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3 Lessons to be Learnt from Wolf of Wall Street

The Wolf of Wall Street is a 2013 biographical comedy and crime film that starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort.  The film is a black comedy but also one that provides some interesting lessons for life and business.  Here are three examples of lessons that can be learned from the film.  And some good tips on what to avoid.

About the film

The film was directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Terence Winter.  It is based on the memoir of the same name written by Belfort himself on his career as a stockbroker in New York City.

Wolf of Wall Street starts in 1987 when Belfort gets a job as a stockbroker for LF Rothschild, employed under Mark Hanna.  Here he gets involved with the sex and drugs culture of stockbrokers at the time. He also learns that the aim of the job is only to make money for himself.  He loses his job on Black Monday and moves to a company specialising in penny stocks.  Here his aggressive style makes him a small fortune.

With the money, Belfort recruits a neighbour, Donnie Azoff to create a company. They then start to recruit friends to work with them.  He teaches them the hard sell and starts to create a ‘pump and dump’ scam.  They call the company Stratton Oakmont. After a Forbes profile, hundreds of ambitious young stockbrokers start working for the company.

Downhill spiral

Belfort’s life starts to spiral as he becomes more involved in the scam, the drugs and decadent lifestyle.  He has an affair and divorces his wife.  Then the authorities start to investigate the company.  Belfort opens a Swiss account with a corrupt banker to hide money, uses family member’s names and even gets a friend to smuggle cash out of the country.

Things start to take a downhill turn.  Belfort says he is going to quit the company but decides against it at the last minute.  Then bad things start to happen.  A capsized yacht, a plane forced to land due to a seagull flying into the engine.  Belfort starts to feel like it is a sign from God that he needs to change.

The end of the film skips forward two years and sees Belfort having to work with the FBI to bring down his friends.  He tries to tell him but Azoff tells the FBI that Belfort has broken his agreement.  The FBI shut down Stratton Oakmont and Belfort finally ends up in court.  He serves three years in prison.

Belfort in real life went on to have a career lecturing and teaching sales techniques.  He also went on to make a substantial amount of money from the film of his life.

3 lessons to learn

While the movie is created for entertainment, there are some interesting lessons that can be learned by anyone.  These lessons can apply to different areas of our professional and personal lives.

Be careful of what you sacrifice

One of the big takeaways from the movie was the value of sacrifice.  Jordan Belfort became someone different entirely once he got involved with Wall Street.  Sure, his life looked like fun.  But this was just the outward appearance.  And it didn’t show the sacrifices that he made to get to where he was.

Belfort was the classic bad case example.  He treated people badly, divorced his wife and used a huge number of drugs.  He hurt people who cared about him, all with the aim of success.  He showed that making bad decisions for instant gratification never work in the long run.  The most successful people are those who avoid these impulses.  They focus instead on making thoughtful, healthy decisions.  They also aim to stay consistent to their life values, not sacrifice them for success.

Learn to quit when you are ahead

No-one wants to admit they are wrong or give up on something.  In the movie, Jordan Belfort had a chance to get away from it all and escape the negative company culture.  He had that financial stability that we all dream about.  He was also getting away with a lot of the illegal stuff!  But he was tempted back to work.  He let that desire for instant gratification outweigh common sense.  He wanted to keep that comradery rather than let someone else become CEO.  And it cost him everything.

Illegal stuff aside, there are lots of important lessons from this.  Sometimes the best choice is to step back.  It might be that you are clashing with someone.  Or you aren’t a good fit for a role now.  You need the self-awareness to understand these situations.  And by learning to quit when you are ahead, you can get the best for yourself.

Being competitive or intense has pros and cons

People working in Belfort’s company Stratton Oakmont worked very hard.  This means they had a very high output and their work was to a top standard.  But it wasn’t all positive.  They made moral sacrifices to get achievements.  They acted immorally and even broke the law.  Belfort himself had no idea what was going to come from the culture he was creating at the company.  And the whole situation became very toxic.

High degrees of intensity, especially where money is involved, can lead to poor decision making.  Company culture is about achieving a balance between that intensity and common sense.  This can also apply to other areas of life.  Being competitive and intense has its pros and cons.  And it is important to know this and understand them.

Be a little less serious

A final lesson from the movie is that it is important not to take life too seriously.  Belfort and those in his company made crazy decisions.  And they paid heavily for it in the end.  But they also had a lot of fun along the way.  This shows that you can have fun in a wide range of situations as long as you keep some perspective on what you are doing.  And don’t end up like the Wolf of Wall Street!

Raman is the Founder of Enigma Insider. Raman is an extremely motivated and dedicated individual. Raman has been educating himself on self development whilst he was working in Hong Kong and Dubai. Raman returned back to the United Kingdom and is currently working full time as a Human Rights Lawyer.

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Movies

5 Lessons to be Learnt from Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton is a biographical film that focuses on the life of a group of musicians from the gangsta rap group N.W.A.  The film was created by some of the original group including Ice Cube and Dr Dre.  It also offers some interesting lessons for business and life.

What is Straight Outta Compton?

Straight Outta Compton was a 2015 film directed by F. Gary Gray and produced by members of the original group including Dr Dre and Ice Cube.  It also featured other members as creative consultants.  In the film, Ice Cube is portrayed by his son O’Shea Jackson Jr.  Corey Hawkins plays Dr Dre and Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E.

The film documents the rise of the group N.W.A in the mid-1980s.  The group had local success and were offered a record deal including their debut album, which the film was named after.  The album becomes a hit but is also very controversial with its language and position on the police and authorities.Some of the group go on to have successful careers and become entrepreneurs.  Others are less lucky, like Eazy-E who sadly dies from AIDS.

5 lessons learned from the film

The film is interesting for anyone who is a fan of the group and music.  But it also shows some interesting lessons for business and even in life.

Your first business likely won’t be your last

Many entrepreneurs will tell you this lesson from the film – the first company you start is rarely the last.  Some of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world had a stack of failures behind them.  Then they found the perfect formula.

In the film, there are several examples of this.  Eazy-E started out a drug dealer (not the best example of a business venture).  Then he moved into be a music entertainer.  Dr. Dre worked with a music producer then started his own company.  And Ice Cube went on to launch a number of ventures.  These included Cube Vision, the company that actually produced the movie.  All these guys showed perseverance to work at what they want and find the best way to do it.

Don’t ignore the official stuff

When you are involved in the excitement of running your own business or any venture, you can forget the boring stuff.  But the official and legal stuff is just as important.  In the movie, contract problems led to the downfall of the stars.  Shortcuts, lack of contracts and other legal issues broke up the group.

And in the real world, there are lots of official stuff to be contended with.  This might be contracts at work, bookkeeping and tax issues for your business.  It might be household issues.  Whatever the case, there’s no substitute for dealing with these matters.  Because ignore them at your peril.

Learn to make decisions on the fly

Gut instinct is something we hear a lot about.  Cop shows are particularly big on ‘going with your gut.’  In the film, Ice Cube goes with his gut to perform a controversial song in a Detroit concert.  This causes a lot of the drama that follows.  Sometimes making decisions on the fly can be a good thing.

The idea behind it is something we can all embrace.  There are times when you need to make decisions on the fly and do what your gut tells you.  Instinct is a finely-honed tool that you can use to your benefit.The important part of using your gut is learning when to go with it and when not to.

If you are in business, there are times when you make a snap decision.  Then there are other times when you need more research, more data.  You can even apply this to dating.  Approach the woman at the bar?  Or wait until you have watched for a while to make sure she isn’t with someone?  You need to create a system to decide which option you go with.  Then you get the best from both your gut and your rational mind.

Get good people around you

The film showcases a classic problem.  The guys are all talented performers, good writers and producers.  But they don’t always surround themselves with people who want the best for them.  Sure, the examples in the film are a little extreme for most of us.  Women with gun-totting boyfriends.  Business partners who use violence to get success.  But there is a key lesson in there.

By surrounding yourself with good people who will look out for you, you will be in a better place.  And you can do the same for them.  There’s a lot of evidence to show that the people we spend the most time with have a big impact on our lives.  They even influence how we think and act.  So, getting the right people around you are very important.

There’s no replacement for hard work

The idea of ‘get rich quick’ is something of a myth.  Yes, Dr Dre went on to sell his Beats by Dr Dre brand to Apple for $3 billion.  And yes, Ice Cube is a movie star, makes music and is hugely successful.  But the film shows the reality.  None of these things happened overnight.  And none happened without a lot of hard work.

These are people who left 40 hours a week jobs to work twice as long for themselves.  They put in the hard work and they got the big rewards.  But there was no get rich quick system involved.  And the same applies to anyone.  By putting in the hard work, you get the results.  This applies to business, family, friends or even hobbies.  Nothing good is ever easy.

Valuable lessons

While the group N.W.A had a lot of controversies, they were doing what they thought was right.  They also learned a lot about the music industry and the people you surround yourself with.  Those lessons can be learned by many of us to help us with business and in other aspects of our lives.

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