The Wolf Of Wall Street

business development Jul 17, 2021
Entrepreneurship Wolf Of Wall street

 

Oh! How we all want to be the great Jordan Belfort of our fields – making a name for ourselves, rolling in money all day, fancy sports cars, a giant yacht, and having young, ambitious men and women practically banging on the door to be a part of your firm. Doesn’t it sound like a dream come true? Wouldn’t it feel nice to have all that power – all that success – all that adrenaline that pumps through your veins to go out and make every day count. Not all of us get to live out our dreams. Most of us spend our lifetimes doing jobs that we’re not happy with – and there is always a boss that we hate. To do something you are truly passionate about is a blessing that most of us don’t get. So, if you are one of the lucky ones, then make sure you make the most of it and not let anything ruin it. Being an entrepreneur puts you in that circle!

 

There is a thing about successful entrepreneurs that simply makes them amazing people, you know what that is? They just don’t take ‘NO’ for an answer – and that’s it! When you have a big goal to achieve in your life, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll get to walk a smooth road. You have to prepare yourself physically and mentally that there will be countless hurdles along the way. You’ll get to hear ‘NO’ almost at every other turn, but the key is not to take it personally and keep moving forward till you get the ‘YES’ that you need. 

 

Everything has a meaning in life that is rooted deep beneath what can be seen on the surface. Whether it's your personal life or your professional life, in order to excel in both, you've to lay strong foundations and it all starts with 'YOU'. You have the ability to change your destiny for the better. Every day people try their luck in businesses and every day there is someone who falls back in the race. So, what is it that makes the successful ones different from those who give up? Do you ever ask yourself why there is always one leader and there are others who follow them religiously? How does one survive in the competitive business environment and the other does not? Well, let's figure out why and how leaders do what they do by taking the example of "The Wolf of the Wall Street".

 

I don't know how many of you have read Jordan Belfort's autobiography, The Wolf of the Wall Street, but I must tell you that is not to be missed! It's not just another celebrity memoir, but a story that has so many significant lessons for those who seek to learn from the best! This story tells you how even the best of the best can make mistakes that can turn their lives upside down. This story tells you to be humble as the tables can turn at any moment!

Jordan Belfort wrote his memoir in 2007 that later was adapted into an Oscar-winning movie directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Terence Winter, and might I say all the hype and accolade this movie got is well-deserved!!! Introduced to life in the fast lane through stockbroking, Jordan lands a job as a Wall Street stockbroker for L.F. Rothschild, employed under Mark Hanna. His budding career and high hopes of making it big came to a halt after a Wall Street crash – famously known as Black Monday. Struggling to find a decent firm to put his stockbroker license to good use, Belfort stumbles upon a boiler room brokerage firm on Long Island that deals in penny stocks. Over there, Jordan makes a small fortune with his aggressive pitching skills and crafty sales techniques.

 

Jordan befriends his neighbor Donnie Azoff, and the two found their own company Stratton Oakmont in 1989. After an exposé in Forbes, he became more of a celebrity for young financiers who were flocking around his company to get their foot in the door. Jordan became extremely successful and got caught up in an extravagant, wild, fun, sex and drug-fueled culture that also prevailed in his firm. Fast forward, he became a big shot in New York City, and his firm, Stratton Oakmont, got entangled in rampant corruption and fraud on Wall Street through shady dealings, that caught the attention of the FBI and ultimately lead to his downfall.

 

Whether you like this guy or hate him – you cannot deny the mastermind he is for building something out of nothing the way he did! It’s not mere luck – it takes guts, exceptionally sharp skills, meticulous strategies, and making the right decisions at the right time! It may sound easy but believe me –­ it’s not!

 

This brief introduction of Jordan Belfort does not justify by any means the larger-than-life persona he is and the enigma his life was before everything went South for him and his clan. For a moment, let's keep the fraudulent aspects aside and focus on what made Jordan Belfort – Jordan Belfort. Why is it so important for aspiring entrepreneurs to know his story and what pearls of wisdom will they get out of it? For a start, you may think money is all you need to get things rolling, but it is much more than that – it is much more psychological than you might think. As Jayson Zabate said, “I don't believe in luck or in hard work without the so called "work smart". It's not all about how hard you work, but it's about how you manage your time, resources, and mind to work together for a better output. Your success is an amalgam of three cores that include psychological, business, and religious/ethical aspects. So, let's delve into each one of them from the perspective of Jordan's story to see what makes a successful entrepreneur. Some of the tactics and practices that Belfort indulged in are lessons for what to avoid, but the passion with which he went after his dreams and goals is something to embrace. The life/business lessons one acquires from his story are just as relevant to surviving 2021 and beyond. So, let’s start with the psychological aspect of being a successful entrepreneur!

 

 

REMOVE THE BULLSHIT STORY IN YOUR HEAD

 

Now you could take this Mantra to your grave! You might want to soften the wording up a bit, but it definitely has some truth to it.

 

"The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it." – Jordan Belfort 

 

Jordan couldn't have said it any better. Sometimes, we get caught in our own headspace and get consumed by overwhelming thoughts. We start questioning ourselves, our abilities, and whether we have what it takes to make it to the end. Stop making excuses for yourself and start hustling because nobody is going to hand over resources to you to build your empire. It takes blood, sweat, and tears to make your business stand on its feet.

 

FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT

 

It may sound a bit fishy, but it works most of the time! Jordan practically came out of nowhere and started from scratch, and became one of the richest men and prominent figures in the financial world. This is exactly what he did in the beginning – he faked it till he made it! 

 

LEADERS HAVE A VISION

 

There are certain traits that set the leaders apart from the rest of the people. They are bestowed with the innate ability to envision and direct individuals towards achieving a collective goal. Businessmen and women, especially startup founders, have a vision for the company as to where they want it to be in the next decade or so. Ask yourself, what’s your vision for your business? Do you have the stamina to make it a reality? It's evident from the movie that Belfort started his own firm from scratch with his friend after his short-lived stint in Wall Street. He didn't let Black Monday define his future, he had the guts to build from the ground up.

 

Fueled with self-confidence and high ambitions of making huge loads of money, Jordan believed in himself and his company. He trusted his gut and knew he had the skills to pull this company up. That's what leaders do, they lead by example and set the standards high. Jordan Belfort is one of the best in his field – sales, and stocks. His passion and devotion to his job permeated through the organizational culture and for his part, he inspired employees to sell and make money.

 

“It’s important to keep these guys chasing the dream. And it’s even more important to keep them broke.” I gestured over to the plate glass. “Look at them; as much money as they make, every last one of them is broke! They spend every dime they have, trying to keep up with my lifestyle. But they can’t, because they don’t make enough.” – Jordan Belfort

 

TAKE LIFE A LITTLE LESS SERIOUSLY

 

You may find it a bit weird but it's true. Pick your moments. There are times when you need undeterred determination and focus and then there are times when you need to let loose and relax. Some situations are simply out of your control. Running a company is extremely challenging, instead of freaking out over every trivial matter or something that is beyond your control, it is crucial that you enjoy the journey. This movie is indeed a refresher course on how not to take life too seriously.

 

Now that you've got a gist of some of the key traits and approaches that a budding entrepreneur needs in order to become successful, let's delve into some pertinent business aspects that are as crucial to success.

 

PARTNER WITH TRUST NOT JUST WITH PEOPLE – BUILD A LOYAL TEAM

 

It is rightly said that employees are the backbone of your organization, and they can make or break your business. So, to run a successful business, it is of the utmost importance that you develop a group of loyal team members who have the common goal of helping you accomplish your business goals. Well, it's easier said than done! Part of it is done through good training, but also by treating workers as if they are irreplaceable.

 

Guys like Danny Porush and Kenny Greene weren’t the smartest guys in the room, but they were Jordan's close friends and were super loyal to him. By doing this, you minimize the risk of being backstabbed or betrayed by unfaithful people and making inadequate decisions because you are surrounded by yes-men who never actually give you the right feedback.

 

PROVIDE AMAZING TRAINING TO YOUR EMPLOYEES

 

Jordan Belfort did not make it “BIG” on his own resources. He started his company along with a bunch of his friends. Just to remind you, his friends were not Ivy League graduates with fancy backgrounds; they were ordinary people from all walks of life. Jordan was able to transform these young and uneducated individuals into exceptional stockbrokers by investing his time and focus on them.

 

Jordan simplified instructions for them and was able to impart his knowledge in a way that even the dullest employees could easily understand. He even gave scripts to his brokers to practice and improve their sales pitch. He did not hesitate to invest in his employees so that they can effectively perform their jobs with the best of their capabilities - and so shouldn't you! As a result, the brokers did their magic and earned loads of money for themselves and the business, and that’s what really matters.

 

“And as word of this little secret began to spread throughout Long Island—that there was this wild office, in Lake Success, where all you had to do was show up, follow orders, swear your undying loyalty to the owner, and he would make you rich—young kids started showing up at the boardroom unannounced.” – Jordan Belfort

 

Give talks, seminars, training, and generous rewards to employees. Just watch and listen to Leonardo DiCaprio (who plays Jordan Belfort in the movie) as he motivates and pumps up his brokers to make money by selling stocks. His acting was just so believable and epic - hell I wanna work for this guy! Bosses like these come once in a lifetime.

 

DIVERSIFY COMPETENCE

 

Do you wonder why Jordan Belfort and Danny Porush were a good team? It couldn't be just the camaraderie because they were poles apart in many ways: Belfort had troubles sleeping whereas Porush could fall asleep everywhere. Jordan was a highly strategic leader who was an expert in delegating, but Porush was an excellent enforcer who would put employees in their place even if it meant swallowing their Goldfish – that's a bit brutal though. Porush was emotional and short-sighted, whereas Belfort was analytical and focused on a long-term orientation. They were both good at different things – but together as a team, they were invincible.

 

COMPETITIVE COMPANY CULTURE HAS PROS AND CONS

 

On one side, employees at Stratton Oakmont's worked extremely hard as it was demanded by the company's culture. This effort led to high output and a high standard of work. However, people made moral sacrifices to achieve big. They did shady and illegal deals and acted immorally. Belfort did not realize the extent of toxicity that was crippling the firm's culture and roots. When it comes to money, people tend to make poor decisions. Therefore, for a healthy and nurturing company culture to prevail, there is an important balance one seeks to maintain and strike.

 

PROVIDE INCENTIVES FOR HARD WORK

 

Stratton Oakmont went above and beyond when it comes to compensating the stockbrokers for their hard work – but a select few of the most dedicated and best-performing employees were also eligible to branch out on their own and start brokerage firms under Belfort’s guidance. Isn't that something!!! Always reward hardworking employees!!!

 

SOMETIMES IT MAKES SENSE TO QUIT WHILE YOU ARE AHEAD

 

When Jordan was barely escaping the hands of law and given the opportunity to walk away from the negative company culture, he let the camaraderie and the instant gratification overshadow the right decision. At that time, he was mighty rich and also had the chance to get away with a lot of his illegal activities. Instead, he was enticed back into work. 

Sometimes, the best choice is to take a step back. But he just couldn't let someone else take over as CEO. This ended up costing him dearly - EVERYTHING!

 

“Let me tell you something. There's no nobility in poverty. I've been a rich man and I've been a poor man. And I choose rich every fucking time.” – Jordan Belfort

 

ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP!

 

Every strategic business person must know that one should not put all eggs in one basket, and even if the business takes off, it's always wise to keep some profit for safekeeping in case if something goes wrong just like Jordan stashed a huge portion of money from an IOP in a Swiss account that somehow was lost. However, for me the most vital backup is the one Jordan had in himself; the everlasting spirit of salesmanship!

 

Folks, it’s not complete unless and until we talk about the ethical and moral aspects of being a business owner.

 

BE CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE SACRIFICING FOR MONEY OR SUCCESS

 

Another significant takeaway from the movie is the value of sacrifice. From the very start, we could see that he was an ambitious young guy, doesn’t drink, devoted to his wife, and steered clear of drugs. He became an entirely different person once he got involved in Wall Street. On the surface, his life might have been appeared more “fun”, but he actually made a lot of sacrifices to get there.

 

Besides, he had extramarital affairs, divorced his first wife, treated people poorly, and abused obscene amounts of drugs. Ultimately, he hurt the very people that he cared about and who cared about him. It may seem alluring to make bad decisions for instant gratification. The key to being a successful entrepreneur is to be able to avoid these urges. The goal is to consistently make thoughtful and strategically effective decisions.

 

GREED ISN'T GOOD

 

Jordan's greed for more took a toll on him, and eventually, he went behind bars, together with a huge fine. The larger-than-life and materialistic lifestyle cost him two marriages – his business – and his dignity. So, it is impertinent that you set healthy boundaries for your business and yourself and not go overboard with an aggressive approach.

 

DREAM BIG – BUT LOOK THROUGH A REALISTIC LENS

 

Perhaps one of the most important lessons entrepreneurs can learn from The Wolf of Wall Street is that dreams are the sparks that keep one going to achieve greatness in business and all the other walks of life. But the thing is when you start searching for ways to make your dreams come true, make sure that you use authentic, honest, legitimate, and responsible ways to make that happen. Some of Belfort's tactics and approaches are lessons for entrepreneurs on what to avoid and what to incorporate, but the passion with which he chased his goals is something to be commended and embraced.

 

All in all, the wise among us are the ones who learn from their mistakes. Jordan's voracious ambitions and crimes landed him 22 months in prison. Well, that's a long time to reflect upon one's life. He admits to having an unethical approach, and the best thing is he has since been actively trying to make positive alterations in his life. Now, he inspires others to follow his example and do the same. Today, he is a best-selling author, an international sales trainer, and also a public speaker. His training programs are incorporated by firms all around the world. 

 

We may think money is everything one needs; it's actually not! Jordan Belfort had it all – literally – but his unethical approach and lack of accountability cost him everything, and he lost it all. However, he didn't give up after his return from jail but built himself from the ground up. You know how he was able to do it? His talent and skills were all that he needed to be the great JORDAN BELFORT once again! This is how he did it back then, and this is how he did now. Indeed, his story provides the much-needed motivation one often needs on the arduous journey to success.