The other day, I was sitting down with some younger members of my crew dispensing advice (as I always do) on the ways of the world and how to last longer in my business and maintain smart habits. One of the young stunads in the crew was so captivated by what I was saying that he suggested I write a book to teach others my “rules of wisdom.”
Now, you’ll never see a published book with my name attached to it (this column is already too much), but it got me thinking about a good topic for an article. Why not teach my readers the same rules of wisdom I teach my Family?
So, I wrote down the 25 most important rules you need to remember. Now, I can’t take credit for many of these; my mentor Salvatore (Sal) taught me most of them, and Sal probably had someone teach them to him. Obviously, some of these rules go back 100 or even 1,000 years, but if you think I’m going to do the research to find out who said what, you’ve got another thing coming, cafone. So here goes.
25 rules of wisdom
1- Even the boss must get his fingernails dirty.
Don’t make the people under you do things you haven’t done or aren’t willing to do. Once in a while, I’ll go out into the field with a trusted capo of mine to send a message to my crew. If you’re a leader, then lead by example. How can anyone argue with you then?
2- A handful of luck is better than a mountain of wisdom.
OK, this one isn’t Sal’s or mine for that matter, but it’s still an important rule. As smart as you can be, there are always things in life you have to be prepared for. Even a wise man can slip on ice. Don’t underestimate the power of being at the right place at the right time.
3- For every one word you say, let your enemies say 10.
Sort of like Rule 8 (you’ll see it soon, shut up), but I like to emphasize this point by saying that the more you reveal to your enemy, the more weapons he has to hurt you with. Let your enemy talk because information is power, and information can destroy.
4- Cash is cash, even if it comes from an elephant’s stomach.
When you have greenbacks in your hands, there are no maybes, no ifs, no credit checks, no anything. A check can always bounce, a credit card is for suckers, cash is always cash (which is why my establishments only accept hard currency).
5- Never reveal 100% of anything to anyone.
If you have a great idea on how to become a millionaire, or how to convince the IRS that you really did only make $18,542 as a dental surgeon, never tell anyone all the details of your plan. Always hold something back, reveal only 75% or 90% of the plan if you have to. It protects you (especially if that last 10% is illegal) and ensures that your great idea stays yours.
6- Never make a decision when you’re angry.
Smart, careful men realize they must have a clear head to think. When you’re angry, it’s your boiling bloodlines that speak for you, not your logic. Control your emotions. This is one of the most important rules there is. When you’re angry, you make threats you often can’t deliver on, or decisions you come to regret. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
7- A man is nothing without his word.
One of the few things even a poor man has is his word. Your word should never be broken. Always keep your promises (you should never make promises, but I know how some of you clowns can’t stop yourselves). The minute someone doesn’t trust you is the minute you lose them.
8- Keep your mouth shut. If you have to lie, keep it short and simple.
If you don’t have anything smart to say, don’t say anything at all. Even if you have something to say, don’t say it, you just end up revealing something to the other person, giving them more ammo to shoot you with. If your mouth stays shut, mistakes go the way of the dinosaurs.
If you lie, there’s no use in you coming up with some conspiracy theory. A short and sweet lie is easier to defend (and remember) than some elaborate story about how some transvestite got lipstick on your tie.
9- The best way to dodge an enemy’s bullet is by never being in a position where he can hit you.
Don’t put yourself in a position where you can get in trouble. Avoid being put between a rock and a hard place. Never be in the same room with your enemy and he’ll never have a clear shot at your head.
10- When you can’t win a war by playing fair, bend the rules. Better yet, break them.
Unless you’re some salami who’s as motivated as a slug, you always want to win. Winning doesn’t mean you have to play by the rules. It means winning. If you want to get ahead in life, you have to learn the rules of the side-game. Those who run this country learned this rule a long time ago.
11- Never forgive betrayal.
There are more rules of wisdom you need to keep in mind…
12- Whenever you’re in doubt about whether an enemy should respect or fear you, always choose fear.
Respect is great, fear is better. Machiavelli made this one famous. Fear is a better deterrent than respect; fear will stop an enemy in his tracks more than respect will.
13- A woman’s anger can always be subdued with a diamond ring (and a man’s with sex).
Is this a sexist rule? Who gives a damn? If a woman gets a diamond, she should shut up and be happy (it worked for our grandfathers, it should work for us). As long as my wife doesn’t change, this rule will always apply with me. For men, I always tell my crew: A good night with a mistress will clear your head.
14- Behind every great man is a great woman.
Just because I tell you to follow Rule 13, doesn’t mean that you should disrespect your wife. You need the stability of a great woman to be great. A man without a family can never be a complete man. A mediocre wife will always stop you from fulfilling your potential.
15- Nothing lasts forever.
Whether it’s love, good fortune, success in business, your looks, or your hair, nothing lasts forever. This one is self-explanatory.
16- Never give a tip to someone who isn’t looking.
Whether you’re in a bar being served by a hot waitress or giving a stock tip to someone at your office, don’t give a big tip if; A) The waitress isn’t even looking at you or going to know it’s from you; or B) The idiot you’re giving the hot stock tip to doesn’t even have an investment account or a clue what Nasdaq is.
17- If you go to war, always strike first. Strike hard, and hope it’s the only strike you need.
When a conflict or fight is inevitable, always strike the first blow. You will knock your enemy off balance, and if your blow was strong enough, you could knock your enemy out completely.
18- Peace is only a prelude to war.
Never be complacent. Just because everything is going great in your life now, doesn’t mean it always will. Always be ready for the worst, even if you don’t live as though the worst is actually happening to you.
19- Have a priest on call if you choose to be a careless man.
If you’re not careful, or at least cautious in your actions or words, you’re doomed to make your wife a widow or torpedo your career.
20- When in doubt, follow your gut.
Instincts were given to us so that we can make a decision when all the elements in a decision-making process aren’t obvious. Listen to your gut, it’ll save you more often than it’ll hurt you.
21- Man appoints, God disappoints.
I never quite understood what this meant. Sal used to say it all the time, and I would just nod my head even if I didn’t know what he was trying to say. I don’t even think Sal knew what it meant. Still, it sounds good.
22- Keep your friends close, your enemies closer.
People always misunderstand this saying. It doesn’t mean you have to be best friends with your enemy, it just means you should do everything in your power to keep tabs on your enemy. Have someone you trust in his organization. Know his moves, predict his thoughts, and capitalize on his weaknesses.
23- Overestimate the time something takes, and underestimate its rewards.
Even the best plans sometimes don’t come to fruition (yeah, big word, I know). Most of the time, we have to work to get something, and that means being patient. Overestimating the work and underestimating the reward will never leave you disappointed.
24- To make money, you have to spend money.
I hate greasing all these corrupt politicians, but most of the time, I makes me 10 times more money as a result. Don’t be afraid to spend money if it will bring you more. Take a loan at the bank if you have a great idea for a business. Pay a good employee a decent salary. Pay for expert advice. If you are a smart businessman, you will always come out on top.
25- Lucky is the man who suffers humiliation in front of others, for his revenge will be sweeter.
If someone ever embarrasses you, make sure he gets a good laugh; make sure people see this embarrassment because the memory will eat at you until you get your revenge. Too often, people don’t retaliate when they’re humiliated. Raise the stakes, and you’ll have no choice but to return with a vengeance.
now you know
That’s enough advice already.
Watch your backs and keep your noses clean.