Are You Amplified By Money?
I’m sure most of you have heard about the “Wolf of Wall Street.” The movie, the book, and the character of a man — Jordan Belfort. And maybe you’ve seen the Academy Award nominated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, but you haven’t met the real Wolf of Wall Street. That changes today.
Jordan Belfort, the real life Wolf of Wall Street, is a former stockbroker, speaker and best-selling author of The Wolf of Wall Street.
At the height of his career, he was earning $50 million a year, employing over 1,000 stock brokers and partying like a rock star.
Later, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and spent 22 months in prison, where he wrote his book – which would eventually become the blockbuster hit, Wolf of Wall Street.
Today he travels the world teaching his sales and persuasion method, known as “straight-line selling.”
I’m so excited to get to share my conversation with Jordan with you all today!
How the Business Has Changed
Even though Jordan’s movie, Wolf of Wall Street, came out relatively recently, the time period it portrays when Jordan himself was working on Wall Street was over 30 years ago.
A lot has changed since then – one of the main things being technology. Today every investor has whatever information they may need at their fingertips… but the same information is out in the world for anyone to find.
Now if an investor doesn’t educate themselves, “shame on them.” A lot of what Jordan was able to get away with when he started in the business, wouldn’t work today. If someone calls you about making an investment, you are able and expected to do your own research before investing.
There is less contact through phones and cold calling than there is through emails or online newsletters.
Our Differing Experiences on Wall Street
Jordan and I were actually working on Wall Street at the exact same time, so I thought it would be interesting to compare and contrast our experiences.
I started at Bankers Trust on Wall Street in 1993 as a fixed income derivatives trader and I was hired for my MIT brain. Jordan on the other hand started with Five Dollar Stocks out on Long Island.
Very different set ups, but with the same mission: make a ton of money.
According to Jordan, there’s an aspect of Wall Street where the interests of the customer are not being aligned with the interests of the business, and that’s not a sustainable way to conduct a business.
On the other hand, Wall Street does serve a purpose, and without it things would be “disastrous.” Wall Street moves capital around the world so that the economy can grow. There’s nothing wrong with hard selling or trying to make money. Where Jordan admits he went wrong is not spending enough time on the actual product he was selling.
He was young and naive and got caught up in just making money rather than trying to sell people actually great products. There are both good and bad guys on Wall Street, and the truth of the industry lies somewhere in the middle
Jordan believes that the heart of the problem is that if there’s ever a system where the customer is not aligned with the firm, the firm will always win. This is what causes corruption.
Has Wall Street Become More Ethical?
In the beginning of the 2000s, Wall Street reached the “crescendo of zero ethics.” After that shock to the system in 2006 and 2007, things have gotten better; however, Jordan fear that things are shifting back in an unethical way.
Jordan believes there will always be a cycle to Wall Street and that there is a “short memory” in regards to the problems Wall Street has created.
However, Jordan does think it’s important to remember that even in the worst time, not everyone on Wall Street is corrupt. Movies, like Jordan’s, and media often lead the public to believe that everyone is corrupt which is not true. The overwhelming majority are hard workers who are ethical and trying to do things the right way.
What Jordan Learned
Jordan’s greatest lesson came after he got out of prison and had to come back, start over, and rebuild his business.
When you’re working on Wall Street and making a lot of money, you aren’t necessarily building anything. You’re just buying and trading off the engenuity of others. It’s hard to put a value on what you’re doing, so many people cling to a monetary value as the barometer of their success.
The success is only real when those people can use their money to buy a big house or a yacht or jet or whatever it is that will make them feel validated. This makes them feel good for a brief period of time until they now have to buy a bigger house or a bigger yacht to continue to validate their existence.
“Money is like alcohol. It amplifies you, it doesn’t change you.” Money will not make you anything you are not, it will just make you more of what you are. It can certainly amplify the good, but it also amplifies the bad.
It becomes a dangerous cycle, and it played out in the mortgage crisis where homebuyers were being led astray and were buying properties they knew they couldn’t afford because brokers were blurring the lines of the actual financial status of the buyers.
The underwriters didn’t care because they knew they could sell the forclosed houses to Wall Street and Wall Street didn’t care because they would just then sell to Iceland or Greece. At the end of the day, everyone from the buyer up was in on it. Everyone believed someone else had it figured out and at the end of the day it was a disaster for everyone.
The power of money is so strong and like Jordan said it has the ability to make you better or worse. Take time today to evaluate your own relationship with money. Is it serving you or holding you back?
Editor, Brian Rose Uncensored