It was filled with sex, drugs, good music and bad language.
I felt assaulted by the brutality and depravity of this film. As well as curiosity. His life was one I have never really seen, let alone lived (especially the appalling way women were treated).
But the main character in the film Wolf of Wall Street is not Leonardo DiCaprio (or the man he plays, Jordan Belfort). It is one of the most potent and certainly addictive drugs. Money.
Jordan Belfort (who is still in the business of money at http://jordanbelfort.com/) learns how to create money from his drug-dealing mates.
What he learns is Sales.
1) Monetise. The first lesson in Sales is that you don’t sell a pen by trying to sell the pen. It might seem logical to focus on the pen, and in particular:
- Price (Only $2.00 for a great pen!)
- Features (it has the best ink and a smooth grip)
- Benefits (a high-quality brand that shows you have good taste)
- Process (you can use it everyday to write a love letter to your spouse or a best-selling novel)
- Prize (you’ll always be able to get the girl’s number when you have a pen on you)
Some of you might even have been trained in sales methods that taught you to “Always Be Closing” or that bringing the prospect to the point of Decision is the key.
No. None of that creates easy money. Jordan Belfort knew that sales is actually economics – about Demand and Supply.
I’ve heard people say a lot “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.” You’ve probably heard it too. It’s considered wisdom, or common sense at least.
But if you’ve lived on a farm, you know it’s not common sense, it’s non-sense. Because you know how to make a horse drink. If you give a horse some hay, he’ll soon want to drink. It’s the same reason why bars always have salty peanuts or crisps. Are they interested in you getting your recommended daily dose of sodium? No. But they are interested in making you drink. And salt, like hay, is a sure-fire way to dry out your throat and make that thirst show up – demand on demand.
Intentionalising demand. Creating demand. That’s what sales is all about.
My friend Justin Herald, was at a church youth group one night. The youth leader told him he had an attitude problem.
The next week he showed up with a T-shirt that read “I don’t have an ATTITUDE problem. You have a PERCEPTION problem.” The humour and audacity created demand and it wasn’t long before all of his friends wanted one too.
So, after supplying the demand from his friends, he decided to try partnering with retail fashion stores. But all of them that he tried knew the key to sales and told him they weren’t interested – because there was no demand for his product.
So Justin rallied his friends and recruited them to walk into the various shops at frequent intervals and ask if they sold “Attitude t-shirts”. Of course, they didn’t. Yet.
So Justin paid a second visit to the stores. His reception was quite different. Now he was in demand. The rest of the Attitude Millionaire’s story is, as they say, history.
Jordan’s way of selling would be to give hay to horses – specifically a napkin. And a demand “write your name on that napkin”. They couldn’t because they didn’t have a pen. Once he made the prospect aware of their need for a pen, and the opportunities they were missing out on by not having a pen. Supplying them with a pen wasn’t something he was trying to push on to them, it was something they were demanding from him.
He learnt how to do this with stocks from Matthew McConaughey’s character (Mark Hanna). Making sales a “one-way street” is what he called it.
Jordan is still using the same technique on his website today – a free giveaway that creates demand.
2) Systemise. The second sales lesson is to create a system that can be repeated over and over again. In this case, Jordan’s lesson was to use a script. Jordan’s company was just a small business with five of his not-so-smart school friends in a tiny garage. They were doing okay because Jordan had taught them sales lesson number one.
But when he listened to his wife (which, maybe is the real lesson here 😉 and decided to sell to a more profitable market (another lesson there), he changed his sales method.
He printed out a word-for-word script and trained his not-so-smart friends how to use it. That’s when his business truly exploded and he started turning over millions of dollars.
3) Residualise. When Forbes magazine did an article on him, and called him a “twisted Robin Hood”, he was devastated. But his wife (is she the only smart one in the whole film? 😉 said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”. The article didn’t generate any demand for Jordan’s products (stocks), but it generated huge demand for people wanting to do the work of selling for him.
Jordan didn’t even interview any of them. By then, he had delegated hiring, sales, and just about everything else to his assistants and he was just living off residual income.
You don’t have to have a multi-million dollar business, to monetise, systemise and residualise. And even if you do, I hope you find a better way to spend your money than prostitution and drugs. And a better way to spend your time than doing time – which is how Jordan and most of the people who worked for him ended up.
The life lesson of the film comes from Agent Patrick Denham – the FBI agent who stopped Jordan in his tracks, and gained millions of dollars in restitution for Jordan’s victims. He was the only one who didn’t suffer from the addiction to money. Jordan tried his best to create a demand in him for the high life, but Patrick preferred the good life instead.
I guess there are some horses that just refuse the hay – and so you can’t make them drink. Thank God for the Patricks.
P.S. In unrelated news, there’s a cameo in the film by my namesake, Sharon Jones, singing Goldfinger (the title theme to the James Bond film), at Jordan and Naomi’s wedding. Her success is why no-one can find me on Google, unless they search for “Shaz Jones”.