3 out of 4 stars
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Ace Bowers’ memoir, The Mindset, is the inspirational, real-life story about how a young man from a rough background who had very little hope for success became, in only five short years, a Silicon Valley millionaire through hard work and perseverance. This memoir is also, as Bowers states, a therapeutic effort for him, as many of the painful stories from his childhood that he relates here he has never told anyone before.
“One of my mom’s favorite songs has always been ‘Simple Man,’ by Lynyrd Skynyrd,” Bowers starts off his book poignantly, “because it encompassed her greatest aspirations for me,” that he would be “satisfied.” But Bowers adds that it would be a long time before this was actually realized in his life.
The youngest of three kids, Bowers bluntly describes himself and his family growing up as “white trash.” His parents could not handle money and were deep in debt. Their oldest son was constantly in and out of jail, further straining his parents’ finances. Cracking under the stress, both of Bowers’ parents ended up turning to alcohol and they fought with each other almost every night. Bowers battled depression at an early age because of his dysfunctional home life and this deep depression continued on into his early adulthood when he finally took the plunge and moved away from his family.
At the age of 22, Ace Bowers had found himself going on a nowhere path in life. He was swimming in credit card debt, was very overweight and smoking heavily, and he was working a job as a janitor at a hotel and earning only $6 an hour. The painful memories of his childhood were ghosts that haunted him ceaselessly. But one day, one simple text changed his life forever: His girlfriend was pregnant. This was the catalyst that hit Bowers roundly upside the head and jumpstarted him to really get a hold of his life, no matter what. He was determined to not give his child the same upbringing that he had.
Bowers divides his short memoir into ten chapters, each chapter covering a different era of his life and a few specific ones devoted to individuals who helped and supported him throughout his journey (including one section dedicated entirely to his girlfriend—now wife—and how much she means to him, which was really sweet). Bowers’ prose itself is mesmerizing and he has an excellent sense of pacing. His rags-to-riches story is very inspirational and, as he states himself, truly encompasses the American Dream. He claims that all of his successes in life stem from his motivation—or in his words, an “overcomer’s mindset.” “Because I refused to settle,” Bowers murmurs in quiet triumph from the pages, “I excelled.”
A powerful truth that really hit home for me while reading this memoir was how that even though bad experiences are obviously painful, we learn important lessons from them. They make us who we are. In fact, many times, these bad experiences make us better people than we would have been if we had never gone through them—if we allow ourselves to let the experiences teach us and not instead become embittered by them. As Bowers puts it, “Nothing is ever a waste of time if you learn something from it.” He advises the reader to make their past work for them and not against them.
Overall, I rate The Mindset 3 out of 4 stars. I really wanted to give it four stars, but there were several grammar errors throughout the book that made me bump the rating down a bit. Ace Bowers—the former janitor now turned millionaire—tells an incredible story, and it's even more incredible because it’s true. I would recommend The Mindset to anyone interested in very real, human stories of people rising above their circumstances despite the odds. This little book is a gem.
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