Earning Freedom Mastermind Course:
Mike Tausek came across the Straight-A Guide course that I created for Justin’s nonprofit foundation. We had distributed the course to several jails, schools, and prisons. Mike contacted me to learn more about what it would take to bring the Straight-A Guide to Maine’s prison system.
The Straight-A Guide was a comprehensive course, with ten modules of five lessons each. The course included workbooks, videodisks, and softcover books. Further, facilitators needed to proceed through a full day of training to learn the concepts. I created the course with intentions to sell the Straight-A Guide to institutions across the United States, yet as I described earlier, we lacked capital to fully implement our plan.
Since I had accepted the fulltime position with Andi’s organization, I didn’t have liberty to travel to Maine so easily, I told Mike. I explained to him that I was working to create new, digital products, and suggested that he allow me to create something new that we could test inside of the Maine State Prison. If the idea worked in Maine, I would strive to expand into other markets.
Deputy Warden Tausek asked what I had in mind.
I suggested that I create the Earning Freedom Mastermind Course. Since he was in Maine, I used a Hockey metaphor. To paraphrase Wayne Gretzky, I said that rather than skating to the puck, we needed to skate to where the puck was going. From my perspective, the educational market would expand its use of digital products. They were less expensive than physical products to both create and distribute. With digital products, I told Mike, I could create new content for prisoners in Maine that would be both timely and relevant. Further, the mastermind course could be interactive, giving the men inside opportunities to ask questions and receive answers from people who emerged from prison successfully.
I anticipated that I could create Earning Freedom courses from my desktop computer. I’d need to research how, but since I had Andi’s support, I’d learn how to create webinars and audiobooks. I told him that I would create a 10-part lesson plan and a series of videos that featured interactions with formerly incarcerated individuals. Since I could use technology to film the recordings, I could produce the course in an efficient manner and distribute it through Internet links. Most importantly, participants could ask questions and I’d film responses to their questions. I believed an Earning Freedom course would help build intrinsic motivation for people who lived without hope.
Mike Tausek saw the value that digital courses could offer. He agreed to purchase a one-year license to use the Earning Freedom course in his prison. We settled on a $1,000 price point for the annual license.
Single orders for a $1,000 were not going to build an empire. But as Andi said, businesses took time to build. I budgeted three years to build products and services that would serve institutions like the state of Maine’s prison system. The same course that I created for Maine would be of value to people across the country, not only for people in prison—for anyone. Rather than limiting the course content for people in prison, I intended to create content that would apply to every citizen who aspired to overcome struggle and reach a higher potential
I’d need to build in stages. Those stages would require the following:
- I’d need to create an abundance of content that was freely available.
- 2) I’d need to create proprietary content that I could sell.
- 3) I’d need to ensure that anyone who had access to the content would find a powerful and actionable message of personal empowerment.
With a plan in place, I started scouring the Internet to learn more about how to create digital products.
Before I describe what I learned from researching digital products, I need to give a bit more background. Since emerging from prison, I worked to build multiple income streams. The work I did while I was incarcerated helped set the stage for such opportunities. Those who read this book from inside of a jail or prison should recognize how decisions they make today will influence prospects or opportunities for success in the weeks, months, and years to come.
Earlier, I wrote about my friend Lee opening a job opportunity for me to work in one of his companies immediately after my release. While on that job, I simultaneously earned revenues from public speaking events. A steadier stream of resources came through personal consulting and writing services I offered for others. Rather than taking time off for relaxation, I took advantage of every opportunity available to build financial resources that Carole and I could use to achieve our goals. Although I had to work seven days each week, the progress we made brought a sense of fulfillment. We both were working toward a better future than anyone would’ve expected after multiple decades in prison.
As a consequence of my writing and publishing from inside, I had a level of authenticity when I returned to society. Remember, I began with a plan, thinking about the avatars I wanted to influence. By executing that plan through every day of my journey, when I returned to society I had a strong support network. Some of the people in my network were defense attorneys. When they had clients facing prison, and those defendants had questions about prison, the attorneys would recommend their clients contact me. I charged those defendants a fee to help them prepare for the journey ahead. Those people became my clients. They looked for guidance on how they could:
- Influence the lowest possible sentence.
- Influence the Bureau of Prisons to send them to the best possible prison.
- Make productive use of their time inside.
- Prepare for a successful return to society.
- Write books that would describe their life story and position their careers for a rebound upon release.
Clients would pay a premium to learn lessons that empowered me through the decades that I served. Others retained me to ghostwrite books for them. And fees I earned from providing one-on-one consultation or writing services helped to build financial resources that I could leverage.
While researching information on how to create digital products, I stumbled upon information that would contribute to the business I was striving to build with Andi. The bonus was that it would also contribute to consulting work I did on the side. My research led me to podcasts—a concept that I had been familiar with before.
The podcast I found was called LawPreneurRadio with Miranda McCroskey. It profiled attorneys. By listening to LawPreneurRadio, I had a new idea. On the episode I heard, Miranda was interviewing Diane Bass, one of the premier defense attorneys in Orange County. I listened to the entire interview and felt inspired. A podcast could be a great “digital product” to create. After all, podcasts were accessible to anyone who had access to the Internet. If I were to create an Earning Freedom podcast, more people would learn of value that I could provide. A podcast could potentially lead to more consulting business, while it would simultaneously lead to a library of digital content that I could use to inspire others.
After listening to Miranda’s interview of Diane, I reached out to both women.
I liked the idea of using podcasts to profile experts, just as Miranda had profiled Diane.
As I found throughout my journey, we strengthen ourselves when we bring more mentors into our life. When we can show that we’re 100% authentic, always committed to leading lives of relevance, meaning, and contribution, people are more willing to help.
Despite my background of serving decades in prison, both Diane Bass and Miranda McCroskey agreed to meet with me. They each played a role in influencing my pursuit of a successful career. Diane introduced me to scores of influential criminal defense attorneys. When the attorneys had clients facing time in federal prison, they would refer those people to me. Like Diane, Miranda took the time to meet with me. She mentored me on what it would take to build a successful podcast and she introduced me to Podcaster’s Paradise, the online teaching service that would help me become a podcaster.