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MICHAEL FRANZESE was rated as one of the youngest individuals on Fortune magazine’s survey of “The Fifty Biggest Mafia Bosses”. At one time, he was earning millions every week running business operations (legal and otherwise) as a “capo” or vice president of the Colombo family. After being prosecuted in a number of federal racketeering indictments, Mr. Franzese decided to plead guilty and served a 10-year prison sentence. He then quit the mob and has subsequently become a motivational speaker.
MAIN IDEA ABOUT THE BOOK
Irrespective of the ethics involved, there can no doubt crime pays. In the 1980s, the President’s Commission on Organized Crime estimated organized crime generates more than $50 billion in revenues each year – more than the U.S. iron, steel, copper and
aluminum industries combined. When the legitimate businesses organized crime owns and runs are added in on top of these illegal rackets, it is clear mob-related business activities are genuine multi-billion-dollar operations.
Regardless of the ethics of these various revenue streams, organized crime has not become a big business purely by accident. The men who run these operations don’t generally have formal qualifications, only street smarts, ingenuity and tenacity. It’s all too easy to assume they would not be able to function without the intimidation and ruthlessness factors inherent in organized crime, but perhaps that misses the point. Rather than suggesting a life in crime (which obviously would be stupid and doomed to fail), why not try and pick up on what mobsters learn in the school of hard knocks? They just may know something about surviving that would be applicable and useful elsewhere.
Ten insider tips from the “Mob Way” of doing business
- NAIL DOWN THE BASICS FIRST
Never forget you’re not in business to make money. You’re in business to take money from your customer’s pockets and get it into your own. Plan how you will achieve that.
You’re never going to get anywhere in business unless you get the basics sorted out first. In simple and practical terms, you need to have these elements in place:
- A clear, focused written business plan which details where you want to head and how you will measure your progress. Put your plan on paper then read it and think about it. Is it logical? Is it doable? Have you covered all contingencies?
- A willingness to take what you want to do seriously enough that you will work hard to make it happen rather than sitting back, doing nothing and hoping for the best.
- A serious attempt to clear out all nonessential items from your life so you can concentrate on what you need to make happen with as little friction as possible. Cut to the chase and do what counts, not all the other stuff.
- A good support crew who will help good things happen. Your team needs to be filled with people who are positive, capable, reliable and, most of all, honest.
- A confidant/adviser. Perhaps follow the way the mob organizes itself. Every boss has a “consigliere” which is the Italian word for an adviser or counsellor. Have a handpicked, trusted adviser who provides you with an objective opinion before you do something. If you put a consigliere in place and consult with him before you make an executive decision, he will safeguard you from your own short-sightedness.
Mobsters do one other thing which might also be worth emulating. They like to keep things simple, to cut to the chase. As a result, they are good at eliminating the clutter that can get in the way of productive endeavors. They try and create a clear and easy path from where they are to the money. Lay out your business plans and then find ways to get to where you want to be with as little friction as possible.
“In the mob, we were always cooking up new schemes to take money. But you can only work the more elaborate deals and scams if you’re covering the basics: protection, extortion, gambling. Covering the basics means you’re standing on firm ground from which to operate – same in mob life as in legit life. Get a plan, work it hard, work it efficiently, and get people around you who can help you implement it. Do that and you’ll be ready to deliver an offer the recipient can’t refuse.” – Michael Franzese
“Everything in life is luck.” – Donald Trump
“There are no magic formulas in business, because real life has too many variables. People who succeed in business do not plan their day around what’s easy and convenient. They take what’s hard.” – Michael Franzese
“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.” – Vince Lombardi
- BEWARE WHEN USING MACHIAVELLI’S PHILOSOPHY
Machiavelli suggested the end justifies the means. This is a double-edged sword which can generate internal mistrust. In business, how you win is important.
Machiavelli was a sixteenth-century Italian philosopher and diplomat. He is held in high regard by the mob and his philosophy is a cornerstone of their modus operandi. Machiavelli was a central figure of the Italian Renaissance.
The way the mob operates is an example of the Machiavellian philosophy taken to an extreme. They create an atmosphere of deceit, mistrust and treachery. Within mob businesses, fear often masquerades as loyalty. By adhering to such a rigid interpretation of Machiavelli’s ideas and philosophies, mob businesses also sow the seeds of their own destruction. When their enemies establish the strength of their organization is based on the fear of its members, then they realize all they need to do to gain the upper hand is become the ones who are feared the most.
In a non-mob context, adhering too strictly to Machiavellian’s philosophy can also be a problem. It can allow people to lose sight of what’s genuinely important and what’s truly in the best interests of everyone. A good example of this is the financial market’s trades of credit derivatives known as “credit default swaps” (CDS). In essence, these are bets between two parties as to whether or not a third party will default on its debt. One party bets the lender will meet its obligations while the other party bets the lender will default. There was no requirement for any assets to back the transaction and therefore many bogus financial instruments were created. As these CDSs worked their way through the world’s financial systems, many trillions of dollars were lost, triggering a global economic meltdown. Perhaps this is why famed investor Warren Buffett once described CDSs as “financial weapons of mass destruction”.
While there is no doubt Machiavelli’s ideas can be helpful in business, character and integrity are vitally important as well. The philosophy you choose to operate your business can have just as dramatic an impact on your quality of life as does your level of success. Never lose sight of the fact in business, how you win matters.
“In the actions of all men, one judges by the result.” – Machiavelli
“You’re in business to succeed. For most of you that means the ultimate goal is to improve the quality of your life. What that doesn’t mean is succeeding at all costs by any means. That path will end up destroying your quality of life. Winning is important. Success is important. They provide you with the means to do the things you could not otherwise do in life. Live in a nice home, drive a nice car, enjoy a vacation now and then. You get the picture. But how you win and how you succeed will determine if you get to enjoy the fruits of both with a clear and healthy conscience.” – Michael Franzese
“Politics have no relation to morals. A prince should have no objective but war. If he acquires a state he should absorb the surrounding states and identify his enemies.” – Machiavelli
- GO WITH SOLOMON’S APPROACH
King Solomon of ancient Israel suggested honesty, integrity and hard work are the cornerstones of a successful business model. That makes good sense.
King Solomon is the author of the book of Proverbs in the Bible.
His approach to business can be summed up in this way:
- Managers of businesses should exercise wisdom. They should employ strategies which will be disciplined rather than reckless. They should also be insightful and astute in understanding how current market trends may impact the business in the future.
- Prudent managers don’t gamble on the future and hope for the best. They only take calculated risks when there is a good reason for doing so.
- Dealing with business partners in a just and fair manner is good. If you have a number of allies in place, you are more likely to enjoy long-term success.
- You should always deal with customers in a just and fair way as well.
- Anyone who engages in dishonest business practices sows the seeds of his or her own’s demise. Sooner or later, shady business practices catch up with people who use them.
In many ways, Solomon’s approach is the antithesis of that suggested by Machiavelli. Those who have an “anything goes” approach may prosper for a season but they always come up empty handed over the long haul. You’re much better off if you follow Solomon’s approach instead.
“Solomon won’t make you rich. There is no one secret that explains the success of a wealthy person’s business interests. Each person’s blueprint is unique. However, each successful business works within a framework, and Solomon offers a solid structure and some brilliant principles upon which you can work to build your company’s success.” – Michael Franzese
“Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” – Solomon
“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” – Solomon
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads to poverty.” – Solomon
“Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.” – Solomon
“Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.” – Solomon
“Get your plan, work it hard, work it smart, work it with people who can help you reach your goals, and work it Solomon’s way.” – Michael Franzese
- LEAD WITH YOUR BRAIN AND WATCH WHAT YOU SAY
It’s amazing how many people sabotage their own efforts to excel by talking before they think. Don’t let this happen. Learn before you speak and never put your mouth before your brain.
“A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame. The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin.” – Solomon
What you say can sometimes be a weapon that can be used against you in all sorts of ways. If you aren’t judicious and measured about what you say, you can end up causing yourself and your company all kinds of grief. This is why you need to learn when to speak your mind and when to keep quiet.
This is especially important when you’re called on to speak with an unhappy customer. The best approach is usually to be diplomatic and to work towards resolving the matter at hand in a way which keeps the customer happy. You never can forecast completely who else the person you’re dealing with will influence or interact with in the future. Always have the mindset the way you deal with customer complaints should be worthy of public scrutiny at any time and you’ll do fine.
Another situation where forethought is highly desirable is in negotiations. Unless you’re in a situation where you genuinely hold all the cards, you’re generally going to be better off accepting less in a negotiation than you’d hoped for rather than coming away with nothing. There are many times a tactical retreat is better than suffering a defeat. Be careful you don’t say things which suggest an all-or-nothing mindset or you may end up empty handed.
Being a good listener is important in all business dealings. If you can discipline yourself to always gather all the facts before you respond, make a decision or take any action which can impact your business, you’ll do fine. It’s also true the more information you have on which to base a decision, the sharper your instincts will become.
“The most intelligent businesspeople I know are men and women of few, but very insightful and intelligent words. If you want to gain an advantage in life and achieve meaningful success in business, remember to look before you leap, learn before you speak, and never put your mouth before your brain.” – Michael Franzese
“Organized crime in America has been thriving for almost a century. It has raked in billions of dollars year after year through a plethora of lucrative endeavors – plenty of them clean as a whistle, or pretty close. The mob has made its formidable presence known everywhere. I assure you none of this has been accomplished by accident. To operate any business successfully, one must possess certain qualities and adhere to a philosophy critical to the success of that business. The men who run the business of organized crime are more than qualified to do so. Law enforcement will have you believe that this is accomplished through fear and intimidation, by using a gun and a lead pipe instead of PowerPoint and a spreadsheet. In most cases it’s just not practical to wave a gun in a boardroom.” – Michael Franzese
- REPLACE BUSINESS MEETINGS WITH SIT-DOWNS
Conventional business meetings tend to be too inefficient. A much better approach to meetings is to model them after the sit-downs which have been mastered by mobs.
Meetings are incredible time wasters for many companies and organizations. It’s not at all unusual for people to sit through a two- or three-hour meetings and then to find:
- Nobody is still sure why the meeting was called in the first place, because the agenda and goals are never explicitly and clearly stated.
- So many different voices clamor for attention from all sides it’s not clear who is in the driver’s seat and who is responsible for making a final decision.
- Ideas get sidetracked, diluted, mixed up and replaced by pointless conversations.
- Everyone is anxious to get out of the meeting and back to responding to all their voicemails and e-mails that have piled up during the time the meeting was held.
This is why formal business meetings have never been part of the operational framework of organizations like the mob. Instead, sit-downs are used to hash things out, negotiate and reach decisions.
“Mastering the art of the sit-down prepared me for meetings I entered into with real estate developers, executives in the movie business, union presidents, oil barons, high-powered bankers, and attorneys from the United States Department of Justice. There can be no better preparation for mastering one’s negotiating skills than to have participated in and mastered the art of the sit-down. I approached every business meeting and negotiation as if it were a sit-down. The skills I employed gave me a distinct edge in almost every case and allowed me to earn millions of dollars.” – Michael Franzese
So how do you master holding business sit-downs rather than business meetings? There are five general steps involved:
- Always come to a sit-down with “both barrels loaded” – meaning come prepared to make a decision and to get things done. Don’t treat a sit-down as an exploratory meeting but do your homework in advance so you can get things done. Find or figure out in advance:
- Exactly why everyone is there and what is to be decided.
- What your position is – the decision you would most like to get made – and be able to capably defend your position with materials and evidence.
- The temperament of the people you are meeting with. If you know this, you will have some basic clues on how best to adapt your negotiating tactics so they are most likely to succeed.
- The background facts about the other parties. You want to know who is on their board of executives, what lines of business they are involved in and what their revenues were last year. You also want to know why their stock has been moving up or down in the last six months and what kind of pressures they are under.
- Remind yourself to lead with your brain rather than with your mouth at all times – meaning keep what you say short, sweet and to the point. Recognize you’re not there to blather on about stuff but to get something worthwhile done. As far as possible, let the other person talk. Be comfortable with silence and don’t feel like you have to rush in and fill the gaps. Be careful not to say anything that will give the other party the upper hand.
- Leave your ego at the door when you go to a sit-down – which is especially useful if the other party has an inflated ego. It can even be helpful to ask some “dumb” questions right at the outset to let the other party start to believe they are smarter than you. With a bit of luck, they may let their guard down and mention something you can then use to extract a better deal for yourself. Have the attitude you want to start the sit-down as the student, finish as the teacher and leave with the biggest share of the spoils.
- Never ever act like you are the weakest link in the deal – even if it’s obvious to everyone else that is the case. Be aware in most situations, the less you say the more intelligent you sound. A few well-placed comments here and there can have the marvelous impact of allowing you to come across as much smarter than you are. Let your opponent believe you can hold your own and you’ll generally do better.
- Keep your cool and be respectful at all times – so you can stay focused on the issue and bring everything to a conclusion. The last thing you want is for personal matters or peripheral issues to cloud the negotiation. If the discussion gets heated or contentious, it also becomes much less productive. Keep reminding yourself you’re there to achieve a specific goal, not to delve into personal matters. Don’t let anything stand in the way of reaching a viable conclusion.
“If you want to make quick and effective decisions, I recommend you make every meeting you attend from now on a sit-down – it works with or without the corned beef sandwiches.” – Michael Franzese
“Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” – Solomon
“Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you.” – Solomon
“Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” – Solomon
“Give up any thought of a magic formula that will guarantee your success. All the infomercials that promise to give you the ten secret steps to wealth beyond your wildest dreams are false advertising. Get real. There are far too many variables in life for any of these schemes to amount to much beyond fat wallets for the infomercial pitchmen and royalty checks for business book authors. Nothing wrong with that, but don’t be a sucker. There are no shortcuts to success that I am aware of, not even in the world of organized crime.” – Michael Franzese
“Coming in with both barrels loaded means having a better chance of coming out a winner.” – Michael Franzese
- DON’T ROLL THE DICE ON YOUR BUSINESS
Although we live in a gambling culture, this can be a real problem for your business. It can drain your resources in a big way. Watch out for any of your people who may get caught up in this.
Gambling is a bigger threat to the viability of your business than you may presently realize. There has been a real proliferation of gambling around the world. The slowing economic conditions have only served to heighten the appeal of gambling for some people. You need to treat gambling as a potential threat to your business and pay close attention to what your people are doing.
The scary thing about gambling is it can hit you from anywhere. You may not be a gambler yourself but one of your partners may be. Your employees might be gambling and in effect rolling the dice on your business without you even realizing it. That can be a real game breaker for a company.
Gambling is very pervasive these days:
• You can gamble openly now on the Internet.
• You can visit a casino and place bets.
• You can bet on the ponies, on sports teams, etc.
• Governments everywhere run lotteries.
People have been known to do some very extreme things in order to feed their addiction to gambling. Not only can gambling impact your personal life in a bad way, it can also destroy what would otherwise have been a healthy business enterprise.
Machiavelli actually recognized gambling is such a danger to society that he advocated using it as a weapon against enemies:
“A ruler should encourage gambling among his enemies, and put it down by military force at home.” – Machiavelli
To get some idea of how much of a problem gambling has become, keep an eye on your local newspapers. They are filled with stories about trusted employees who embezzle serious amounts of money from their companies in order to feed their gambling obsession. What’s noteworthy is more often than not, these people are considered to be model employees prior to the truth coming out. None of these gamblers tend to engage in any kind of criminal behavior prior to their obsession with gambling. That alone should give business owners food for thought.
When one technology company with 175 employees hired a filtering company to scan the Internet activities on all the company’s computers, they determined around 3,800 hours of company time were spent on gambling Web sites in one month alone. Extrapolated to a full year, that meant the company was losing around $1.5 million of company time to gambling, without even taking into account the cost of hiring the monitoring firm at considerable expense. This analysis also did not try and estimate the combined losses to gambling the employees may have suffered, or whether or not any employees had taken inappropriate action to somehow try and compensate for those losses.
The bottom line is gambling is bad for business, pure and simple. It is a genuine threat to the survival of any business, even though gambling is woven into the fabric of society. Keep your eyes open and do everything you can to avoid rolling the dice on your business.
- LEARN FROM YOUR FAILURES
It might not feel like it at the time but failure is good. It shows the defects in your plans and identifies weaknesses which need to be addressed. Just remember to learn and move on.
There is no doubt failure can be a tough and demanding teacher. To its credit, however, failure can teach you lessons you won’t learn from any other source. If you get an education every time you fail, at least you’ll never ever stop learning.
The benefits of failing at what you’re trying to do in business are actually quite impressive and somewhat counterintuitive:
- Failure can show you what the defects are in your business plan and what you need to do better at in the future.
- Failure can highlight any execution problems or timing issues in your plans.
- Failure can identify the weakest link which needs to be strengthened before you hit the big time.
- Failure can highlight which factors are at play in your business plan whether you’re aware of them or not.
- Failure can highlight what you need to do better as an organization next time out.
Failure is the surest way to discover what you’re good at and what you’re not. If you can find workable ways to expand on what you do well and delegate or outsource the rest, then you can use failure as a stepping stone to great achievement.
With all these potential benefits of failure in mind, you should make it your practice to face the music whenever things go wrong. Every business goes through tough times when finances are short and creditors and suppliers are clamoring for payment. The worst thing you can do under those circumstances is to try and go to ground. A much smarter approach is to front up and talk to your creditors. If you communicate openly and candidly, they will trust you. More likely than not, they will create payment arrangements you can meet because they want you to stay afloat so they can do more business in the future. This will only happen if you’re openly demonstrate your own commitment first.
“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength.” – Solomon
“If at first you don’t succeed, quit. Don’t be a damnfool about it.” – W.C. Fields
“It is a trap for a man to dedicate to something rashly and only later to consider his vows.” – Solomon
“Failure is a tough teacher, but it can teach us our strengths and weaknesses in ways no other teacher can.” – Michael Franzese
“Failure isn’t falling down; it’s staying down.” – Michael Franzese
“Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.” – Leonardo DeVinci
“Rise early, work hard, strike oil.” – J. Paul Getty
- PLAY EVERYTHING STRAIGHT AND LEGAL
Don’t get caught up in fraudulent activities. This kind of success is only fleeting. To have long-term success, you need to have integrity. Always operate ethically and openly.
Nobody goes into business to fail and therefore some people come to the conclusion they would rather cheat than lose. The attitude that “anything goes as long as it furthers your interests” is questionable at best and with certainty is an extremely dangerous framework for conducting a business. Those who engage in criminal activity always lose out in the end. It just isn’t worth it.
You don’t even have to be engaged in something illegal to have problems. Lost consumer trust can be a huge problem as well. The list of people and companies who have found this out the hard way is long and distinguished.
So what does it mean to play everything straight and legal? There are all kinds of ways this can be explained, but in direct terms, to do this you need to follow just a few basic concepts:
- Be aware the government is always watching what you do – so don’t delude yourself that you can get away with a small fraud without anyone noticing. There is no imaginary veil of protection for corporate officers. The government has declared war on corporate fraud and has assembled an impressive team to fight it. The new laws which are on the books for corporate fraud have some real teeth. If you do something illegal, you will get caught so don’t even try to go down that path.
- Don’t give in to the allure of shady business practices – eventually you will be required to pay the price. When corporate executives do these things out of greed or even because of a genuine desire to keep a sinking business afloat, it never works. The facts always come out in the end so make certain those facts won’t embarrass you or get you sent to prison.
- It’s smart to pay your taxes – every cent the law requires. The Internal Revenue Service has an impressive number of collection tools at its disposal. They can keep you so busy fighting their collection efforts that you have no time to do anything else. That’s a total waste of your time. If you aspire to be a success, pay your taxes and be done with it.
- Have integrity and act honestly – because operating without integrity is always bad business. Use your conscience at all times to stop yourself from stepping over the line. Admittedly, the mere fact you act with integrity won’t stop you from struggling but that’s okay. Everyone struggles at one time or another – it’s just the nature of the business cycle. If you have integrity and act accordingly, you will attract the right kind of help. If you don’t have integrity, any success you appear to have will only be fleeting. Do the right thing at all times and in all circumstances.
- Don’t be greedy – because greed can make you do stupid things. When you’re competing against another company, it’s all too easy for your desire to excel to cross over into greed. When that happens, you start being motivated by a desire to beat the other guy rather than a desire to provide your customers with genuine value. Keep greed away because it destroys objectivity and distorts good judgment. Be satisfied with what you’re already achieving. By all means work hard to achieve more but do so with integrity.
- Always do the right thing – have good business ethics. People prefer to do business with companies and people they trust. Have policies, practices and systems which will be noted and appreciated by your customers. If you engage in deceitful practices in any way, shape or form, it will come back to haunt you at some point in time. Do things which will make you proud when they are disclosed.
“Integrity is not something you pull out of a drawer when it suits your purposes and stuff back in when it doesn’t. That’s the way of the street.” – Michael Franzese
“Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel.” – Solomon
“If you don’t know every aspect of what you are doing, down to the paper clips, you’re setting yourself up for some unpleasant surprises.” – Donald Trump
“The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.” – Solomon
“Cast your bread upon the waters for after many days you will find it again. Give portions to seven, yes, eight, for you do not know what disaster may come upon the land.” – Solomon
“Not only is ethical behavior in business life the right thing to do in principle, we have shown that it pays off in financial returns.” – Philippa Black, director, Institute of Business Ethics
“He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.” – Solomon
“Unless you’re the U.S. Mint or a counterfeiter, you are not in business to ‘make’ money. You are in business to ‘take’ it – from anyone willing to buy the product or service that your business is selling. Like the mob’s guy, the bottom line to your business plan is to take as much money as you can from your clients’ and customers’ pockets and get it into yours. And you thought you had nothing in common with the mob. Same end game, different game plan.” – Michael Franzese
“I want to make it crystal clear that in no way am I suggesting to anyone in general they be involved in any kind of criminal activity, in or out of the workplace. Crime at any level has no place in our society, and I know that better than most. It’s destructive, immoral, and harmful to innocent people. And don’t fool yourself: You cannot get away with criminal activity in this country. Law enforcement is too sophisticated.” – Michael Franzese
- BE CONSISTENT IN THE PHILOSOPHY YOU GO WITH
You simply can’t have it both ways. You have to choose whether you’ll use Machiavelli’s or Solomon’s approach. You have to commit fully to one philosophy or the other.
Machiavelli and Solomon have two divergent philosophies:
The end justifies the means – Machiavelli
Success requires integrity and values – Solomon
Most businesspeople hope they can straddle the fence and apply Machiavelli’s philosophy some of the time and Solomon’s philosophy the rest of the time. It can’t be done. You have to choose which philosophy you will use and be consistent.
To illustrate, consider how you would answer these questions:
- Do you believe that a solid bottom line result is justified by whatever means are used to attain it?
- Machiavelli completely agrees with this: “And in the actions of all men, and especially of princes, which it is not prudent to challenge, one judges by the results.”
- Solomon says money which is gained by dishonest behavior is tainted and wrong under any circumstances: “A fortune made by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor and a deadly snare.”
- Do you believe that situations can arise in business which justify using dishonest or deceitful business practices
- Machiavelli says any deceitful or otherwise practices which help you gain an edge over your competitors are fair game: “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present” and “Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked.”?
- Solomon disagrees and contends you should never repay an injustice with a further injustice: “A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”
- In dealing with your competitors, it is entirely acceptable to do whatever it takes to gain a competitive advantage, even if that means driving them out of business?
- Machiavelli agrees completely with a take-no-prisoners mindset: “Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot, therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.”
- Solomon by contrast suggests plotting evil against the competition is always likely to backfire and therefore aboveboard competition is sufficient: “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him.”
- In dealing with your employees, do you prefer to be well thought of and respected, or feared and respected?
- Machiavelli is very much in favor of fear as a way to keep people in line: “It is much safer to be feared than to be loved if one of the two has to be lacking.”
- Solomon suggests treating employees with dignity and respect is smart: “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.”
- Does integrity matter – is it acceptable to compromise your integrity when doing so serves the interests of your business?
- Machiavelli has no problems whatsoever with using deceit or cunning: “And if, to be sure, sometimes you need to conceal a fact with words, do it in such a way that it does not become known, or if it does become known, that you have a ready and quick defense.”
- Solomon by contrast stresses the need for integrity in everything: “The man of integrity walks securely but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” and “He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”
Choosing whether to follow King Solomon or Machiavelli can be hard. You also have to be careful not to put yourself in a position where circumstances beyond your control rob you of the choice you want to make, but it’s obvious you have to go down one road or the other. You can’t pick and choose a philosophy to match the situation. You either have to go whole hog with Machiavelli or 100 percent with Solomon.
“People and principles before profit.” – Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A
“Carefully consider the path for your feet, and all your ways will be established.” – Solomon
“You don’t really know how anything’s going to shape out in the long run. On the other hand, you do have to live with yourself and the consequences of your decisions every minute of the rest of your life. If that’s all you know for sure, the choice is simple. The deal looks so ripe you’ll do anything to land it? Don’t fool yourself. It could all come undone in your face a week, a month, a year later. You don’t have a lock on the future, and the forecast is a guess. It may be a better bet than Honeydew in the fourth, but it’s still a bet. Do the right thing. You can’t control the future, but you can still live at peace in the present by making the right choice.” – Michael Franzese
“Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” – Solomon
“He who seeks good finds goodwill, but evil comes to him who searches for it.” – Solomon
“He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.” – Solomon
“Better a poor man whose walk is blameless than a fool whose lips are perverse.” – Solomon
- UNDERSTAND WHAT SUCCESS TRULY MEANS
Success is always self defined. The term means different things to different people. Just make sure you put the right ingredients in so what you do ultimately achieve means something to you.
What does success mean to you?
- In the mob, success is generally determined primarily by the accumulation of wealth and the attainment of a position of power within the organization.
- For most companies, success is determined by the bottom-line profits. The more profit a business generates, the greater its measure of success.
- In the dictionary, success is defined as “the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.”
- King Solomon defined success this way: “He who pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor.”
- Machiavelli’s definition of success: “A prince ought, above all things, always to endeavor to gain for himself the reputation of being a great and honorable man.”
In a way, success is like a sausage casing. It’s what you stuff inside that makes it interesting, not the casing itself. If you want to achieve meaningful success (from your own perspective and interests), then you’d better get all the different ingredients you want to put in decided in advance. The quality of your life is all about the ingredients you choose.
“Most of the money I earned was through mob-related schemes. I made millions of dollars, but along with the bundles of cash came a barrel of troubles in the form of intense scrutiny from law enforcement, grand jury subpoenas, indictments, federal and state trials, a prison sentence, and so much more. I accumulated substantial wealth. I owned a Lear jet, a helicopter, and beautiful homes in New York, California, and Florida. I worked fifteen and eighteen hours a day in pursuit of my success and, in the process, deprived my family of precious and quality time spent with them. My success became a snowball, rolling down an endless mountainside, turning into an avalanche. Sound familiar? Looking back, I can honestly say that despite all the money, possessions and prestige I accumulated, I was severely lacking in the quality of my life. In that regard, I was definitely not successful. I stuffed the sausage with all the wrong ingredients. And when it aged and ripened like a nice salami, I wasn’t prepared to stomach that taste.” – Michael Franzese
Success is too multidimensional to be defined by just the single metric – the amount of money you have. A point of diminishing returns is often reached where investing more time and energy in increasing earnings ends up taking more time and effort than it’s genuinely worth. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the game and letting your business or your career control you rather than the other way around.
“All the money in the world isn’t of any benefit if you don’t take time to enjoy it.” – Michael Franzese
Despite what all the television gurus might suggest, there is no secret formula for success. There are no guarantees either in life as a whole or in business in particular. The best you can do is get a good idea, develop a plan around that idea, get the right sort of people involved who will help you execute that plan and then do the best you can. The ultimate destination is up to the market to decide. But be smart and do everything ethically and above board. Otherwise, whatever you do achieve can and will be swept away from under your nose. Besides, there’s no point being rich if you can’t sleep at night.
More than likely, you’ll probably find your idea of success will evolve over time. You’ll find some of your ideas work while others do not. You’ll gradually start figuring out who will help you move forward and who will not. You’ll start assembling the different ingredients which will be an integral part of your future success and start making your own sausage. And in reality, that’s the fun part of success – you get to assemble your own sausages. Don’t ever do anything which diminishes or dilutes your freedom to choose what success means to you.
“Take time to revaluate your idea of success. Sweeter and richer are not always mutually inclusive. Do you have time to spend with your family? In pursuits you enjoy? With the friends you cherish? Can you give to those in need? The offer you can’t refuse is your ability to refuse a raw deal. If your idea of success is cheating you out of your life, you need to make some changes. That might not mean you’re going to make the most money, but it could very well mean you’re going to live without pressing financial burdens, you’re going to be happier, and you’re going to sleep better at night than the guy earning millions. We all know it: making the most money or operating the largest company in the world does not cut a straight line to an extraordinary quality of life. The list of wealthy entrepreneurs who died in misery and without friends or family by their sides is a lengthy one. Be sure you are not counted among them.” – Michael Franzese
“Don’t wear yourself out to get rich: stop giving your attention to it. As soon as your eyes fly to it, it disappears, for it makes wings for itself and flies like an eagle to the sky.” – Solomon
“The righteous man is rescued from trouble, and it comes on the wicked instead.” – Solomon
“There is no doubt in my mind that many of the mob executives who succeeded in the business of organized crime would have been equally successful in the boardrooms and business offices of corporate America. Mob executives possess unique instincts, a ‘street sense’ that isn’t taught in the classrooms at Harvard or the Wharton School of Business. They’re acquired through living a lifestyle where almost every day presents a challenge just to survive, where every friend is your potential enemy, where a board meeting just might prove to be your last encounter on earth. In the mob, we were always giving one another ‘tips’, like a tip on a certain horse in a certain race at Belmont, a certain basketballer who might have been induced to shave some points in a game, or a load of designer suits that would be falling out of the back of a truck. So that’s what I’m doing here, giving you a few tips.” – Michael Franzese
Shout out to gulyani.com for doing this written summary
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