2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street chronicles the rise and fall of stock tycoon Jordan Belfort, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Belfort is able to start from humble beginnings and eventually lead a large stock trading firm on Wall Street. The story of his company provides some career advice, if you’re able to ignore the disgusting and hedonistic practices. Belfort certainly doesn’t deserve to be glamorized, but he was a charismatic leader if not a despicable human being. While there is likely an even distribution of ‘what to do’ and ‘what not to do’ with Belfort’s company Stratton Oakmont, we’ll break down the lessons learned below.
Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing
From the very start it’s clear that Belfort believes in his own ability to be successful. Although he is certainly full of himself, confidence goes a long way. It’s easy to fall into the trap of self doubt when applying for jobs or starting a new one. Being confident in your own abilities will ensure you perform at your highest potential. Belfort also made sure he looked the part. He bought expensive suits for himself and had his employee’s suits tailored. Dressing for success can make a big difference especially in an interview. Check out our write up on interview attire here.
From the start it’s very clear that Belfort’s first few employees aren’t the brightest or the best. However, in a short time they are all making millions as his partners. How is this possible you ask? Training. With an extremely thorough sales script Belfort turns them all into sales professionals. Training can transform employees. If you’re a manager make sure you have continued development embedded into your company. If you’re an employee, don’t pass up on any opportunities to better yourself.
Company Culture & Employee Motivation
Part of the reason that Belfort’s employees are loyal is because of how he treats them. The employees are given options for internal growth, as well as generous compensation. While the compensation practiced by Belfort was mostly illegal, legal compensation works in practice as well. Consider giving employees an extra day off or perhaps a lunch out to motivate them. Small favors go a long way when employees know their superiors care about and value their contributions. A strong company culture can have a big influence on employees.
Belfort’s company is also successful because he is a visible face to all of his employees. Many employees only see their immediate manager in a day. Even then, sometimes face to face communication is a stretch. Being a visible force in your employee’s work day is a powerful motivator if you are a charismatic leader. For all his successes however, it’s important to remember Belfort crossed the line on many fronts.
Need for Greed
Early on as a businessman Jordan Belfort blurred the lines of what was legal and moral before fully crossing it later on when he started his company. He was only driven by his greed which resulted in him taking money from many customers leaving them penniless. This insatiable greed is what got him arrested and destroyed his home life. It’s important to remember that money isn’t everything, and having a good work/life balance is crucial.
We hope you enjoyed our look at the insane yet interesting The Wolf on Wall Street. While it does chronicle the rise and fall of a bad man, it does offer a few pieces of advice. If you have another movie you’d like to see examined, please let us know in the comments.