My Personal Story
My Personal Story Chapter 1: Elementary School Years (K-6) All of my elementary school years were spent in Ridgewood, New Jersey. I remember going to school everyday at Somerville Elementary. This is only significant because there were a bunch of different schools, all obviously having to do with where you lived. I think there were like 5. But also, all of my friends went there. It was me, Peter English, Dougie Burek, Ryan Monroe, Cooper Shreve, Matt Myatt, Ned Winner, Frank Melli, Brian Wennersten and Michael Springer. Somehow every year, at least 2 or 3 of us were always in the same class.
I guess I was well liked back then, by both my peers and teachers, as I was always chosen to be the lead in plays, and to represent the class at things. In fact I gave an Oscar winning performance Santa in my 2nd grade play, Santa and his magical computer. I was chosen to play the role of “Old Man” in a play about China or something, don’t really remember to be honest. But I did everything with those guys. We were always playing football, basketball, wiffle ball or something in someone’s backyard. In terms of learning during this time, it was all at a moderate pace, and I don’t really remember having any problem keeping up.
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My Mom used to take me Hackensack Hospital, a learning center for people who had trouble learning at a normal pace. I never understood why I went there, until my parents told me I had a learning disability, which to me just meant I needed to work harder. My ADHD didn’t really affect me in my daily life, I just remember getting really hyper from time to time, and that was remedied by being given But when it came to grades, I did pretty well, earning all Es (excellents) and Gs (Goods), with like one S (satisfactory) in handwriting.
I actually was made a teacher’s helper in both 4th and 5th grade, which meant I got to help grade papers, and help kids with their math, spelling, etc. Also, I was picked for Critical thinking, which was a big deal because only the “smartest” kids got picked for that, and there you got to talk about advanced things like, geometry and books that you had read. Otherwise, I remember my elementary school years for the sports I played. I played Little League Baseball, Soccer, and Biddy Basketball. My mom wouldn’t let me play because she thought, despite me being one of the bigger kids in school, that I would get hurt.
I was on travelling all-star teams for all of the sports, and was thinking about sports 24-7 then. I played in 3 basketball leagues at a time, Biddy, YMCA, and my All-star team. In 4th grade my dad coached both my Biddy team, and my all-star team. I still like to give him a hard time about taking me out of a tournament game against Neptune, NJ where I scored the first 8 points of the game, in fact our only 8 points in the quarter to keep us in the game! Then he left me out until the 4th quarter. We ended up losing by 22 points. 22! I was feeling it, should’ve left me in.
Also, the great thing about playing sports was that there were stats involved. After every game we played, my brothers and I would talk about what kind of numbers we were putting up. It was a big deal to outscore the others. At one point, I held the record for most points scored in an organized basketball game with 26 in 4th grade, which stood until my younger brother broke it with 28 points when he was a senior in high school. The first thing he did after that game? Called both me and my older brother at college to let us know the mark had fallen. We were a very competitive bunch.
To this day, we talk about these things at Thanksgiving. 5th and 6th grade were very big for me in terms of change in my life. In 5th grade, within a span of 6 months I lost all of my grandparents, including my great Uncle Johnny. There are 3 days in my life that I remember everything I did the entire day, and my Grandma dying is one of them. The other two will come later. I came home from school, was sitting in our den with my 2 brothers, and watching TV. The phone rang, and my mom answered it, then she came in the room, and said, “I just want to let you all know, Grandma just died. We all started crying immediately. I remember my mom screaming “I want my mommy! ” repeatedly and feeling helpless. I had never really experienced personal loss before, as I had never met my dad’s mother because she died when he was 16. His father re-married 3 months later, and my dad never got along with his stepmother, and they kicked him out of their house. I’ve never met my dad’s father. So, losing my Grandma was a big deal. I always remember coming home from school, seeing her, and her always making me smile. I remember everything about her to be honest.
Her perfume smell, the fact she always kept bouillon cubes in her pantry, and the fact that she always loved everything my brothers and I were interested in. Her and my Grandpa became baseball fans because of us, after not really caring one way or another before we were born (I’m told). My Grandma was always around, and she loved her grandchildren very much. She was a great lady, always singing, always happy. In the middle of 6th grade, My dad came home from work one day, sat me and my brothers down, and told us we were moving to Chagrin Falls, Ohio. He said we were going in 1 month, in the middle of the school year.
I wasn’t excited, as all I ever knew was New Jersey, but obviously had to do it. It was really hard leaving all of my friends. Chapter 2: Middle School (Grades 6 to 8) After finally getting acclimated with middle school life in New Jersey, and getting used to how things worked there, I was ripped out of there, and plunked into a small town in Ohio. Coming into the middle of a school year is hard for everyone, but especially for a middle schooler. I remember my first day, and being sat at the “nerd” table because the guy showing me around thought that would be best.
I didn’t let that happen though. I immediately got up and sat at the “cool” table, and actually ended up becoming friends with those people. It was still pretty hard to make friends though, as in a small town everyone knows everyone else’s business, and have their own clicks. In homeroom, when I sat down, two girls waked me around the room, ad told me whom I needed to bother with getting to know, and who not to care about. It kind of prepared me for what Chagrin was all about. A lot of people who base their worth off of what other people think about them.
I ended up making a lot of friends, but kind of felt like an outsider for my middle school years, even though I was pretty much accepted. Everyone loved to talk about things they did together when they were younger, and how long they’d been friends. SO I just tried to blend in, and try and not get noticed. I’d always sit my older brother on the bus, and not really talk to anybody, until one day my friends Cade Otstot and Trevor Gile told me to sit with them and their friends. From that day on I felt like I belonged. Class-wise, being in small classrooms with less people made me feel like I was always getting put on the spot.
I hated answering questions in class, and really hated doing my homework. I always felt like there was so much else to do other then that. SO I put school on the back burner and got caught up in trying to be popular, and playing sports. Although I always did enough to get by. I never really got Fs or Ds or anything like that, but also didn’t try and overachieve for fear people would look at me like I was a nerd or something. Looking back, that was probably a mistake. I played basketball and football in middle school, but really wasn’t that good. I loved the sports, but this time is when I started gaining weight.
I wasn’t obese or anything, but I wasn’t in shape either. I was on the B teams in both sports, but excelled in baseball. I always thought I was playing well, but the coaches never seemed to notice. So I was relegated to the bench for the most part. Otherwise my middle school years were pretty uneventful, although I did make a few really good friends, but also I fell out of touch with my New Jersey friends. Chapter 3: High School (Grades 9-12) Freshmen Year of high school was pretty typical. My older bother Mark was a senior, and looked out for me for the most part, but I still got flak for being his younger brother.
Nothing too crazy though, because I knew eventually I’d be as big if not bigger than those guys, and if they really did something to me, I’d get them back ten fold. Football practice that year was big wakeup call. Everyone was bigger faster than us Frosh, and everything seemed to move a lot quicker. Especially in school. There were no classes where I could just drift through, I had to stay up on my studies, which I think I did a good job of, but still my mind drifted a lot to sports, and girls. I didn’t really have much interaction with girl’s, except them being nice to me to get to my brother.
All the freshmen girls wanted my older brother, so people whom I had never talked to decided it was a good idea to talk to me. I didn’t go to many parties then, as my fiends and I were more into just going to the movies and hanging out at my parents’ house. Or we’d play football in my backyard. But I did get asked to the winter formal (a Sadie Hawkins dance). I had a good time on my first actual date where I had to dress up in a jacket and tie. Also, that year I got my first detention, and had to stay after school, and was grounded, although it was my brother’s fault that we were late so many times.
Only detention of my career actually. So that’s pretty much my Freshmen Year. Sophomore year was just a blah year. Nothing really happens in your sophomore year. Just same old same old. Football wise, I lettered, and I made the JV basketball team. That year our football team broke our 28 game losing streak, the longest in Northeast Ohio, We won our last 2 games, to go 2-8. I went to my first Homecoming dance, and also my second winter formal. School wise, I got bored. The classes were so boring to me. I just wanted school to end every day. Also, the girls who had talked to me the year before because my brother, just plain stopped.
Shocking I know. Junior year was actually a lot more fun. I finally mounted the courage to talk to girls regularly. I made some great friends in the process as these girls are the people who I still keep in touch with the most to this day. I was voted to be head coach of the Powder Puff football team, and that was a great way to get to know everybody. I had a blast doing it, and it helped me get invited to parties and what not. My friends and I had a blast that year. We’d go out every weekend, and party. It was great! I had two dates to the winter formal, my friends Meghan, and Melissa.
Everything was going really well socially, as I really came out of my shell. Academically, I did just enough to get by, posting GPAs anywhere from 2. 7-3. 0 during this year. Can you sense a pattern here? Went to my first prom with my friend Katie. It was at Jacobs Field where the Tribe plays so it was an awesome night! Senior Year was a blast too. The football team did really well, winning our first 7 games, and having 2 games that were voted games of the decade in Cleveland. Big deal for a little school like ours. Also, I actually got to contribute, and set the family record for kick return average; at 3. yds a return (I caught 2 onside kicks, and ran one 3 yards). This was the first year I actually got in shape for football, and took it seriously. It’s the first time in my life I learned that whatever you put into something, you get out of it. I took the SATs untimed, a “perk” as my parents put it of having a learning disability, which to be honest put more pressure on me then anything. I over thought pretty much every question, and was in an isolated room by myself. It was kind of miserable. I didn’t score as high as I would’ve liked but did enough to get accepted into 5 colleges.
These were all small schools where the environment was geared towards learning at your own pace, and where they had good LD programs, as my parents made this a high priority. Funny, I had never been in LD classes in high school, but my parents thought I should do it in college. Anyway, I graduated, went away that summer to the Jersey Shore, as we had been doing since I was 11, where my summers consisted of being a dishwasher/bus boy at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House during the day, and a Summer Place at night, and came back and said goodbye to all of my friends, before initially heading off to Muskingum College.
Chapter 4: College (1998-2006) Muskingum College (1998-2000) The college odyssey that was the Scott Iantosca Experience started in New Concord, OH. Now I thought I wanted a small college in a small town, but I quickly found out that this wasn’t the place for me. All there was to do was drink in your dorms, and go to one of the 3 fraternity houses on the campus. If you weren’t in a fraternity, you pretty much had nothing to do. Thankfully I was getting recruited pretty hard by all of the fraternities, so I had some fun. I was accepted into the plus program, which is the LD program there.
I didn’t realize the commitment. We had to meet with tutors for every subject. And it had to be in between your classes, not when you had free time. It kind of was like an added class. Midway through I stopped going. I didn’t want to hear the exact same lecture twice, which was basically what it was. I just used them as needed, and that wasn’t taken to kindly too by the administrators. Also, I thought I could get by skipping class all the time, and teaching myself the material. I probably only showed up to my classes about half of the time. Somehow I was stunned when I got a 1. 7 GPA, and couldn’t rush that year, while all of my friends were allowed to. Then I got kicked out of school at the end of the year for my grades. This was a wake up call, or so I thought. I had to go to Muskingum and plead my way back in, in front of the board of trustees with the leader of the Plus program. It was really embarrassing. Being as I had soured on the Muskingum experience, I was fighting to get back into a school I didn’t want to go to. I got back in on a probationary period, but then was so unhappy there, I did the same thing.
Then I told my parents I didn’t want o go back, and instead of working hard and getting good enough grades so that I could transfer out of there, I just stopped going to class, and only turning in papers. I thought I could just get kicked out and go wherever I wanted to. At the end of the semester, I went home for good. I got a job waiting tables for Max & Erma’s, and Blockbuster video while my friends were at school. It was pretty miserable. I gained a lot of weight, getting up into the 270s. And was feeling like my life was passing me by and I would be living with my parents forever.
My only form of entertainment was going to my brother’s basketball games, but I’d always feel awkward because I’d see people I know there and have to answer questions about why I was home from school. Landmark College–Putney, VT (2000-2001) The second part of my college odyssey was at Landmark College. My mom found out about it through someone she worked with and being as I had no other options, I decided to take a look at it. It is a school solely for people who have learning disabilities, mostly severe, and who have gotten kicked out of school. Basically a second chance for people who have messed up in their first try at college.
I went into it optimistically, but even during my first visit, I knew it was going to be a challenge. Putney, Vermont is a very small town, where there is absolutely nothing to do. The campus was so small it didn’t help much either. There was a zero tolerance drinking policy, and if you were caught once, you were immediately brought in front of this disciplinary board where you were given a hearing. Pretty strict. Also, the only way to get off campus was on a van that one day a month would take you to Wal-Mart, and then every Friday take students to the movie theater. That was it.
We all referred to it as a prison. People were trying to get thrown out of there on a nightly basis, and going to great lengths to do it. Kids would intentionally trash their rooms, even throwing their TVs out the window in hopes of getting kicked out. And everyone would try and overdose on their prescription meds, in hopes of their parents taking them out of school. There was an ambulance or campus security van at one of the 2 dorms every night. Many of the students had some serious learning problems, for example, many didn’t know what a verb was until they went to Landmark.
Or in one instance, this guy couldn’t form a complete sentence logistically until he went there. Not really a big deal to me, but just not something I had been around before. They also told stories at orientation about how Landmark changed their lives, and how before Landmark they would get so frustrated they would cry by themselves in the shower. Pretty heavy stuff, but also made you think and re-evaluate your position in life, and inspired me to get my stuff together. A lot of the things they talked about were about accepting your disability, and learning to overcome it.
Having not really had my learning disability really be a big deal for me, I hadn’t realized that a lot of the reasons I had trouble focusing, and talking in class was because of my ADHD. It was kind of eye-opening. Socially, I kept to myself, and just concentrated on my grades and school work. They were pretty laid back there, and although we were assigned a tutor and an advisor who we had weekly meetings with, they only lasted as long as you wanted them to, and being as I was getting a 4. 0, mine were really short. The classes were really easy to me for some reason, so I did really well.
I pretty much cut off my social life because I knew why I was there: To get the hell out of there! My days went like this: Wake up, go to class, eat lunch, go to the library, go to class, do homework, watch TV and sleep. This is what happened 24-7. I never deviated. I talked to my advisor every day about what I needed to do to transfer, and he kept telling me to take my entire 2 years there. No way was this happening. I finally sat down with my dad and outlined what I had accomplished, the fact that I was 21 at the time, and that I had proven to everyone, including myself that I was ready for a “regular” college again.
I even was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, the junior college National Honor society. It was the first academic award I had gotten since elementary school, and my parents came to the ceremony. I was really proud of myself, to be honest. So, I then started to look for schools to apply to. After being in social jail for a year, I decided campus life was a big deal, as well as my major, which was going to be sports management. Ohio University met both of these criteria, and accepted me, so there you had it. Ohio University (2002-2006) Ohio University was the most fun I had ever had in my life.
I did so many things academically, and socially it was amazing. My parents moved to Switzerland, and my older brother moved to Warsaw, Poland, so I got travel around Europe on my 6 week Christmas break while other people had to go home and get part time jobs or sit around. I experienced and saw so many beautiful things, and expanded my horizons greatly. Of all the places that I travelled, I would definitely say Germany and Italy were my two favorite places to visit. In Germany, we travelled along the Christmas trail, which had Weinachtsmarkts (Christmas Markets) all up down the states. It was amazing.
Although I already had a few high school friends who went to OU, and had established a good group of non-fraternity friends or GDIs (you can pretty much figure out what that means), I decided to rush and join a fraternity, much to their chagrin. They thought “Frats” were full of meatheads, and shunned them pretty much. I, on the other hand, am all about new experiences and branching out, so I saw this as a gateway for doing so, and expanding my social circle, and creating lifelong networking contacts. I ended up joining the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, after receiving bids from all of the fraternities I visited.
Being a 22 year old pledge was hard, as I was being “hazed” by people younger than me, but it allowed me to bond with my pledge brothers, and build some lifelong bonds with them. I still keep in touch with many of them, and have been in 2 of their weddings, and 4 of them (Rick Heyeck, Mike McMasters, Aaron Gray, and Will Hardy) will probably stand in my wedding, if I ever get married. I’ll always cherish my times with them. Ohio University is known for being a party school, and while it certainly did live up to its reputation as such, I still managed to always make it to class, and get moderately good grades.
I was in the learning disabled program there, but only used it to take untimed tests. Which, again, were nerve racking as someone just sat in the room and stared at you while you were taking the test. Since, many of my credits didn’t transfer over; I had to pretty much start over from scratch academically, but was fine with it because OU was so much fun. The Sport Industry program had everything I was interested in, a lot of sports classes, and a good amount of business classes, and was very laid back as to the amount of work we had.
It was very term paper based, and being as I love to write, I was all about it. The only negative from this experience was that my weight became a real problem. I was pushing 300 lbs by the end of my tenure as a Bobcat. Ohio University was a study in excess. Excessive drinking/partying, eating junk food, and excessive sleeping. Not a lot of workout time in there. My main concern was how this would affect me in getting a job after school, but it really didn’t as my advisor knew someone with Columbus Blue Jackets, and spoke to them, and I got a job there after interviewing.
Post College (2006-Present) Right after I graduated, I took a job as an Inside Sales Rep for the Columbus Blue Jackets of the NHL. I figured this was the best way for me to get my foot in the door within the Sports Industry, so to speak. What I didn’t realize was that ticket sales was not what I wanted to do. I thought that I would eventually make a lateral move to doing something more in the front office, but about a month into my tenure, I saw that I was pretty much pigeonholed into being a “ticketing guy”. This was fine, I guess, because I won the monthly sales contests consistently.
Also, I enjoyed working with a close knit sales “team” of people at the same stages of their careers as I was. This also created a great environment of competition, and I gained a mentor in my boss, Joseph Cote, who is now the head of ticketing for the Portland Timbers, of Major League Soccer, and the Portland Beavers, a minor league baseball team. He basically taught me how to be a professional, and how to balance fun in the office with being serious and buckling down. The perks of the job were unreal. We worked at the arena, so we had free reign to all of the events, and also had to “work” the hockey games.
Basically it consisted of us standing at a table during the intermissions, and then visiting our clients we had sold for the game. Then we just watched the game the rest of the time. It was a good job. But, towards the end of my tenure there, my mother contracted a benign cyst on her back the size of a basketball, and was rendered basically an immovable object. She had to have surgery, and with my dad being CEO of a major corporation, and my brothers living in San Antonio, TX, and Manhattan at the time, I decided I needed to come home and take care of my mother while she was incapacitated.
She would definitely do it for us. Family always comes first. This did not go over well with my employers, and they gave me an ultimatum of accepting a promotion, or going home and helping my mother. Which do you think I chose? I told them thanks for the opportunity, and gave my two weeks notice that day, and moved from Columbus, OH back to my parents’ house in Chagrin Falls, OH. After about 6 months of taking care of my mom, she was ready to live normally again. During my time with her though, I did do some good things to get my life in order, and re-focus on what’s important.
I joined LA weight loss (which doesn’t exist anymore), and by the end of my tenure there I had lost 108 lbs. it’s easily my biggest accomplishment, aside from sticking with college and getting a degree. So after that, I revved up my job search again, and looked anywhere and everywhere for a job. But many of the interviews I was going to were for jobs selling copiers, or Ink for copiers, or things of that nature. I think what I enjoyed most about sales is the passion that was brought to the job everyday when I was selling something that I knew a lot about and had great interest in.
Selling copiers, or ink, or technical equipment while living in Cleveland wasn’t really doing it for me. So begrudgingly after trying to find a job on my own for about 3 months, I asked my father for help. He had dinner one night with Jay Bauer, the president of Nation Pizza Products in Schaumburg, IL, and had mentioned his son who was coming to pick him up that night was looking for a job after a hiatus from employment (a really nice way to say I was unemployed by the way). As I picked him up, Jay came to the car, and told me to call him the next day and he would see what he had for me at Nation.
I was pretty excited. After living with my parents for a while I would have moved anywhere, but Chicago was a dream. I’ve always loved Chicago. It has everything, great nightlife, So many sports teams, and the best restaurants in the world. I called Jay the next day, and the rest was history. After flying me out for an interview and dinner with my two future bosses, a tour of the plant, and then another interview with HR, They called me a week later and hired me for a position they were creating especially for me.
This should have been my first sign that Nation wasn’t right for me. See, everyone at Nation Pizza Products has been there for decades, there are only a handful of new hires every year. And they only had one salesmen, albeit the VP of sales, but he had done everything himself for 15 years. They had no idea what to do with me, built hired me basically to keep up the relationship with their biggest customer, Nestle. Thus, being the President and CEO’s son really is what got me hired. Nothing having to do with my sales acumen at all.
I was too elated by the fact I was living in downtown Chicago to care at this point, but this was sign #2. I tried to soak up everything I could my first year there, doing a lot of grunt work, trying extra hard to pay my dues, and when given the chance to work with customers I shined. But when I asked for more responsibility, I was told I wasn’t ready. Also, the handled me with “kid gloves” the entire time I was there. Not talking about customers other than Nestle with me because they thought I would tell my dad, despite the fact that they were PAYING me to be a Nation employee!
I even signed a confidentiality agreement when I started there. I thought this would eventually get better over the years, as I progressed in the business. It did not. As time went on, I was given reluctant independence there, but when able to work alone with customers, they would send me thank you notes, and call the President of the company directly and let them know how much they enjoyed working with me. Instead of giving my boss confidence in me, he took it as a threat to his job, and I was gunning for him.
Which I wasn’t. I thought the two of us could and should work as a team, thus with double the effort, we could bring in double the business. He didn’t see it that way, and took credit for many of my sales when talking with the executive board. I’m not one to be boastful about my achievements, but how does one gain respect at an organization when people are constantly thinking he is just a minion, and hasn’t made a sale in 4 years? Also, I worked with a lot of fake people. It was really bad.
Maybe it’s a food industry thing, but everyone I worked with, from the chefs to the food scientist, was extremely fake towards me. They loved to tell me I was doing a good job, and then behind my back talk to my bosses, and make negative comments about me, and disregard the way I was working. Also, the commute was obnoxious. It was an hour and half each way, and wouldn’t put me back in the city until around 8, after sitting in traffic. I didn’t mind it when I thought there was a place for me at the company, and a progression plan in place. There was neither.
Then, My dad “retired” from Nestle, as much as basically taking 3 months off and hanging in Miami with my mom can be called that before taking the opportunity to run another company here in Chicago, everyone started treating me differently. They treated me as if they had no need for me anymore, and I wasn’t a valuable member of the team. In my fourth and final year there, they kept making take the boss’ car to get washed, or carry boxes for women who worked in the office to their cars, or clean up the presentation room, basically treating me like a secretary.
Finally I had enough, and walked into the presidents’ office, who was my major confidant at the company (another source of angst for the VP of sales because he thought I was bad mouthing him to him, which I wasn’t, so much insecurity there), and told him it wasn’t working out. I said I was no longer happy here, and didn’t really see myself going any further than my current position. He tried to get me to stay, and I actually considered it, until the VP of sales walked in. Thankfully, for him, I’m a classy person, and I thanked them both for the opportunity, and gave my two weeks notice.
They said they would pay me for my two weeks regardless, and asked what I wanted to do, and I said I would just leave then. I’ve never been happier or more content with a decision I’ve made in my entire life. Also, the president of the company said he would help me out in anyway he could, and write me a recommendation if I needed it. I still keep in touch with him as we speak. So that brings us to present day. I am unemployed, but extremely happy. I’m glad I’m taking a step back and actually analyzing what my strengths and weaknesses are, ad what my interests are.
Taking my time choosing my next move is definitely the right step to take. The next chapter of my life is yet to be written I feel. Do I have a plan? I’m getting there. There are things I envision myself accomplishing professionally and personally over the next 5-10 years. I won’t bore you with them here. But the great thing is I have an unbelievable support system behind me of family and friends. Also, I feel like I have the right attitude towards it, and am determined to do thing the right way this time. And whatever I choose I know I’ll work hard at it, and take steps to become a success. Just taking it one day at a time.