Mob Rules: Installment 2

By JJ Simon
Published on Oct 15th, 2012

Last year I heard a National Public Radio interview with Louis Ferrante, the author of "Mob Rules, What the Mafia can Teach the Legitimate Businessman." His story interested me so much I had to buy his book and learn more about his life and point of view.

Ferrante, a former mob associate, wrote this book after retiring from the life. He took what he learned about business in the street and applied it to making a legitimate living.

In Mob Rules he outlines specific principles of behavior for Soldiers, Capos, and Dons -- or Employees, Middle Management, and Bosses. The lessons are short, smart, and often illustrated with a factual story from Mob history.

As promised here is the second installment of my review of Mob Rules, focusing on lesson for Capos (middle management). My first article was about rules for employees. As before, the lessons apply to all mobsters, no matter their position in the organization. I think you’ll find these lessons can also be important in your life.

Middle management is tough. Problems and gripes come from employees, as well as, bosses. Ferrante provides some choice wisdom for managers who want to get the most from their employees. He offers lessons for Capos (Middle Managers) to effectively work with bosses to maximize the potential of their business. Sometimes, these ideas may not seem “Mob-like” to us, because they represent very effective business models. An example of effective management is, Lesson 33 "Let's meet in the back for a sit-down: Mediating disputes and the art of the compromise.” Compromise is word you probably wouldn't associate with the Mob but according to Ferrante, a lot of business gets done and disputes are resolved by sitting down with a mediator.

Violence is considered bad for business in the Mafia. It brings unwanted attention to a group of people who prefer to fly under law enforcement’s radar. Having rules that allow for a "Sit Down" provides an avenue for business problems to be resolved. Any compromise allowing business to continue smoothly is always the right “cost effective” decision. This idea is illustrated by this quote, "The Docile Don, Angelo Bruno hated violence and valued negotiation and peace above all.” ---George Fesolone and Robert J. Wagner Blood Oath.

Lesson 40 is a personal favorite and represents a principle I have used since I started working. I have understood the importance of this principle, whether my position was management or employee.

"The toughest guys have the thinnest skin: Never embarrass someone in public".

While an employee may be corrected in public, they should never be embarrassed in front of others. Embarrassment breeds resentment. Resentment fosters a need to get even. This lesson is directly related to keeping things moving smoothly and getting the best out of employees. It also saves you from building a reputation as petty or mean. Your reputation as a manager is essential to motivating people who work under you and permits your boss to trust you with greater responsibility. In short, there is great value in dealing with issues in private.

Years later, I discovered this principle related directly to my current position as a martial artist studying Ed Parker’s Kenpo. Mr. Parker mirrors this lesson in his 3rd Brown Belt Pledge:

"I pledge that as my skill as a teacher progresses I will never condemn, ridicule, embarrass, or shame any student or fellow instructor in the presence of a class or group. All grievances or disputes shall be conducted in private away from group observation."

Another way to maintain a good reputation with your subordinates is explained in Lesson 53, "Go to bat for your guys: loyalty to your employees." Many people feel the companies they work for don't care about them. When managers believe that the bottom line is the first and last consideration in any decision, it affects how we view our job, our bosses, and our role in the company. While it is a company’s purpose to make a profit, there are many ways to go about achieving that end.

I own a small business. We’re just 5 guys, all together in a small shop, day after day, for hours on end. In this kind of environment it would be very hard not to develop an emotional connection to my employees. We all help each other. We take care of customers for each other. We carpool to and from work, do favors for each other, and buy each other coffee or lunch regularly. This is good office comradeship and is directly relates to high morale. Unexpected challenges can come up for anyone, and when they do each of us is there for the others. This bond goes beyond just making money together. It is about being successful at life. I’ve learned that if I help my crew work to realize and manifest their dreams, they will want to reciprocate.

In the end, Ferrante’s book is giving lessons in maintaining relationships that may have begun because of business interest but continue because of fondness and caring developed during years or working together, sharing goals, and struggling through life’s challenges. In the next installment we will look at lessons for Bosses.

Stay tuned.

Filed under Reviews

Author Bio :: JJ Simon

JJ Simon has studied the Martial Arts for over a decade. In October of 2010, he tested for, and earned, his black belt at TheMALC's annual Residential . Mr. Simon has studied meditation since 1990 and has completed a number of Meditation retreats from 3 to 30 days under such noted teachers as Lama Surya Das, and in the Shambhala training tradition created by Chogyam

JJ has acted as a meditation coach for friends and martial arts associates since 1992. Mr. Simon is a tattoo artist of some renown with some 20 years of experience in the field. He owns Explosive Tattoo South in Salisbury, MD. JJ is also a painter, knife maker, and the Artistic Director for The Martial Arts Learning Community, Inc.

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