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.
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