5 Business Lessons to learn from the Mafia.

“I never lie.

Because I don’t fear anyone

You only lie when you are afraid

John Gotti Mafia Boss 1986-1992

 Since the turn of the last century Sicilian Italians have been emigrating to America and amassing huge family networks who all work for one another creating a crime family that has made billions of dollars through organised crime. Never before have I been so befuddled with an oxymoron as ‘Organised crime’ yet their way of life fills me full of interest in their inner workings and why they became so successful.

From Al Capone in the prohibition days to John Gotti in the late eighties the Mafia has run extremely successful racketeering and drug empires. If you are in business I do not suggest you become part of a crime family, unless you like the power and the taste of prison food, but you could use some of these tips they used to help you run a thriving legit business.

Biz-find articles | Capone scarface

Biz-find articles | Capone scarface

Codes and rules

One of the reasons the Mafioso are as successful as they are is their adherence to the rules laid down from the earliest leaders. One rule was secrecy and the other was you never rat on your fellow man. It was this comradeship that made the organisation as big as it is today and the reason it was nearly decimated in the eighties as certain Dons would court the press and top gang leaders would spill the beans.

If you are in Business it’s vital everyone in your organisation knows the aims and Goals of your business. As a consultant sometimes I would pick on an employee and ask them the mission statement of the company, and often I have surprised the CEO about how the lack of unified understanding of the corporate vision often brings down any organisation.

Trust is vital if you are in any kind of a partnership and trust can make or break any business so make sure you both have a common goal you all understand the parameters of what is expected of you. All parties must have an exit strategy so that you can see an ending and an outcome, having an exit strategy that you are all working towards will make the relationship run smoother.


We can’t be all things at once, and one of the best reasons the Mafia survived as well as they have is by delegating work throughout the ranks.Top dons got to their positions by doing what was expected of them whenever they were asked without question. Then when they were head honcho they were then responsible for delegating tasks to their Cappo’s (Family Heads). When heinous crimes were committed, a Don was never in the area at the time and had an iron clad alibi.

Make sure you have a member of staff to do the things you hate or do not have the time to do it well. If you outsource make sure the people you outsource your work too are trusted to carry out the task well and with honour.

CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilty)

John Gotti  New York city  mob boss from 1986-1992 was loved by his local community, because he was always donating to local charities and running soup kitchens for the very poor, he dressed impeccably and his public persona was a family man with deep loyalty to his family. The inner workings as a ruthless crime leader and killer were hardly believed even when proved and convicted in court in 1992. Corporate Social Responsibility is a marketers dream to give any business a clean image and caring company which builds up great brand trust and really helps the bottom line! So find you altruistic side and start a foundation. In fact many successful businesses started as a foundation and built a mirror business alongside.


A bug bear of all crime bosses was having regular meetings with other heads of families, they always knew the FBI were always close by recording all people coming and going and bugging all their closed meetings, but they could not have had the influence they did without regular comings together of the ‘whole  team.’ The boss would always manage to get a corporate message out to the network very quickly, even before the days of blogs and text messages. Every member of the mob knew exactly what their job was and how important it was as part of the entire empire. Each foot soldier was very familiar with his Don and what he stood for.

Do your employees or team know your ethics and what it is you stand for? It is this very reason that the vast majority of fortune 500 companies CEO’s have a personal blog that reaches out to the top board Investors to the  very youngest of employees and helps them all to understand the boss, his motivation and Vision  and brings them closer to what the company stands for  and who is running it.


As a mob boss you know you are trading your very soul for the life you lead, sure you have billions in the bank and you eat at the best places and wear the finest clothes and your children want for nothing, the price you pay for this is the fact that you have to have trust, deep trust, because you know that someone, somewhere, every single day, wants to whack you (kill you) and take over as the top boss, most dons will pay with their life. Yet if you try understand where these guys are coming from that’s a price they are willing to pay, and quite frankly they live with it very well, notoriety comes with the job.

I recently read a franchisee manual and in there it said; “to be successful you have to eat breathe and sleep your business” Ask any successful Multi Level Marketer what’s the deciding factor between failure and success is,  and it is dedication and accepting the pain of the job as a necessary consequence of the price of success.

Ask yourself what are you prepared to put up with to get what you want? Would you do time and not rat on your partner in crime?

Alan ‘Castelano’ Johnston is the Don of Bangkok’s notorious online marketing syndicate Netmedia Thailand, helping you whack out your competition through killer blogs and social media  and getting people to see your business and branding you as someone to do business with… capish?