October 22, 2010 | | 1 Comment With banks foreclosing on homes faster than you can say Wall Street meltdown, homeowners in default are turning to state courts to determine if their houses can be taken away without banks applying proper procedures. Allegedly, some banks appear to be sidestepping the legalities of foreclosure by falsifying signatures and pushing foreclosures through without all the proper documentation (just to name a couple), all of which smacks of the shady dealings one would see on an episode of The Sopranos. So in the spirit of the new mob mentality that has crept into legitimate business, comedian/writer and 20-year corporate veteran Tony Serri has come out this year with a funny new job advice book called It’s Not Personal. It’s Strictly Business: The Godfather Way of Surviving, Conniving and Thriving in Corporate America. So it’s finally come to this: Job advice mobster style. But when you think about it, it kind of makes sense. (Stay with me here.) Honestly, have you known any other professional organization that has more dedicated employees and has remained in business for as long as the Mob? Okay, maybe the Catholic Church, but you have to be darn near a saint to live up to all those nagging commandments. And then there’s the guilt, which I just don’t have time for, being that I’m always way too busy planning my next happy hour. Anyway, if you eliminate all the heinous mob activities that no moral person would ever consider (for example, loan sharking, breaking knee caps, death threats, fitting people with cement shoes – you know, stuff banks would love to impose upon their customers in default, if they thought they could get away with it) then it appears mob bosses are the best thing to hit business since the coffee break. Author Serri reiterates, “Take away all the assassinations and gang-wars, and the Godfather was a tough, successful business leader who had a nice work-life balance. Why not learn from him?” Why not indeed? Ironically there is a code of ethics among mob families in The Godfather movies that actually flies in the face of what’s happening today on Wall Street and in the banking industry. The lack of principles many loan officers exhibited when home loans were being doled out like Halloween candy led to the collapse of the housing market, which in turn contributed to the collapse of the job market. It’s a stupid business model that’s totally counter productive to a sustainable, long-term existence. I’m certain Vito Corleone would NOT have handled home loans quite the same way as Countrywide. Why? Because giving home loans to people YOU KNOW will default just does NOT make good business sense. Mr. Serri agrees and drives the point home using characters from The Godfather movies as metaphors on how to conduct sensible business in a way that everyone can relate to and respect. For example, quite often a person is not successful in business because he/she loses his/her cool in stressful situations. The key here is to learn how to control one’s emotions, as Mr. Serri cleverly points out in his chapter entitled “Your Sonny Disposition.” Other chapters include “What Would Vito Do?” when faced with tricky business situations, and “When Life Gives You Fredo Make Fredo-Ade” on how to get noticed by the boss man, so that you aren’t passed over for a promotion. At first glance it would seem you have to know a lot about The Godfather trilogy to benefit from Mr. Serri’s advice, but in reality you don’t. The book is chockfull of useful information on how to successfully navigate the business world (Godfather style) and at the same keep your ethics in tact. As a metaphor The Corleone Family is so iconic and firmly entrenched in pop culture that you’ll appreciate the jokes (and the advice), even if you don’t know The Godfather movies. So if you’re having a hard time functioning in the dysfunctional culture at work, or if you just want to be delightfully entertained and get some solid business advice at the same time, pick up a copy of It’s Not Personal. It’s Strictly Business: The Godfather Way of Surviving, Conniving and Thriving in Corporate America by Tony Serri. In fact, pick up two copies and send one to your mortgage company. If they’re going to act like thugs at least they could do so with a little more finesse. A must-read for anyone who just graduated from college or grad school and is preparing to swim with the sharks of the business world.