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The Godfather Commentaries #48

Billy Goff was based on Willie Bioff

“The day before, Hagen had called the most powerful man in the movie labor unions, a man named Billy Goff….He was not surprised that Goff was so agreeable to the Don’s wishes. The family empire, technically, did not extend beyond the New York area, but Don Corleone had first become strong by helping labor leaders. Many of them still owed him debts of friendship.”

The Godfather, Chapter 1, Page 53, Paragraph 2 & 3, Sentences 5 & 12 – 14

It’s time to start working on your strategy, the way you build your family and its power base. Look at your world, as it is now. What is your technical reach? Where are you welcome, formally, strong and able, and recognized for what you do? Your territory must be known, not only in formal ways, but in your heart and in the clear, confident understanding of the members of your family and your community. Had Hagen’s job been to speak with a local union boss, there in New York, he’d have known that he had power to play with.

Where does your family’s technical extension end? It is actually one of the more important measures of your power to identify your reach outside your direct territory. Tom is not surprised that Billy Goff is agreeable. How is this? Because Tom knows that the Don has built up a kind of vast reach, stretching far beyond the family’s technical empire lines.

Here we find the heart of the strategy. The Don served the unions in their early days. He made friends. These friends remember the Don, and they remember their debt to him. This is power.

Meditate on that. What is strategy? It is the manner in which you access and use your power.

Don Vito’s power is the ultimate intangible. It is emotion. It is recollection. Sure, there is very real fear that is palpable. Those who owe the Don a debt of friendship fear he will kill them if they fail to deliver. The fear breathes and bristles. But it does not stand alone. They are grateful. They really are. The Don helped them and helped them in extraordinary ways that no other soul would or could have accomplished.

His power is these emotions. Where they reach, he reaches.

[originally posted March 14, 2012 at my Facebook]

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