Everyone wants to live the life of a gangster. Besides the years of potential incarceration and the possibility to have your life ended every day, it doesn’t seem too bad of a gig.


As a society, we are fascinated and attracted to the gangster lifestyle because of the freedom, respect, and money they attain throughout their lives. The idea that a single individual of humble means can, through actions that break societal standards and challenge established norms, change the course of an economy, of a society, and history is incredible. Believe it or not, they represent the ideal of the American Dream.


The American Dream is the belief that anyone, regardless of where they were born or what class they were born into, can attain their own version of success in a society where upward mobility is possible for everyone. The American Dream is achieved through sacrifice, risk-taking, and ambition, not by chance.


Don’t get me wrong, these men are criminals and deserve to be locked up for the rest of their natural born lives, but… these men do portray qualities that we should implement into our own lives. One of these such men was Frank Lucas.


Frank Lucas, also known as the “American Gangster”, made it. When Denzel Washington stars as you in a movie about your life as a gangster, you know you made it.


Dinner Table Summary:


After witnessing the murder of his 12-year-old cousin at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan, Frank dedicated his life to crime. By the 1960s, Frank would establish one of the greatest heroin trafficking rings spanning from New York to South-East Asia. He adopted the idea of cutting out of the middle man, by creating his own connections to South-East Asia to have a direct connection for high-quality and relatively cheap opium. This man even used military transport during the Vietnam War, by stashing his product inside the platforms underneath the caskets of the casualties of the war. Before his incarceration in 1976, Frank would accumulate more than 250 million dollars. Frank would reduce his sentence from 70 years to 15 years by providing the names of more than ¾ of the police force dealing with drug-related investigations. He was released from prison in 1991. Today, Frank is still alive, at the ripe old age of 88, and is still trying to live the criminal lifestyle.


From what I have accumulated through watching American Gangster and reading a few articles and reports, I have decided Frank has one quality that we should be more aware of in our own lives.


Frank’s Defining Gangster Qualities:

  • Ambition
  • Risk


When Frank first moved to New York 1946, he was told by loved ones to take a steady job as a door clerk, but Frank said fuck that. Frank wanted the high life and he decided to pursue his ambitions the best way he knew how. Two words: Drug Trafficking.


However, to grow as a newly formed gangster in New York City during the 1960s was near impossible, especially at a time when the city was in the grasp of the Italian Mafia. Although, Frank had a plan. Instead of buying heroin from the Mafia for $50,000 per kilogram, he decided to travel to South-East Asia, pose as military personnel, and create a connection to a direct source. After, making a deal with the leader of an opium facility, Frank was able to process heroin for $4,200 per kilogram. With this difference in processing margin, Frank was able to sell heroin that was double the quality for half the price. His ambition to cut the middleman allowed Frank to attain a lucrative amount of money in a short period of time.



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“But Austin, how can I use this information to improve my life? I don’t want to know how to establish an enterprise in drug trafficking?”


Don’t worry baby bird, I’ll feed you.


The answer to your pressing question is your ambition. Your ambition is the fuel to your success. The intensity of your ambition will allow you to innovate and take the necessary risks to get the life that you want. The greatest risk in life is to risk nothing. The person who risks nothing has nothing does nothing and, I hate to break it to you, but is nothing. You are a slave to your own certitude.


If you do not take risks to pursue your dreams then you limiting yourself with the possibility to learn and grow in love and life.


You must be obsessed with your dreams. You must spend every waking hour to take progressive steps toward your dream. If your dreams are to write a book, be a professional athlete, get that promotion, buy your dream car, be a better husband or brother, etc. you must take the time and be obsessed with your dream. Experts say it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft. The question you have to ask yourself is, have you spent 10,000 dedicated hours on your career, marriage, or self?


10,000 hours is only 1.14 years. Frank rose to the top of the gangster business at an astounding rate because when he started his career, he enveloped his life in the gangster lifestyle. His values were in line with his dreams, and he devoted himself to his craft. Yes, he was a criminal, but his ambition, his dedication to his craft, and his necessary risks to be successful is still an attribute to accommodate into your own life.


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