Hollywood’s Boardwalk Empire


The ambition of man, well most men, is that they all want to be like Nucky Thompson. For those of you who don’t quite know who Nucky Thompson is, well, you need to know two things. First, Nucky Thompson is the central character of the much celebrated and critically lauded HBO drama Boardwalk Empire, which was written by screenwriter and producer, Terence Winter and stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, the kingpin of Prohibition-era bootlegging in Atlantic City.

The other thing is that “YOU ARE ALL BITCHES.”


And while some might call this nothing-short-of epic drama, a celebration of all the social ills of capitalism, pftt, what do they know, right? We love it because it stands out as a great example of art imitating life, imitating art.
Boardwalk Empire really is all about the vaulting ambition of the post-war male, and we all know that ambition is a good thing. It is the single most insatiable cause for all the great innovations of our species, and Steve Buscemi plays the character that the audience loves to hate with laser clarity. While the world of Boardwalk Empire can be teeming with fortuitous dread and crisp-collared corporate duplicity, there are some important real life lessons which could be learned to leaven the loaf.

Lessons to Learn from Boardwalk

Well, first off, while Nucky Thompson is the local politician of AC, who is constantly shaking hands, kissing babies and, not to mention, bringing in Moonshine from up North, he is not entirely susceptible to the wiles and wisps of the secular world. In other words, he is not only above the law, he is the law, as far as Atlantic City goes and here’s what we can learn from Boardwalk Empire. So, here goes!

It taught us to value local businesses

At one point in the series, Nucky strikes a deal with Rothstein that gets him in hot water with a local gang in Philly. He immediately uses the local press to turn the tables around and pin the blame on that rival gang. This is the power of the press. Quite similar to how Nucky used the trust he had built with the local press to his advantage, people, especially those involved in marketing need to have their side of the turf covered. That is, you need to know the local press that will be covering your client’s story.

Keep your feet on the ground


If you’re playing in a big boy’s game, never lose sight of the big picture. On the Boardwalk that could get you killed, but in real life you will get screwed in some way. So remember, keep your feet on the ground, eyes on the prize, and those who are important to you, close.

Similar to, when Hague is sitting opposite Nucky, he offers his perspective, “Guys like Edge come and go. Bosses like us are here to stay.” Well played sir!

Nothing brings people closer like the fear of being popped by a mobster

Okay, this one does sound a bit too dramatic, but it can happen. What I’m trying to say is that always keep your networks strong because opportunities often arise from the least expected places. This goes both for business and in your personal lives too. It’s quite similar to how Nucky maintains good relations with Rothstein, which consequently allows him to keep his own legal options open. So, leave those bridges intact people, and only burn them if your name starts or ends with Saladin. Just kidding!
Always accept good advice (only good advice)
Every time someone recommends killing someone on the boardwalk, the recommendation is acted upon. This doesn’t mean you need to go all out and MUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH (cough) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!
The lesson to take away here is to always surround yourself with people who you can trust, and respect the perspective provided by them. It may not work out all the time, but the difference is that the people who you trust will really look out for you always.

Only make deals with people who you trust

Whether it’s Daugherty the AG, Chaulky White, or Capone himself, the relationships that the bosses trust are only those that are built on mutual trust and cemented through mutual favor. If you don’t want to end up like Gyp Rosetti, who got what was coming to him, or have someone like Van Alden destroy you with his bare hands, then always make deals with those who you trust. And never ever align yourself with people who can put you at odds with those who you trust, Capiche!

You have to stand up for what you believe in

Time and time again, Nucky gets the upper hand simply because he stands up for what he believes in. And whether he uses information from his guys or his enemies, he makes his move with pinpoint accuracy, which makes all the difference.

Live Life like a Boss

The thing about life is that it always throws curve balls at you, and you need to take them like a man, smack on the face, and just keep on moving forward. You have to shoe that you are indeed, the boss, just like one of the bosses of the Boardwalk face major challenges, (Torio vs. the Greeks, Chaulky vs. the Klan, Horowitz vs. Jimmy and Nucky and his mutiny) they showed resourcefulness, determination, and shrewd understanding of the situation at hand. That’s what makes you a boss, chicken legs!

And there’s something for PR companies too

How about that? PR advice from bootleggers and gangsters seems a bit of a stretch, but it takes only a couple of episodes to realize that Boardwalk Empire can teach quite a few things to those in the public relations profession. Like these perhaps.

Never promise what you cannot deliver

Remember when Lucky, Rothstein’s protégé made a deal that went pear shaped. In the end, Lucky Lucciano’s disadvantage puts him in Rothstein’s debt. So, the lesson learnt here is to always promise that which is achievable and don’t set your expectations too high.

Always know your asking price

Needless to say, the most artful dealings, whether it’s on Boardwalk Empire or in real life are those that are made by men who know what they want before walking into a meeting.
You’re either moving up or you’re coming down
Be it in a business setting or a political power struggle, the winds of change are constantly shifting directions. So, you need to know which direction is going up and which one will take you down. Oh, and acting accordingly comes after that.

Ending Note

Now, let’s keep things real, living a gangster lifestyle is hard work, you will need a membership of a gang, and hardcore awesomeness that you can only get with a gunshot wound. Am I right? So, for all you who are uninitiated, read this blog one more time, because when Boardwalk Empire was made my friends, Bingo! History was made, bee-atch!!