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Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Everyone knows the saying, everyone likes to say it thinking they're Al Pacino, and almost everyone doesn't know what it really means. I say almost everyone because all the wise guys from Vegas to Rochester know that not knowing its meaning can result in a nice screwing where the sun don't shine. Catch my drift?

Keeping your enemies close doesn't eliminate the problem of having enemies in the first place (and if you're sitting there smiling like a clown thinking you don't have enemies because you're such a sweet guy, I've got news for you -- if you don't have enemies, it's because no one thinks you're significant enough to worry about). Any man with direction in his life will have enemies, but keeping them close can prevent an unexpected strike. It doesn't take Einstein to figure out that the toughest and most destructive blow comes when it's unexpected.

Who is your enemy?

So before you keep close tabs on certain people, figure out who qualifies to be on your exclusive enemy list. If I were summing it up for a moron (are you listening Vincenzo?), I'd tell him that an enemy is anyone who doesn't support him.

It can be a friend, business partner or even family. An enemy is anyone who will give you the evil eye or who has even entertained the idea of how much fun it would be to put a voodoo curse on your head.

The more powerful you become, the bigger the list of nemeses because you become a bigger target or opponent for someone else, whether it's the suit in the cubicle next to you or a rival captain in your famiglia. It's a Catch-22 of success: The more successful you are, the more people there will be lining up with baseball bats earmarked for your head, and the harder you'll fall if you don't keep track of what your enemies are up to.

And take it from someone with experience: Just about everyone is a potential enemy or backstabber. In fact, the guy with the biggest smile and the largest slap on your back is usually the one with the sharpest knife.

Why keep him close?

Now, let's be realistic. We can't all keep our enemies close. I don't see George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein having Sunday brunch together, no matter how much Bushie (that's what they call him in Washington) wants to know everything about Saddam, including how many hairs he has spurting out of his nose.

But most enemies (especially the ones that cause the most damage) come from your inner circle, so you can easily keep your eye on these guys. It's important that you don't break the lines of communication with them (I'm sounding like a freakin' sex therapist).

Keep tabs on your enemies. Staying in touch, talking with them (even briefly) and reading their body language are some of the ways you can get a sense of the cafones' true intentions. Any information is potential ammo for me.

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