Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The wiseguy way

Ex-mobster Louis Ferrante thought he was done with criminals when he got out of federal prison. But when he went to apply for a mortgage, he was shocked.
“They’re all lying to me!” he recalls. “I’m going, what are you, kidding me? I worked with the guys who run the New York underworld. You’re not gonna lie to me. And the suit and tie don’t fool me.”
It occurred to him then that his sharp eye for hucksters, along with the other lessons from his days as a member of the Gambino crime family, might translate to the non-underworld.
The result is his new book, “Mob Rules: What the Mafia Can Teach the Legitimate Businessman.” In the book, the 42-year-old Long Islander — who left prison in 2003, and has gone legit ever since — lays out the ways the rules of the Mafia can be applied in pursuit of straight-world success, injecting historical parallels and real-life anecdotes along the way.
FAMILY TRADITIONS: Drawing tips from mobsters can be a boon to business, says author Louis Ferrante, right.
FAMILY TRADITIONS: Drawing tips from mobsters can be a boon to business, says author Louis Ferrante, right.

Over lunch with @work, he discussed a few highlights from his 88 rules.
Don’t forget a name
Everyone knows a memory for names is a valuable business tool. Mobsters excel at this, says Ferrante — thanks to mnemonics.
Basically, this is the practice of nicknaming someone so you’ll remember who they are.
“I don’t think I could ever get that out of my system,” Ferrante says. “I meet somebody new, I pin a nickname on them.”
Do likewise, and you may never scramble for a client’s name again. (Use caution, though: don’t let your boss know you think of him as Jimmy the Nose.)
Don’t close yourself off
In “Don’t Bother Me Now!: The Value of Interruptions,” Ferrante looks back on his prison days for a business metaphor. Although he was in a lockup where cell doors could be left open, he often kept his shut so he could get more reading and writing done.
“This guy came up to me and said, ‘Lou, you can’t do that,’” he says. So he tried leaving it open. The result:
“Somebody would see me writing, and guys started to come to me and say, ‘Can you write a poem for my wife for Valentines Day?’”
He made a name for himself as the guy who could put other guys’ thoughts into words, and it boosted his standing among inmates. Plus, he says, “I got a lot out of seeing so many different people.”
The lesson for managers: Keep an open door, so as to a) stay connected to what’s going on; b) keep in good standing with your people; and c) stimulate creativity.
Don’t let things fester
In “Let’s Meet in the Back for a Sit-Down: Mediating Disputes and the Art of Compromise,” Ferrante advises dealing with intercompany squabbles as the mob does — quickly and fairly.
“Squash a beef before it gets out of hand,” he writes, “and be sure to offer fair and honest advice every time.”
By way of example, he cites a run-in from the old days:
“I was supposed to hijack a Victoria’s Secret truck — a guy gave me a tip,” he says. “So I get the truck, and it turns out to be a quarter of a million cone-cup brassieres on their way to Kmart. My Grandma Josie wouldn’t wear ‘em.”
He couldn’t sell any of the swag — so he told the tipster to forget about a payoff. The guy protested, and the two took their beef to a Mafia mediator, agreeing to abide by his decree.
“I won the sit-down,” Ferrante says. “Because I had reason on my side. That’s judicious. That’s how [the mob] stays respected.”
Don’t shortchange your customers
In “Deliver the Goods: Stand Behind Your Name,” Ferrante talks about the difference between mobsters and corporations — and the mobsters come out looking like the good guys.
“I would feel more secure sitting down with another mob guy and shaking on something than I would with a businessman,” he says. “On the street, your name is all you have. If you screw somebody, you’re out of business.”
Ferrante takes corporations to task for failing to live up to that simple credo. He writes:
“How many calls are dropped on your mobile phone each month? And yet the phone company demands its bill. How many products have you purchased this year that broke on account of poor manufacturing?”
There’s a lesson here for any business that wants to keep its rep, whether it provides cell service or busted kneecaps.
“If you’re paid for a product or a service,” he says, “deliver!”


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