especially when it’s in Race Mode. On the move, the P1 looks as if it is an animal creeping along the surface rather than a car driving down the road. It’s nearly impossible to find a bad angle for the P1, but I find that this car photographs best from the rear and from higher angles. The lines on the P1 have the perfect blend of curves and angles; in my opinion, it’s the most organically shaped of the three cars and the exposed carbon fiber throughout the body adds to its organic feeling. This is a car that lends itself nicely to almost any kind of light - natural or available light, strobes or lightpainting. The McLaren P1 photographs best in dark, ominous settings and adds a dramatic mood to every scene it is placed in. The particular P1 that I photographed was Volcano Orange; a metallic burnt orange that just glows in sunlight and often changes hue depending on angle and lighting conditions. Getting an accurate color representation in camera is a little tricky, but can be done with some planning and finesse and minor corrections in the editing process. Overall, the McLaren P1 is a photographer’s dream; making every shot look like a hero shot.

     The Ferrari LaFerrari is the most menacing-looking vehicle of the three hypercars. From the front, the LaFerrari is agressive, borderline angry; if any car could look pissed off, it would definitely be the LaFerrari. The Ferrari LaFerrari is quite tricky to photograph accurately. There are a number of small details in the lines that often become unnoticed in photographs. The saying “photographs don’t do it justice” definitely applies to this car. I find that this car works well in high-contrast lighting scenarios to bring out the edges and fine details that hide in the lines of the LaFerrari. While the rear, front and 3/4 views of this car are stunning, the side profile can look a bit awkward and almost 458-ish to the untrained eye. I have yet to see a direct profile photograph of the LaFerrari that really grabbed my attention and piqued my interest. While I am typically not a fan of bi-color cars, the bi-color paint scheme featured on the LaFerrari is perfect. I find that solid-color LaFerraris seem awkward and goofy. From a photographic standpoint, the bi-color scheme is a lot more appealing and striking. Like the McLaren P1, the Ferrari LaFerrari photographs best in dark, dramatic and edgy scenes. The LaFerrari is a car that does not lend itself well to photographs taken from ground-level. Angles horizontal to the car and high, bird’s-eye-view angles work really well for the LaFerrari - especially for the front and rear 3/4 views. Lighting wise, I would say that direct strobes would make the car look the most aggressive. Natural light would work well depending on the circumstances and lightpainting, I feel, would hide a lot of the car’s hard lines and angles. Overall, the LaFerrari is a joy to photograph all while providing a bit of a challenge to the photographer.

     Finally, the Porsche 918 Spyder. Of the big three, the 918 is the most aesthetically minimalistic and simplistic of the bunch. The lines of the Porsche 918 Spyder are very curvacious and elegant versus the hard and edgier lines of the Ferrari LaFerrari and McLaren P1. Because of this, I feel that the car photographs best in minimalistic, sterile and high-key environments and scenes. While I photographed the 918 using only available light, I feel that lightpainting this car with an Ice-Light or other form of LED light would be the best way to highlight and accent the curves on this car. The side profile and rear of this car are, by far, the best angles to photograph from. To me, the front of the 918 Spyder is lacking detail and theater; like my comment about the Ferrari LaFerrari’s profile, I have yet to see a direct head-on photograph of the 918 that excites me. I would go as far as to say that the 918 Spyder is the easiest of the three cars to photograph. Overall, the Porsche 918 Spyder is visually stunning and lends itself well to most angles.

     If I had to pick one to call my favorite to photograph, I would have to go with the McLaren P1, followed closely by the Ferrari LaFerrari and the Porsche 918 Spyder not far behind that. The P1 is visually stunning from virtually every angle; it’s hard to not make the P1 seem like the most lustworthy hypercar available. All three of the hybrid kings are a joy to work with and I hope for future work with them soon.

I Just Drove The Fastest Car I’ve Ever Experienced - And It Is A Hybrid

     I love driving. To me, it’s the most pleasurable recreational activity one can have with their clothes on. I am in the minority of people who consider driving to be “fun” and “recreational” rather than just a way of getting from point “A” to point “B,” but believe me when I say that there ARE others out there that share the same opinion. Several factors go into making driving as fun as it is; those factors are driver involvement, handling and stability, and sound. That last one is more important than people think. If a car’s sound doesn’t tingle your nerves and send chills down your spine, you’re missing out on half of the experience. Nothing brings me more aural pleasure than listening to a car scream through the gears in an almost musical manner as it “speaks” to you through the exhaust note, feedback through the steering wheel, and stability felt through the seat of your pants. Some call me crazy while others call me obsessed; I call it passion. A new breed of hypercars is emerging and they feature some of the “enhancements” that are known to kill or diminish the sound of a car, ultimately making the driving experience more mundane. These enhancements are the heavy use of turbocharging and the introduction of a hybrid power source. Turbos are built to create boost and increase your power by double or more. Despite the increase in performance, turbos often diminish the sound of your car; that’s just how turbos perform. They hybrid drivetrain was developed to make cars more eco-friendly by pairing an electric power source (battery) with the gasoline engine. This causes the car to be heavy and slow. Despite all of this, one hypercar utilizes both of these concepts, but does so in a way that completely re-writes the book of motoring. That car is the McLaren P1. I can now say that I have driven it…and it is absolutely mental.

     The McLaren P1 is the new automotive poster child. It features a 3.8 liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine that produces over 700 horsepower. This is coupled with an electric motor which produces over 170 horsepower. Together, this monster makes a whopping 903 horsepower. 903 horsepower in a car that weighs less than most family sedans is simply astonishing. But rather than focus on the technical specifics, I want to explain to you how this car cleverly uses turbocharging and the hybrid system to actually ENHANCE the driving pleasure…including the sound.

     A group of friends and I did a drive up to Lake Tahoe for lunch. I rode with my buddy in his McLaren MP4-12C Spider. After lunch at Tahoe, he offered to let me drive home, to which I happily obliged. I’ve driven the 12C numerous times and it’s a ridiculously fast car. As I was driving back, I asked him, “Now that you have your P1 and have driven it and the 12C back-to-back, how do they compare? If the P1 is a 10/10, what is the 12C?” Now, I’ve ridden in the P1 prior to driving it, but it’s never the same as DRIVING a car. He smiled and said, “If the P1 is a 10/10, then the 12C is a 6/10…7/10 at best. When we get back, we can hop in the P1 and take it for a spin…I’ll have you drive it to see for yourself.” I’ve driven the 12C numerous times and am very comfortable with that car. There were some points that I wanted to compare to the P1 such as throttle input, steering weight, body roll, understeer/oversteer, excitement factor, driver involvement and several other points of interest. Upon returning to the garage, I parked 12C and immediately hopped into the driver’s seat of P1.

      Instantly, I could tell the difference. The McLaren P1 is NOT just a “more powerful 12C” like many of the early rumors claimed. Seating position in the P1 is totally different; the P1 seats don’t just hold, but LOCK you in place and allow for no wiggle-room. I also noticed that the steering wheel of the P1 is positioned closer to the dash than it is in the 12C; so I had to adjust my seat to sit closer which caused a more severe bend in my knees. This was reminiscent of the race cars I have driven in the past Visibility out the front and side of the P1 was very similar to that of the 12C. The rear, however, is a totally different story; a small porthole window is all that is visible with through the rear view mirror. The alacantara steering wheel of the P1 is more comfortable and more confidence-inspiring than the 12C. The digital dash layout of the P1 is simple, easy to use/understand and very purposeful.

      Starting off in normal mode in Automatic, the P1 drives easier than the 12C. The electric motor makes its presence known by eliminating all of the jerkiness that is present with light throttle input when driving the 12C. The electric motor makes transitioning from a standstill to acceleration more refined and fluid. The brakes on the P1 feel very good. They aren’t grabby, but have great feel and little to zero pedal travel. Shifts in automatic mode are virtually unnoticeable. As we began to cruise down the road and warm up our tires, I put it in E-Mode (electric mode) which caused the gasoline engine to shut off and I was driving purely on electric power. This was a very odd feeling. The high-pitched whine of the electric motor screamed ever so softly as we cruised down the road. It felt as civilized as a Ford Focus in electric mode. After a couple miles, I switched the gasoline engine back on and the V8 roared to life. While sitting at the red light waiting to get onto the freeway, I put it in Active mode and switched to manual transmission. I also engaged sport mode (not to be confused with track mode or race mode). There was one car in front of me and when the light turned green, I gave it about 1/3 throttle and passed said car effortlessly. 1/3 throttle in the P1 felt as powerful as 2/3 throttle in the 12C. Upon getting onto the freeway, I created a large (1/4-1/2 mile) gap between myself and the nearest car in front of me. Once the road was straight, I was in 3rd gear at just over 4k RPMs, gave it 1/2 throttle and squeezed to 3/4 throttle. What went from a steady 50 MPH rocketed to 115 MPH in, what seemed like, the blink of an eye. It literally does take your breath away. Very little effort was needed to slow the car back down to a sane and legal speed.

     I exited the freeway a few miles after and stopped on a side road. Here, we engaged Race Mode; the P1’s most extreme mode. Traction control was turned off and everything became more aggressive. The sound of this car is to die for; a mixture of the V8 howl and the swoosh of the air rushing over you into the intake as the turbos hiss and snarl like an angered thoroughbred stallion. The ride quality in Race Mode is a LOT stiffer than normal or sport mode and night-and-day difference to that of the 12C. Race Mode is where this thing really shows its true colors. It amazed me, that even at 40 MPH, this car is road legal. It really is that extreme. As I got back onto the freeway, I saw another large gap on a 1/2 mile straight. Again, in 3rd gear, I was cruising at 50 MPH. This time, I gave it full throttle. The rear tires spun momentarily as the rev-limiter bounced and the LED shift lights lit up the dashboard. It quickly regained traction and the speedometer increased in speed faster than I had seen any other speedometer do; 50mph…82mph…107mph…115mph…126mph. Before I knew it, I was over 130 and the van that was originally a small dot in my windshield was now a tiny spec in my rear view mirror. I laid on the brakes and the air-brake flew up behind me as the car slowed almost as quick as it accelerated. “HOLY FUCKING HELL!!!” I yelled as the owner laughed and smiled. “That was awesome!! Good job!” he said to me as my hands trembled and I slowed back down to a sane 65mph. A natural, giddy, school-girl laugh emitted from me as I exited the freeway onto a frontage road.

      What really amazed me, and caught me off guard, about this car was how much you could FEEL the downforce. Above 90 mph, the car felt like someone was sitting on top of you, pushing you down to the ground. The steering became heavier as your speed increased and was noticeably heavier above 110mph. On straights, the DRS function really did make a difference as the car seemed to cut through the air with very minimal effort when DRS was activated…seemingly eliminating that feeling of something sitting on top of the car and giving more downforce. The frontage road I exited onto had some nice long sweepers; the P1’s steering is absolutely IMMEDIATE and has no play, whereas the 12C has light to minimal play depending on mode and speed. Body roll in the P1? None. Understeer in the P1? None. Oversteer in the P1? If you’re not careful, yes. During my drive, this P1 had the Pirelli Corsas on which are less grippy than the Trofeo R tires. I’m lead to believe that the Trofeo Rs will help reduce some of that snap oversteer. Back on the main road and I took it easy, allowing the car (and mostly myself) to wind down and return to sane and civilized conditions. Despite how aggressive and extreme the P1 is, it remained one of the most comfortable cars I’ve ever driven. The seats give you tremendous support and hold you perfectly. I drove back to the garage in a very civilized manner and we put the cars away.

     The McLaren P1 is one of the most involving and exciting cars I have ever driven. It’s on par with the Ferrari F40 in terms of sensory overload and pleasure. If I had to sum up what the P1 is like with a metaphor, I’d say this: The McLaren P1 is like your smoking hot supermodel girlfriend. It’s absolutely breathtaking to look at and captures everyone’s attention; everyone wants to be inside it. She knows exactly how to please you and be flirty and playful toward you, but you must show her the utmost respect and treat her gently. She does like to be driven hard, but if you are too rough, she’ll be sure to let you know that she’s not here to play games. She LOVES to scream loudly and she begs you for more, and often shows you that you are way more capable than you ever thought you were. But she also has a gentle and docile side for those days where you just want to take it slow. The McLaren P1 really is something special and is the beginning chapter in a whole new saga of supercars. I’m beyond blessed for being able to have such an experience.


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