“The Mafia is the longest-running corporation in history. It thrives along with other companies during prosperous times and flourishes even more in periods of economic decline. Bear or bull makes no difference to the Mafia.”Former Gambino associate Louis Ferrante offers unique wisdom and advice in Mob Rules: What The Mafia Can Teach The Legitimate Businessman. Click here
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We’ve picked out some of our favourite maxims.
The mob teaches at an early age to respect boundaries, hierarchies, age, and gender. Big earners get more latitude but it isn't carte blanche. Is that your office culture?
'In the mob, the men who embrace the organisation's values are those who go on to become the biggest earners. Every company should have a set of values, and every employee should share those values. This common ground will be reflected in its image and business practices.'
Call girls and little black books, email trails that lead to indictments, and wire-tapped conversations prosecutors dare only dream of. If you don't need notes, you are more powerful for it. And if always you email, text, and speak as if every word you speak, type, or transmit were going to land on the front page of the Times, you will do yourself an enormous favour.
'Joe Massino, former boss of the Bonanno family, ran a billion-dollar organisation without pen, paper, or laptop - nothing. He knew every man in his army of soldiers, and every law enforcement agent who ever tailed him. If an agent questioned Massino and returned to question him years later, Massino remembered that agent's name and asked when the agent had switched cars, mentioning the make and model of the old car, including the licence plate number.'
Trust looms large in the world of mobsters. Trust looms large in the business world. There is tremendous power in being trustworthy. And there is success to be had when you can team up with one or two people whom you can trust.
'Plenty of mobsters have killed to keep a secret. That's why a smart mafioso holds on to someone who proves trustworthy, sometimes overlooking a shitload of other faults.
If you've done something to garner someone's distrust, you may already be written off. If you intend to be trusted in the future and can prove your worthiness over time, an apology certainly doesn't hurt. If you're already a trustworthy person, realise you're a hot commodity. Don't offer your loyalty to just anyone. The wrong person or company will use or abuse you.'
Look at what others pass by -- you may see the potential no one has and you will distinguish yourself as the one who sees more and further. Also look at what others think beneath them, less glamorous, or otherwise unappealing. You will be the one who rolls up their sleeves and does what needs to be done.
'Most of the Mafia's biggest successes started out with only the knack to spot a racket and move fast. Some have figured out how to literally make money coming and going...Look around your current business environment for areas of untapped profits - jobs others turn their noses up at, markets people don't bother trying to appeal to; there's opportunity everywhere.'
Hierarchy is not a dirty word. It means employees know who to listen to, it means leaders are accountable for their team, and it keeps, as they say, the trains running on time.
'Whether you look at Don Vic Amuso eliminating Petrucelli or President Harry Truman removing MacArthur, history is filled with object lessons in the importance of following the chain of command. Respect this at the bottom. Enforce it at the top. The alternative is anarchy.'
There is profound power in the unspoken thought. It shows discipline, leaves fewer regrets, and distinguishes you in a sea of babble that hopes something might stick. And, the less you speak, the more likely someone will listen when you do pipe up.
''The marks of a true Mafioso are that he speaks little, makes each word count, and maintains a grave and dignified presence at all times, even under extreme provocation.' - Paul Lunde, organised Crime'
The skill to see potential and the influence to inspire a group of people to make it happen are the hallmarks of a great leader. Be the mastermind of your world and your world will expand exponentially.
'In my racketeering indictment, I was labelled the mastermind by federal prosecutors. It was true. I came up with an idea, sold it to my crew (which made me a master salesman), then motivated them to believe the idea could be realised...
Through strong leadership and proper motivation, you can galvanize a dozen or so people and magnify your own one-cylinder ambition into a twelve-cylinder locomotive, ready to plow through any mountain.'
Guarantee every person in your organisation a fair, unbiased, and full airing of all grievances, all parties accept the decision no matter what, and everyone will uphold their side of the bargain. Productivity improves and distracting grudge-matches will be a thing of the past.
'All day long, mobsters bump heads on the street. Every beef is brought to the table, from a stolen bottle of whiskey to a billion in stolen bonds. People fight over everything, especially when there's money involved. Aside from money, the sit can settle a beef over a man's reputation, a question of respect, even squabbles between mobsters' wives and daughters.
Imagine a world in which people sit down and discuss their problems, walking away from the table with a resolution that same day. This is the world of the Mafia.
The Mob knows that grudges interfere with growth, and simmering disputes boil over into serious trouble. Take a lesson, and be quick to arbitrate between coworkers. Make people talk out their differences. Squash a beef before it gets out of hand, and be sure to offer fair and honest advice every time. Learn from the Mob's tireless efforts at diplomacy, the most powerful weapon in their arsenal.'
Don't take someone on in public. You don't look stronger. You have no idea what the response might be. A private word could set the employee on the right path, the public critique makes them weaker and, possibly, vengeful. Either way, the result is not better and more work and that, in the end, is your goal.
'Mobsters have emotions like everyone else; in fact, some are downright touchy. I've been up close and personal with killers, and they have the thinnest skin of all. They just hide their sensitivity behind a tough-guy persona. That's why a stone-cold killer's reaction to even a minor insult can be deadly. Knowing this, their bosses might correct them in private, but never embarrass them in public.'
Employees aren't volatile hit men, but they can still blow their stacks, suffer embarrassment, or harbor an eternal grudge.
If someone screws up, correct them in private.
The good leader can see potential in an employee. The better leader is willing to do the work to get them there.
'As crazy as this sounds, a number of mobsters have brought their teenage sons along on a hit, sort of like Take Your Kid to Work Day. The idea is to break the son into The Life and build his confidence...A supervisor or manager should assess employees' potential, then push them outside their comfort zone. Trust them with more than they're currently responsible for. Most employees will meet the challenge.'
The successful mob boss is well-protected but never insulated. The thinking is, if only a few people have access, a few people control everything that gets to the top. That is too much power in the hands of too few. And that is too little information for any boss to have.
'Every mobster has one primary hangout where he holds court. Sometimes, the boss is standing out front or taking a walk-talk around the block with a criminal associate. But he's usually inside playing cards.
Although most clubs have solid steel doors with a peephole, they've totally accessible to members of the organisation. It's a place where every 'employee' can visit the boss to discuss business.
An open-door policy gives you an open view of the office. Every last fart will find your ears, and that's the best way to keep a handle on your employees at all times.'
Ferrante writes: 'Every company has its share of jerks, you can't help that. But if you're disliked, you risk a consensus of enemies.'
'I refused to inform on friends and associates, and my lawyers negotiated a plea bargain ... I was sentenced to twelve and half years.
In prison I realised that crime was wrong. Sure, life is a struggle and we can't live it on our knees, but I didn't have the right to victimize people. I decided to change my life.
While in prison, I read my first book. It wasn't easy at first; my vocabulary sucked...But I stuck with it and discovered the joy of reading....I was released after serving eight and half years. By then, I'd taught myself the art of writing by analysing the novels of nineteenth-century masters and I had written a novel of my own.
Today, I dedicate myself to helping people...Like the Homeric Greeks, Talmudic Jews, and Native American Storytellers, older mobsters use the oral tradition to school their young and hand down the seasoned wisdom of the streets.
This book is designed to teach the better attributes of La Costra Nostra, so that Our Thing can become Your Thing.'
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