Kayla Vead Lachney-Earning Freedom

Author of Book: Michael G. Santos
Date Read: January 9, 2024

Book Report

January 9, 2024

Why I read Earning Freedom: I read Earning Freedom because it was written by
Michael G. Santos, someone I have tremendous admiration for. In facing a 32-month
federal sentence, I knew I could turn to Michael’s book for guidance, insight and
encouragement. What I learned from reading Earning Freedom: I learned so much from
reading this book. It’s difficult to sum up everything without writing a novel about the
book. I’ve done my best to highlight: 1. Attitude is a powerful determinant of success.
Although Michael could have accepted a 45-year prison sentence as defeat, he worked
every day as if freedom was just around the corner. 2. Using time in prison to read and
increase knowledge is a lifetime investment. It adds, never decreases in value. Learn
from others you admire and pursue subjects that envelop you. Read, write, talk, listen…
connect. 3. A successful career can begin from anywhere. Michael began building his
career in his early 20’s within a federal penitentiary. Like a painter deliberately selecting
colors to create the masterpiece only the painter envisions, Michael’s methodical and
strategic approach lead to a future most people could never imagine. 4. One can
remove all a man’s liberties and still leave him with power and freedom. The power of
the mind should never be underestimated. 5. Success is achieved by taking deliberate
steps, preparing with the desire to overcome any barrier and doing the work every
single day to advance toward goals. Many times, Michael faced barriers that seemed
impossible to overcome. As I read the chapters, I could see his plans unfolding. No
matter what prison he was in, there was always someone wielding power over him who
was determined to see him fail. In fact, it seemed that some thrived on watching others
suffer. While they may have created delays or made it more difficult for him, none of
them out-strategized him. 6. It’s never too late to change direction or shift course. At any
point, we can pivot and create a completely different future. 7. It’s important to
individually define success. That’s where the planning begins. Summary of Book:
Earning Freedom is the real-life prison experience of a cocaine trafficking boy who
evolved into an incredibly generous educated man. The book provides Michael’s
perspective into multiple decades spent continually pursuing education, building
extensive networks, planning for future, and finding the love of his life while confined
within concrete and barbed wire fences. Each chapter reveals the trials and tribulations
of trying to succeed in a system incentivized by failure. Conclusion: Although
statistically, a man with Michael’s past likely had a better chance of winning the lottery
than becoming an American success story, if you’ve met Michael Santos then you
realize that statistics are worthless measures. Through self-discipline and confidence,
he navigated his way through prison successfully; captured love, marriage and
happiness; founded organizations that give back to justice-impacted people and
continues inspiring others to feel empowered. How will reading Earning Freedom
contribute to preparation for success upon release: Reading Earning Freedom

reinforces the importance of resilience and perseverance. It has helped me understand
that prison is where life is put on hold. Prison is part of life’s journey. As a close friend of
mine told me as he encouraged me to enroll in college, the “time passes whether you’re
doing anything with it or not.” I can tread water for the duration of my prison sentence,
or I can use that time to build a promising future. I’m choosing the latter. Michael is an
inspiration, and his story reflects a man who has succeeded despite the cards (the
many, many decks of cards) being stacked against him. If he can survive 26 years in a
place designed to punish and crush one’s spirit, then I can certainly serve my short
sentence with honor. A few of my favorites from Earning Freedom:

Kayla Vead Lachney