mob business

What the Mob Can Teach You About Business

By Bryan Orr

When you think of the “Mob” or the “Mafia” you probably think about the movies The Godfather or Goodfellas, or maybe Al Capone during prohibition. While it is true that the majority of Mafia activity occurred in large cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia, there is one smaller big city, located in the smallest states in the US that holds a prominent place in Mob lore — Providence, Rhode Island

While it was Frank Morelli that formed the “Providence Crime Family” in 1917, Providence really came into its own as a hotbed for mob activity under Raymond Patriarca in 1954.

During Raymond Patriarca’s rule as mob boss he maintained influence over city and state government officials, judges, and even law enforcement. In one infamous incident in 1972, Raymond Patriarca was being tried for the murder of bookmaker Rudolph Marfeo and his bodyguard Anthony Melei. There was eyewitness testimony that raymond Patriarca had ordered Marfeo killed during a meeting several days prior to the shooting.

Patriarca’s defense brought a witness to the stand who testified under oath that Patriarca could not have been involved in the planning of the murder because he had been with Patriarca the entire day that the supposed murder plot occurred. He further stated that he had been with Patriarca praying over the grave of Patriarca’s deceased wife and had remained with him all day.

This was a very convincing alibi, given that the testimony was rendered by Father Raymond Moriarty, a Catholic priest.

There was only one issue with Father Moriarty’s testimony. When the prosecution inspected the records at Moriarty’s church it was found he had performed a baptism at the exact time and date he had stated under oath he had been with Patriarca.

Father Moriarty had been proven a liar, and with this knowledge the jury deliberated…. And voted to acquit Patriarca. How does a man like Patriarca go free after so much evidence linked him to so many crimes?  

A deep understanding and often manipulation of the human need for relationship and purpose.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am in no way condoning any of the criminal acts perpetrated by Raymond Patriarca or any other criminal element. However, there are some things we can learn.

Don’t Forget Your Roots

Patriarca had been childhood friends with Moriarty, growing up in Massachusetts. When he needed a friend he went deep into his roots to find someone to help. While I don’t suspect you need your old friends to lie under oath for you… You may have some business connections that you are leaving on the table for lack of a phone call.

Create Good Structures

The Mob or the “Cosa Nostra” translated literally as “Our Thing” is notorious for their structure. The group is known as a “family” and the head of the family is the Boss. Under the boss is the underboss, then the Caporegime followed by rank and file soldiers. The structure not only serves as a method to establish clarity in decision making, but also provides a clear path for aspiring criminals to move up the ranks as they improved in their dastardly skills.

In addition to this, they would keep a ranking system or nomenclature to quickly describe which wise guy was skilled at which crime. So you may have a 1 for murder, but have you earned a 2 for forgery or a 7 for drug sales…. Motivation requires good structure, something to aspire to.

In the case of Raymond Patriarca, it was his structure that helped insulate him from prosecution, he didn’t need to make every decision… he had people for that.

Make Your People Feel Like They Belong

In order to be in the Mafia you had to be vouched for by an existing member and go through a grueling vetting process before you were finally given the initiation as a made man, also known as a man of honor, a wise guy or a goodfella. Sure, it meant you were committed to a life of crime, but many who made it out of the mob without “swimming with the fishes” describe a deep sense of belonging.

Many of us want to be part of something important, something significant, something bigger than ourselves. Working in your business should feel special or elite; it should feel like an honor. You do that by giving the roles you offer to your team, special and focused attention. Make it seem important because IT IS IMPORTANT.

It’s not like you are asking your team to hide a body for you or anything…..  Are you?

Also, if you want to hear more about the story of the Providence Mafia there is a great podcast out called Crimetown. Check it out…. But not with kids around.

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Bryan Orr
Bryan Orr is a blue collar business owner who helps executives and business owners use storytelling to communicate powerfully with customers and staff. Bryan is a founder of an award-winning small business in Orlando, Fl as well as sought after podcast producer and consultant. Get to know him at Bryanorr.com.

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