Title: Lifeline to a Soul: The Life-Changing Perspective I Gained While Teaching Entrepreneurship to Prisoners
Author: John K. McLaughlin
Publisher: Lifeline Education Connection
Published: April 4, 2023
John McLaughlin uses his skills in education and experiences running his own company to teach entrepreneurship at a minimum-security prison in Lifeline to a Soul. The author’s background is described in depth, including his involvement in assisting his father with launching his sales start-up company. John gains business and customer service skills at McLaughlin and Associates that helps him teach later in life.
I was impressed with his father’s tenacity to launch his own company after years of devoting himself to someone else led to his termination. It would have been simple and understandable to give up, but he didn’t, and his son was inspired by his persistence to keep going until he achieved his goals.
Determined to do whatever it takes to pursue a profession in education and adapt to the rapidly evolving technological environment, John decides to continue his education. Not only does he go back to get his master’s degree, but he ultimately gets his teaching certificate and doctorate.
However, despite having all the education and qualifications, there has yet to be a response from teaching jobs.
That is until there is an opening for a part-time instructor to teach an entrepreneur program in a minimum-security correctional setting.
Getting the job was easy, and Mr. Moose (John’s hilarious nickname) immersed himself in instructing his students with course chapters from books, syllabi, and business plan templates.
But Mr. Moose did not do all the teaching.
When asked about Black Wallstreet by one of the Black students, the author admits to not knowing about it or remembering it taught in school.
“If this is a true story, do you think Uncle Cleve could’ve been a part of Black Wall Street? The time period’s about right, and he had to learn those business skills somewhere.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. “What was Black Wall Street?” I asked.
“Black Wall Street!” Kevin continued, slightly exasperated and looking around the room for support. “Look it up. An affluent Black community in Oklahoma around the turn of the century that was bombed out of existence by the United States Army.”
Laughlin then goes on to learn more about this historical period in time. He explains how his notions about who prisoners were and them getting what they deserved changed. He thought he would be teaching, but they taught him too.
Speaking of humility, the author also opened his class to inmates who weren’t registered but wanted to sit in and learn and gave away books to the men who asked, even though he had to pay for them out of his own pocket.
“Even though I wasn’t given any funds for supplies, I couldn’t deny an incarcerated man a book on my first day, my last day, or any day in between.”
“Anyone who wanted to learn was always welcome.”
Lifeline of a Soul is an inspiring story of one teacher’s experience teaching entrepreneurship and learning more about life for inmates, away from the stereotypes or preconceived notions of what he thought it might have been like. There was a lot about the prison that surprised even me and challenged my own misconceptions about that life. It is the story of how one man’s high level of determination saved the lives of the students he taught.
This book has layers of lessons: How a lack of resources in prison is similar to challenges entrepreneurs face with start-ups; not giving up on your dream; persisting when things get tough; pivoting where necessary, and having the humility to always be open to learning.
I also really enjoyed the presentation and organization of this book, down to the progress report of where some of the men are and their business logos. John is indeed a professional!
- Strong Introduction: 5/5
- Authenticity / Believable: 5/5
- Organization: 5/5
- Thought Provoking: 5/5
- Solid Conclusion: 5/5
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