What I learned from the Corleone family

Few films are as revered or have achieved iconic status in American culture as the films that make up the Godfather Trilogy. Obviously, the great performance of many incredible actors in these movies plays a big part in achieving that status. But perhaps even more compelling is the writing behind the film which has spawned many lines that can be considered not only quotable quotes but also, in a larger sense, universal principles of life. These universal principles are applicable to all walks of life, from the underworld of the mob to all levels of the business world, and can provide practical instruction to all who are open to such advice.

“It’s not personal Sonny. It’s strictly business.”
Michael to Sonny in The Godfather

There may be nothing more important to good business practice than the principle that decisions to be made should never be motivated by personal or emotional animosity, but should always be the result of an objective decision-making process. Too often, the opposing actions and positions of opposing parties are taken personally and retaliation is sought without first thinking and formulating an appropriate response on an objective basis and according to the circumstances.

The pros and cons of a business decision cannot be properly and professionally evaluated if one’s judgment is clouded by emotionally charged and negative feelings toward the opposition, particularly during the course of negotiations. Consequently, if you find yourself unable to separate yourself from an emotional view of the situation presented, it may be wise to consult with a colleague for a fresh, objective point of view. It is especially important to maintain objectivity when evaluating matters and participating in settlement negotiations. Emotions have no place during negotiations, but they can increase and hinder an objective evaluation of the matter at hand. Ultimately, in all cases, it’s not personal, it’s strictly business.

“Never hate your enemies – it affects your judgment”
Michael to Vincent in The Godfather, Part III

A corollary to the general rule that negative emotions should have no place in business matters is that one should never allow problems to become personal with the opposition. When you allow your emotions to get in the way of your dealings with another, your ability to assess each and every problem that comes up is clouded by such negative feelings. Difficult as it may be, one must try to disassociate and eliminate any negative feelings or animosity (even when such emotions may be justified under the circumstances) towards a business partner. Only then can a proper assessment and management of the problem or case be completed. After all, remember what happened to Sonny Corleone in The Godfather when he allowed his emotions to cloud his judgment and get the best of him.

“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”
Michael to Pentangeli in The Godfather, Part II

No advice can be as difficult to follow as the precaution of keeping your enemies or adversaries close. Unfortunately, there are some adversaries in the business world who thrive on petty confrontations and routinely take things down to a personal and negative level. These people seem to enjoy pushing buttons and interrupting the normally smooth handling of business transactions. While there is no valid place in business for such rude behavior, there is generally no recourse against it and one must be prepared to deal with such people effectively in order to provide their clients with the representation to which they are entitled and/or to get the desired result.

One way to deal with such “enemies”, or all adversaries, is to keep them close. One way to keep them close is to be more informed about the topic at hand to keep one step ahead. In addition, no matter how irritating the adversary can be, he never fails to maintain control of his own emotions and attack them with kindness, good humor and/or rational explanations that support his position. Also, a positive way to look at the plight of having to deal with such people is to remember that each communication will bring the parties one step closer to final resolution of the problem, at which point you will no longer have to deal with that person. about that matter.

“I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse.”
Don Corleone to Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather

In terms of settlement negotiations, it can be said that you cannot sell something to someone who does not want to buy. When negotiating, one should put oneself in the position of that opposing employer or client and try to frame any settlement offer as best as possible from that perspective. For example, the value of resolving an issue now rather than after many more months of negotiation can be emphasized. When the parties engage in non-binding mediation and have reached an impasse, perhaps an offer to pay for the mediator’s services by one of the parties may trigger further discussions to reach a final resolution. By thinking about the settlement from the other party’s perspective and being creative and positive in framing your settlement offers, one can settle a case within their value range.

In trying to reach any resolution of an issue, it must be remembered that emotions have no place in negotiations. If possible, check the emotions generated by the case or your interactions with the opposition before starting any settlement negotiations. Both parties must make every effort to participate in settlement discussions as objectively and professionally as possible.

“I have always believed that helping your fellow man is profitable in every way, personally and deep down.”
Michael to reporters in The Godfather, Part III

Although Michael Corleone may have delivered this statement with a sense of irony, there is no denying that helping your fellow man is indeed profitable in every way. In addition to helping all of our clients with their business matters, a businessperson can also benefit on a personal level by volunteering their services within the scope of their expertise whenever possible. In addition to the altruistic reasons of supporting volunteering in the community, such activities have the consequent benefit as a source of networking and publicity. By participating in charitable activities, you can get to know many different people, as well as get your name or your company’s name out to the public in a positive way.

“…a man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”
Don Corleone to Johnny Fontaine in The Godfather

While the demands and pressure associated with building a business are great, there is no opportunity to replace lost moments with family. Life is short and there are no second chances to recover such precious moments. Whenever possible, a balance between work and life outside of work should be sought and encouraged. It can be said that people who develop their life outside of work, particularly with their family, but also in terms of their hobbies, recreational activities and in the exploration of creative outlets, are more likely to have a higher level of productivity at the time. to work. . Spending and enjoying more time with family will tend to serve as a release from the pressures of work and lower the overall level of stress which, in the end, translates into an overall healthier lifestyle. A healthier lifestyle, in turn, can make you a more productive and efficient worker. In the end, every aspect of your life, both inside and outside of work, will benefit.


Understanding and applying the universal principles enunciated by the great characters of The Godfather Trilogy to one’s business practices can enhance one’s skills and can also serve to relieve stress generated by the profession. In short, being the business world as demanding as it is in itself, an effort must be made by people to treat each other objectively and professionally without falling into animosities and personal attacks. Ideally, we should treat others as we wish to be treated and we should maintain positive and objective arguments rather than trying to pursue or defend an issue through negative and emotionally charged tactics or personal attacks. In the words of Clemenza from The Godfather, we should metaphorically, “Put down the gun. Pick up the cannoli.” In the end, by leaving behind a negative or personal handling of an issue and instead adopting a positive business approach to all issues, the business world as a whole

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