Book Review: The Wolf Of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

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“So listen to me, and listen good: Is your current problem that you’re behind on your credit-card bills? Good—then pick up the fucking phone and start dialing.

Or is your landlord threatening to dispossess you? Is that what your problem is? Good—then pick up the fucking phone and start dialing.

“Or is it your girlfriend? Does she want to leave you because she thinks you’re a loser? Good—then pick up the fucking phone and start dialing!

I want you to deal with all your problems by becoming rich! I want you to attack your problems head-on! I want you to go out and start spending money right now. I want you to leverage yourself. I want you to back yourself into a corner. Give yourself no choice but to succeed. Let the consequences of failure become so dire and so unthinkable that you’ll have no choice but to do whatever it takes to succeed.

And that’s why I say: Act as if! Act as if you’re a wealthy man, rich already, and then you’ll surely become rich. Act as if you have unmatched confidence and then people will surely have confidence in you. Act as if you have unmatched experience and then people will follow your advice. And act as if you are already a tremendous success, and as sure as I stand here today—you will become successful!

Now, this deal opens in less than an hour. So get on the fucking phone right this second and go A to Z through those client books and take no prisoners. Be ferocious! Be pit bulls! Be telephone terrorists! You do exactly as I say and, believe me, you’ll be thanking me a thousand times over a few hours from now, when every one of your clients is making money.

With that, I walked off center stage to the sound of a thousand cheering Strattonites, who were already in the process of picking up their phones and following my very advice: ripping their clients’ eyeballs out.”

When a book or movie tells a story, one way I can tell the story does its job is that some feelings are touched. Usually I am immune to this — I watch Game of Thrones and resist hating King Geoffrey because of my unrelenting ability to tell myself that GoT is not real, it’s just a story. Even some story that is real life, I rationalize in my mind that it’s history, this story already happened and it’s over. No need to feel attached to any of it. I can still enjoy the story despite this skill.

Wolf is a long ass book. It’s the true story of a man — Jordan Belfort — who started a stock brokerage firm that did more business than any other of its time (somewhat illegally, it turns out). Jordan hired and trained an army of soldiers who simply followed instructions and made themselves, the company, and it’s owner money, hand over fist.

That part of the story is interesting, but the outside-of-work stuff is even better. Jordan’s story reminds me of Mike Tyson, in that he was an extremist. The difference being that while Mike was from the bottom of society and lived in the extremes of it (in his mind if not in the physical , Jordan was a white-collar extremist. At his peak of Wolfness, he employed 22 people at his mansion, had a too-large yacht with helicopter inside of it (!), smuggled millions of dollars to Switzerland and gave a million dollars away as a throwaway gift when the urge hit. In the meantime — well actually, at the same time — Jordan had an extreme drug habit in which cocaine was merely an afterthought-level chaser, like Sprite after a shot of vodka.

The Wolf of Wall Street (Full Disclosure: I have not seen the movie — but I hear it’s good. Anyone seen the movie and read the book?) touched my feelings as I read about Jordan’s descent with drugs, the variety of which numbered in the twenties. He became so paranoid and addicted that his every waking moment was spent doing or scheming on drugs, which I felt myself beaching annoyed at him for. Why waste all that money? Why do your wife so terribly? Why do you feel like you need drugs? Jordan paints a picture so well in this book that I wish I had written it (Jordan was/is also a great orator — his recollection of speeches everywhere from his brokerage staff meetings to rehab discussion groups left crowds in uproars of thunderous applause).

Jordan, but the way, happened to be an incredibly sharp business man, both on the legal and shady side of his dealings with the SEC, FBI, the people he employed, sold stocks to and those who helped him launder money internationally. The story has a lukewarm ending which I won’t give away for the sake of those who may read the book.  I call it lukewarm because it wasn’t that bad, although it wasn’t exactly happy either. It just, was. Like most lives.

If you liked Mike Tyson’s story, The Wolf of Wall Street is on the same block. Read it.

the wolf of wall street jordan belfort

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