The Wolf of Wall Street was a hit film. People glorified the movie itself and also Jordan Belfort, the main character. The story and plot were extravagant, wild and fun. One of the craziest parts about this movie is that the story is true.
He also has a hit book The Way of the Wolf, which further illustrates how entrepreneurs can be successful at persuasion, influence and successful.
Regardless of whether you have seen the movie or read his book, there are some key takeaways (for good and bad). These are based on what happened to Belfort and his investment company, Stratton Oakmont. Here are seven lessons I've learned that you can take away from his story:
1.Being good friends with your employees means they will do anything for your company.
In the movie, the people that work for Jordan Belfort are willing to practically sacrifice their lives for him. One of the reasons is that the culture they created in the office was extremely fraternal.
There were definitely consequences to this, but one benefit was that people would do anything for him. The company felt like an extremely tight-knit community. Belfort had strong individual relationships with his employees, outside of the context of work. This led to more respect for him and a higher willingness for employees to make sacrifices for the company.
2. Do not rule someone out because of past issues.
Jordan Belfort took a chance on a handful of employees that were in dire situations. Despite past misconduct or lack of experience, he looked at personality and work ethic when making decisions.
As a result, he hired many of the "wrong types" of people. These people did great work for him, and felt indebted for the opportunity. It teaches to look beyond a resume or a few key signals when making hiring choices.
3. Social gatherings are a great way to build company culture.
The social gatherings occurring in The Wolf of Wall Street were frequently unhealthy. There was an emphasis on misogynistic attitudes and treating people poorly. That theme is not one that should be replicated, the idea of unique and fun social gatherings should. Stratton Oakmont was extremely creative about the events that they had.
These activities created a stronger bond between people at the company and offered a fun, social outlet. They were not events that the employees just felt an obligation to attend. Company get-togethers do not have to be as morally wrong as Stratton Oakmont's were to accomplish the same thing. Rather, it takes extra creativity and effort from a company.
4. Be careful about what you are sacrificing for money or success.
Another big takeaway from the movie was the value of sacrifice. Jordan Belfort became an entirely different person once getting involved in Wall Street. His life might have been appeared more "fun" to the naked eye. That said, he made a lot of sacrifices to get there.
He treated people poorly, divorced his first wife and ingested copious amounts of drugs. Ultimately he hurt the very people that he cared about and who cared about him.
It can be tempting to make bad decisions for instant gratification. The most successful entrepreneurs are the ones that are able to avoid these impulses. The goal is to consistently make thoughtful, healthy decisions. Staying consistent with your lifetime values, no matter what, is a truer base for success and happiness.
5. Sometimes it makes sense to quit while you are ahead.
Jordan Belfort had an opportunity to step back and walk away from the negative company culture. He had financial stability and he might have been able to get away with a lot of his illegal activity. Instead, he was tempted back into work. He let the comradery and the instant gratification outweigh the right decision to let someone else take over as CEO. This ended up costing him greatly - everything.
Outside of illegal situations, the Wolf on Wall Street offers important lessons about being aware of your role in your company. Sometimes, the best choice is to take a step back. This could be due to personality clashes or you not being the right fit for the role any longer. It is difficult to have that self-awareness. Doing so, though, will leave you and your company better off.
6. A competitive or intense company culture has pros and cons.
On one side, Belfort's employees worked extremely hard due to Stratton Oakmont's culture. This effort led to high output and a high standard of work.
On the other hand, people made moral sacrifices for achievement. They did illegal things and acted immorally. Belfort did not realize what was going to emerge from the culture that he was trying to create. This made for a toxic situation.
When there is such a high degree of intensity, especially with money involved, people can make poor decisions. Therefore, when thinking about company culture, there is an important balance to try and strike.
7. Take life a little less seriously.
The Wolf on Wall Street is a refresher course on how not to take life too seriously. Belfort and Stratton Oakmont made so many crazy decisions. While they paid the consequences for those choices, and this is by no means worthwhile, they also had a ton of fun.
Running a company is extremely challenging. Therefore, it is crucial to enjoy the journey. Constant stress just makes it more difficult.
We all know and understand that we don't need illegal activity to put mechanisms in place that allow for more fun and enjoyment at work.