Louis Ferrante is a former Gambino crime family mobster who, by the age of 21, had netted millions for the mafia. Today, Lou is a legitimate man, dedicating his life to enhancing the minds of others. He’s a best-selling author, a TV host and speaker. This is a story of redemption, of values and a lesson in character. Listen to what the mob can teach the legitimate man.
Louis Ferrante is a former Gambino crime family mobster who, by the age of 21, had netted millions for the mafia under the rule of the notorious John Gotti. The law, as it eventually always does, caught up with Ferrante and he was indicted by the FBI and the United States Secret Service, with the help of several informants in the Witness Protection Program. Ferrante refused to cooperate or inform on his Gambino family associates and plead guilty to a thirteen-year sentence. However, it was in prison that Ferrante’s career path and identity would diverge, and reform on new foundations. It was within these confines his mind and soul would be set free and then eventually, his body. Ferrante is now a best selling author, a TV host for the Discovery Channel series, ‘Inside The Gangsters’ Code’ and a speaker, where he talks about what the mob can teach the legitimate businessman.
In Part 1 of the two-part interview, we discuss Louis’ early beginnings; how he got into the mob, lessons, both good and bad that he took from John Gotti and his life of crime, and how to form your own voice in whatever profession you pursue. It was perhaps, my favourite interview in Scar Tissue’s history, I found myself completely comfortable talking with Lou like we had been friends for a decade. There’s something familiar about Louis that I was able to pick up on and appreciate. As a result, I even do a half-ok job of asking valuable questions. The conversation was meaningful! It was educational, entertaining…good. The recording, however, wasn’t. The audio quality is too subpar to release; all value would be compromised in your anguish to make out the words spoken. So, I’ve written the critical lessons from Part 1 below, the interview you will hear is Part 2 of the two-part interview.
In Part 2, we discuss where Lou is today in his arc of life; we talk about his book Mob Rules and what are the most common traits between the most successful mobsters and the most successful business executives. Lou suggests advice for those coming out of prison or those in their most darkest and vulnerable time
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Key Lessons & Show Notes (Part 2)
- Good business leaders are pragmatic and responsive: mob guys are very good at being responsive to the streets around them, the best of them always keep an ear to the street and develop a keen sense of approaching change. As street demand begins to change, they’re able to see the disruption coming and adapt quickly. Their livelihood (and in some cases, lives) depend on it. A mobster is constantly responding and looking for what avenue to go down next. Lou gives the example of a street gangster who sold beepers (pagers) and then when mobile phones began to hit the streets, the gangster pivoted his whole enterprise to meet the new demand, well before department stores ever caught on.
- Beware of hubris & keep wise counsel: hubris is the biggest killer of bosses in the mob and for CEO’s of legitimate companies alike. When you stop listening to the advice of others and believe you’re all powerful, you’ve committed yourself to failure and demise. Keep wise and varied counsel. Lou gives the example of the infamous mobster Charlie ‘Lucky’ Luciano. Luciano relied heavily on his counsel and that counsel was made up of not just Italians but also Jews and Americans, people both older and younger than him. Diversity and presence gave Luciano perspective and helped him become one of the most successful mafia bosses of all time, Luciano is the father of modern organised crime in America.
- The devil appears in your darkest hour – strengthen your will: In our most vulnerable and weakest states, temptations appear the most, our resolve and will to keep the promises we make to ourselves must be met with absolution. Lou discusses the feeling of being lost when he finally was released from prison. He was no longer in the mob and couldn’t associate with any friends from it, many of whom he knew his whole life. He had no job and as an ex-con, he wasn’t a good candidate for many if any jobs. The world around him was a different and unfamiliar place. It was at this time of isolation and desperation he was offered a ‘no-show’ job by a former Gambino crime family associate – $120,000 to sign his name and not even have to work. That coupled with the outstanding loanshark money he still had on the street and Lou could’ve been financially stable again. However, staying out of prison depended on the force of his will – Lou made a sworn promise to never commit a crime again, and although he desperately needed the money, and the gesture of his former associate was kind in intent, the resolve to legitimacy had to be absolute. It was Lou’s will to never go back to prison and to be the ‘new version’ of himself, that allowed him to reject any temptation and stay on the path he promised to keep, which eventually lead to success and fruits beyond his dreams.
- Honour is worth keeping: When I asked Lou what key trait he has kept from his time in the mob that still serves him well to this day he responded with ‘honour’. Lou didn’t inform on his associates, even when he was facing life in jail, because his sense of honour required him to accept his own punishment for the things he did wrong. Honour is something all people should have, it’s a belief in one’s principles, it’s a commitment to your word and it’s an ownership of your actions – both right and wrong,
- Success takes a degree of naivety and confidence: not knowing what you don’t know can often play to your advantage, overthinking a situation means you sometimes don’t take the necessary risk to garner the rewards you desire. Then it takes confidence to execute. Confidence is built when you keep the promises you make to yourself. Lou kept his promise to stay out of the mob and Lou kept his promise to finish the books he started to write – and now, this confidence has paid dividends in a new life as a successful author and tv personality, a life once doomed to the destitute of freedom.
You can contact Lou via his website or twitter
You can also find all of his books including Mob Rules and Unlocked via his Amazon Page
Key Lessons (Part 1)
- Ambition is born out of the realisation of time: On the streets, Lou worked his way up from stealing cars by himself, to leading a crew of mob affiliates and hijacking armoured trucks – making him a fast-rising star in the mafia world. In jail, Lou’s legal team all but failed him, so he learned the law and took it upon himself to get his sentence reduced, which he successfully did. Out of prison, Lou put his mind to writing and became a best selling author with three books published in several languages, he put his mind to TV and became a host of an Award-nominated TV series on the Discovery channel. Whatever Lou put his mind to, in both the illegitimate and legitimate world, he would fight through to success. This drive, this ambition to accomplish something meaningful is rooted in his keen awareness of time and that there’s only a limited amount of it. The lesson here is ‘don’t waste time, maximise it!’.
- A true leader is a true believer. John Gotti was a true believer in the mob, in its rules and its code – that’s how he rose to the top and that’s why even after he was convicted for life in prison, he never informed to reduce his sentence. Right or wrong, he had complete belief and conviction in what he did. The life in the mob, was worth the exchange for life in prison. Being that person made people want to follow him. In business, you must be a true believer for your cause, if you aren’t then don’t expect your staff to.
- A true leader will fight for his or her followers, even if it’s against popular opinion. Lou said one thing you could always depend on, was that John Gotti and the Gotti family would always go to bat for you and defend you even when you weren’t there to defend yourself. Lou references a story where a member of the mob accidentally killed a DEA agent, and the heads of the mafia wanted to kill the mobster for bringing unwanted attention on everybody. John was the only person who stood up for the mobster, believing that as a matter of principle, he should live and let the DEA do their job. A leader who always has your back inspires loyalty and commitment to work. Being that type of leader made people want to place their trust in him and made people work a lot harder for him. If you want the loyalty and trust of your staff, earn it.
- Model the best from the best, and leave the rest: There are lessons that can be learned from a Gandhi and a Gotti, no one man or woman is perfect. When modelling on people, use a discerning eye to tease out the valuable characteristics and behaviours. Furthermore, don’t just model one person, rather, pull in the most favourable characteristics from multiple people like a rich tapestry for you to emulate and perfect.