A Lesson in Business Straight from The Mafia

Kylie Aloi is a Lifestyle Coach and one of AMICA’s regular contributors. Kylie often works with women in business. Today she shares on some lessons straight from the New York Italian Mafia …

mafia business

For those of you who follow my Instagram feed  you may recall that I recently spent some time in America. There was so much I enjoyed about this trip, so much so that I am constantly imagining ways in which I can go back!

One of the places I was looking forward to returning to was New York. I had been there over six years ago and fell in love. It was more of a slow and steady love though, as being there for the first time was a bit of a culture shock. I was only 21 (which may seem old for some) but it was the first time I had ever been on a flight by myself, left the country and experienced such a big city. However, as time has gone on, I was craving immersing myself back in the atmosphere of New York. There is something about it that just simply draws you in.

Other than being able to eat a lot of great food and see iconic locations, what I loved most was exploring the different neighbourhoods and picking up on the different energies from each spot. Luckily for me fellow AMICAS Emma and OC had just finished their trip to NY just before me so I had a few extra spots to add to my list to explore (you can catch up on their adventures here, here or here).

I loved the downtown area so much I honestly wish I could gather up all my loved ones and move there right now! One of the things we did in this area was go on the Walking Mafia Tour run by Eric Ferrara from Lower East Side History Project http://www.leshp.org/walking-tours/60-mafia-tour. This tour was amazing, even if you’re not that into learning about the Mafia you will still take away so much about the history of Italians and their unique contribution to New York’s history.

One of the most fascinating things I started to understand about the Mafia, was that although there is the perception we all have from movies and TV shows, the real life Mafia is not like that. Instead of it all being about respect, family, and fancy suits, at the end of the day they are a business.

Now they may operate more illegally than most businesses and have more violent tendencies than your local corner store but, I still find their business acumen fascinating. As Eric Ferrara explains in his book, Manhattan Mafia Guide, “By the end of Prohibition, what started as a “way of life” turned into a business, and like any business, public image was key to success”. This image has been key to their recruitment and marketing strategy for many, many years.

The Mafia are an organisation that grew out circumstance and of a tradition stemming from Southern Italy. The part that I find the most fascinating is that they still exist in America to this day!

One of the reasons for this is that they have shifted and altered their business depending on what is profitable at the time. Take for example the fact that back in the 60’s they owned and operated some of the largest and most popular Gay nightclubs in New York. This is in complete contrast to the homophobic Mafia boss stereotype we see in popular culture.

They operated these clubs at a time when being Gay was still illegal and so the Mafia saw an opportunity to make money. They continued doing this until it was no longer viable and moved into a new market.

As I stood on Mulberry St and learnt all of this new information, it really struck me how there are two types of business owners and what the true definition of an entrepreneur is.

First there is the business owner who has created a product or service that they really believe in. They want to take this idea to the masses and want to grow this business over time.

The other type of business owner is one who looks for an opportunity and runs with that until they have grown it to a level they are satisfied with and moves onto the next opportunity.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of these situations. Both types of business owners need drive, passion and creativity to get their ideas off the ground. They also need to have done their research to understand if there is a market and consumers ready to purchase what it is they have to offer.

They do however require a different mindset. There is a lifecycle to every business and at different stages of your life you are going to be interested or more focused on different things but I think the true entrepreneur is in business purely to be in business and, that is their career not the sector or service they are offering.

Jack Delosa always talks about entrepreneurs being the 1% and I think that is very true, not everyone loves business in the way a true entrepreneur does. I think we can all have entrepreneurial qualities and in business we need to harness as much of these as we can but we also need to stay true to what really drives us.

As a coach I work with clients on making decisions and goals based on their values. I truly believe this is the best basis for our decisions. There then isn’t a need to waiver when we are doing what works best for us. This is so true when you are either starting your own business or work for yourself. There are so many buzz words and Instagram quotes lately that we can become a bit overwhelmed it can be easy to lose our own voice and direction.

Now might be a great time for you to step back from your day to day business and decide why you started it in the first place. This can help you understand where you should then be going next.

Share this with your fellow business friends so they too can understand which sort of business owner they are x

Kylie Aloi is a passionate Lifestyle Coach. She loves nothing more than guiding women to make positive changes in their professional and personal lives. Kylie wants to see more women designing a life that is right for them. She has grown up working in a small family business and has completed a Bachelor of Business (Human Resource Management) and a Certificate IV Workplace and Business Coaching. Her life would be incomplete without meaningful connections, copious cups of tea, lists and conversations that are almost always food related.

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