Earning Freedom With Michael Santos



Earning Freedom teaches strategies for those who want to lead more fulfilling, relevant lives. This show will motivate and inspire, teaching lessons that empowered Michael Santos through 26 years of imprisonment. While incarcerated he earned university degrees, published more than a dozen books, married and supported the love of his life, and emerged from prison as a taxpaying citizen. He shows how those strategies set him on track to earn a million dollars and how you can earn freedom, leading a richer, more fulfilling life by following the same strategies and principles.


  • 238: Financial Stability After Prison, Episode 20

    06/03/2016 Duración: 21min

    Building Financial Stability: When I concluded my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons in August of 2013, I set new goals with Carole. We were 49 years old and making progress, but we would have to cover a lot of ground to prepare for a stable future. Although I felt passionately about working to improve outcomes of our nation’s prison system, I also had a responsibility of preparing for our family’s future. Carole had sacrificed a great deal to marry me while I still had 10 years remaining to serve in prison. I wanted to provide her with the comfort of knowing that we were stable. I promised to work toward a goal of providing stability for our family. While Carole advanced toward her Master’s degree in nursing, I had to figure out a way to build my own career. With limited resources, it would seem that I would need to think creatively in order to generate more orders for the Straight-A Guide. I needed to build more credibility, showing that the program didn’t only lead to success through prison, but also succ

  • 237: Finding Markets After Prison, Episode 19

    06/03/2016 Duración: 21min

    7. Finding Markets: Like anyone starting a new venture, Justin and I had to overcome many hurdles as we tried to introduce our products into the marketplace. Philanthropic organizations provided us with funding to get started, but we still needed to create a sustainable business model. That meant we needed to find markets. The markets we identified included jails, prisons, and schools that served people who were at risk of going into jails or prisons. As formerly incarcerated individuals with felony convictions, Justin and I faced challenges in breaking through to decision makers at the institutions where we wanted to sell the Straight-A Guide. I concluded my prison term on August 12, 2013, but I was scheduled to serve an additional four years on Supervised Release. At times, selling to “the system” proved difficult because of our criminal records. Still, we were committed to the work, sensing that our product would inspire more people inside to pursue self-directed paths of preparing for success. On occasion

  • 236: Programs For Prisoners, Episode 18

    06/03/2016 Duración: 22min

    Straight-A Guide Program: During my imprisonment, we developed the literature for this program. It all began under the theory that people in prison would be more receptive to learning from individuals who had transformed their lives while they experienced the prison system. Prisoners sometimes rejected a message when that message came from people who didn’t know the pain of being separated from the people they loved, or from the people who loved them. We wanted to reach prisoners. We wanted to convince those people that it was never too early, and it was never too late to begin preparing for a better life. I wrote three books to share lessons that empowered me through the multiple decades that I served. They weren’t my lessons, but lessons I learned from people I called masterminds. In truth, we all faced struggle during the course of our life. Many people overcame struggles that were far more significant than a lengthy prison sentence. I learned from those people and I convinced that other people can learn f

  • 235: Funding After Prison, Episode 17

    04/03/2016 Duración: 21min

    Teaching at SFSU: I designed the third class to teach students about evolutions that occurred in criminal justice during the 18th century. Scholars referred to that era as The Enlightenment, a time when people had more hope. Two philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, presented different theories on human behavior. According to Thomas Hobbes’ view, people were basically beasts by nature. Hobbes’ theory held that people would only refrain from breaking laws if the state maintained a severe penal system that would punish wrongdoing. John Locke, on the other hand, believed that all people came into the world with a blank slate—meaning they were neither good nor bad. Instead, they learned behavior through their observations and experiences. People may have learned behaviors that led to criminal actions, but they could also “unlearn” those behaviors and become good.   Philosophy: Those types of philosophical questions, I explained to the students, led other philosophers to question the way we responded to crim

  • 234: Professor After 26 Years in Prison, Episode 16

    04/03/2016 Duración: 20min

    6. San Francisco State University In early 2013 I began sending letters to professors who taught criminal justice courses in the San Francisco Bay area. If they thought it would be helpful, I offered to visit and provide their students with a different perspective. Many students who majored in criminal justice wanted to pursue careers in corrections, probation, or other law enforcement professions. I knew the students would’ve read many theoretical textbooks on corrections or different sociological theories. Listening to someone who could share first-hand experiences might contribute to their educational experience. Dr. Jeffrey Snipes, from San Francisco State University, responded to my letter. He led the criminal justice department at SFSU and he invited me to visit with him at the university. Jeff’s email encouraged me, as I’d never stepped foot on a university campus before. I had invitations to speak at other universities later in the school year, but I looked forward to meeting Jeff and walking through

  • 233: Technology After Prison, Episode 15

    04/03/2016 Duración: 21min

    Positive Connections: Through Justin I met Scott Budnick. Through Scott Budnick, I met Chris Redlitz. And through Chris Redlitz, I met Tulio Cardozo. Tulio was one of the first graduates from The Last Mile. As I had done, Tulio made some bad decisions as a young man, becoming involved with drugs. While incarcerated, however, Tulio chose to reinvent himself. Through textbooks, he trained himself how to code computers. Those efforts brought Tulio to the attention of Chris Redlitz and Chris authorized Tulio to participate in The Last Mile training program. When Tulio concluded his prison sentence at San Quentin, Chris offered Tulio an internship so he could learn more about working with technology companies. As it turns out, Tulio also followed the pattern of masterminds. He lived deliberately, and his deliberate actions led to success. Although I didn’t know much about technology, Tulio had a wealth of information. He invested hundreds of hours helping me to build MichaelSantos.com. Whenever I had a technology

  • 232: Support Networks After Prison: Episode 14

    01/03/2016 Duración: 21min

    5. Support Networks Accelerate Growth Opportunities Earlier, I wrote about rules in the halfway house that required me to have a job. So long as I had a job that paid a steady paycheck, my case manager in the halfway house authorized me to leave. My friend Lee was more like a sponsor for me than an employer. He set a schedule for me to work 10—hour shifts, Monday through Saturday. I reported to an office and sat at a desk, but instead of doing work for Lee, I focused on creating a business. First, I needed Lee to see the vision. I persuaded Lee that our nation’s commitment to mass incarceration was one of the greatest social injustices of our time. Although it would take time, I convinced him that a need existed for programs and services to help people emerge from prison successfully. He encouraged me to develop a plan that would lead to a sustainable business providing products and services that would improve outcomes of our nation’s prison system.   Technology: My first challenge was learning how to use tec

  • 231: Creative Financing After Prison, Episode 13

    01/03/2016 Duración: 21min

    Creative Financing I visited Chris and Seth. They were partners of Advanced Building Solutions, a premier real estate development company with more than $100 million worth of properties under development. Although I’d never met Chris prior to my release from prison, my friend Lee could introduce me. Without a doubt, Chris and Seth were the type of people I had in mind when I thought about avatars. If leaders like Chris and Seth were going to believe in me, they would want to see a record showing that I was different from the foolish young man who began selling drugs when he was 20. I always believed that my adjustment through prison would have a direct influence on my ability to overcome challenges upon release. When I met with the Chris and Seth, I showed them the record I’d worked hard to build. I was a published author, I had academic credentials, and I could show that I’d been married for ten years. Further, I had support from Lee, and he vouched for me. Any business person in the San Francisco Bay area h

  • 230: Buying Real Estate After Prison: Episode 12

    27/02/2016 Duración: 22min

    4. Real Estate Purchase When I returned to society, in August of 2012, our nation was starting to emerge from the worst recession in our lifetime. In 2008 the stock market and the real estate market began to implode. Credit dried up. Housing prices fell to historic lows. By the fall of 2012, however, the economy looked poised to rebound. Carole and I wanted to participate in the potential upside. To profit from an anticipated market rebound, I knew that Carole and I would need to control a larger asset base. If we could purchase a large asset, like a house, when prices were still relatively low, our equity would increase if housing prices recovered. Both of us wanted to purchase real estate. Our challenge was that we did not have sufficient credit to qualify for a house purchase in the conventional manner. We would need to create an alternative strategy. Fortunately, the seeds we began sowing prior to my release would help. What were those seeds? We began with a vision of what we wanted. We set a plan. And w

  • 229: Building Credit After Prison, Episode 11

    26/02/2016 Duración: 22min

    Establishing Credit: With a driver’s license, a job, and a paycheck, I had to begin building a banking relationship. After I received my first paycheck, I went to Bank of America and opened an account. Charles had told me that I could not apply for credit until after I completed my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons. So I opened a checking account and a savings account. Just to check, I authorized the banker to run a credit report on me. We learned that I had a 0-0-0 credit score. He asked how a person of my age could proceed through life without accumulating a credit score—good or bad. The banker listened with interest as I told him that I’d just concluded 25 years in custody and that I was living in a halfway house. That conversation opened another opportunity for me to tell the story of my journey, another opportunity for me to influence a potential source of support. Many people emerge from prison and try to hide their past. I don’t make a judgment on how much information an individual should reveal. In

  • 228: Steve Jobs Mentors Me In Prison: Episode 10

    25/02/2016 Duración: 20min

    Steve Jobs: Mastermind As Steve Jobs, another mastermind said, “Good artists copy ideas, but great artists steal ideas.” To prepare for success, I copied ideas from the most successful masterminds I could find, whether they lived thousands of years ago or whether they served time alongside me in federal prison. Regardless of where you are today, you have masterminds around you. Question yourself on how your actions and choices influence they way those masterminds perceive you. If they perceive you as being worthy of their time, you will find that they will want to invest in you. I cannot recall how many people invested time, energy, and resources in my success, even though I did not know them prior to my imprisonment. They saw me as being authentic and they wanted to help. I found that I could “will” avatars into my life who would invest in my future. And if I could do that while serving 26 years as a prisoner, then just think what you can do! Some of the people who invested in me along the way include the fo

  • 227: Prison to Society, Episode 9

    24/02/2016 Duración: 21min

    Prison to Society That initial meeting with my case manager, Charles, went well. Why? The roots for that successful meeting extended way back to the 1980s, when I was still locked inside of the Pierce County Jail. Recap? While in my cell I read about Socrates. From his story, I learned the importance of living for something greater than myself. Instead of dwelling on the challenges that had come from my own decisions, I could empower myself by thinking about others. Through Socratic questioning, I could learn the relationship between my decisions and the ways that others would perceive me. With that insight, I began contemplating people like Charles—case managers and probation officers—before my judge even imposed my 45-year sentence. They were my avatars. By thinking about what they would expect, I could create plans to influence their perceptions. Then, by executing those plans every day of my sentence, I believed that I could influence a better outcome upon release. Some readers may be familiar with the so

  • 226: Prison to Halfway House, Episode 8

    23/02/2016 Duración: 22min

    Who are your avatars? What would they expect of you? In what ways are the decisions you’re making today leading you closer to earning support tomorrow?   Chapter 3: Transition from Federal Prison to a Halfway House By 3:00 am, on August 12, 2012, I was up and ready to start my exercise inside the federal prison in Atwater, California. It would be my last day locked inside of a prison. I had 9,135 days of imprisonment behind me, just over 25 years. Carole was scheduled to pick me up at 9:00 am. Together we’d drive to a halfway house in the Tenderloin District of downtown San Francisco, where I’d serve the next 365 days—completing my 9,500-day journey as a federal prisoner. I walked through gates that separated the minimum-security camp from the penitentiary so officers could process me out. A staff member handed me a few hundred dollars in cash from my account and indicated that I’d receive a check for the remainder. That was it. I walked outside and met Carole. She wore a yellow dress with a yellow ribbon t

  • 225: Releasing to California From Prison, Episode 7

    22/02/2016 Duración: 21min

    Prison Release to California: As we approached the end of my term, we had to figure out where we wanted to live. When a man served longer than a quarter century, he didn’t really have roots anywhere. We chose California because I’d built a strong support network that would be easier to leverage from a large state. Further, California was a big market and the state had some significant problems with its prison system. Since we wanted to live in a place that offered the best opportunity, California seemed perfect. Besides the opportunity, I liked the weather. I had another reason to choose California as the place where Carole and I would begin our life together. Toward the end of my sentence I met Justin Paperny, a former stockbroker who served a relatively brief sentence for violating securities laws. We became friends. Justin’s conviction meant that he would need to create a new career for himself upon release. At the time, in 2008, the nation’s economy was sinking. I used Socratic questioning to help Justin

  • 224: Earning Freedom From Prison, Episode 6

    22/02/2016 Duración: 20min

    How to Earn Freedom Individuals who aspire to succeed always follow that pattern. Those who reach their highest potential follow the pattern in sports, in business, in politics, in marriage, and in any area of life where they want to excel. They always know where they are and they know where they’re going. They create plans, strategies, and make decisions in accordance with those plans and strategies. In order to build a career around my journey, I needed to craft my own products and services that would communicate that message. With that end in mind, I began writing specific books. I wrote Earning Freedom: Conquering a 45-Year Prison Term to show people who were going through the criminal justice system the exact path that empowered me through the decades I served in every security level. That book provides the many details that I left out in this synopsis of my journey. Earning Freedom would show readers the day of my arrest, on August 11, 1987, until the day that I transitioned to a halfway house, on Augus

  • 223: Reviewing Books to Prepare for Success From Prison, Episode 5

    22/02/2016 Duración: 21min

    Reviewing Books   Date I read the book: Why did I choose to read this book? What did I learn from reading this book? How will this book contribute to my prospects for success upon release? By adhering to that strategy, I read with a deliberate purpose. Every decision had a direct connection to the success that I was determined to become. There were opportunity costs and risks associated with every decision. Since I knew that many people placed a high value on where they positioned their seat in the movie room, or whether they had the authority to change a channel, I avoided television rooms. In fact, every decision I made in prison began with a question. If I choose to watch television, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release? If I play organized sports, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release? If I play table games, will that decision advance or hinder my prospects for success upon release? If I associate with one person or another, wil

  • 222: Publishing From Prison: Episode 4

    22/02/2016 Duración: 21min

    Publishing From Prison The first step would be to write a book proposal. Then I would need to write sample chapters. Next, I would need to write a cover letter and begin sending self-addressed-stamped envelopes to literary agents. My research showed that if I could persuade a literary agent to represent me, the literary agent would connect with publishing houses. If editors who worked at the publishing house liked my book, the editor would issue a contract to bring my book to market. It wouldn’t be easy. But prison had conditioned me to deal with rejection. The book proposal itself required about 30 pages of writing. Sample chapters added another 30 pages. Postage and copy costs would be too high if I were to send the entire package to scores of publishers. I needed a more economical way. Instead of sending the full book-proposal package, I leveraged off of my earlier work. First, I identified 100 literary agents. Then I wrote a query letter that described my background, my educational credentials, my publi

  • 221: 45-Year Prison Sentence, Episode 3

    22/02/2016 Duración: 21min

    Sentenced to 45-Years: Now I have a question for readers. If you could influence someone, who would you want to influence? What do you know about that person? In what ways would influencing that person change your life? What steps could you take today to influence that person? My judge chose not to impose a life sentence. Instead, he sentenced me to 45 years. I was sentenced under a different set of laws than the sentencing laws that exist today. Under the laws that existed for crimes committed in 1987, I could earn 19-years worth of good-time credits. For readers who don’t know about good time, they’re rewards for avoiding disciplinary infractions. A prisoner didn’t need to do anything particularly good to earn good time. He simply needed to avoid being convicted of violating disciplinary infractions. So long as I didn’t lose any good time during my journey through prison, I would satisfy my sentence after 26 years of imprisonment. Since I was 23-years-old when authorities took me into custody, I didn’t quit

  • 220: Success After Prison: Episode 2

    17/02/2016 Duración: 22min

    Success After PrisonI’m Michael Santos and I’m typing this manuscript on an awesome Mac Pro computer. When I served my sentence, I had to write all of my manuscripts by hand. Now I’m addicted to Apple products and word processors. These tools allow me to write much more efficiently, but I no longer have the time that was available to me while I was in prison. Again, that’s why I won’t devote hundreds of hours to editing this manuscript. At least for this draft, what you see is what you get. I started typing this manuscript on Saturday morning, December 4, 2015. I don’t know how long it will take for me to finish, but I’m going to do my best to finish a solid draft before the end of this year. Why? Well, it may seem strange, but I’m scheduled to visit the United States Penitentiary in Atwater on January 8, 2016. After speaking at a judicial conference in Sacramento that I wrote about in the introduction, I had a conversation with Warden Andre Matevousian. He extended an open invitation for me to return to Atwa

  • 219: Success After Prison: Episode 1

    16/02/2016 Duración: 19min

    Success After Prison!How I Built Assets Worth $1 million Within Two Years of Release from 26 Years Inside (And How You Can Succeed, Too)My name is Michael Santos and I’m writing this book in a conversational style, wanting to share the story of my return to society after 26 years as a prisoner. This book isn’t about prison. It’s about overcoming struggle, or more precisely, about strategies I used to overcome challenges associated with long-term confinement. I’m convinced that we all face struggles or challenges at some point. Anyone can use the same strategies that empowered me to conquer struggle in their life. I’m sure of it. Before I get into the strategies, let me explain why I’m writing this book so soon after finishing my prison sentence. Judge Charles Pyle, a federal judge from Arizona reached out to me in early 2015. I didn’t know Judge Pyle, but he had heard about my journey and my work to improve outcomes for people who’ve been to prison. The judge and his team were coordinating the Ninth Circuit J

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