Lessons in Leadership from the Wolf of Wall Street

Lessons in Leadership from the Wolf of Wall Street

15-Feb-2014 by Startupbootcamp

Jordan Belfort

In our previous blog post, where we gave our 2 cents on how to improve your pitch, we advised you to check some good presenters in action for a breath of inspiration. Giving it a thought, we couldn’t come up with a better example of an impressive orator than Mr. Belford.

The name doesn’t ring a bell? They call him The Wolf of Wall Street – the man who created a million dollar company by selling penny stocks to the wealthiest men in US, and hit the bottom just as easily as he built his empire. A life story so compelling, Martin Scorsese directed a movie based on it.

Somewhere among the sex, drugs, cars, sunk yachts and crashed helicopters, tons of money and glory, the FBI backed Belfort into a corner where he had no other choice but to expose his illegal money making machine. He spent 2 years in jail for fraud. By the time he was out, he had figured it out how to go about with his life again. He had time enough to crystallize his fast success into its elements.

Jordan Belford is now 50 and still successful. He narrated his memoirs in two bluntly honest books and started teaching people across the world how to become great leaders. Or salesmen, if you wish.

In some of the interviews he gives, which you can see here and especially here, he summarizes the 4 utmost principles to empower just about anybody to do just about everything. Here they come:

1. Vision

“Goals have no power”, says Belfort. He advocates something much greater that will take you way further – a vision. Having a vision according to the Wolf, is seeing the world the way it is – not worse, and then visualizing how you can make it better. Better in the sense of benefiting the people around you.

How does this relate to success? Simply because a vision engages people. Because “Every person has a thirst for a vision. And what they do is they gravitate towards one that has a vision. They want to be a part of it”. “A part of being an entrepreneur, he adds, is having that vision and knowing how to sell it to other people”. And in order to sell it to others, one needs to be an effective communicator.

2. State Management

The way you feel in a moment can have a great impact on your performance. If you are angry, negative or moody you will not be able to access your own resources and, most likely, underperform. But if you learn how to control your emotional biases, you will also have control over the situation.

Most of the times you will need certainty, clarity and courage to excel. Once you master those three, you will be closing negotiations easily at work, with your kids, your landlord, your parents, etc.

Oh, and this is the stoned state you would rather like to skip:

3. Break Limiting Beliefs

So the text time someone tells you “You cannot run the city marathon” or you say to yourself “I am not worthy of this job”, stop. That is the limiting belief that you are nurturing in yourself and it, on the other hand, is preventing you from making the next step to success.

Liberating yourself from all thought that refrain you from going with 200 km/h instead of 60km/h will help you progress. Visualizing your success is already a step further in achieving it.

4. Employ a Strategy

The most effective strategy you can come up with, according to Belfort, is one that uses persuasion. It is the gift that will make your vision for the world known to others. “Once you become good at it, you can actually manipulate people; you can get people to do things they shouldn’t do. And shame on you if you do it because if you do it, it will not last because it is not sustainable. Any success you have will be a short lift… The idea is to be giving massive value to people. This is the equation I totally missed out when I was 26. I though business was about making money. And it is not. Business is about giving value and monetizing that value.”

Leonadro di Caprio and Jonah Hill

And the glue that binds it all together – set your standards high. In that way, you will always overperform. If you fall short on your goals, you will still be doing great.

Take a look at how Belfort presents, read sales, himself in this short footage: