3 Business Tips from Iconic American Gangsters

We started this blog with an affinity for the big shots. Three of our favorites are Capone, Dillinger, and the lesser-known, Raymond Patriarca (made world famous by the excellent podcast Crimetown). These bosses have countless great stories, but today’s post is a roundup of their greatest hits. Here are three killer business tips (pun intended) from some of America’s toughest bosses.


Business Tips Served Up Crime Boss Style


Tip 1: Leverage media

Al Capone in suit with scar visible on face

The original “scarface”, Al Capone was just as familiar with the public spotlight as many celebrity entrepreneurs are today (we’re looking at you, Mark Cuban). While Capone was notorious for his brutal revenge tactics and take-no-prisoners policies with his enemies, he made sure to balance bad behavior with good press. His biggest success? Getting widespread media attention by opening a soup kitchen in Chicago during the Great Depression.

His donation to the city to open a soup kitchen, ended up creating a dozen jobs and feeding thousands of people. The Chicago Tribune broke the story with the headline: 120,000 Meals Served by Capone Free Soup Kitchen. As if the donation in his name wasn’t enough, he made sure to be caught on camera in the kitchen shaking hands and offering encouragement to those seeking help.

As an entrepreneur you should think about how you can leverage social media to get eyes on your brand. The more channels you engage with the better your results will be (and don’t forget to measure what works best with analytics). It’s not enough to be great at something, you need to be seen being great at something. Find a cause and take a position while documenting the whole process through Instagram stories, Facebook live or Youtube. Create awareness around value you are creating.

For more about Capone visit our post on how he built a 100m business here.


Tip 2: Use what you’ve got

Our favorite American Robin Hood, John Dillinger, was famous for his devil-may-care attitude and resourcefulness. Whether he was breaking out of jail by holding up the staff with a piece of wood carved into a gun, or making a run from the feds with only the clothes on his back, Dillinger knew how to act when he was backed into a corner. He took most of his learning from his rough-and-tumble background, using tricks he learned in prison as a young adult to build his strategies.

In February of 1934 Dillinger had just been caught and confined to the jail in Crown Point Indiana. Authorities had boasted that the jail was escape proof, and a media frenzy began. He wouldn’t be there for long. In March of 1934, he coaxed his way out of the main cellblock by using a fake gun. Dillinger had carved it from a piece of wood with a razor. He slapped a coat of black shoe polish on it to complete the illusion(the original FBI report maintains that he used a potato and not wood). Dillinger walked out of that prison.

As an entrepreneur you have to learn to do more with less. Less money. Less time. Dillinger didn’t have much at his disposal, he scanned his environment for resources and made them work for him. Just because you don’t have the resources that a larger company has, doesn’t mean you can’t compete with them in the market. You have to stay agile and scrappy. It’s not a matter of if but a matter of how. Accomplish the desired result with less.


Tip 3: Take care of your community

Rhode Island’s most famous crime boss Raymond Patriarca, was as beloved as he was despised. Despite running Providence’s organized crime circuit for over 40 years, over 200 people lined the streets and attended his funeral. He had a very strong community presence, taking an interest in all the families in the neighborhood.

At the same time he was ordering hits on opposing gang members, he was regularly out and about in his neighborhood, checking in on neighbors and friends. He is remembered for making sure families had food on the table, even sending turkeys to poorer families during Thanksgiving. The Feds may have wanted to see him locked up for good, but his beloved status within Providence kept him out of prison multiple times.

Part of being an entrepreneur is about being selfish and focused on capitalistic pursuit. But there can be a greater payoff when you take a vested interest in others and their success. Whether it’s mentoring young people in the community where you live, or regularly interacting with others in your co-working space. When you create relationships within your community it does a great deal for your personal brand (plus, you know, it’s the right thing to do). When your community does well, you do well. Give back to your community.

You don’t have to do business like a crime lord to act like a boss. Using these strategies will build your network and win you success.

  • Leverage social media to create personality or brand awareness
  • Be resourceful with what you’ve got going for you
  • Give back to the people around you

Did you enjoy this content? You’ll probably love our store-check it out for the latest crime inspired products!

The Business of Crime was created by a bunch of crime-obsessed startup junkies. We don’t condone the bad guys, but we do think we can learn something from them. What criminal mastermind’s strategies would you like to hear about next?

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