What Every Project Manager Can Learn From The True Story of The Godfather

Pete Sena
7 min readJul 12, 2022
This is the cover art for the Paramount+ original series called “The Offer” about Oscar®-winning producer Albert S. Ruddy’s extraordinary experience of making The Godfather. This picture is an illustration of the cast with the words “The Offer” in white text on the left and the right is the cast that made this show.
Image Source: Paramount

As Founder of a digital consultancy, it’s my job to drive continuous improvement for everyone involved in our business, from my internal team and colleagues to clients and the customers they serve.

I think about this mission all the time, even when I’m “off-duty” on evenings and weekends. And recently, I found incredible inspiration from The Offer, a Paramount+ series about Oscar®-winning producer Albert S. Ruddy’s extraordinary experience of making The Godfather.

Full disclosure: I get absolutely nothing from Paramount for mentioning their show. Like millions of others, I consider The Godfather one of the greatest films ever made. While thoroughly entertaining and fascinating, The Offer isn’t that caliber — the mixed reviews are fair.

However, as a story about creating not just profit, but a meaningful contribution to your industry that has longevity, impact, and importance, it’s a must-watch for project managers and product managers, in my opinion.

In this article, I’ll tell you why. Spoiler alert: The famous lines from The Godfather, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business,” can be words to live by, but in many cases they can hold you back. Sure, it’s business — but when your business is something you value and personally invest in, you reap the benefits. The true story of how Ruddy was instrumental in bringing the iconic film to fruition (on a budget of just $7M that went on to gross around $290M today) has lots to offer to ambitious project leaders, so let’s dive in.

Leave the Gun, Take the Cannoli

Ruddy, as portrayed by Miles Teller, is an inspirational character. He started his career as a programmer for the Rand Corporation but was always a creative spirit. His combination of vision and ambition led him into entertainment, first as a writer and then as co-creator of the TV show Hogan’s Heroes. That credibility gave him the confidence to move into producing. In The Offer, he legendarily parlays a relatively thin resume into the role of producer for The Godfather.

Now, what does a producer actually do? Much like a product or project manager, the answer is pretty much everything. They have all of the balls in the…

Pete Sena

I help founder-led businesses design demand 📈 ⚡️3X Founder / Operator / Investor | Ready to design demand for your brand? 👇 linktr.ee/Petesena