Arguably one of the best biographies to have ever been made, The Wolf of Wall Street was released in 2013. The film tells the story of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker who could sell ice to an Eskimo if need be. After losing his job, Belfort goes on to launch his own firm and makes millions off of inflating stock prices. He leads a drug-fueled lifestyle, and, due to malpractices at his firm, finds himself on the wrong side of the law. The film was a box office hit, making a profit of nearly three times its original budget. In the awards arena, The Wolf of Wall Street earned a couple of Academy Award nominations. For his role as Belfort, Leonardo DiCaprio garnered a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor. Though the film included explicit scenes that got it banned in some countries, there are a couple of life lessons worth taking home:
1. In Sales, The Phones Do Not Dial Themselves
Back in the eighties, motivational speaker Jim Rohn had an analogy about sales that he shares with Jordan Belfort: the phones do not really ring themselves. Most people tend to give up after two or three failed attempts at making a sale. Belfort, however, gave his team the ultimate sales pitch. “ In the case of the telephone, it’s up to each and every one of you, my highly trained strata knights, my killers who’ll not take no for an answer, my f**** warriors, who’ll not hang up the phone until the client either buys or f**** dies!!!!!” Belfort’s speech is the ultimate truth in sales. While one cannot really predict how much sales they would make from a hundred calls, there is a chance that, out of a hundred people you are trying to sell to, only fifty may actually listen, and, depending on what you are selling, as long as you don’t put the phone down, five decent sales may come from the call.
2. No Bad Deed Goes Unpunished
The government is hawk-eyed and seldom do illegal deeds go unpunished. This was true for Belfort, as it was for his acquaintances. Though he gave his firm, Stratton Oakmont a reputable name, Belfort’s pump and dump scheme was far from the honor his company name portrayed. It was misleading to his clients, who would be left with worthless stock, long after Belfort had made a profit. It didn’t matter that he inspired young brokers to work for him. He was robbing clients of their hard-earned money and it was only a matter of time before the government caught up with him. Jordan fraudulently raked in a $22 million profit following a Steve Madden IPO, which even put him further under the microscope of the FBI. In what was a typical fraudster move, a Swiss bank account came to the rescue, courtesy of an equally corrupt banker and Naomi’s aunt, who was a British national. The feds nearly got to Jordan through Brad (Jon Bernthal), but he refused to name drop. Eventually, the law did catch up with Belfort, and he served a 36-month sentence.
3. Sometimes Love Comes To An End
Nothing is really permanent. The Wolf of Wall Street proved that we are living on borrowed time, and things can take a different turn a little faster than we think. One minute you can be picturing a better life with a younger woman named Naomi (Margot Robbie), probably the most strikingly beautiful woman you could have ever met and had children with, and the next minute she could be leaving you on your very worst day. Naomi chose to leave Belfort when the FBI was hard on his heels and had placed him on house arrest. “ I don’t love you anymore.” She said, to which Jordan replied, “ Well isn’t that f**** convenient for you? Now that I’m under federal indictment, with an electronic bracelet around my ankle, now you decide you don’t, f**** love me anymore?”
4. There’s Such A Thing As ‘Too Much Partying’
Life requires balance. People work so hard to make a living, Belfort did too, except he did not do it the right way. If he had, he wouldn’t have had problems with the government. Just like he ‘worked hard’ to make his money, Belfort was quick to blow it. When the real-life Belfort made his first $6,000 dollars from trading, the first thing he bought was a white Ferrari. By the time he was worth millions, he and his friends partied harder than they worked. House parties, yachts, private jets, you name it! Did they overdo do it? Yes, so much that Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill), Belfort’s right-hand man, gave us a memorable scene when he first set his eyes on Belfort’s would-be wife, Naomi. “On a daily basis, I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens, for a month.” Belfort declared. So bad was Belfort’s abuse of drugs, that we got to see him as a shadow of his usual self when high on quaaludes, which he apparently took for his ‘back pain.’
5. It’s The Courage To Continue That Counts
One constant theme around the film was Belfort’s ability to keep going, even when it seemed like he had reached the end. When the doors of L.F. Rothschild closed, that was a huge blow to Belfort. Deep down, he had a fighting spirit that his first wife knew about. In one scene, Jordan asks his first wife, “ What did I always tell you?” She replies, “ You’re gonna be a millionaire.” And that’s exactly what happened. There is something to be said for Belfort not making his money the right way. Had that energy been channeled into something positive, it would have taken twice as long to be successful and he would have avoided jail altogether. Another show of Jordan’s persistence was when he was giving a farewell speech, and right in the middle of it, realized he could not walk away. He knew the consequences, yet he made the impulsive choice to face them. Last but not least, after Belfort had served his sentence, he took on a different path, teaching people how to do the one thing he was extremely good at: Sales.