Leave The Gun, Take The Cannoli: A Wiseguy’s Guide To The Workplace

By: Kurt Luchs

You probably know me as America’s foremost business guru, the author of motivational bestsellers like Who Moved My “Who Moved My Cheese” Book?, Swimming With Inflatable Sharks, and Good To Great Depression: Seven Ways To Make The Collapse Of The World Economy Work For You. If you bought any of my earlier books, I thank you — and I also pity you, because they have all been rendered useless by this one, my magnum opus.

You see, in scouring the globe for the most valuable business strategies, I was looking for the love of money in all the wrong places. Sure, the owners and managers of the great multinational corporations love money. They love it enough to steal, lie, and cheat for it…but so few of them love it enough to kill for it.

That’s what separates them from the real business geniuses — the men who run the Mafia. These guys will kill for money. They know how to make it — and how to keep it. Not one of them has ever filed a corporate tax return or issued a shareholder’s report — and yet profits roll in year after year. You want to see how a real business organization runs? Look at organized crime. You want real business wisdom? Ask a wiseguy. Problem is, he won’t tell you, and if he did then he’d have to kill you.

Fortunately, I am under no such constraint. I spent the last few years studying the ways of the Mafia, the mob, the Cosa Nostra, or whatever you want to call it. I read police reports, court transcripts, the screenplays for all three Godfather movies, and other vital wiseguy documents. I even talked to Vinny down at the cigar store (whenever he wasn’t on the phone to his bookie). Then I entered the Witness Protection Program to write this book, which brings you all the greatest gems of wiseguy strategy in one convenient volume.

Unfortunately, many wiseguy sayings and ideas are convoluted — some would say “twisted” — and hard to understand. That’s why I’ve thoughtfully provided explanations after each bit of advice. Let’s face it: If you were already wise, you wouldn’t need to listen to real wiseguys like these. But it’s never too late to wise up and start moving up your own corporate ladder! Let the lessons begin.

Choosing A Career

May Emmerich: Oh Lon, when I think of all those awful people you come in contact with — downright criminals — I get scared.

Alonzo D. Emmerich: Oh, there’s nothing so different about them. After all, crime is only…a left-handed form of human endeavor.

— The Asphalt Jungle

(Whereas business is a left-handed form of human endeavor where everybody has two left hands, and the first left hand doesn’t know what the other left hand is doing.)

Getting Ahead: Tips For Success

Teittleman: Do you have a daughter, Mr. Soprano?

Anthony “Tony” Soprano, Sr.: Yes. Call me Tony.

Teittleman: What would you do if your daughter was abused by her husband?

Anthony “Tony” Soprano, Sr.: Talk to him —

Silvio Dante: Yeah, [with] a ball peen hammer.

— The Sopranos (“Denial, Anger, Acceptance,” Season 1)

(You can’t do the job right without the proper tools.)

Getting Along With Your Boss

Marlowe: You know what he’ll do when he comes back? Beat my teeth out, then kick me in the stomach for mumbling.

— The Big Sleep

(And dock your pay for getting blood on his shoes.)

Getting Along With Your Coworkers

Dr. Jennifer Melfi: What was the last time you had a prostate exam?

Anthony “Tony” Soprano Sr.: Hey, I don’t even let anybody wag their finger in my face.

— The Sopranos (“Pax Soprana” Season 1)

(Respect boundaries.)

Effective Communication

[Jules shoots the guy on the couch during Brett’s interrogation]

Jules: Oh, I’m sorry. Did I break your concentration?

— Pulp Fiction

(When their attention wanders, gently but firmly return them to the topic at hand.)

Job Descriptions

Carlito: You a gangster now. You can’t learn it at school…you can’t have a late start.

— Carlito’s Way

(However, the hours are good, and look at the benefits!)

Office Politics, Office Etiquette

Walter Brown: You make me sick to my stomach.

Mrs. Neall: Well, use your own sink.

— The Narrow Margin (1952)

(Interdepartmental cooperation is a joy to behold.)

Business Ethics

Harry Lime: In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love; they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

— The Third Man

(Very clever observation — until you realize people actually buy cuckoo clocks.)

Learning From Your Mistakes

Bernstein: Every day above ground is a good day.

— Scarface (1983)

(On the other hand, every day underground will be a day you don’t have to sit through a staff meeting.)

Managing Through Intimidation

Joel Cairo: You — you imbecile! You bloated idiot! You stupid fat-head!

— The Maltese Falcon

(Keep job reviews short and to the point.)

Beating The Competition — Literally

Bill the Butcher: I’m going to paint paradise square with his blood. Two coats.

— Gangs of New York

(To beat the competition, you must be prepared to work twice as hard.)

Doing Business Like A Wiseguy

Nice Guy Eddie: We got places all over the place.

— Reservoir Dogs

(Be intimately familiar with all your branch offices.)

Dealing With Change…Or The Lack Of It

Tom: No money, no weed. It’s all been replaced by a pile of corpses.

— Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

(If life gives you corpses — use them for fertilizer, grow your own weed, and make all that lovely money back!)

The Last Word

Tony Montana: I kill Communists for fun.

— Scarface (1983)

(If you can’t enjoy what you do, what’s the point?)


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