Today, with eyes and ears very much  fixed on the news about the Budget 2014, some thoughts for business owners and entrepreneurs that won’t be in the Chancellor’s Budget.  Dave Landry Jr. guest blogs today, he is a financial consultant in California.

Can entrepreneurs take anything from Scorsese’s new film?

“Let me tell you something. There’s no nobility in poverty. I’ve been a poor man, and I’ve been a rich man. And I choose rich every

[expletive] time.” *[1]

Those are the morally questionable but undeniably entertaining words of the man known as Jordan Belfort, a real life wall street crook who spent 22 months imprisoned for fraud by manipulation of the stock market. Belfort screwed over a lot of people, and as most of us know recently became the antihero of the Leonardo DiCaprio/Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street.wolf-of-wall-street-poster

 While many sat through the film and thought Mr. Belfort was a despicable force of nature, unrelatable and in need of being brought down by impending justice, I for one could not take my attention away from him no matter how hard I tried. While I refused to agree with any of his actions, his charisma, work ethic and creativity in finding new ways to make old business models fresh and functionable were incredibly inspiring. I found value in watching Mr. Belfort’s exploits, for better and for worse. Did you?

Here’s a monumental lesson entrepreneurs can take away from Scorsese’s picture, one that gets overlooked when building a brand: when Belfort ventures out on his own and begins building the foundations of what would later become his kingdom of white collar illegitimacy, grandeur, drugged-out decadence and bombastic success, Stratton Oakmont, Inc., he chose not to hire battle-hardened financial vets who knew how to work a prospect, but rather a group of young misfits lacking a purpose in life. He trained them, he motivated them, he incubated his young “pups” until they became the hungry wolves that finagled money by the millions. But his wolves were loyal: when Belfort asked them to move behind him into the trenches of controversial and downright illegal business procedures, not a one of them bit the hand that fed them while they couldn’t fend for themselves. Make no mistake, I am not trying to endorse illegal or unethical activity: my point here is that Belfort bought his employees’ undying allegiance by investing his own knowledge, charisma and power into each and every one of them. That’s an impression any budding entrepreneur should jot down.

A business of simplicity was also the model Belfort chose for Stratton Oakmont. He explained stock brokerage in terms that his people would understand rather than bore them with stocks and bonds 101. “And as word of this little secret began to spread throughout Long Island—that there was this wild office, in Lake Success, where all you had to do was show up, follow orders, swear your undying loyalty to the owner, and he would make you rich—young kids started showing up at the boardroom unannounced.” That’s the campaign that won Belfort his election.  He started out with a simple savings account and apprenticeship at a well-to-do firm, learned the antiquated systems until he could design a fresh system based on what did and didn’t work, and built a loyal following of staff who admired and loved him, even as they helped him swindle the masses. That’s charisma, that’s strength. Now imagine applying that to legal operations?

You may not have liked the film, but what did you learn from The Wolf of Wall Street?

Dave Landry Jr.

[1] This not a direct quote of Mr. Belfort, rather a quote from the film’s screenplay by Terence Winter and  performed by Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort.