Beautifully written and utterly engaging, right from the off, Cody’s intense attention to detail is visible throughout this book. Whilst I have read a lot of memoirs, many of which project an increasingly bitter adulthood onto childhood trauma and don’t particularly have the desired effect of instilling empathy on the reader, Cody’s is the exact opposite of this – a tale of someone who suffered as a child, and overcame it to take control of his life. In this boy’s case, I feel utterly sorry for him – not so much for the losses he suffered, which were tragic, to be sure, but more the damage which seems to have been done to his self-esteem and distorted self-image, as a result of his parents’ alcoholism and the loneliness caused by his Asperger syndrome, all long before his parents died. To me, judging by the photographs he has included, he looks like any other normal, healthy kid, though he clearly has never accepted this. Generally, in the U.K. schoolkids are very tolerant and understanding of difference, yet in the U.S. I read continually about how those with some form of difference are targeted, bullied and marginalized, and fellow classmates seem quite backward in respect of their inclusion. Whilst this marginalization and a desire for distraction from his increasingly devastating home life is undoubtedly what spurred Cody on to his success, it does strike me that a happy, stable childhood is the cornerstone of a happy life generally. To this effect, the money Cody has made seems perhaps just a touch too little too late, and even incidental. He is still very young, at the time of writing this memoir, and one would think that such a traumatic recent past takes many years to mature, and Cody is still a long way from becoming the emotional sum of all of his parts.
But still, this book is a testament to the choices Cody has made since becoming wealthy. In the acknowledgments he thanks his writers, which I would assume to mean ghostwriters of this memoir. Whilst I don’t particularly have any problem with this – of course, credit to them – the fact that he has used writers might change the whole objective of the book, from one of personal therapy to one which has a reason. That reason would appear to be a good one – philanthropic and inspirational – as Cody now seems to have devoted a sizeable portion of his profession to helping create opportunities for disadvantaged young people, particularly entrepreneurs like himself. This is, of course, highly admirable, and puts his memoir in a whole new light, with a clear agenda. I wonder if perhaps this acknowledgement should have been placed at the start of the book, as the title does suggest a book of inspiration and example, which only comes across at the end, when you have already read it. Before this, to tell the truth, little is made of the actual day to day of his business and how he made it a success, which is arguably the reason why many may choose to read it. Of course, it explains his business dealings and how hard he worked to build the company from nothing to a very viable asset, but I have to admit, I’m not sure how much I buy of the naïve and inexperienced experimenter who blunders upon a successful model. Right from the very beginning of his startup he is involving himself in a technical world beyond the realms of most people, even teenagers. He chooses a hosting company, which requires technical abilities including Linux, cPanel and FTP; he creates the website using Flash and Dreamweaver, and not just some out of the box Wordpress theme. His marketing strategy is clear - to frequent the forums - and even the operational decisions he makes, to outsource particular tasks and focus on others, would indicate a sizeable cash flow. One correlation which does seem evident is that when Cody invests in the delegation of his tasks, he enjoys more financial success. Whilst I don’t doubt that Cody started his business on a shoestring, and worked incredibly long hours to ensure his success and technical understanding, it wasn’t lost on me that his overall general approach to business suggests his proximity to a degree of pedigree most poor people do not have, if not in himself, then perhaps the people around him. Of course, none of this matters, nor undermines his message to other unfortunate young people, but I would have liked to have seen more useful information for them, which may fill the apparent gap between his hard work and his company’s meteoric rise to value. I did consider that his career choice, to spend his days working with customer service tickets, must have been an extremely stressful one, for a person of his fragile temperament, with such a tough teenage life, but his work ethic and dedication are absolutely a testament to him, and his success is undoubtedly hugely deserved.
There are a handful of minor errors in the proof, which he might want to double-check, but otherwise the book has been extremely well written. If you are a young entrepreneur, particularly one with Asperger’s or otherwise disadvantaged in some way, this is an extremely inspirational book, and I would suggest following Cody’s success story with interest. I wish him well with his book and all due reward for the extremely hard work he has carried out to get to where he is. More importantly, though, I hope he finds a way to make amends for and come to terms with the demons of a sadly missing childhood.
In : Book Reviews
Tags: cody-mclain alcoholism foster-care childhood-trauma memoir autobiography business motivational