The Caporegime

5 things you can learn from watching
The Godfather.

By MIchael Verdes

The Annex MARCH 11, 2016

It shocks me when I hear someone say they have not seen Francis Ford Coppola’s Mafia Masterpiece… The Godfather. If awards are any indication of a good film, The Godfather has a trifecta of Oscar prestige… Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role (Marlon Brando) and Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.

The story and its dialogue have competently stood the test of time. It is endlessly quoted and infinitely rewatchable. As a bonus to its sheer entertainment value it also provides life lessons worth noting.

These are 5 things you can learn from watching The Godfather.


When you are the Head of the Corleone Family, your opinion is the only one that matters. What you say… goes… without question. Despite this absolute power, Don Vito and Michael Corleone still seek council. The Consigliere is the Bosses most trusted confidant and unlike anyone else in the organization, they are allowed to challenge and debate actions with the boss. Tom Hagen is asked for his opinion several times throughout.

“If we don’t get a piece of that action we risk everything we have. Not now, but ten years from now.”

Lesson #1:
No matter how high up in an organization you are… always seek the council of a trusted ally or mentor when making an important decision.


Quid Pro Quo is a phrase in Latin that translates to: “something for something.” Despite being Latin, it is a concept the Corleone Family definitely understands. The last person on Earth you want to be indebted to is a Mafia Boss like Vito Corleone. The movie begins with an honest man asking the Godfather take revenge on the men responsible for the mistreatment of his daughter. He initially offers an undisclosed payment but the Godfather does not want money… he wants people in his debt.

“Some day, and that day may never come, I will call upon you to do a service for me.”

Lesson #2:
Grant Favors and Cash them in As Needed


Power in the Mafia is similar to Royalty. The oldest son is the successor to his father’s position in the Family. The Corleone Family however had what they considered to be a weak link in their ranks. Fredo was the eldest son when Corleone Family Boss Don Vito retired. He had a reputation for being weak and lacked the capacity and capability to effective run a Mafia Family. Rather than adhere to tradition, Fredo was passed over and his battle tested younger brother Michael was given the promotion.

“The Don is semi-retired and Mike is in charge of the Family business now.”

Lesson #3:
Promote based on Talent not Obligation.


When Vito Corleone’s Godson, Johnny Fontane, needed help with his career… he went to see his Godfather. Although Don Corleone is willing to help with his career, he is equally concerned with the amount of time his Godson is spending with his family.

“A man who doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real man.”

Lesson #4:
Family First, Career Second.


When Michael takes control of the Corleone family his judgment is questioned from almost every direction. Clemenza is one of he family’s most valuable made men. He is often called upon to be a “button pusher” for targets the Corleone family wants eliminated. He is so disillusioned with Michael’s Leadership that he asks for permission to go off on his own and start his own Mafia Family. He felt as if Michael wasn’t taking the action required to keep the Corleone family’s position strong. What Clemenza didn’t realize was that Michael was simply waiting for right moment to strike. After Michael pulls off the bold and simultaneous assassination of all his enemies all questions of his leadership are put to rest. The movie ends with Clemenza kissing Michael’s ring and calling him Don Corleone… a sign of allegiance.

“Today I settled all family business”

Lesson #5:
Be Patient… Timing is Everything




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