Childhood horror stories are early lessons in entrepreneurship

When I was about…oh, 6 or 7, my mom saw an ad in the paper for Beauty and the Beast on Broadway. And guess what…they were holding AUDITIONS!

She asked me if I was interested in trying out for the part of Chip. Remember him? He was the tiny teacup with the shitty little triangular piece knocked out of his syrupy sweet face?

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Well, as luck would have it, I didn’t have anything better to do (being 7 and all…), so I agreed to audition.

And suddenly, something strange happened: I started to get really excited at the possibility of actually getting the role.

I began thinking about all the possibilities. Me, a Broadway star at the age of 7. A bonafide millionaire by 11 (please tell me you remember this movie) — and maybe enough cache to bag Tia and/or Tamara by 14.5.

Don’t you dare laugh at me and my adolescent fantasies. I too used to think the probability of these crazy ideas actually coming true was a snowball’s-chance-in-hell — until recently.

May I present you with Exhibit A:


So many unwitting pubescent boys had a shot. And we didn’t even know it.

Anyway — all these things whipped through my head at the thought of winning this audition, and overnight, I became as dedicated as a 7 year-old with 3-day’s notice can be about anything.

I didn’t really know what to practice or work on for the audition, so first, I tried doing some pushups and running around the basement at my friend’s house. That got me tired — but somehow, I didn’t feel more prepared for the play.

Then, I got a pretty brilliant idea: Why not memorize every Disney tune ever created? I mean, it made pretty good sense, right? It was a Disney play, they’d likely value someone that knew all the words to everything. I mean, if I knew every word to every single song…particularly the Beauty and the Beast soundtrack, I’d basically be guaranteed a spot, right?

So I started cramming, upping my learning speed with even more intensity than it took me to solve this Rubik’s cube in a depressingly slow 4 minutes.

Long story short, I DID memorize every word to every Disney tune ever created. And embarrassingly, I’ve still retained that with about 88% accuracy — although things get a little hazy after the original Toy Story.

My mom and I show up to this audition, and lines are wrapped around the block thrice. This is what we in the industry refer to as a cattle call, daahhling (<< imagine me saying that in a very upper crust, feminine accent).


Basically, you’re f*cked.

So we freaking wait all day, and I’m practicing my songs — keeping my vocal chords warm. My grandma told me that’s what Pavarotti did. My mom is a freaking trooper because she knows I can’t sing for a damn, I’m definitely not going to get this role and she’s just being super supportive.

I get in there — and dear God, I totally understand what the contestants feel like on American Idol. So nerve wracking, especially for a little kid.

I step up to this bright green “X” and a panel of 3 casting directors ask me my name. I kinda wish we had the audition on tape — but it’s literally this short, so go ahead and read it:

Casting Director #1: Hi, what’s your name?

Me: Daniel, DiPiazza. D-i-P-i-a-zz-a

Casting Director #2: Great, Daniel. We want you to sing….”Happy Birthday”


I wasn’t happy with their song selection, to say the least. But I figured I’d roll with it. And I thought I knew just how to spice it up.

I’d been watching a lot of Whitney Houston lately, because…you know, it was like 1994. So I decided to throw that good ol’ vibrato on the song.

This is actually an exact replica of my performance:


So at this point I was about 14 seconds in and Casting Director #3 starts blurting, Oh my god, no. Oh my god, no. — uncontrollably. As if she couldn’t stop if her life depended on it.

These remarks, obviously, made me stop singing — and I quietly exited — never to act again.

Ok, well that’s a lie. I actually went on to do a lot more acting later (buy the best movie ever).  But I actually did get my wittle feewings hurt — and I was doubly surprised because I really felt PREPARED. I went into that audition thinking I had an edge, and found out I didn’t even have a clue.

My takeaway: These days, I look at that experience and realize that sometimes, even though we think we’re preparing for one thing (in my case…the Broadway role of a lifetime)…we’re really preparing for something completely different.

That first bad audition indoctrinated me to the idea of failure, getting over rejection and learning to try again. And when I say again, I mean againagainagainagainagain…..until something just works.

Share your horror story — and I’ll give you a $25 amazon gift card


So guys, I’m curious — do you have a childhood horror story that seemed really brutal at the time (a rejection, an embarrassment, something scary, etc) — but actually ended up teaching you a HUGE counterintutive lesson that you still use today?

I really want to hear it — this stuff is interesting to me!

Annnd, to the person who shares the coolest horror story/lesson, I’ll send you a $25 Amazon giftcard. Just because I love you.

Rules are simple:

1.) Share this post on Facebook and say “Wow. Can you beat this childhood horror story?” (click below)

2.) Leave a detailed horror story from your childhood, along with what you learned in the comments

I’ll pick the best story-turned-lesson later today and send the winner a $25 Amazon gift card :)

Cool. Can’t wait to hear these.


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 I remember in third grade I was apart of a group of about five students who had the privilege of competing in a program at a local college called "Odyssey of the Mind". I was initially excited about this as I have always been competitive, until I later learned of the full details of the competition. My teammates and I would have to create and  perform a play in front of judges, and afterwards, in front of our entire elementary school. The judges were not that scary to me because they were only strangers that I probably wouldn't ever encounter again. However, performing for all of my peers at school was a whole other ball game. The fear of playing a character in a play haunted me everyday and even months after the performance was over. It's funny how big the world of elementary school seems to be when you are seven or eight years old. I could only imagine the unwanted attention my involvement in the play would attract, positive or negative. Now that I'm able to look back on that experience, I see what a great opportunity it really was for me. Pushing myself to overcome the fear to perform in a play I helped to create was a stepping stone for a lifelong set of challenges I would have to face. I learned many lessons from this experience. One key lesson would be to never let my fear of rejection or criticism stop me from reaching towards a goal. No matter how scary it seems to be,  just give it a try. With my 23rd birthday approaching next Monday, I hope to continue to apply this lesson as I go forth with my present and future goals.


The hard lesson of responsibility. Here I am about 8 years of age, a time where nothing matters more to you than the opinions of your peers and recess. By this time, my parents were able to afford the essentials my brothers and I needed. However, we were no where near well off, though one couldn't tell based on my carelessness for material items. I mean, I would have lost my head if it wasn't so securely attached to my body. More pointedly, my father would get upset when he found out I lost something, consequently, because he had to replace it. I will never forget; it was a January of 1997 one of the coldest winters the Washington, DC area has seen. I walked home from school and greeted my father and to his dismay I had no hat on my head and my nose was dripping like crazy. He says in his deep voice, "boy what the hell did I tell you about keeping up with stuff?" me: "I had it in my book bag now its gone." He replies, "that's alright I'm going to fix your little butt." The very next day I'm putting on my coat and book bag and on the way out the door; my father grabs me and says here put this on your head. He places a bright blue winter hat with earmuffs, 3 balls that dangles from the top, and a string in which he tied around my chin. Now remember I'm 8 and kids can be harsh. So, I immediately fire back at him, "Dad you don't know about the kids at my school, you don't know about what they are going to say if I wear this." My Dad didn't budge; he knew that he was teaching me a very valuable lesson. That was the rough winter in school. Needless to say, I am 25 and I haven't misplaced a thing since, maybe in fear of my father jumping out of a bush with a bright blue hat! lol 


Try having a nickname "muppet" because your mother bought you a Ms. Piggy doll with the matching dress and everyone thought you "favored" Ms. Piggy. At times, my family can be brutal. I've developed a thick skin, I can handle rejection, and I've learned how to take my quirks and make them work for me in developing relationships both professionally and personally.

Rich20Something moderator

OMG I wish I could enter my own contest. I have so many other stories of rejection and failure. Interestingly enough, Sara tells my that I'm a pansy and my childhood was easy because this is the worst stuff I can come up with...but she obv doesn't understand the devastation of not getting to play Chip.

Rich20Something moderator

@set14 OMG Odyssey Of The Mind. Such good stuff. Now here's a question -- have you ever gone back to your elementary school since. It's feels so tiny.


@bmbenson2 my dad just beat me down with a switch lol. only whooping he ever gave me

Rich20Something moderator

@Laniece Man - it's never fun to have a nickname forced on you...then to be made fun of for it. Family can be brutal!!!


@Rich20Something @set14 Not yet, but I plan to really soon. I look forward to seeing teachers who I know still works there til this day.