Business Lessons From The Godfather
I recently revisited one of the most influential movies of the last century, The Godfather. In the movie, Don Corleone, the head of the crime family, is a shrewd businessman. Through making “an offer he can’t refuse”, as well as understanding the dynamics of the business relationships, the Don managed to consolidate power and run all of the gambling operations in the country.
This three part drama about the Corleone crime family is usually just seen as good entertainment, but I extracted several business lessons from it. These lessons apply even if you are not in the line of mafia work.
Never dishonor those who helped you.
Henry Ford once said, “Integrity is crucial for business success – once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” That may have worked for him, but in today’s world one of the most valuable things in business is your reputation. When someone helps you out, or stands up for you, thank him. You owe him one, even if he is too decent to tell you that. If you dishonor that person, others will take note. They will know that if they do business with you, they might very well be your next victim, and will steer clear of you.
Come with friendship, not with dollar bills.
Business is all about relationships. A man with all the money in the world will still be unhappy without someone to share it. This is why men close deals on golf courses, in cigar bars, and over a meal. This form of bonding ensures that even if a different person offers a better price, you will still go with the guy you trusted and spent “leisure” time with.
Watch your back.
As in anything where there are limited resources, there will always be people who say one thing to you and do another. The corporate ladder is not climbed without stepping on others’ heads. Know your friends and your enemies, and avoid putting yourself in a situation where you can be harmed.
Don’t discuss business at the dinner table.
A big thing in the mafia was not discussing business at the table. Give your family a break from business talk during the most important bonding time – dinner. Many studies have also found the psychological effect on kids always hearing parents discuss business is rather negative. Kids can become worried about the future, think money is the only thing that matters, or lose interest in talking to the folks. So keep your work in your office.
It’s not personal, it’s business.
While seemingly at odds with the second lesson, we are actually speaking here about how you should view decisions. If you get passed up for a promotion, it probably isn’t personal – it just made more sense from a business perspective for your superior to do so. If your longtime client leaves and you didn’t do anything wrong, thank him for his long business and move on – it’s not personal, and it doesn’t make any sense to waste time in misery over it. Also, if you have to make the decision, you need to emotionally detach yourself from it to make sure it makes the best business sense.
Do you have any other business lessons learned from the Don? Add a comment, I’d love to hear about it.