While thinking about Katrina, I calmed down and realized that I don't have problems. I am just a spoiled little 28 year old brat who hasn't made it on his own yet and expects the perfect life to be rewarded to him just because he took the effort to avail himself of the education that would be required for him to succeed in his chosen profession. Okay, talking in third person is weird.
My biggest success stories come from my biggest failures. Somehow they make me unique. Not many people lose their life savings in college on a home-based business while prospecting on the phone from morning until evening and traveling to Aruba to meet tax protesters who are now in jail. I was part of the biggest MLM scam of all, which went by the names of Global Prosperity Group, Institute of Global Prosperity (IGP), Helping International, and many other organizations who went under because of mismanagement by the people who were running the groups.
We sold information. We sold courses covering topics such as asset protection, trusts, complex business organizations, and dealt with shady investors, tax protestors, and other offshore companies who wanted to scam us out of every dollar we would ever fraudulently make either through our sales or through the hundreds of dollars we would pour into buying leads each month through ProSTEP or any of the turn-key postcard lead generation systems. My phone bills averaged over $1,500 per month, and my advertising budget averaged $500 per week.
With hindsight, I realize now that I was over my head in a tax-shelter scheme that was later infiltrated by the IRS and the FBI, and many of my friends went to jail. I suppose I would have been a target too, but despite all my work, I was a failure at it and I couldn't turn a profit, so by virtue of my poverty, I wasn't able to break any laws. However, I did spend $6,250 (plus another $2,000 for airfare, lodging, and expenses) to attend their offshore seminar in Aruba. I was there in 1997, the year before the FBI infiltrated the meetings and made their arrests.
While I was standing in the hotel in Aruba with a glass of Champagne in my hand with the owners of the association, Zoe Lamantia and David Struckman (the owners of the group) were talking with me. They said "wow, if I were your age [19, then] doing what you are doing now, I cannot even begin to imagine how much I could make." I felt proud because I believed that I was in the right place at the right time with the right people. I was going to be rich and I worked hard at it. I was going to make it.
Unfortunately, I ran out of cash and credit and I couldn't continue to advertise, and the long distance company shut down my phone because I couldn't generate enough revenue to keep it all going. All my friends told me that I was involved in a scam and that I was brainwashed, but I was convinced that I was on the elite track and that I was going to generate $2,000 to $10,000 per week, as long as I continued working the business as I was taught to. I went broke and was forced to shut down. It was shortly afterwards that my friends went to jail for many federal crimes, and I went to law school to find out what they did wrong.
Hence, now you understand where the name Zoe Strickman comes from. These were my heros, and even though as people they were criminals, they instilled within me a faith that one doesn't need to belong to the system and follow its rules to be successful. It is not an irony that I am now fully back "in" the system, when at one point I could have been described as being completely "out" of the system. However, rejoining the slaves with the j-o-b ("just over broke") life was my choice, although I have always been ambivalent to the authorities in society that keep most people in line.
Note: Even though I am not proud of being part of this association, as you can see from this link to a page that described the Global Prosperity Group scam here, as a teenager, I was way over my head. I thank G-d every day for my failure in this venture, because from where I was standing when I was involved in this organization, I didn't know right from wrong and had I been given the opportunity to succeed and move forward with this business, I would have continued working it day and night. Again, I thank G-d for my failure.