George Santino didn’t plan on being a writer.
Truth be told, he didn’t plan on being a fast food manager, real estate investor, liquor salesman or recording artist either. The idea that he’d spend the bulk of his career at Microsoft — starting as a entry level lab engineer and retiring twenty years later from his position as Partner Engineering Manager — would never have crossed his mind.
And yet, as readers of his new book Get Back Up: From the Streets to Microsoft Suites will discover, there aren’t many things that Santino hasn’t tried –and succeeded at – over the course of his many-layered career.
“I had absolutely no idea what it takes to be a writer,” Santino said in an Interview with Color Magazine. “but I could always tell a story. My family used to take a vacation to Mt. Vernon which is about an hour and a half from where we lived. I used to tell stories to pass the time, stories about my life and the places it has taken me. After a while my wife said the stories were very inspirational…maybe I should put them in a book.”
It’s a lot easier, of course, to say you’re going to write a book than it is to actually sit down and write one, so Santino thought of hiring a ghost writer. He approached author M.J. Beaufrand (Dark River), but although she liked the idea, the author was busy writing books of her own. So they reached a compromise; Santino would write down his stories and Beaufrand would go over them to make sure they were not only readable, but conveyed the message Dantino was trying to get across.
It’s clear from reading the book that the partnership worked. Santino has a straightforward, yet friendly style as a writer – you can almost imagine him telling various parts of the book to his family on that long drive. He’s also direct and honest with his readers, sharing the good as well as the bad that has happened to him along the journey from his days living in poverty in Philadelphia’s violent Tasker Street Projects to the present. “It’s not always easy talking about your past,” he admitted. “The hard part is deciding what really is your past and how telling the story will affect the people I left behind. It’s enough for me to tell the reader my dad was an alcoholic with a violent temper and share how living in that environment shaped me. I don’t need to use this book as a way of getting back at him.”
With his first book under his belt, Santino admits he isn’t sure he’s ready to sit down and write another one just yet. “I really want to explore the idea of going out on the road as a motivational speaker to share the stories with people face-to-face,” he said. “I think that’s the best way to show them that if it can happen to me, it can happen to them, too.”