Michael Franzese, a former Mob boss, contrasts the advice of Machiavelli and Solomon while throwing in a little mob history and anecdotes and relates all of that to general business advice.
First, the good things. I really liked that you can get free ebook and audio versions at the publishers website - I wish more books offered that. I liked that he insists that there will always be an element of luck in business that can't be escaped. He also somewhat caustically points out that many of the lauded heroes of business had great boosts from inherited money and that had a lot to do with their success. I suspect that his very accurate assessment that "staying power", work habits and personality are probably far better indicators of business success than education won't be appreciated as much as it should be. Those possessing MBA's will probably sneer at his advice, but the reality is that he's got it right.
Yet I can't help feeling troubled. Here's a guy who was a very big time crook passing out moral advice. He explains how the mob runs by immoral Machiavellian principles but advises you to turn instead to the wisdom of Solomon. Good advice, but where did he ever do this? The book is jammed with stories of his mob related actions, but has very little to say about his legitimate business activities. Should we infer that they really weren't legitimate, that those too were run under the influence of Machiavelli? This book doesn't say.
So he's reformed? I wish he'd talked more about that. Most people leaving prison don't have the ability to "go straight" except at a very low income level. Writing books and giving lectures isn't an option for most former inmates. He hints at how he came to this, but I would have liked to see that explored more.
Overall, a short, pleasant read. If you've read other business books, you won't find anything really new here, but you'll probably enjoy the presentation and might be reminded of a few things along the way.
Tony Lawrence 2009-04-29 Rating:
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