Journal Entry 

 The Straight A Guide 

Picture of Michael Santos

Michael Santos

The Straight-A Guide: Universal Lessons from Inspiring Lives

Throughout my journey, from the confines of prison to the world of entrepreneurship, I’ve been inspired by stories of resilience, determination, and triumph. The Straight A Guide, a framework I’ve lived by, resonates with the life stories of many iconic figures from diverse backgrounds. You can learn more about this framework for overcoming adversity in our course, Preparing for Success after Prison. I hope your Reentry Affairs Coordinator or Supervisor of Education offers this FSA course.

The course offers examples of leaders who taught many lessons. While I served a 45-year sentence, I read their stories. They helped me craft a plan that I used to open opportunities upon release. They helped me launch many business and accelerate my pathway to liberty. If you memorialize your disciplined, deliberate approach to prepare for success, you can overcome too.

Consider the following remarkable individuals. In their stories, you’ll see examples that exemplified the principles of the Straight A Guide.

  1. Attitude: Helen Keller  
    • Born deaf and blind, Helen Keller’s life could have been a story of defeat. Instead, with an indomitable attitude, she became a renowned author, activist, and lecturer, proving that challenges can be overcome with the right mindset.
  2. Aspiration: Muhammad Ali
    • Ali wasn’t just a boxer; he was “The Greatest.” His aspirations went beyond the boxing ring. He dreamed of being a global icon, a voice for the voiceless, and he achieved it through sheer will and determination.
  3.  Action: Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    • Justice Ginsburg didn’t just aspire to break glass ceilings; she shattered them. Through consistent action, she championed gender equality and became a beacon of hope for countless women.
  4.  Accountability: Nelson Mandela  
    • Mandela held himself accountable to his vision of a free South Africa. Even from a prison cell, he worked tirelessly, taking responsibility for both his actions and the future of his nation.
  5. Awareness: Malala Yousafzai  
    • From a young age, Malala was acutely aware of the injustices around her. Her fight for girls’ education in Pakistan brought global attention to the cause, showcasing the power of awareness coupled with action.
  6. Authenticity: Barack Obama
    • Despite growing up without much in the way of financial resources, he devoted himself to learning and serving others. Those efforts opened opportunities for him to earn degrees from the world’s best universities. After graduating from Harvard Law School, he became a community organizer. His commitment to helping others shows the authenticity of his character.
  7. Achievement: Oprah Winfrey  
    • From a challenging childhood to becoming a media mogul, Oprah’s achievements are a testament to her perseverance and belief in herself. She turned her talk show into a platform for change, touching millions of lives.
  8.  Appreciation: Cesar Chavez  
    • Chavez, a civil rights activist, always emphasized the importance of appreciating and understanding one’s roots. He fought for the rights of farm workers, ensuring they were recognized and valued.

Your Legacy Awaits:  

The Straight A Guide isn’t just a set of principles; it’s a reflection of humanity’s shared spirit of resilience. From Keller’s unwavering spirit to Ali’s audacious dreams, from Ginsburg’s relentless pursuit of justice to Mandela’s sacrificial leadership, these icons teach us that success is defined by our choices, actions, and the impact we leave behind.

I challenge you to find inspiration in these stories and chart your own path. Embrace the Straight A Guide, and let it be the compass that guides you to your unique legacy. And if you want others to see you in ways that differ from what the prosecutors wrote about you, open a profile and start participating by sending an email to [email protected]. As I wrote in our course, I would never ask you to do anything that I did not do. By documenting my preparations for success, opportunities opened. 


Michael Santos, 

Founder of Prison Professors Talent

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