Journal Entry 


Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

Creating a process is essential to preparing for higher levels of success. In Prison! My 8,344th Day, I wrote about the process that helped me prepare for success after my release from prison. I learned to create a process by reading about leadership. An example may help to clarify what I mean.

Consider the company McDonald’s. Whether people have served many years or decades, almost every person in America is familiar with a Big Mac or Quarterpounder. McDonald’s has sold more hamburgers than any restaurant on the planet. Yet I doubt anyone would argue that McDonald’s makes the best hamburger they’ve ever tasted.

If McDonald’s doesn’t make the best hamburgers, why would they sell more than any other restaurant on the planet?

They sell more because McDonald’s has perfected the process. All activity in a McDonald’s restaurant has a reason behind it. All actions are part of a design to get a specific result. Engineers in the company are constantly working to refine the process. Some steps in the process might include:

  1. What ingredients will go into a burger, in specific measurements and specific order,
  2. The temperature to cook the burger and the length of time it will cook,
  3. How the company procures supplies,
  4. How much time the company allocates to making a burger,
  5. How the company packages a burger,
  6. How the company brings its burgers to the attention of the market,
  7. What percentage of sales go into marketing,
  8. What steps the company takes to hire an employee,
  9. The training modules that go into onboarding an employee,
  10. How many restaurants the company will open.

The company is successful at selling hamburgers because it starts by defining success. Then it sets clear goals. It created a formula, or a process, to deliver the result that it wants. When the company gets everyone to follow the process, it sells more hamburgers than any other restaurant—even if McDonald’s doesn’t make the best hamburgers.

To prepare for success after prison, I followed a process. In Prison! On my 8,344th Day, I described the method that worked for me. Although I no longer stand up for count daily, I continue using the same process to work toward success as I define it. We must always change and iterate as external events change.

Adjusting the Process:

At the start of my sentence, for example, I served my term in the most violent high-security penitentiary in the nation. While confined inside those 40’ walls, my process kept me safe and allowed me to advance toward the goals that I set. After seven or eight years, I transferred to a medium-security federal prison. I set different goals inside those fences because I was in a different stage. Later, I transitioned to low- and minimum-security prisons. In those environments, I leveraged earlier achievements to work toward other goals.

Since completing my obligation to the Bureau of Prisons in August 2013, I crafted a new process. It focuses on the challenges of building businesses, growing revenues, and creating resources that will allow me to make a more significant impact. I want to develop solutions to reform the criminal justice system to incentivize the pursuit of excellence. 

Still, I follow a process. That process requires daily accountability. In writing the daily journals, I’m striving to show others how my recommended strategies continue to work for me. I believe they can work for others, whether beginning a journey through the criminal justice system or climbing their way out.

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