James Gandolfini portrayed Tony Soprano in the critically-acclaimed series

With six seasons over the span of eight years, the award-winning HBO hit series “The Sopranos” gave name to quality crime drama TV. The show follows protagonist Tony Soprano, an Italian-American gangster, as he struggles to maintain relationships among both his family and mafia crew while battling depression. Though clearly a flawed character an unfaithful husband, a dishonest father and, of course, a criminal Tony Soprano consistently demonstrates what it takes to be a strong leader even during the toughest of times. Here are the top five lessons we can learn from our favorite fictional mob boss.


  1. Think before you act. When you’re in a position of power, all eyes are on you at all times. Tony Soprano often finds himself lashing out in fits of rage when things go wrong, and he pays the price by setting a bad example for his crew. As the show progresses, we notice how he adopts a wiser approach to conflict management. In later seasons, he’ll usually discuss a problem with his closest comrades and take time to process his thoughts before making a decision.

  2. Family always comes first. Your loved ones should always be your top priority. As Tony Soprano says, “Family? They’re the only ones you can depend on.” Blood is a powerful element in the mafia world, and it pertains to both your relatives as well as your mobster family. Tony deeply loves his families and remains loyal to them because at the end of the day, family is all that matters in life.

  3. If you want respect, you need to earn it. Raw talent is crucial in the career world, but even that won’t get you very far if you lack respect. Tony Soprano consistently shows us that you must work hard to prove to others that you’re capable, reliable and successful. Doing this has earned him the spot as top dog in his mobster clan, and even in this position, he always demonstrates respect for his “soldiers.”

  4. Money never buys happiness. Tony Soprano has every material thing he could ever dream of: An extravagant home, a spacious SUV, a closet filled with spiffy designer suits. Yet none of these things truly matter to him, as he frequently finds it difficult to get out of his king-size bed due to his depression. Tony lives a lifestyle of luxury simply because he can afford to do so, but he understands that these things won’t contribute to his health and happiness.

  5. Finally, and most importantly, be a boss. Regardless of your position at work, you must demonstrate leadership skills. Even when Soprano wasn’t the mafia ringleader, he always stood up for himself and refused to be pushed around by others. He carried this with him as he moved up through the ranks, working hard to earn what he wanted without handouts, and consequently gaining a reputation for being an effective leader.

So whether you aspire to become a true hustler on the streets or imagine a less exciting career in the corporate world, go out there and be a boss. “Bada bing, bada boom.”

Jillian Wright is a junior media arts and design major. Contact Jillian at wrighja@dukes.jmu.edu.