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 SAG-20-George Costanza 

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Michael Santos

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Hi, my name is Taylor Evans and I am on the team with Prison Professors.

In this video, Justin Paperny shares the thought process and characteristics of one of America’s favorite neurotic TV characters and shares with us how this character’s goofy logic can help move you forward on your journey for success.

Are you a fan of Seinfeld? The character Justin references is the infamous George Costanza. In this video Justin talks about in one Seinfeld episode George is going to do the opposite of what he usually does when he approaches a woman to flirt with her, he is going to be brutally honest. 

In the episode, George walks up to a woman in a café and says to her “Hi I’m George, I’m short, bald, and live with my mother.” In the episode, the woman smiles back and asks him to sit. Justin uses this example and literature from Malcolm Gladwell to explain the purpose of his message.

Justin shares how people, history, and culture have always revered the underdog, the person that had to overcome the most daunting tasks, the person who had a .001 percent chance of achieving their goal, but they somehow found a way. 

Justin coins this ideology the George Costanza Approach and communicates why it should be applied to your journey as you navigate through this world as a convicted felon. In today’s technologically driven world, it is extremely difficult to hide your felon status in a professional setting with google. So, Justin argues that the George Costanza Approach you share the truth about your conviction and own it.

I can imagine you are just as confused as I was when I heard this approach. Own it? Share the worst decision I made of my life with a potential employer and stranger? Yeah, no thanks, was my initial reaction. Then I kept watching the video.

Justin goes on to explain that Michael encouraged him to use this negative experience as a learning experience and demonstrate to his family, his network, potential employers, etc. how he has grown from confinement and how he will turn one of his greatest mistakes into one of his greatest teaching points and strengths in his professional and personal toolbox. 

Justin then goes on to share how if a person is reluctant to share their story or thinks hiding it will be better, then they are allowing the internet or the articles surrounding your charges to dictate your narrative.

Is this an easy thing to do? No, it is not. I can share with you my personal experience that I held and still hold shame and guilt for what I did. I was hoping people would magically forget or somehow my record wouldn’t appear on a background check. I was living in a fictional world with my expectations. And guess what, neither one of those things happened. 

I remember sharing the story with my first employer post-incarceration. I talked about how this experience inspired me to always be a part of some organization that is giving back. I shared how remorseful I was for my actions, but I refuse to let that mistake define me. I explained how I continued working as I went through court, how I took a GRE prep class while incarcerated because I still have professional aspirations, and ultimately showed that yes I made a mistake, but I am not that mistake. That company did hire me, and I was the top performer for that team. 

 No one will judge me harder for my mistake and conviction than myself. At the same time, I acknowledge how much time and effort I have put into learning from this experience and how much time I have put into helping others out. At the end of the day people cherish authenticity and understand that we all make mistakes. The true measurement is what are we doing to help others out to show how we have learned from our mistakes.

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