It’s “two steps forward, one step back, then two steps forward again, hopefully” for the author in this candid debut memoir of his journey from criminal to millionaire.
All props to van Stratum. At the age of 5, he awoke in a hospital to be told by a doctor that a train had run over his arm, severing it. At 12, his father abandoned his family. Van Stratum proceeded to fall in with very bad people doing very bad things, from petty vandalism and not so petty theft to drug dealing (and abusing the substances himself). He did some jail time. But that was then. “I’m typing this while sipping champagne in business class, on my way to Barcelona for a luxurious weekend,” he writes. “My friends include business moguls, life coaches, bankers, professional actors, and athletes. I’ve helped thousands of people better their lives during the journey of improving my own.” Van Stratum is a big proponent of “change your behavior” and “you’ll change your results.” His so-called drugs of choice evolved from weed to anger to self-improvement, and he unflinchingly chronicles his success story, first as a consummate pickup artist and eventual instructor in the art of seducing women for Love Systems and then as an affiliate marketer. He may be smooth with the women, but his writing is more ham-fisted. “Everything you can come up with that prevents you from making millions of dollars is some bullshit story you tell yourself,” he asserts (throughout, van Stratum seems determined to match the profanity benchmark of the film version of The Wolf of Wall Street). Nor is he the most empathetic of characters (“I was surrounded by idiots” becomes a recurring theme). While he doesn’t sink to the depths of, say, a Tucker Max, there isn’t a whole lot of rooting interest for him to triumph either. Still, good for him that he turned his life around so amazingly. Throughout van Stratum’s memoir, he shares the books that inspired him (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and How to Stop Worrying and Start Living). The reader bent on self-improvement may be better served just reading those.
An uneven account of a marketer’s spectacular odyssey.