Be Careful What You Wish For

We all want to be rich, we all want to be famous, and we all want to be powerful. Most of you spend your entire lives striving to be those things. Sounds like a great life, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to be adored, have a seven-figure bank account, drive a Ferrari, and have a penthouse on 5th Avenue and a summer home in Capri, while banging Heidi Klum?

It sounds wonderful, but it isn't. Sure, being rich and powerful isn't exactly scrubbing toilets, but it doesn't come without its downside. Because when you're on top, you become a bigger target for all those who want to see you fall.

More money, more problems? Absolutely. So the next time you wish to be in the other guy's shoes, don't just look at the nice crocodile leather and wish his shoes were yours -- look inside his shoes to see what's making his feet stink so bad.

After all, we always want what we can't have.

This is not to say you shouldn't be ambitious. Quite the opposite. What I want to warn you about is the fact that having money and power isn't all roses. People don't know what to do with large amounts of money and power (though your local Mercedes car salesman will be more than happy to tell you what to do with that disposable income of yours).

The Good Part About Being "Made"

So before I highlight some of the pitfalls of getting everything you wish for, let's go over the positives of being rich and powerful:

  1. You can buy whatever you want.
  2. You can buy whoever you want, except those with a bigger yacht than yours.
  3. You can walk around with "inflated" testicoli. This is a great thing for most men because most men lack balls (both in the board room and in the bedroom).
  4. Mistresses are easier to come by. Women love powerful men, it's like a friggen drug for them. The women you meet will still be call girls, only you don't pay them at the beginning of the night, but rather every month when their rent is due and car payments need to be made.
  5. Doors open and opportunities arise, whether you're looking for them or not. The richer you are, the more you get for free, and the more others want to make you richer.

The Pitfalls Of Money & Power

Okay, that's great and dandy. Who wouldn't want these perks? I love having the ability to do what I want, when I want, without blinking at the price. But nothing comes without a cost. Even if I have been successful in La Cosa Nostra and outside of it, I don't live worry free. In fact, like most others in positions of power, I always sleep with one eye open.

Here's why:

  1. You worry about money

    Those who say, "I want to make enough money never to have to think about it again," obviously have no cash flow. The more money you have, the more you worry about it because, after you've stuffed every mattress in your house, you still need to find places to stash your cash. It becomes unmanageable; you can't keep track of all your money, and you worry about which slimeball in your inner circle has his eyes on your children's meal ticket.

  2. Money will only make your hair fall out...

    Having a lot of money doesn't stop you from stressing about the bills; your bills just have a few extra zeros. A friend of mine who was a big earner in another Famiglia decided that he should put his "savings" in as many investments as he could to hide his assets from Uncle Sam. On paper he was richer than the Sultan, but not a day went by when he didn't have to make a dozen calls to "his investments" just to make sure they didn't flush down the toilet. He lost all his hair in eight months. So much for not worrying.

  3. With great power comes great responsibility

    Who wouldn't enjoy having power over others' lives, to decide their destiny, their happiness, their financial future? You might feel like a king over there, having the ability to fire, hire, promote, demote, break, make, or even ice a guy, but that's not how it goes.

    Sure some sick fucks treat the ability to toy with other men's lives as an aphrodisiac; I treat it with incredible responsibility. When you are calling the shots, the buck stops with you. When you have the power to make major decisions, decisions that not only affect your power base but affect those around you, you can't take it lightly.

    When I was out on my own, when I had no one to think about but myself, I was a selfish prick looking out for my interests -- I didn't give a damn what happened to the cafone next to me. But as I grew within my Family, more and more people depended on me, and decisions I make now must be carefully weighed to make sure I protect myself, as well as those around me. I was able to break a lowlife's legs without a second's hesitation when I was young, but now the burden of power keeps me up at night every time a tough call has to be made.

    Some people handle that kind of pressure well, others don't. Worse, some don't even realize the responsibility and act as if they have their own little kingdom, without rules. Politicians, needless to say, top that list, but I hate discussing politics so I'll stop there.

    You have to make the tough (and sometimes unpopular) decisions, whether it's taking out your best friend or firing a long-time employee. You want to be Boss, you are going to have to take the crap that comes with being Boss. And the stress and venom that comes your way.

  4. You are a big, fat, beached whale of a target

    People love having a target, an enemy, or even a scapegoat they can point their fingers at, to blame for their own miserable lives, for their stupidities, and for every goddamn mistake they ever made.

    When you are rich and powerful, you become a target. Not just for the finocchios at every charity under the sun who bother you relentlessly, but for those around you who are jealous of your success, for your competitors, and for people who want to use you as an example.

  5. Can you deal with being hated?

    Get used to it, not everyone is going to love you. Be grateful if your enemies are known to you -- there is nothing scarier than being surrounded by people who smile at you and then stab you in the back. People need inspiration, they need a Goliath for their David, and you've just earned the lead role. People will want your job, your money and your power, and even if they can't bring you down, they'll take pleasure in trying.

    Among the niceties thrown at you will be lawsuits, accusations, threats, harassment, and everything else people too weak to resolve things in an alley rely on. Remember what I said about not worrying about money? Not only will your lawyer's yearly retainer keep you up at night, but wondering which hillbilly judge will award your fortune to some schmuck and bust you out will do wonders for your blood pressure.

    Then there are the Machiavellian weasels that connive and plot your destruction with tact and discretion. I hate those bastards, they are the toughest to spot and often appear in your weakest moment (as you should do when it comes to your enemies).

    An associate of mine, who unfortunately was dealing in narcotics (the profit of babania was too tempting an elixir for him) as a supplement to his vastly successful legit businesses lived in constant fear of being knocked out from the top of the pyramid in the cutthroat world of drug dealing.

    He had to live with being a target for his enemies (who tried to whack him on several occasions) and for the DEA who sought to make an example of him. He had the power, he had the money, but he never enjoyed it because of the relentless bull's-eye on his back.

  6. The IRS loves you

    Sure, with cash, you can hire more expensive lawyers to fight the greedy bastards in Washington, but one thing's for sure: regardless if you're one step ahead of them or not, you'll constantly be dealing with the bullshit the IRS throws at you in its never-ending pursuit of what you've earned. Think of the IRS as a rabid dog who doesn't give a damn that you've beaten it on the head with a 2x4 -- it will keep coming after you.

    The IRS isn't your only governmental Valentine, all kinds of departments with all kinds of stupid abbreviations send their trainees to your doorstep looking for a piece of you or trying to put your ass in the joint. There's nothing like a high-profile target to make some pencil pusher's career.

    Unless you like going away to college, these little vendettas not only cost a lot of money, they can cost you your life, and if you're lucky enough to avoid jail time, they force you to use valuable goodwill currency with your friends in high places. Once that currency is used up...

  7. You get greedy

    The more you have, the more you want, and this might force an otherwise smart, logical person to start making some very stupid mistakes. People with money and power are faced with a barrage of daily decisions they can't help but screw up sometimes. They want it all, they want to control it all, and the greed gets the best of them.

    Money and power will bring a sense of entitlement you can't imagine. You want everything, you ask for everything, and you forget the value of being humble and modest, and doling out crumbs to those around you. Your friends turn into enemies as you drown in the pool of cash you've selfishly hoarded.

    Everything gets expensive and paranoia sets in...

  8. Everything gets expensive

    Obviously, when you have money, your taste changes -- you don't settle for Burger King when you can get Bern's. Along with your new, expensive tastes comes the high maintenance wife, the fancy cars, the fancy homes, and the fancy trips.

    Your kids go from community college to the Ivy League. You hook up with a hot model who's only good for making you feel 25 again and maxing out your credit card. And I haven't even touched on the expense of the mistress, or the expense of a divorce.

    People expect bigger gifts from you at Christmas. You get invited to every wedding, baptism and bar mitzvah from here to friggen Alaska. Even if you are a modest guy, you still have an image to maintain. You have to look the part, so you play the game of keeping up with the Joneses. Bigger watch, bigger car, bigger toys.

    Add to that the cost of extra security for your big-shot ass, maintenance fees for your properties and investments, retainers, legal fees, accounting fees, payoffs, keeping your consigliere and your capos happy, etc., and all of a sudden, you're living a lifestyle that's far removed from when you were in Brooklyn and your only expense was bus fare.

    Your monthly expenses become so high that you feed your ambition with the fear of going bust, which only drives you to become richer and more powerful. It's a vicious circle. Like I said, it ain't all roses and crap.

  9. You become paranoid

    A nice little side effect of being in a position of privilege is the paranoia that magically appears. Suddenly, everyone is after you, your enemies are plotting your downfall, and you have to round the wagons to protect yourself.

    Mind you, this paranoia isn't necessarily unjustified. To make money, and especially to obtain power, you are going to have to destroy some people. Those people will become your sworn enemies. You will fear for your kids, kidnapping threats start hitting home. You become vulnerable to blackmail for every dirty deed you did in the past without covering your tracks.

    You stress. You get gray hair. You live in a fish bowl. Like a celebrity, you have no freedom, you have no privacy. You're a public figure, regardless if you're a movie star or not, so people feel entitled to unload whatever garbage they feel like on you. But hey, my friends, it's the price of success. It ain't easy being Momo!

Still think the rich and famous have it easy?

Watch your backs and keep your noses clean. And always remember..."think long and hard" my friends!