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No parent in their right mind wants their kid to grow up to be a gangster. Gang affiliation comes with a price tag that can involve serious injury, long stints in jail, and even the deaths of family members. Most people also don't look highly upon gangsters, either.
Even though gangster and career criminals aren't role models anyone should follow, it's impossible to deny that they do have some skills everyone should consider learning. They're street smart. They know how to read people. Moreover, they're incredibly savvy businessmen.
Though you shouldn't have to don brass knuckles to push deals through, these awesome snippets of advice from famous gang members definitely can apply in almost any business setting.
"Own your past, even if it's not one that's pristine." - John "Sonny" Franzese
John Franzese was one of the wealthiest mafia members to ever live, and was actually ranked as the most profitable gangster since Al Capone at one point. During his run in the mob, he worked "legit" circuits like sports agencies and film production - and continued in the gas racket that first made him so wealthy.
In 1984, he was locked up and officially "left" the mafia after testifying against his father. Now, most people would have ended up running back to la familia in hopes of restarting their mob work once they were out of jail. After all, most people wouldn't want to hire a gangster.
Not Sonny, though.
Sonny decided to own his image as a former gangster, and has been doing swimmingly as a motivational speaker, author, and nonprofit founder. Using his gangster image, he was able to make a difference in the lives of former gang members and would-be gang recruits. Better still, he makes a good living doing it.
"Don't let your bosses abuse you; establish boundaries and tell them that you require respect." -Louis Ferrante
Louis Ferrante was another mafioso who ended up writing advice books after his stint in jail, but unlike Sonny, Ferrante's books are geared towards businessmen and career people who want to get into a better position.
When Ferrante was in prison, a higher ranking member of the Gambino family had told him to iron his uniform for him. Ferrante refused, and the higher-up told him, once more, to iron it out.
Ferrante crumpled up the uniform and said, "This is the best I can do," then threw it in the floor. Then, more respectfully and in a joking manner, he explained that he could have gotten a job in a laundromat without having to worry about the FBI.
The boss got the message, Ferrante got a laugh, and the boss respected him more for it. The bottom line is that you should draw boundaries in a respectful manner - and keep them, even if the higher up gives you a little bit of a hard time.
"A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man." -Don Vito Corleone
Okay, to be fair, this gangster is not one that actually ever existed, but his advice is still very sound regardless of his fictional status. The fact is that even the biggest, most successful businessperson out there will need to spend time with their loved ones in order to live a full life.
Moreover, it's worth noting that one of the most common regrets among people who are on their deathbeds is not spending enough time with loved ones before they passed. So yes, you do have to make time for the important folks in life.
"I am just like any other man. I supply a demand." -Al Capone
Arguably the most famous gangster of all time, Al Capone was both a shrewd businessman and a brilliant criminal mastermind. He also happened to be one of the most realistic gangsters out there, because he wasn't afraid to admit that most of organized crime is a business that is driven by demand.
Drug dealers make money because drugs are in demand. Hitmen make money because some people want other people dead. Though these are still crimes, there's no denying that the crime organizations behind these transactions are still making money.
If you're in business, or even if you're a regular job applicant, you need to realize that your entire purpose in the workplace is to fill a demand. If you aren't filling that demand, someone else will.
"I've seen gambling houses, too-in my travels, you understand-and I never saw anyone point a gun at a man and make him go in." -Al Capone
This quote from Capone has a very salient point that businessmen would be wise to take in. Simply put, Capone was not a fan of high pressure sales, and he realized that a product that has staying power will sell itself.
Career people who want to think about improving their lot should ask themselves if they are trying a "hard sell" on employers. More often than not, those hard selling tactics will do more harm than good.
Rather than worry about convincing people how awesome you are, it'd be a wiser move to improve your skill and network - and let your potential employers come to you after you make your availability known.
Moreover, he also made a point to show that people were going to do what they wanted to do - even if it's not legal or praised by mainstream society. So, there's also that aspect to think about if you're a businessman.
"Man, you got nothing to lose in this game by being persistent and consistent." -Uncle Murda
Before the rapper made it big, he was known for having strong links to a number of different gangs in New York City. It seems like their street smarts and business sense may have sunk into Uncle Murda when he hung out with them.
The way that he got to the top was through consistently working on his tracks and doing what he could to promote his music. If you think about it, what he says is true - you really have nothing to lose by consistently working towards a goal.
"Whatever it is you do, you have to master your craft." -Snoop Dogg
Prior to being a rap superstar who hobnobs with nabobs like Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg was an active member of the Crips. In a time when most gangsters simply got locked up and took menial jobs, Snoop rose above it all and became one of the most famous rappers to ever live.
Of course, he didn't do it by being terrible and begging every music producer to pity him and give him a record deal. Instead, he worked tirelessly to make his lyrics and beats as awesome as possible. Seems like it paid off for him, don't you think?
"Keep tabs on people who are moving up in life." -Danny Trejo
Most people don't realize that actor Danny Trejo doesn't just act like a badass in his films - he really is one. Prior to his acting career, Trejo was a hardened gangster who robbed convenience stores, did tons of drugs, and even did a multiple year stint in San Quentin.
While in jail, he took up boxing and joined a 12-step program to keep off drugs. After he got out, he kept in touch with others in his drug program and helped them stay clean. His friend from his rehabilitation program ended up being a production assistant for the movie Runaway Train, and got him roles working as an extra.
Eventually, while working as an extra, he ran into another one of his buddies in San Quentin. That buddy hired him to teach Eric Roberts to box - and the rest is history.
"Only those who went hungry with me and stood by me when I went through a bad time at some point will eat at my table." -Pablo Escobar
Pablo Escobar may just be the most notorious Mexican crime boss to ever live, and his life was one that was fraught with terrible times in his earlier life. In the cases of most successful entrepreneurs - as well as most successful careerpeople - hard times are going to happen.
The funny thing about having hard times is that most people will not be there for you when you need them. But, once you actually start to show signs that things are improving, every little person will come crawling out of the woodwork for handouts.
Pablo is very wise when it came to differentiating who to be good to once he became someone major. Why reward people who bailed on you? A better option would be to strengthen ties with people who lifted your career up.
"Everybody's a gangster until a gangster walks in the room." -John Gotti
Everyone likes to talk themselves up - everyone. However, only a small sliver of those people actually do all the things that they say they do. In most cases, all the talking up stops the moment that someone who really is legitimate walks in the room.
Why? It's because a person who really is a big shot doesn't have to announce that they're a big shot, and anyone who tries to embellish their own accomplishments will end up making a fool of themselves. Most people, including the posers, know that.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to just stay humble and don't try to flaunt your skills or accomplishments whenever you walk into a room. If you run your mouth to the wrong person, that could end up killing your career.