Years ago a friend of mine referred to me as The Godfather. He bestowed this title upon me because of my connections to ‘movers and shakers’ inside and outside of our industry, as well as my reputation for doing what I say and getting things done. It also didn’t hurt that I was 5 years older than the rest of our little gang.

I’ve had a lot of fun with this title. Some might say I take it too far. But that’s good news for you. Being known as The Godfather inspired me to study my namesake, and I’ve read Mario Puzo’s legendary tale of Don Vito Corleone twice this year, identifying The 10 Golden Rules for the Godfather’s Success.

In order to benefit from these 10 Golden Rules, you must first imagine for a moment two things about The Godfather:

  1. First, let’s pretend that Don Vito Corleone was real, and not a fictional character

  2. Second, let’s say his Family business was legitimate, and not a criminal empire

With these two changes in perspective, and an open mind about The Godfather’s approach to building wealth, power, success, and a legacy, you can take great value from one of the most popular characters ever created.

Rule #1 – To the Godfather, friendship is everything.

“Friendship is more than talent. It is more than government,” Don Corleone says to his godson, Johnny Fontane. “It is almost the equal of family. Never forget that. If you have built up a wall of friendships you wouldn’t have to ask me to help.”

These days, business gurus love to use the word ‘networking’. But networking is simply building friendships. When you have a vast network of friends, you’ll never be alone, you’ll want for nothing, and you’ll always be able to reach out to give help and get help.

But friendship is not about getting. Friendship begins with giving.

“He believed in friendship and was willing to show his friendship first,” Puzo wrote about Don Corleone. Who can forget the opening scene where the wedding guests are lined up to ask a favor of The Godfather. He does not turn them away. He gives his friendship. He “makes offers they can’t refuse.”

The Godfather was the ultimate Go-Giver. Let us follow in his footsteps in this manner and use friendship to overcome other obstacles in life.

Rule #2 – The Godfather makes people feel valued.

“The Don received Luca Brasi as a king greets a subject who has done him an enormous service, never familiar but with regal respect. With every gestured, with every word, Don Corleone made it clear to Brasi that he was valued.”

In today’s world, most people have more than enough food, stuff, and room in their homes. But what they are lacking is love, respect, appreciation, and enthusiasm in their lives. They long to be heard. They wish someone would put down the iPhone and pay attention to them during presentations or coffee meetings.

The Godfather knew to be present with people. He showed gratitude and paid respect to all those he met with, even when negotiating. Let us follow this example. Keep your phone off the table at meetings. Put your electronics away when spending time with your loved ones at night. Be present. Show the other person they are valued. You will build enormous respect and appreciation, and a powerful bond, with people this way.

Rule #3 – The Godfather maximizes profit in every opportunity.

“It was part of the Don’s greatness that he profited from everything.”

Let’s not beat around the bush. The Godfather was ruthless in building his empire. But there is nothing wrong with finding an honest way to achieve maximum results for your hard work. Today we call this leverage. How can you get the most out of everything you do and all the projects you have created?

As the author of multiple books in different industries (fitness and success) and the creator of different coaching programs (one for personal trainers, one for business owners), I can squeeze a lot out of a trip to a single city.

For example, when I visit Las Vegas for a business meeting, I can also hold certifications for my personal trainer program, and meet with individual coaching clients. I can, and must, maximize the value of each opportunity. This might mean adding an extra day or two onto my travels, but it leverages my time.

When you attend events, do as The Godfather would. Plan ahead to maximize your profit from everything. Develop a list of strategic objectives for all opportunities, and properly organize and leverage your efforts to maximize your return on your time and energy invested in all your travel and projects.

Rule #4 – The Godfather never gets angry, he never makes a threat; He reasons with people.

Don Corleone’s oldest child, Sonny Corleone, had an Achilles heel. It was his ruthless and rash temper that led him into an ambush set up by the Barzini family. But the great Don, Vito Corleone, never made this mistake.

“He is a man of reasonableness,” Puzo wrote of The Godfather. “He never uttered a threat. He always used logic that proved to be irresistible.”

Like the ancient Stoics, Don Corleone knew there was no value in anger, not even when hidden. It only prevents the clear thinking needed to solve your problems. You must keep your mind free of anger, jealousy, bitterness, and petty disagreement. Focus on finding solutions and fast tracks to success. Don’t clutter your brain with vendettas.

“The Don never believed in making a lot of enemies,” it was said. This remained true even after Sonny was killed. The Don knew that an all-out war amongst the Five Families of New York would only drain his resources and destroy the Family business.

You must objectively look at the insults that come your way and realize the only reason the words make you angry is because of your interpretation of these events. You can choose to waste your energy and time on anger or revenge, or you can forgive, learn your lessons, and move on to what matters.

Rule #5 – The Godfather created a Strategic Vision.

Don Vito Corleone did his homework.

“Do we know everything necessary for us to know?” he asked his consigliere, Tom Hagen, prior to an important business meeting. Puzo called The Godfather a ‘strategic genius’. Nothing escaped the Don’s observation.

The Godfather had a “vision of pain staking detail” and “He planned for the future of his empire with foresight and statesmanlike intelligence.” This level of clear thinking was only possible because he avoided anger and threats.

If you’ve read my book, The Perfect Day Formula, you know I agree with the great Don about the power of creating a Vision for your life. Take the time to sit down and think big for your future. Set aside a full morning to create the grand plan and a crystal clear vision for your life. Be a strategic genius and create your empire with foresight and intelligence. Like The Godfather, you must leave nothing to chance.

Next Monday, we’ll pick up where we left off and I’ll share five more golden rules to The Godfather’s success. Stay tuned.

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How to Trick Your Brain into Making Better Decisions (Backed By Scientific Studies)

What are some tools to use for effective decision making? originally appeared on Quora – the knowledge sharing site where questions are answered by people with unique insights. This answer was shared by Charles Duhigg, staff writer for the New York Times and author of Smarter Faster Better, on Quora:

Here is what scientific studies say will help you make better decisions:

Thinking through various, contradictory possibilities, and then trying to force yourself to figure out which ones are more or less likely, and why. (This is known as probabilistic thinking, and studies show that it significantly increases the quality of people’s decision making.)

Say, for instance, that you are trying to decide whether your group of rebels should attack the Death Star. Seems like an easy decision, right?

After all, the Death Star is filled with jerks, and it has a big glaring weakness (that apparently no architect considered when designing the ship): one well placed shot can blow up the entire thing.

If you are some hillbilly from Tatooine, you’ll charge off into space. You’ll think about this decision in binary terms (“The Empire=bad. The rebels=good. What can go wrong?”)

But, if you are practiced at decision making, you’ll probably do something a bit differently: you’ll sit down with Adm. Ackbar, and you’ll try to envision the dozens of different outcomes that are possible. (“We could get defeated before we make it to the ship. We could make it to the ship and not have enough X-wings.

We could have enough X-wings but then miss the shot. We could make the shot but our intel could be wrong. We could have good intel and make the shot and the Death Star blows up, but our reward is Jar Jar Binks…” You get the point.)

Now, here’s the thing: you aren’t going to be very precise at assigning probabilities to all those possibilities. (“What are the odds that our intel is bad?”) But forcing yourself to think through all the possibilities and then simply TRYING to assign odds will be really helpful in revealing what you do and don’t know.

So, maybe you are pretty certain that your intel is good, and maybe you are pretty certain that, if they can get close to the Death Star, your pilots will hit the target (because, after all, you’ve got the force on your side), but you aren’t particularly certain that you have enough X-wings to make sure that you’ll get close to the Death Star.

Now you know which parts of your plan are weakest, you know what you need to learn more about and what problems you need to solve to increase the odds of success.

Our brains, left to their own devices, prefer to think about choices in binary terms. (And, from an evolutionary standpoint, this is really efficient.)

But to make better decisions, we have to force ourselves to think probabilistically – AND THEN WE NEED TO GET COMFORTABLE WITH THE FACT THAT PROBABILISTIC THINKING TENDS TO REVEAL HOW MUCH WE DON’T KNOW.

It is scary to confront uncertainty. It can make you crazy and anxious. That’s why it is so much easier to look at choices as binary options (“I’ll either succeed or fail”) or deterministic outcomes (“I ended up married to her because she was my soulmate.”)

But if you genuinely want to make better decisions, you have to fight that instinct, and make yourself think about multiple possibilities – both the good and the bad – and be really honest with yourself about what you do and don’t know (and what is knowable and unknowable.)

And then you have to take a leap, and make a decision, and see it as  an experiment that gives you data, rather than a success or failure that you should congratulate yourself on/beat yourself up about.

Because, unfortunately, the force doesn’t really exist. But probabilities do.

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