Feb 28, 2014

Oscars Blog: Wolf of Wall Street for Entrepreneurs

One of the biggest movies at this weekend’s Oscar’s is The Wolf of Wall Street, a film about an entrepreneur who becomes a millionaire. While the film is largely a cautionary tale about the dark places greed can lead to, a movie that centers around business must include some worthwhile lessons.

Jordan Belfort, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, is obsessively greedy and will go to any moral lengths to make a buck. This probably isn‘t something you want to imitate. But it’s his charisma that helps him close deals and carries him to the top.

He captures the room’s attention no matter where he is. Small-time penny stock brokers are awestruck as they hear Belfort make his first pitch. Employees whoop and cheer at his motivational speeches. He knows what people want to hear, and he delivers with overwhelmingly convincing charisma. Sometimes the person talking is more important than the product.

Simple Messages & Focused Responsibilities
The ideas Belfort covers in his speeches are often quite simple. He wants his employees to make more calls and make them more convincing (don’t hang up until they say ‘no’). His employees have one task every day, and if they get really really good at it, he will make them rich. The message is that simple. His speeches say it over and over but from different angles, inspiring employees time and time again to keep improving and dedicating themselves to their focused craft at Stratton Oakmont. And they reap the benefits.

Company Culture
Don’t take this the wrong way. The culture of Stratton Oakmont—parades of prostitutes and drugs—probably isn’t the one you want. But having a company or workplace culture is crucial. It keeps employees happy, dedicated, and productive. Belfort establishes a culture by mixing hard work, loud rallying speeches, and freewheeling (obscene) celebratory fun.  

Belfort also knows where he came from.  He carries the chant he learned (from Matthew McConaughey) as an entry-level employee through his career. It becomes a somewhat spiritual song for Stratton Oakmont's employees, building camaraderie. 

There's lots of good writing on Wolf and entrepreneurs around the web, too:
What NOT to Do Lessons
10 Lessons of Success

Feb 24, 2014

Client Success Story Videos

Check out some of our SBDC client success stories!  Farmer's market frequenters and baked goods enthusiasts might recognize the entrepreneur in the second video.

Feb 3, 2014

Our Three Favorite Super Bowl Commercials (and Why)

Wonderful Pistachios with Stephen Colbert
Why it worked: Self-awareness.  It poked fun at today's marketing world and picked the perfect person for the job: Stephen Colbert, the clever TV personality who makes his living humorously but sharply digging at modern America. It played off ad tracking, instant gratification, and how the product alone isn't considered enough for advertising. It had the random humor of the suited-up eagle. It had the memorable visual ‘OMG’ moment when said TV personality cracked his head open to reveal his inner nut.

Heinz “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (An obvious choice for Pittsburgh!)
Why it worked: Ritual.  It captured the ritual bottom-tapping of Heinz glass bottles by using the beat of a happy song. It had football tailgating! It was slyly funny in that bottom-thunking is a pretty annoying part of Heinz glass bottles. But we all do it. It also played with the ‘old woman out of her time’ trope in that she was using the new fad (the nearly-empty squeeze bottle) and her (presumably) granddaughter corrected her back to the classic glass bottle.


Audi “Doberhuahua”
Why it worked: Memorable image.  A Doberman head on chihuahua body is funny and horrifying. The dogs also take on the personalities of both breeds – very clever. And keep in mind that the ‘compromise’ topic was borne from a relationship dispute – very relatable. Audi gets away with the “rug out from under you,” “This is an ad for what?” technique because the ‘compromise’ connection makes just enough sense with the way cars are sized and marketed today. Audi knows who it is.

-- And a special shoutout to GoldieBlox, the CA small business who got its ad on Super Sunday!  They promote a very cool cause: creating toys that help young girls get themselves on the path to becoming engineers, a traditionally male-dominated profession.  They "aim to disrupt the pink aisle."