Ex-Mobster Ferrante on Business Startups

"Forty-four-year-old Louis Ferrante hasn’t led a life that might naturally lead to business consulting," writes website Private Equity Hub in What the Mob Can Teach the Start-up Industry.

Ferrante ran his own crew as an associate of the Gambino family.

“When you’re hijacking trucks on the street in Queens, the Mafia is going to hear about you,” he says. “It’s not like they come down and say, ‘We’ll kill you if you don’t pay us.’ They take you under their wing.”

State law enforcement and federal agents took him down while he was still in his 20s -- and even high-powered defense attorney Barry Slotnick couldn’t save Ferrante from more than eight years in the joint, where he says he "fell in love with books – and out of love with the mob."

Luckily for Ferrante, his old cohorts let him go his own way when he was released from prison in 2003. His newest book, “Mob Rules,” offers lessons about what the Mafia can teach legitimate businesspeople.

Q: Your new book offers 88 leadership lessons gleaned from the Mafia. One of them is about how to build trust within an organization. I think venture firms, where partners try outdoing one other, could learn something from this. What’s your advice?

A: You have to spend time with people outside of work. You can pull a heist with someone or work on Wall Street with them every day, but to really get more insight into a guy, grab dinner with him; go on vacation together. You have to get to know someone on a more intimate level. I think about the guys who became rats, who became cooperating informants, and there was always something I saw in them but didn’t believe or explore at the time — something where I should have said, ‘Whoa, that’s a little weird.’