Journal Entry 

 Succeeding from Prison 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

The CEO of Your Life: Balancing the Business Within and Beyond

In the vast expanse of life, every individual is the CEO of their own journey. This concept isn’t just about leading a company; it’s about leading oneself through the myriad challenges and opportunities that life presents. During the 26 years that I served, the walls of confinement became my classroom, and the countless books I read became my teachers.

One of the most profound lessons I gleaned was understanding the delicate balance between working “in” my business and working “on” my business. This distinction, though subtle, can make all the difference in the trajectory of one’s success. Working “in” the business involves the day-to-day operations, the nitty-gritty tasks that keep the engine running. On the other hand, working *on* the business is about strategic planning, vision casting, and setting the course for future growth.

Post-incarceration, as I ventured into the world of entrepreneurship, this lesson proved invaluable. Building businesses like Prison Professors Talent and the newly minted Mitigation Arc required a harmonious blend of both approaches. Every lead I pursued, every deal I closed, and every resource I generated was a testament to the strategies I had honed during my time behind bars. These weren’t just theoretical concepts from books; they were lived experiences, tested and validated in the crucible of adversity.

Drawing inspiration from leaders of great stature, such as Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan, I realized that leadership transcends political affiliations and ideologies. Both these leaders, despite their differing political views, exemplified the essence of working both in and on their roles. President Obama, with his grassroots approach, often rolled up his sleeves, immersing himself in the intricacies of policy-making. Yet, he also had the foresight to envision a future, setting strategic goals for the nation. Similarly, Ronald Reagan, with his charismatic leadership, was deeply involved in day-to-day governance while also laying down a vision for a resurgent America.

I learned a great lesson from President Regan’s quote about nine words that no one wants to hear: “I’m with the government and I’m here to help.”

We have to help ourselves.

Their leadership styles remind us that we must take charge of our destinies irrespective of our backgrounds or beliefs. Whether you’re navigating the challenges of reentry post-incarceration or steering a nation, the principles remain the same. Be involved, be visionary, and always strive for balance.

Your challenge: Reflect on a time when you felt unprepared. How did you overcome it? What tools or strategies did you employ? Share your story with us by building a profile that memorializes your commitment to preparing for success upon release. Send an invite to [email protected] to get started.

In conclusion, as you journey through life, remember that you are the CEO of your existence. Every decision, every action, and every vision you cast shapes your future. So, work diligently in your present and plan strategically for your future. The balance between the two will pave the way for unparalleled success.

Michael Santos, Founder of Prison Professors

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