Learning From Wolfie: 10 Lessons Of Success We Learned From Jordan Belfort, The Wolf Of Wall Street

by Dan Scotti

If you ask 10 different people how they feel about Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street, you may very well receive 10 different answers. One thing's for sure, though, the man was successful. From drugs, to cars, to women, to in-office antics, seemingly everything Belfort did was lavish and over-the-top, just the way he envisioned it.

For those of us who have never enrolled in a business course throughout college, I recommend a "crash course" in Belfort-Business 101. Granted, you may never have the pleasure of tossing midgets across your cubicle; Belfort's swagger, tenacity and business savvy ways can unquestionably be used as points of reference. Here are 10 things we've learned from Jordan Belfort:

1. When the money's gone, the pigeons fly soon.

Here's a reality check: If you have money, I promise you, some of the people in your circle like you for that benefit -- hell, some women may even "love" you for it. Pay attention to those who stay down with you when you're down, and make sure to feast with those who starved with you. In a world where when it rains, it very well may pour, there's no room for fair-weathered friends, especially women.

Be careful for snakes, and don't be naive. Trust me, attractive women know their value, and yours. If a woman leaves you when the cash is low, don't sweat it. Let someone else spend his money on her. 

2. Don't just talk about it, be about it.

Talk is cheap and big mouths are a dime-a-dozen. Nobody wants to hear about what you're doing next year; they want to see what you're doing now. In reality, success isn't measured in dollars or cents; it's a mentality, one you should start striving for today -- in whatever it is you're doing, whether big or small. As Belfort says, "If you want to be rich, you have to program your mind to be rich."

At the end of the day, success is the main distinction between saying and doing. Set achievable goals, ones that keep your hands and legs busy, as opposed to your mouth. If you want to talk about it, go work for some public relations firm as a Twitter manager. If you want to be about it, you'll be the one hiring the PR team.

3. As long as it gets done, it doesn't matter how.

Jimi Hendrix was a lefty. He played a right-handed guitar strung backwards, upside down. I don't think too many music critics hold that against him. While getting the job done within the rules of the game might be preferred, getting the job done, period, is necessary. That's what life is about: Anyway you can, get the job done. People don't care how you do it.

Never be afraid to try doing things your own way; originality is what separates you from the rest of the competition. Always make sure to handle your business because when business is handled, people can't ask questions. Achieving a goal is only the finish line; how you chose to run the race is left open for interpretation. Keep an eye on the prize, but also bear in mind that when you slip up, you become a target. So, if you choose to do things your own way, just make sure they get done.

4. Many mistresses, one duchess.

Behind every powerful man, there's a powerful woman. Behind the most powerful men, there's a powerful woman and a few not-so-powerful women on the side. Women are a distraction, I'm sorry -- for better or for worse. There are times when distractions are a good thing, say when you're 68 and retired; there are times when distractions are a bad thing, like when you're in your 20s trying to get rich. In the real world, life is not about being an angel.

As a matter of fact, most of the time, "good guys do finish last." With regard to women, they come and go, and when they go, don't expect an award for loyalty. If you have urges, act on them; don't let them get in your way. Always handle business like a man -- by yourself, on your own terms, tending to your priorities. Ultimately, if a woman is your duchess, you'll find a way to keep her next to you.

5. Perception is everything.

Always dress the part. If you're not qualified for the part, at least look qualified for the part. In such a materialistic world, the sad truth is, you can't sell stocks dressed like a used car salesman. It's all about presentation. People are lazy and easily fooled. If a nice pair of shoes is what it costs to get your foot in the door, you're only spiting yourself by not investing. Your appearance reflects your reputation and work ethic. When meeting your next boss, perhaps a sloppy suit implies a sloppy job. There's a reason why James Bond is draped in a Tom Ford suit, rather than a sweatsuit, regardless of functionality.

6. Failure breeds motivation.

I'm not sure whether or not I believe in religion at all, but a certain expression has stuck with me throughout the years. It goes something like, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." I'm not sure how practiced God is at opening or closing doors, or windows for that matter, but these words have definitely resonated with me.

Failure just might be the most powerful tool in the toolbox for success. You can never be truly hungry, until you haven't eaten for days. In the same light, you will never crave success until you've been dealt your share of defeat. Belfort's first business was selling meat and seafood. He failed miserably. Don't take failure as a stop sign, but rather, a detour. Rethink your plan and revise, if necessary. I don't doubt that Jordan Belfort was a horrible salesman -- of meat or seafood. At the same time, I don't doubt that Jordan Belfort is still one hell of a salesman; he just needed a touch of revision.

7. Don't hang up until the customer dies or buys.

This is the motto.

Persistence. Persistence, persistence, persistence. For Belfort, "no" was simply not an option. Although we all can't be Don Corleones, rolling around with Luca Brasi, making offers people can't refuse, there's certainly something to be said about the power of persuasion. The pitch is everything, even more so than the product -- remember that. A good salesman will sell salt to the slug and have it coming back for more -- unless it dies, which I suppose is in accordance with Belfort's motto. It is key to buy into yourself first, before you try to sell yourself to others. Confidence is key. If customers aren't sold on you, they'll never buy into what you're selling.

8. A happy team is a successful team.

Not every team needs to be a "super team." Building a group of people who play their roles -- more importantly, roles they are happy with and motivated to excel in -- is crucial for a successful product. There's no room for selfishness within your organization; it'll only lead to internal drama. The more qualified worker is not always the better worker, compared to the man who will go that extra mile for you. Compile a team of people you trust to go those extra few miles for you. Make sure to keep your team happy. Work is not work without play. Reward success.

9. It's easier to get rich when you don't follow the rules.

Look, not everyone plays by the book. That's life. But if you're going to do it, you may as well do it big. There's nothing worse than a bumbling crook. If you plan on breaking the rules, make sure the reward outweighs the risk -- and keep in mind the consequences. Nevertheless, there's no doubting the advantage of having an "edge," even slightly, over the competition. Perhaps we can't all be "Wolves of Wall Street," but there are undoubtedly steps we can take in gaining that edge. Do your homework, and be smart about cutting corners. Cut them too fast, or not sharply enough, and you'll end up in a wreck.

10. Be a wolf.

In the real world, opportunities aren't always reserved for the most worthy candidate. That's the beauty of opportunities: They're reserved for the hungriest candidate to take them. It may be clichéd, but in actuality, the world really is dog-eat-dog. Be the wolf in a world of dogs. Wolf, defined as a verb, means to devour greedily.

Greed is not necessarily a bad trait, especially in regards to your goals. Be greedy. Take what's yours, and try to take what isn't yours. If it's out of line, you'll face the consequences -- but until then, hell, be a beast. When everything is all said and done, it'll be up to you to reap your own harvest, or you'll spend your whole life in the field waiting for someone else to. Go out and hunt; feed your killer instinct.

Photo Credit: Wolf Of Wall Street