How to Prepare for Success

Brad is a successful CPA and entrepreneur. He attributes his achievements to a strong work ethic, being highly motivated to succeed, and a commitment to develop exceptional interpersonal skills. Brad recognizes business opportunities when they appear, and he initiates strategic business plans that allow him to meet his goals. From the beginning of his career Brad understood the importance of math, education, and critical thinking skills.


Upon completion of this lesson, participants will be able to identify and pursue self-directed learning projects that advance their prospects for success in prison and beyond.  

Lesson Requirements:

  • Watch the video that accompanies the lesson; and
  • Write the definition of each word highlighted in bold and italics; and
  • Choose ten vocabulary words and use each word in a sentence: and
  • Respond to a minimum of three open-ended questions by following instructions at the end of the lesson.

Lesson Outcome:

  • Participants will learn the importance of setting long-term goals, creating a strategic plan for success, and how long-term objectives can help them create the best outcome possible from their situation.
  • Participants will increase their vocabulary by at least ten words.
  • Participants will improve writing skills and their ability to contemplate how their responses to open-ended questions relate to their prospects for success upon release.
  • Participants will add to their journal, demonstrating a self-directed, self-improvement pathway to prepare for success upon release.

Brad’s story teaches participants in jails and prisons about the value of developing excellent communication and critical-thinking skills. He shares the keys to his success and the importance of creating a strategy which will allow you to accomplish your goals. His vision reflects all ten of the principles we outline in our Straight-A Guide strategy.

Our team at Prison Professors sincerely thanks Brad for sharing his lessons on building a successful entrepreneurial career through hard work and diligence. 

Brad’s Backstory:

Brad attributes much of his success to lessons he learned as a young man growing up in Texas. At a young age, Brad learned the core values and importance of a strong work ethic and working hard. His father was an accomplished attorney and his mother worked as a drug counselor for a local school district. His parents instilled in him the importance of having a good job and career; they emphasized how education could open opportunities for him. They also encouraged him to participate in sports, where he would develop an appreciation for teamwork and discipline.

Brad saw his father as a role model. Wanting to emulate his father, Brad led a disciplined life. During high school, he rose at 6:00 am and stayed at school through sports, not arriving home until after 7:00 pm. He earned excellent grades in AP classes while playing both baseball and football. Through team sports, he learned valuable lessons about overcoming adversity and the importance of coordinating a winning strategy with the coach. 

Although Brad had the opportunity to play college football in a Division III school after his senior year in high school, he realized that a university degree from a prestigious school would be more beneficial in his future than sports. Brad recognized the importance of developing skills in math, English and critical thinking. He also wanted to understand more about the fundamentals of business. 

After graduating from high school, Brad attended the University of Texas, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years. Attending a top-tier business school had been a goal since his childhood, and he derived a sense of personal satisfaction when UT accepted him.

As Brad advanced through his undergraduate education, he decided on accounting as his best career option. Brad recognized accounting as an essential component of every business. Each financial transaction influenced corporate efficiencies. By learning more about the intricacies of accounting and taxation, he surmised that he would be able to bring more value to employers and clients. 


We can learn from people who tell us their story. When we listen to others, we find clues. Those people can become mentors to us, whether we meet them or not. From Brad’s story, I have learned that he believes there is a pathway to succeed. He understands that a person must work to understand the fundamentals of business. Understanding more about details of business will advance a person’s prospects to succeed. 

Anyone in prison can listen and learn from the people around them, or from reading about people that achieved higher levels of success. We can listen closely, take notes, and incorporate good habits into our life. A story like Brad’s would have inspired me to work harder, even though I’d have to wait many years before I got through my prison term.

  • In what ways can lessons from Brad’s stories help you achieve your goals?

To succeed as a professional accountant, Brad aspired to pass exams that would distinguish him as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This professional certification would open new opportunities in financial work. He could serve as a business advisor, consultant or auditor. That deliberate career decision would expand on his knowledge and make him more marketable to prospective employers and clients.

Since he worked diligently to distinguish himself with excellent grades, Deloitte, one of the world’s largest accounting firms, offered him an intern position during his fourth and fifth year of college. As a result of putting in hard work, he excelled in math and English, as evidenced by the good grades he earned. Discipline helped him to appreciate the importance of teamwork, structure, and the hierarchy of management. 

As an intern, Brad gained valuable experience by working with large companies at the beginning of his career. He acted as external auditor, requiring him to review bank statements and to study complex financial transactions. Brad learned how to analyze business transactions and to assess whether they were reasonable, or consistent with the best practice of the industry. Following his college graduation, Brad passed the CPA exam. Deloitte, the company that offered him the intern position during college, invited Brad to join the firm and begin building his career on a partnership track.

After a few years, Brad sought better opportunities to advance his career. He accepted a position with another firm that specialized in forensic consulting and litigation work. He focused on helping clients that had questions over the legitimacy or authenticity of their financial transactions. The detailed work substantially increased Brad’s understanding of corporate structuring and deployment of capital. 

Several years later, Brad decided to take the next step in his career. Rather than examining the financial records of other businesses, he wanted to go into operations. By nurturing good relationships in the business community, Brad remained aware of opportunities. From a friend, he learned about a hospice and home health-care agency. Although he didn’t have any previous experience with healthcare, the investment he had made to become a skilled accountant gave him confidence in his ability to add value.

The owner of the healthcare company extended an offer to Brad to manage an underperforming asset. Brad understood that where others saw trouble, opportunities could open. He seized the iniative to manage the business. 

Over the course of two years, Brad used all of his expertise to restructure the healthcare business. He understood that if he could increase efficiencies, the company’s financial reports would show how he increased value. He spent time to learn what customers wanted, and then he improved staff training. He created standard operating procedures (SOPs) that did not previously exist, professionalizing the business. As a result of better communications with all stakeholders, the business became more profitable. 

The profit-and-loss statement showed the value that resulted from Brad’s leadership. When the owner of the company failed to show appreciation for the work Brad had done to grow the company, he began drafting out a plan to go into business on his own. His business plan would show prospective investors his vision. 

The business plan began with an executive summary. In that summary, Brad could show how a new hospice and home health agency could fill a need in the marketplace. The plan laid out the incremental steps necessary to go from startup to a profitable venture. With excellent execution of the business plan, Brad projected that investors could reap a return of ten times their original investment. He laid out precisely what steps he would take, demonstrating his mastery of the model. 

From that business plan, Brad could help investors see the potential. They provided $1 million that he used in accordance with the plan. Through brilliant execution, Brad execeeded expectations on every level. After four years of operations, the company generated more than $30 million in revenues. Further, it provided jobs for more than 100 people, and improved the end-of-life experience for hundreds of patients.


While incarcerated, we choose what lessons we want to learn. Some people may tell us that we don’t have anything coming. Others will tell us their view on how to adjust to prison. Yet if we choose to learn from people that have succeeded in business, we can find ways that will position us for higher levels of success. 

In Brad’s story, I have found many lessons. A person that can understand numbers and the fundamentals of business will develop a mental athleticism. That person can apply knowledge from one industry to another. For example, by studying accounting, Brad said that he learned from many different sectors. That depth and breadth of knowledge helped him to succeed in healthcare, even though he didn’t have any previous experience in medical sciences. If we’re willing to work hard, we will develop skills. With more skills, more opportunities open. In time, we will learn how to develop plans. If we develop plans, we will persuade others to invest with us.

Following the sale of his hospice business, Brad went into an entirely new sector. Perceiving opportunities in the construction industry, he opened conversations with stakeholders. Wanting to participate, he persuaded a small roofing contractor to hire him as a commission-only sales professional. 

That strategy reflected Brad’s confidence in being able to bring value. Rather than putting the risk on an employer to hire him, he ageed to take the risk. If Brad brought in more revenue, he would prosper alongside the employer. If he failed to bring in more revenues, the employer would not lose anything. 

Brad set out to learn more about the construction industry, and he discovered new markets that would allow his employer’s company to grow. When he began, the company generated approximately $2 million in annual revenues. Two years later, the company employed more than 50 people and was on track to generate $20 million in annual revenue. 


From Brad’s story, we see the good that comes from perseverance.  Regardless of where we are in life, we can always open our eyes and learn. If we invest in ourselves today, we open opportunities that we can seize tomorrow. We must be willing to develop mastery over certain subjects. The more we invest in ourselves, the more capable we become of putting ourselves in the pathway of success. 

While in prison, a story like Brad’s would have inspired me to work harder. He personified the principles we try to cover in our courses called The Straight-A Guide. All of those courses emphasize the importance of developing a long-term plan. Slow and steady growth increases our prospects for success 

We can use time in prison to pursue self-directed study. By learning, we build powerful tools and resources. If we develop a strategic plan, we can lay out clear tactics that will help us to succeed upon release. 

Anyone can learn the inherent value of committing to a plan, tracking progress, and taking incremental action steps. Brad’s story shows how a cohesive, focused plan advances prospects to succeed.

In what ways do the following principles from The Straight-A Guide apply to Brad’s story?

  • Defining success
  • Setting goals
  • Showing the right attitude
  • Having an aspiration
  • Taking action
  • Holding ourselves accountable
  • Staying aware
  • Being authentic
  • Celebrating achievements
  • Showing appreciation
  • How can you put these same principles into practice in your own life?
  • How do you define your success? 
  • What are small tasks that you can accomplish every day to achieve that success?
  • What would you like to accomplish long term? 
  • What steps can you take now that align with your vision?
  • What do you aspire to accomplish next month? 
  • What goals have you set for next week? 
  • How can you keep a positive mindset even while dealing with rejection?
  • How can you practice humility and gratitude in your life?
  • How could you help someone else today, even in just a minimal way?

Brad’s Early Decisions That Lead to Success:

Brad’s story gives us an example of the results that follow for people with a good work ethic. Professionals tell us that if we find a career we love, we’ll never work a day in our life. From an early age, Brad understood that he wanted to work in business. To succeed, he put in the effort to excel academically, to develop a strong work ethic, and to learn the fundamentals of accounting. He made preparation a priority.

Brad understood the direct relationship between math and communication skills and success. He realized the significance of being able to articulate ideas in both verbal and written communications. Brad showed courage and willingness to do anything necessary to learn.


To succeed after my release from decades in prison, I needed to learn from people like Brad. Even if I couldn’t meet them, I could learn from their stories.

Brad, like many others, taught me the importance of developing professional communication skills. If I wanted to become a person of influence in the penitentiary, I would have to adjust to the ways of the prison. But I hated living in prison. I wanted to succeed outside of prison. For that reason, I chose to learn as much as possible from inspiring stories like Brad’s story.

Although I didn’t understand the importance of grammar or English before my term in prison, once I started to learn about leadership from people like Brad, I began a deliberate and self-directed plan to expand my vocabulary. 

If I wanted to communicate effectively, I needed to develop essential skills that would make me more valuable in the marketplace. When I emerged from prison I knew that these abilities would advance possibilities of opening future relationships with employers or with others in a professional setting. If I could learn how to write a business plan, like Brad did, I believed that I would be able to raise resources to create my own businesses. First, I had to demonstrate a willingness to prepare.

Anyone in prison can work to develop communications skills. Learn from people like Brad through our course, or find people with similar interests who have lessons to share. 

Participants who have concerns about life after prison may think about responses to the following questions:

  • What are you doing today to prepare for new opportunities?
  • What goals can you set for today and tomorrow?
  • In what ways will today’s goals influence tomorrow’s opportunities?
  • What can you do to find mentors in the place where you’re currently serving time?
  • What can you read to learn skills that will help you after you’re released?
  • How can you be the change that you want to see in the world?

People in jails and prisons should apply a high level of critical thinking when deciding how to best use their time. They should position themselves for success when they are released—it’s never too early and it’s never too late to prepare. Communicating in the language of business demonstrates to clients and employers an understanding of return on investment. The ability to enunciate clearly is paramount. A person also needs to know how to develop leads, close deals, and create value by listening to professionals like those profiled in our videos and courses.

Critical Thinking Questions:

  • Write at least three paragraphs, with a minimum of three sentences each, for each of the following questions.
  1. How did Brad’s early focus on being an accountant lead to his success?
  2. Why are leaders like Brad willing to work long hours to develop a successful career? 
  3. How does setting goals help you achieve success?
  4. Describe the benefits of a long-term plan for your success and how it can help you in the future.
  5. Describe how independent learning about a career path can contribute to your success.
  6. Brad refused to let fear of failure or rejection stop him from becoming a success. Do these stop you from being successful?
  7. How can a positive attitude help you reach your goals? 
  8. How does the development of strong communication skills help in your post-incarceration employment opportunities?
  9. How can you identify opportunities now that will lead to a successful future?
  10. What can you do right now to position yourself for a successful future?