Fear Not!

I am grateful that I'm in a career that allows me to continue to invest time learning to become better at what I do and hopefully become better as a human being. To that end, I just finished listening to The 50th Law written by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. Robert Greene became famous thanks to his very popular book, The 48 Laws of Power

I've always liked 50 Cent, and then indirectly, I heard his name a lot because our team worked with someone who was in the music industry who knew him, and whenever I was with my client, I'd say, tell me about 50 Cent. He's an interesting guy and the stories were fascinating.

From there, I embarked on the process of listening to the book The 50th Law, which is narrated both by 50 Cent and Robert Greene. 

If you are facing a sentencing hearing or time in federal prison, this book will help you.

My summary follows.

Fearlessness from Preparing For Sentencing and Prison

The 50th Law, unlike The 48 Laws of Power, only has ten chapters, but each chapter continues to illustrate this fearless mindset of turning weaknesses into strengths. And in 50 Cent's case, that's how he became successful. Early in the book, he discusses how he had a record deal and shortly before the record came out, I think one or two days before he was shot eight or nine times, including one time through the jaw, it nearly killed him.

And after he was shot, his record deal went away. No one wanted to have anything to do with him, and as a result , it left him very vulnerable and weak, having to start over with nothing. he could reverted back to drugs and crime, but he didn't want to work for or become beholden to others. And in time he said, I'm not going to be reliant on a record company or producer. I'm going to produce my own stuff and put it out there for the world to see.

So becoming fearless , in his case, I think, started with growing up on the streets, getting shot, and living through it. 

Fear as a Call to Action

He articulates clearly that fear was his call to action. He always confronts his fears. He did not run from them. Think about that. As a defendant, it's very easy to be afraid of certain things that could be asking your lawyer a question. I mean, there are some defendants, I understand, who are afraid to pick up the phone and call their lawyer and ask a question about an idea or a strategy.

We want you to be respectful. We want you to recognize you have hired experts like a lawyer to help guide you, but that doesn't make you impotent to offer advice or make suggestions. It is okay to be fearless. What's the worst that can absolutely happen? That's the sort of the approach that 50 Cent takes in his work. What's the worst that could happen if I put my record out there and self-publish it, no one buys it.

So , if you approach this  being fearless, embrace the worst-case scenario. Your lawyer throws away the idea. He doesn't like the idea. The lawyer says it's a useless idea. So what?

Worst case scenario, you become fearless and reach out to try to grow your network, to go to a Rotary club, to speak and share your story, to think creatively, and perhaps embrace some messaging that might be difficult for you to accept. What's the worst that can happen? They hate the message, do not invite to back? So what--You're right back to where you started. 

Self-Reliance Through Difficult Terrain

Another thing you'll learn from this book is the idea of self-reliance. And 50 Cent covers that extensively in this book. To take full responsibility for your life, you can retain a lawyer, you can retain our team, you can get advice. But at the end of the day, this is your life. You have got to somehow become self-reliant through whatever obstacles you face. Thankfully for you, it's not growing up impoverished with a mother who was shot and you will not learn these lessongs dealing drugs in the streets of New York.

I mean, he had to become self-reliant through those very difficult terrain. Your self-reliance may come through having to start over and rebuild from nothing and embracing the idea that people might run from you, not being reliant on other people for your happiness or strength or your job. 

Sometimes you've got to start over, and that requires a sense of self-reliance. And with that comes confidence. And of course, fearlessness. Because becoming self-reliant requires you to put yourself out there and at times embarrass yourself, as I frequently did when I came home from prison,

Opportunism in Adversity

Another thing, this book really stresses is becoming is opportunities, opportunism, so to speak. The idea that in 50 Cent's case, every negative situation, everything bad that happened to him, he found some opportunity within. I mean, if you listen to this book, any time something bad happened, his thought wasn't to complain or woe is me or why me? It was, how can I take this? How can I make this to my benefit? In your case, as you prepare for, let's just say, a sentencing hearing, what opportunities exist in front of you, it could be embracing a new message for your lawyer. It could be opening up or trying to develop new skills as an executive. For me, that was learning to public speak and become a better writer and better communicator and learn really boring BOP policy that could put you to sleep, and interviewing guys in federal prison who were like me, who never imagined they would end up here. So rather than obsessing over what I had lost, I'm in this prison environment thinking what opportunities exist for me. Let's be transparent. If you're a defendant, what opportunities are there? Is that to cooperate with authorities? Is that to look for work that helps you demonstrate that you can earn a living as a law-abiding citizen? Is that volunteering? We have a number of people seizing opportunities to complete our preparing for success after prison course, which is a comprehensive course. 

Unfortunately, some people can't because they're so cynical. Our team spoke with an executive yesterday facing sentencing. He was burned by a lawyer and someone else that he hired. It didn't work out well. So he's like he can't make any decisions. He can't seize any opportunities. Too afraid. And I empathize with him. But at some point, you're going to need to put that foot back in the water and try and create. If not, you're going to be so fearful to do anything. And of course, that doesn't align with the first principle of this book of being fearless.

Dynamic Action and Adaptability

Something this book discusses at great length is just the idea of keeping moving, right—dynamic action and being adaptable, always adapting. By adapting and moving, you don't stagnate, you don't stall, you don't decline. So for you, if you're facing a sentencing hearing, I want you to be different from me. If you read Lessons from Prison, there were days I didn't want to leave the house. I couldn't brush my teeth. I would sit around watching TV all day chewing tobacco. Then I'd roll through In-N-Out Burger at midnight with my dog, Honey, and eat and sort of gorge myself to death. It was a terrible way to live. The only time I really felt better is when I was moving, and that was selling real estate, as I did for three years before I went to prison. Moving, creating, acting, doing something positive made me feel better. It also helped me get a shorter sentence because I was working.

Controlled Aggression

Another thing he discusses in this book is the idea of controlled aggression. It would have been very easy for him to respond in kind when he was shot many times, and then get a gun, find the person that shot him and shoot them back, and then everyone's dead, or they end up in federal prison. So you can be fearless and reliant and seize opportunities and keep moving, but managing your aggression. 

There are some people I know because we've worked with thousands of people who, if they don't get their way, they go rogue. They revert back. If they don't get their way, they go apoplectic. And it doesn't inspire a working relationship. It doesn't help you in front of the government. I received a call two months ago from a defendant who had been cooperating for more than two years, and he went out and he got drunk and he got into a bar fight, totally derailed all of the progress that he had made in an out of character moment. So control your aggression.

Maintaining Composure Under Pressure

Another thing they discuss in the book, and I think it's relevant, is maintaining yourself under pressure. And you can only maintain yourself under pressure if you are prepared. It's going to be a pressure-packed environment. If you sit for a probation interview, when you speak to the judge, if you sit for a proffer, if you agree to wear a wire or cooperate, these things really require embracing and understanding pressure, not letting it crack you or break you. And the only reason, the only way that you can do that is if you are preparing every single day. I use this analogy when I was a baseball player at USC, or even before that, when I had some success, there was a time I was playing on TV in front of 20,000 people, and I only succeeded at times in that environment because I practiced every single day I was ready. I was not overwhelmed because I had done the work. So if you're going to proffer, if you're going to cooperate, if you're going to speak to the judge, if you're going to prepare for a probation interview, the only way you won't crack under pressure is if you have done the work.

Strategic Connections

Another thing he speaks about in this book is finding connections with people who had similar values. That was eventually Dr. Dre and Eminem and others who stood alongside him, choosing his network strategically. At one point it was drug dealers and thieves and crooks with him who sold cocaine in New York. Eventually it became people who were law-abiding who wanted to grow and build, who were entrepreneurs. As you're going through this system, I want you to find and grow the right network, the right lawyers, people in your community, volunteering, people who support you emotionally, who help you get further along. And that's something you need to be aware of. In prison. You can find connections in prison who derail you. Time to complain, bitch. Miserable. This is hard. This isn't fair. I got a raw deal. You can make those sorts of connections, or you can make connections with people who align with your values. 

Mastery of Your Environment

Another thing he discusses a great deal in this book is the idea of mastery. And that is all throughout Robert Greene's work. To the extent that you can master this process, educate yourself. Of course, it's going to help you at sentencing because the more engaged you are, the more you know, the more vested you are in your own life. Not only will you have more confidence, we believe stakeholders are going to be aware of that. So if that's mastering the right message for a probation interview or a judge, or learning how to hold your lawyer accountable. In the book, he discusses the mastery of self-publishing or understanding the mindset of stakeholders and the record industry who he felt were out to use his work to get rich.

Self-Belief Through Challenges

Another thing, and I would argue this is the biggest trait that 50 Cent has, besides fearlessness, is self-belief. Even when he was shot and on his deathbed and dropped by the record label, he appeared to have this belief that he could make it, that he would be successful, that every bad thing that happened was simply an opportunity. It's very inspiring. I have said there are certain books throughout my lifetime I'd like to listen to many times. This is one of them. Atlas Shrugged48 Laws of PowerDiscipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday, Earning Freedom, written by my business partner Michael Santos, who wrote it alongside me in federal prison. I still listen to and he's been my business partner for 15 years. There are some books that stand out that influence you, and as you get older, the book has different meaning the next time you read or listen to it. That's what's such a phenomenal thing about reading or listening to a book. It impacts you differently at the appropriate time. 50 Cent has beautiful, incredible, inspiring self-belief. I too want you to have that same level of belief that you are absolutely capable of overcoming anything that is coming in front of you, regardless of the sentence, regardless of what prison you go to, regardless of what happens.

Embracing Subversion Strategically

And last but not least, as I close out ten ways this book can help you. He talks a lot about subversion. Now, we need to be careful here with subversion because I don't want you subverting or skirting laws in prison that can get you into trouble. But he writes a great deal about subverting the rules and expectations to your advantage.

What were the expectations for someone who was shot nearly dead? Record label dropped him. Probably not much. 

In your case, what are expectations that you can use to your advantage? Now? Some courts don't expect the defendant to do anything to outsource all of the work, to counsel, to not invest the time to demonstrate why you're worthy of leniency. That is an expectation they have of you. How can you subvert that expectation to your advantage?

That could be doing things the court isn't used to seeing truly standing out. We use this analogy in our work of the Purple Cow, written the marketing book by Seth Godin. When you're driving down the highway, you see 100 cows. If you see one purple cow, that purple cow is going to stand out. You've got to be that purple cow. And that's going to require you to think differently and to be strategic. 

Demonstrating Value and Teaching Lessons

On May 7th, several clients of our team will speak with me at a private university, demonstrating to students what they've learned, why they'll never break the law, educating young minds on the consequences of breaking the law, cheating, things they would do differently that provides a great public service to students. It's a deterrence component, and the professor will write a thank you letter on university letterhead attesting to the value. That is a wonderful mitigation strategy for a sentencing judge. It is unique. It is different. It is different from what most people do: Don't speak. Don't talk about it. Run from it. Let's not give the government too much information about.  Sure, don't give the government too much if it's the wrong message. But what if it's the right message?

Embrace The 50th Law and Thrive!

I encourage all of you to embrace these laws. I love The 50th Law by 50 Cent. It can help anyone traverse this system or just anyone in life. Make better decisions, become fearless, become self-reliant. Seize opportunities, keep moving, manage your aggression. Show authority under pressure. Connect and grow that network. Master every stage of this case. Believe in yourself and find ways to get creative or subvert what people typically do. Really grateful that you're in our community. I hope you found value in this book. I'm sure glad I listened to it. 

To read the book, go here.

Thank you,

Justin Paperny