13 Life Lessons Learnt from the Movie

The wolf of wallstreet, a must watch movie. The book, the movie. The story, the novelty,it’s simply amazing. A euphoric ride down a lane of business, adventure, loyalty, mischief , betrayal ,love ,sex...

There’s a lot of bad in the movie, bearing in mind the good also.It all comes together and gives us a set of very valuable life lessons. In no particular order, here they are:

NB: I’ll be using the character names and references from the movie under the premise that you already know...

1. Be on the Higher End

be on the higher end

Life Purpose

If the Playing Field Isn’t Level, Be on the Higher End. Always negotiate from a position of power, no compromise. If you do anything other than that, it’s gonna be a one way street in the other party’s favour and you’re sure as hell gonna get run over.

People always capitalise on the greed of others. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. John, the sucker that bought Aerotyne stock sold to him by Jordan Belfort could have saved his hard earned $4000 by doing a little research on what he was buying.

Something Jordan said comes to mind: ‘’whoever speaks first, loses’’. This shows how important it is to start a negotiation in a good position. It’s so critical that something as trivial as who speaks first during a phone conversation has an advantage.

Remember, always negotiate from a position of power.

2. Dedication and Practice

dedication and practice

Overcome Fear of Failure

The men under the guidance of Jordan weren’t inherently smart, some didn’t go to college, didn’t have any particularly special skills, didn’t look particularly pleasing on the eyes. They all knew it too, probably why they didn’t get mad when he criticized them.

That didn’t matter to him. All he needed were people who had drive to make a lot of money and a willingness to learn.

In little to no time, people who were once awkward on the phone were now closing deals so quickly, like clockwork. It was a complete transformation.

It shows that anyone regardless of class, age, sex, race, background, location or whatever excuse people use, can learn whatever they set their minds to. Given they put in the time, work and dedication.

3. Be Open-Minded

be open minded

Maintain That Positive Attitude

Donnie Azoff, despite his role of being annoying and slightly perverse had some admirable things about him. One thing I found particularly admirable about him was his open-mindedness.

He noticed the lavish lifestyle Jordan Belfort was living and instantly took a shine to him. He approached him in a restaurant one day, describing to Jordan how surprised he was at his lifestyle, flashy car despite him being so young.

In the course of their conversation, he asked him what he did for a living and how much he earned. He said he was a stockbroker and further fuelled Donnie’s amusement by telling him he had made $70,000 in the past week.

Donnie, now totally bemused and ecstatic, promised to leave his current job and work for Jordan if he could show him some sort of proof. Not one shy to show off, he did so without hesitation. The rest was history.

The average person out there probably would have hid in a corner, secretly hating Jordan. Even if one did make a move, not a lot of people would have had the guts to quit their job and go into something they knew so little of.

The lesson to you here is: as you go through life, despite probably having a blueprint and plan, don’t be rigid in your aspirations. There are opportunities out there glaring at you if you dare to notice. The ultimate goal is to be successful. There are tons of bloggers, web designers, life coaches, TV personalities, interior designers, Youtube millionaires and a lot more out there who didn’t start out doing what makes them successful today. Their lives took an unfamiliar turn but they had the courage to drive down that path.

4. People Work Harder When given Incentives

people work harder when given incentives

High Paid Jobs

We’re all human, the best way to have us work very hard is to show us what’s in it for us.

Jordan Belfort motivated his people by living the most lavish life imaginable and giving them the opportunity to do the same. They all woke up thinking ‘’I wanna be able to afford that lifestyle someday’’.

The constant partying, unrestricted spending and generally crazy living might have been unorthodox but it showed his employees what was possible. That inspired them.

5. There’s More to What the Media Shows You

theres more to what the media shows you

Talk to the Media

The media is touted to be a means to give us helpful and true information but that’s all a farce sometimes.

In the beginning of the movie, Stratton Oakmond displays a TV ad. It features a lion gracefully walking through an office structure in the midst of organized looking employees. That will make the average person think subconsciously that this is a fierce and commanding firm that could make one rich.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen ads like this. The stock brokerage firms find the best advertisers I’m sure because their ads are always appealing. They show you the people they’ve made rich, the person on his computer who just made a killing, the family that just paid off their mortgage... What they don’t show you are the flaws, the hundreds or even thousands that lose their money, the unpredictability of their system.

I know it would be counterintuitive for them to do certain things but you the information consumer must learn to not be naive. There’s more to what you see on a screen. Never get into bed with firms, stockbrokers without doing your due diligence.

This cliché quote comes to mind: ‘’Don’t judge a book by it’s cover’’.

6. Your Background Doesn’t Determine Your Future

your background doesnt determine your future

Advice to Your Future

This couldn’t possibly be any truer. Jordan Belfort grew up in a middleclass family.A son of two accountants.

I guess what was probably expected of him was to grow up, go to college, get a 9-5 job and retire with benefits. There would be nothing wrong if he did just what those before him did.

Did he? Hell no! It’s criminal to not to aim above what those before you have already achieved. Nobody might expect more from you but it’s important to not sell yourself short.

Anything is possible, decide what your dreams are and pursue them without looking back.

7. You Need Someone Who Believes in You

you need someone who believes in you at your side

Ways to Start Practicing

The truth is even if you’re personally very motivated, there’s always the occasional self doubt. It’s at times like this that a man or woman is vulnerable and depending on who’s by their corner, they can either be elevated or crushed.

That was the situation when Jordan Belfort lost his job and was about to sell himself short before his wife(at the time) Hanna intervened. The conversation goes like this:

Hanna: Jordan, you’re gonna be miserable at that place if you go there. You’re not gonna be a stock boy.

Jordan: Why not?

Hanna: Cause you’re gonna be a stockbroker.

These are some of the defining moments of our life, you need someone who’ll still believe and not want you to call it quits.

8. Build on a Career, Not a Job

build on a career, not a job

Career Vs Ambition

The big difference between a career and a job is that you can build on your career. Your job? Not so much.

The fact is employees are expendable. Always have been, always will be. Such was the case when Jordan first became a licensed broker on October 19, 1987. What happened? He lost his job on the very first day.

There’s only so much you can put into your job, what with retirement benefits and all. Is that really enough?

Don’t be the doctor that takes on more patients and increase rates to make more money. Be the doctor that uses his extra time to discover the cure to a horrible disease/ailment.

Don’t be the lawyer wants to handle every case, take on more and more clients for the foreseeable future. Be the lawyer that eventually wants to open a firm.

Don’t be the guy at Mcdonald’s who works there with no clue. Be the one that studies the system with dreams of one day opening your own fortune 500 company.

Don’t be the pilot who wants to fly people around the world forever, be the one who will one day open his own airline.

I could go on but I’m pretty sure you get the big picture. Build a career.

10. There are Ballers, Middleclass and Losers

there are ballers, middleclass and losers

Encouragement for Loss

Jordan Belfort was a baller, in his prime he made forty nine million dollars in a year, just three million short of a million each week. His employees were middleclass with aspirations to be ballers. All those who watched without a clue ended up being the losers.

There’s the 90/10 rule in this life. %10 of the people make %90 of the money while %90 of the people scramble for the remaining %10.

Some people make things happen, some people watch things happen and others don’t even know what’s going on.

What matters isn’t whether you’re part of the %90 or middleclass/losers. What matters is whether or not you’re working your ass off every day to join the %10 or ballers class.

Not everyone has the balls to step up, don’t be everyone.

11. We Live In a World of Supply and Demand

supply and demand

Steps to Success

In one scene Jordan gives his associate Brad a pen and tells him to sell the pen to him.He uses his common sense, says ‘’Write your name down for me’’.

Of course Jordan can’t write his name without one so he goes ‘’There you have it, supply and demand’’.

It’s such a simple concept yet people fail to grasp it’s simplicity.

To become rich, build a great product/service that’s in demand, offer it to a large number of people, the rest will be history when it happens for you.

12. Any Publicity Really Can Be Good Publicity

any publicity really can be good publicity

Crazy Business Ideas

In the movie Jordan Belfort is interviewed by Forbes magazine under the guise that they’re doing a harmless piece on him. Imagine his surprise when he’s slandered on the newspaper the next day, being labelled ‘’ the wolf of wallstreet’’.

He goes crazy. His wife (at the time) Hanna trys to calm him down. ‘’There’s no such thing as bad publicity sweetheart’’.

An unexpected outcome when Stratton Oakmond is flooded with ambitious, young men looking for work. Some of them even left college to be there.

An article aimed at slandering him just ended up making him more popular and sought after.

13. Money Changes People

money changes people

How To Spend Money

I didn’t really believe this. This movie shed some light on this point. You’re probably thinking ‘’I’m not gonna change when I make money’’ or ‘’I’ve made some money and I’m still the same’’.

The former is probably because you have never made much money and the latter is cause you didn’t make that much. I’m not talking about a few thousand dollars, I’m talking about a lot of money.

The kind of money I’m talking about can best be described as seen in the movie ‘’the Gambler’’. It was referred to as ‘’F*ck you money’’. The kind of money that’s so much it puts you in the position of saying ‘’f*ck you’’ because you hold all the cards.

I’ll give you a more practical or relatable example. The money you make enough of to become an accredited investor. An accredited investor as described by the SEC of the United States of America is a person who has made at least $200,000 in the past two years and has reasonable expectation of making that amount or more in the current year or a couple that jointly has an annual income of at least $300,000 for the past two years with reasonable expectation of still making that much in the current year. An accredited investor is also a person with at least one million dollars of net worth.

When you make this much as a person or as a couple, changes are bound to occur. That’s completely okay but in my opinion there’re some things you should never change or lose sight of:

  • Who you love
  • Who loves you
  • Who you are
  • Where you come from
  • Where you’re headed

Jordan Belfort changed so much in the course of the movie. He couldn’t put a handle on things and that ultimately led to an end he didn’t wish on himself.

There are tons of lessons to be learnt from this movie, I hope I’ve enlightened you by sharing some of the key lessons. Please share the lessons you learnt in the comment session...

ByPam Emmanuel

Emmanuel Pam is a writer, an entrepreneur, and a business adviser. He tries to motivate and inspire as many people as possible with his writing. You can catch up with him on his motivational blog about business and life: You can catch up with him on twitter as well: @youngandtriumph

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