11. Spreading Awareness:

Although our growing portfolio of rental properties had become an integral part of our wealth-accumulation strategy, I remained determined to build a digital-products business. With hopes of finding more institutional buyers for the program, I accepted 12 speaking assignments in the fall of 2015, keeping me in different airports every week. I traveled to various cities between Tacoma and Washington DC, striving to create market awareness for Earning Freedom products.

Some of those speaking events provided memorable experiences, and opportunities that I hope to leverage in months to come. Earlier I mentioned that the Washington State Department of Corrections was a client of the Straight-A Guide product that I created. When I made my initial sales call in Washington State, I had an opportunity to build a friendship with Michael Colwell, assistant director of Correctional Industries. He introduced me to his colleagues, including Bernie Warner, Dan Pacholke, and Scott Frakes. At the time, Bernie served as Secretary of the state’s prison system. Since then, he retired and went on to lead a private prison system. Dan took over as Secretary in Washington’s prison system, and Scott Frakes advanced to become Secretary of Nebraska’s prison system.

Those were powerful allies for me, and I hoped to persuade them to use the Earning Freedom programs in their prisons. Through those relationships I’d built in Washington State, I received an invitation to give a keynote presentation at a regional training conference in Spokane. Representatives from correctional industries in 11 Western states would be in attendance. Business entities that served the corrections industry sponsored the event with vendor booths.

Keefe Group and Union Supply were two of the vendors in attendance. I approached the sales representatives and introduced myself. They didn’t know that I’d been incarcerated previously, so I played a hoax.

“I was a loyal customer of yours for more than 25 years,” I said. When the sales representatives smiled, I told them that I’d never buy another one of their products again.

Keefe Group and Union Supply were two of the most influential vendors to prison industries. They not only supplied commissaries and food services, they also were creating devices to deliver digital content. The devices were designed in such a way that they would not compromise security, and inmates could use them to download music or entertainment. After getting to know representatives from Keefe Group and Union Supply, I suggested that they connect me with decision makers. I wanted to make a case that those companies should make Earning Freedom products available to people in prison.

As a consequence of those meetings, I received invitations to visit leaders of Keefe Group at the corporation’s headquarters in St. Louis, and I visited with leaders of Union Supply in Los Angeles. I also received an invitation to visit with leaders from New Mexico Department of Corrections, including Secretary Gregg Mercantel. Through these relationships that I’m developing, I anticipate that I’ll succeed in building interest for digital products I’m creating with Earning Freedom.

 

Sales Funnels and Webinars:

The more I worked to generate purchase orders from giant corporations or government agencies, the more I realized the time commitment necessary. Complaining about the challenges of selling into this market wouldn’t advance my cause. The market existed, but as Andi advised, I would need to invest significant amounts of time to build the business model. By continuing to create content, make sales calls, and bring awareness to the value of Earning Freedom products, I’d sow seeds that would lead to the multi-million dollar business we aspired to create.

Meanwhile, by learning more about the digital marketplace, I learned techniques that would allow me to offer products and services directly to consumers. Again, masterminds taught that we could create value when we trained ourselves to think about issues that were beyond our personal experiences. Every individual in society faced challenges. Those people could overcome challenges if they learned strategies that masterminds taught. In an effort to bring products and services to their attention, I invited Tulio to work with me.

Earlier I wrote about Tulio Cardozo, one of the first graduates of Chris Redlitz’s The Last Mile program. I admire formerly incarcerated individuals who successfully transitioned into society. Tulio was especially impressive because he trained himself how to code computers and use technology while he was locked inside of solitary cells. Using the same strategies that empowered me through my journey, Tulio wrote letters to people and requested books. Since he had an interest in computers, he asked for books that would teach him how to code. When he concluded his prison term, he interned with technology companies and honed his skills further. Tulio’s expertise would prove invaluable as I worked to build products and services for consumers.

Tulio kept his home base in the San Francisco Bay area and I worked from my office in Irvine. Using screen-sharing services, we devoted dozens of hours mastering the process of creating automated services. Using technology, we could deliver products and services that would bring value to the lives of others. All of those products and services either taught strategies to overcome challenges, or they offered opportunities clients could seize create wealth. All of our work began with the premise that anyone could take advantage of the same strategies and opportunities that allowed me to work toward my first $1 million. If I could do it after 26 years in prison, anyone could follow the pattern and create their success. We also began marketing our services to other entrepreneurs or business owners, creating solutions for them to use technology in ways that would increase revenues.

 

Alternative Investments:

As we close out 2015, I’m particularly enthusiastic about using the expertise I’m developing with webinars and other digital projects to create more value in real estate. With Tulio, I’m creating digital courses to teach strategies Carole and I use to build our real estate portfolio; others can use those strategies to prepare for their financial stability. We’re teaching techniques we use to raise capital to purchase properties, to manage properties, to find tenants for our properties, and to keep our investments operating smoothly.

Besides the courses, we’re also creating opportunities. I’m particularly enthusiastic about an agreement I’ve created with a developer who builds master-planned, oceanfront communities in Central America. In exchange for hosting webinars that bring attention to his properties, we’re creating favorable financing terms for those who visit the webinar—and also for Carole and me. We’re seizing the initiative to own appreciating assets in appreciating markets.

I’ll write an update to this book later to show how the opportunities mentioned above contribute to my goal of earning my first million by August 12, 2018—five years after completing 26 years as federal prisoner 16377-004.

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