Justin Paperny: Okay, we’re live. Hi, I’m Justin Paperny with Prison Professors and White Collar Advice and I’m here with my buddy Michael Santos.We are going to talk about to grow your support network in federal prison.
Michael Santos: Hi.
Justin Paperny: I’ll admit I spent about 10 minutes this morning looking for one of the many books you’ve written, specifically “One Day of Your Life in Prison” and I couldn’t find it. But there is a quote in the book I want to discuss. For privacy reasons I’m not going to share the text message, but I got a text from someone who’s home from prison, white collar defendant, feels like his network has shunned him a little bit, he’s reaching out, no one’s calling back. I spoke with him for a few minutes and through our call I learned he did very little while in prison to nurture the network, to write them. He just was like, “Dude I’m in jail. What could I do?” You did a really good job of growing your network in prison. I’m going to get to that quote in a few minutes. I’d just love you to share some insights on someone, whether it’s a long prison term or a short prison term can continue to nurture and grow a network while in prison.
Michael Santos: First of all, a message to your client who just got out of prison and is having some challenges growing his network is it’s never too late to start. It’s never too early too late, it’s never too late to start.
I really think it’s crucial that an individual thinks about the challenges that he’s going to face when he comes home. The way that I did it is while I was in prison at the very earliest stage of my journey I had a vision of how I wanted to come home. I knew I wanted to come home successfully, but to come home successfully I knew that I would need a network.
Instead of thinking about myself I thought about the people that I wanted to meet, what would they expect of me? What could I do to earn their respect? What steps could I take to have them see me not for the bad decisions that I made to put me in prison, but rather how I’m responding to those people. When I found them, because in my case it wasn’t going after the network that I had before I was in prison, it’s about cultivating a brand new network. I cultivated a network with high net worth individuals, with extremely influential individuals, with influencers that could help me build my career upon release, not only if I’m released, but also while I was in prison. That’s really what I would encourage people to do is first of all, don’t think about how tough it is in prison, and unfair it is, and how unjust the system is. Think about the people who are going to judge you, number one.
Number two, think about what you could do with your time today, influence those people to see you as something more than what happened at the worst time in your life and nurture that relationship with letters, with stories, with demonstrations of your ingenuity, productivity, creativity, hold yourself accountable, all the things that we teach through our programs Justin.
Justin Paperny: So let’s talk a little bit about rejection and some other issues. When I was in prison with Michael he would ask me, “What did I do today?” Initially I couldn’t really describe what I was doing to prepare for my life after release, a lot of exercise, some reading. One day Michael just held up … I don’t know if you recall because you probably did, he held up a pen and he said, “Justin, on your next commissary shopping you can buy this Bic pen for like 30 cents or 40 cents.” I said, “So what are you saying? What’s the point of that?” Michael then walked me through his letter writing strategy. There was no email at the time, so there’s really no excuse now, but Michael did it for all of these years without email. He showed me this pen and then walked me through his strategy of writing people. Then I said, “Well what if people don’t respond. How many letters Michael are you writing where people just put them in the round file? Does that bother you? Walk me through that.”
Going to prison can be embarrassing, humiliating, you can feel very insecure, I did having lost my friends, and my network, and embarrassed my … How much more rejection could I take, so to speak. Walk us through your mindset and what it was like to spend hours writing letters knowing that perhaps it would be for naught and no one would respond.The last thing I thought about at first was how to grow my support network in federal prison.
Michael Santos: First of all, it’s an investment. When you’re sewing seeds you have to sew a lot of seeds to find the right tree that’s going to bear fruit for a lifetime. A letter is like sewing a seed you’re looking for a lead. You’re looking for somebody who might be receptive to you. I did that for 26 years in prison, I still do it today. In fact, every business person, every white collar offender is an expert at picking up the phone, and making a call, and persuading somebody a value that they can offer over the phone. It’s no different. You are still selling. The difference is right now you’re making the biggest sale of your life. You’re selling yourself. You have to be willing to use this pen and use it to create every potential type of resource that will help you build your network, whether you are writing articles that demonstrate what you’re learning, what you’re doing, how you’re reconciling with society, why you can add value. You’ve got to get people to look at you differently from how the U.S. Attorney is causing people to look at you. When you do that, that is when you can really I guess change your life. That’s what worked for me. It allowed me to get married in prison.
Justin Paperny: Let’s talk about seizing opportunities. I remember when I was in a quiet room with you at Taft Federal Prison Camp you received a letter from Joan Petersilia, who is a professor at Stanford, a mentor of yours. I think she was contributing to a book “Oxford Corrections and Sentencing” book or something like that. She asked you to contribute a new chapter. She said, “Perhaps we can have it back in a couple of months,” and you politely said, “JP, I need some time alone to work. This is an opportunity.” I said, “Well you have two months to do this. Why do you have to turn your attention to this now?” If I recall, you knocked it out so beautifully in a few days. I think they even said, “Can you continue to contribute.” Talk about seizing opportunities and-
Michael Santos: That’s a great story.
Justin Paperny: Let’s talk about that a little bit, because you were very polite in asking me to leave the room so you could get to work.
Michael Santos: It’s about focus, but you got to talk about how does a professor of Stanford write to me and invite me to contribute to her book in the first place. You got to go back a long ways because that all started with this pen. To get that letter of invitation from Joan Petersilia at Stanford, a Nobel Prize winner no less, and be invited to write in her book, which I have catapulted into well over a million dollars worth of revenues from writing that book. It all started by me writing letters 20 years before. It looks like wow he’s so lucky. He just unsolicited this professor of Stanford, writes him a letter. That’s not the way it works. You first have to write 100 letters saying this is who I am, this is what I’ve done, this is why I’m here, this is why I would ask for your help. I was never afraid to ask for help, number one. If you want to grow your support network in federal prison you have got to learn to ask for help, as I did.
Out of that 100 letters maybe 1, 2 come back and then you nurture that over time, over years and you do more. You begin writing in other areas, and other areas, and other areas, and you sew these seeds that become resources for you. Those resources then lead to an opportunity as I received from Stanford. That not only got me out of prison earlier, it allowed me to earn a living, it persuaded San Francisco State University to hire me as a professor, it allowed you and me to work together and work in the non-profit sector and raise more than $750,000 while I was in prison. All of these things happened methodically, deliberately, and that is about seizing the opportunity. You’ve got to seize opportunities where other people have blinders and said, “Oh my god, I’m in jail. How am I going to get out? I can’t do it.” That’s an awesome plan if you want to get out of prison like that poor fellow you just described, but if you want to get out like JP, can out of bed and make it happen.
Justin Paperny: Well I’m out of bed very early like you. Let’s talk about the quote I mentioned in the book that I couldn’t find. One day you said, you wrote something like, “I was a fisherman akin at sea casting lines hoping that people would bite.” It was a line that I’ll admit I’ve used. I’ve used the line many, many times, as you may know.
Michael Santos: It’s okay, we’re partners bro.
Justin Paperny: Let’s talk about that. I know you just touched on it, but I want to focus on it a little bit more because this defendant, or the prisoner who reached out, he wasn’t writing these letters and the response was, “I don’t want to bother people. They’re busy. They’re leading their life. They’re not going to respond anyway.” Like working his way into an outcome so he didn’t even bother to try. I want you to talk about that a little bit more and then something that I know you’re writing about in our new book “How to Master Prison Quickly,” reverse engineering. Let’s close with those two concepts, but I got to talk a little bit more about how you overcame that rejection because I went through the same thing. I began writing to some universities with your help and I said, “Well what if these professors don’t respond to me.” You talked about if you don’t try you get nowhere. Talk a little bit more about that, even if you just covered it, because it’s just such an important concept that you did so well through 26 years in prison.
Michael Santos: I did it well because the reality is rejection is just a part of life. You do 26 years in prison you get very used to rejection, it’s no big deal, it’s just part of the journey. I don’t even look at it as rejection. I just look at it as another opportunity.
I know you’re a former professional sales guy in the brokerage business and you always heard it’s a number game, the more people you call the better the chance you have of landing an account. It’s the same thing here. It is simply a strategy and you’ve got to deploy the strategy every single day.
I don’t recall the line that you used in that book, but I do frequently speak about fishing because that’s what we are doing. We are fishing and there is a gazillion ways to go fishing. All of our listeners who go out to the ocean, hold out their hands and say, “Fish I command thee, jump into these arms,” probably not a good chance of getting the fish that way. But if you take a line, you put some bait on it, you throw a hook out there, you cast that line into the ocean, you’ve got a much better shot of catching a fish. If you cast 100 lines you’ve got an even better way of catching a fish. Cast 100 lines, that is what you’ve got to be doing while you’re in there.
Justin Paperny: Before I transition to reverse engineering where we’ll close I remember when Michael accepted the opportunity to write that chapter for Stanford, even though he had time to do it, he shared a very important lesson with me. He said, “JP, I have to seize this opportunity. I’ve been in prison for a long time. At any moment I could be uprooted, I could be transferred, they could send any prisoner to the hull for any reason. I have an opportunity here, it’s worth diverting my attention from other projects. I’m going to seize it.” For those of you who have opportunities in prison don’t wait, don’t wait to write that letter.
I remember when I got to prison a lot of guys said, “Six months to the house,” which I guess was prison parlance for they’re going to begin preparing when they have six months left to go to the hallway house. By then they never really start. I’ll never forget that story.
Let’s close with reverse engineering Michael that I know you’re writing about in our new program “How to Master Prison Quickly.”
Michael Santos: It’s just about defining success. It’s about looking into the future. You just said about some people have opportunities. The reality is you’ve got to create opportunities. Opportunities are about creating them. They’re not about waiting, oh there are no opportunities. You’ve got to create opportunities. That comes from reverse engineering. You’ve got to see the future, the best possible outcome. Then you’ve got to say, “If that’s the best possible outcome what can I do today to get there? Every single day how can I move the ball so that I am getting closer to that finish line.” That’s what you’re after with reverse engineering.
A quote from Shakespeare “Julius Caesar” that I’ve written about.
Justin Paperny: Shakespeare, I love it. Go on.
Michael Santos: I’m going to close with that. It says, “There is a tide in the affairs of all men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune. Omitted, you continue to wallow in the shallows of misery.” Those people who are waiting for six months before they start preparing they’re wallowing in the shallows of misery where they will continue to wallow because they don’t have the vision, or the creativity, or the energy, or the discipline. That’s what they get when they start reverse engineering. That’s the beauty of reverse engineering. You see the best possible outcome and then you chart the path, and you follow that path, and you hit it every day, and that’s what makes the difference from somebody who is well prepared versus somebody who is waiting for the world to open for them.
Justin Paperny: I can tell all of you watching I attribute a lot of my success to meeting Michael in prison. Every time I interview with him or work with him I still learn. I realize now I think how fortunate I was to meet you and get on the right track because I’m still learning-
Michael Santos: We’re are partners.
Justin Paperny: I learned a lot. I’m very fortunate.
Michael Santos: You’re doing an amazing job. I’m out here building my own career, making millions of dollars, because we follow this path while Justin is continuing to sew these seeds. That is the message of a true servant leader. You teach one person and that person teaches [inaudible 00:12:50] to thousands of others, that’s what Justin has been doing expertly. Our other partner, Shonn Hopwood, does the same thing. We’re a great team and we hope that you will become a member of this team. Thank you Justin for including me in this opportunity to share this message with your listeners.
Justin Paperny: I encourage all of you to learn from Michael as I’ve learned from Michael through our books, our products, our programs. Michael is finishing up an awesome course “How To Master Prison Quickly.” I’ll put up a little spot where you can opt in to get part of that book for free.
All right, you have a good day. I’ll talk to you later. Thank you.
Michael Santos: Thank you.
Justin Paperny: Okay.