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People of Purpose

Connecting people to their unique human experience through Purpose.

Jan 21, 2018

Joe Sessel found his purpose serving an 11 year term in Federal Prison. From age 19 to 30. In prison Joe found a love for books, sought out mentors, developed his physical fitness and refined his focus to add value to the world. For Joe prison became a limitless library and training ground to become his best self. Today he uses the skills, knowledge, and wisdom acquired from his prison days to be a serial social entrepreneur, a supply chain professional, and real estate investor in Topeka, Kansas.


Raised by a single Jewish mom in Topeka, Kansas, Joe was a bright but troubled and rebellious child. He was first convicted of criminal activity at age 10 when he joined older kids breaking into a Catholic school. Failure to play by the rules and obey the law was a pattern for Joe in adolescence. His behavior earned him multiple stays in short term mental hospitals, diagnoses of everything from Acute Paranoid Schizophrenia to Manic-Depressive to Anti-Social Disorder. He was committed in 1995 for an indefinite period at Saint Francis in Salina, Kansas and spent 9 months in a mental ward in the middle of nowhere. Joe began selling drugs his freshman year in high school, and by the time he was 19 years old he was selling about $1 Million dollars of meth a month in Northeast Kansas. During this period, Joe was also a public speaker for the Shawnee County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and a choir singer and soloist in many choirs, including a performance of Gustav Mahler’s 8th symphony with the Kansas City Symphony Choir and Washburn University Choir.


On May 7th, 1999, 3 days after his 19th birthday, Joe was arrested for possessing $172,000 of meth in a federal investigation called “Operation Heartland”. During the 11 years he spent behind bars, he was able to focus on himself and find purpose. Using his brain and his skills for good became a focus of his life after asking the question “who am I and what kind of person do I want to be?” He was 21 years old the first time he considered these questions seriously. An autodidact with an abundance of time, Joe pursued studies in Philosophy, Literature, Language, Communication and Intelligence theory, Law and Medical Science, Business, Real Estate Investing, and Neuro Linguistic Programming.


Today, Joe is on the path of searching for meaning among his fellow humans. He wants to create more value in the world than he consumes, and that is a basis for his actions. His frame is one of lifelong learning. He believes that things aren’t good or bad, but instead that all events are opportunities for learning. “What is the lesson?” is always the question. Joe is dedicated to using his communication skills as a conduit for sharing what he has learned on his journey and helping people to see more and better choices in life. He believes that he has more in life than he could have ever hoped for and hopes that his gratitude and enthusiasm for life are contagious.



  •    Listen as we talk about:
  • Why discomfort is the beginning of change
  • Why the safe path leads to stagnation
  • His unique perspective on the relationship between a person’s resources and their ambition
  • Why time is such an underrated and valuable resource
  • How to think about balancing patience with urgency and ambition
  • Why the whole world is a prison and how to find out whats available within your boundaries
  • How stoicism and the serenity prayer give you the power to understand what you have the power to change
  • How to become a free man in prison by recognizing available options
  • How leadership helps you to make up your own mind
  • How reevaluating your premises allows you to understand something you didn’t know
  • Why utility value is more important than truth
  • Why being restricted in prison helped him to seize increasingly greater opportunities
  • Why he doesn’t believe in altruism
  • How to use your talents to create more value than you take
  • Why you can know who Joe is through his favorite games - chess and poker
  • How his purpose has made him a very successful real-estate entrepreneur
  • How to maximize the opportunity to learn from somebody with talent
  • How reframing and reexamine helps you recognize your gratitude
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