Real-life Wolf of Wall Street Jordan Belfort at ExCel Arena
- Credit: Archant
It should be all too easy to dislike Jordan Belfort.
The real-life ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ made more than $100 million from illegally ripping off investment bankers in the 90s, while living the fast-car, drug-fuelled party lifestyle beyond the wildest dreams of most.
After serving less than half of a four-year jail sentence, he sparked a bidding war with his best-selling memoirs as Hollywood heartthrobs Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt battled for the honour of portraying him.
Now steadily bouncing back to the wealthy business heights – the rights to the Martin Scorsese film alone bagged him more than $1million – the father-of-two is touring the world, essentially cashing in on his many previous misdemeanours.
But despite all that, I found myself strangely warming to him with every foul-mouthed expletive – the F-word is a key ingredient of Wall Street success, he claims.
There can be no denying his talent for making money – £1,595 for top-end tickets sounds like good business to me – but his seemingly natural ability to engage and motivate such a large crowd is what truly sets him apart from the rest.
Upon entering the ExCel Arena on Friday, I had very little idea of what to expect.
- 1 New documentary on murders of women whose bodies were hidden in freezer
- 2 Newham man among UK's 'most wanted fugitives' who may be hiding in Spain
- 3 Jailed: Teen who inflicted life-changing injuries as he squirted acid in boy's face
- 4 Revealed: Hackney, Islington and Newham are boroughs with most LTNs
- 5 Overnight blaze at North Woolwich block of flats
- 6 Man remains in critical condition after Stratford Station attack
- 7 Motorcyclist, 19, remains in ‘life-threatening’ condition after A13 incident
- 8 Mother and daughter, 3, left without boiler as temperatures hit freezing
- 9 Sixth form rated Outstanding in all categories by Ofsted
- 10 One arrest, man in hospital after Stratford station attack
Would he talk about the ‘Wolf’ years, or would that be the inescapable elephant in the room, a potentially dangerous distraction to a focused day of pure business ideas and growth strategies for like-minded Belfort-wannabes.
Ultimately, he did both, switching from stone-cold entrepreneurial sincerity to out-and-out hilarity at the drop of a hat.
Talking about the desire to make money motivating him through his prison days – the reason he made a serious job of writing – he takes the 3,000-strong crowd back to his previous life.
“It was like that line from the movie,” he explained, suddenly quoting from that scene where DiCaprio gives a memorable pep talk to his employees.
“Sometime in the not so distant future, you’re gonna be pulling up to a red light and you beat up in an old Pinto, and that person’s gonna be pulling up right along side you in their brand new Porsche, with their beautiful wife by their side, who’s got big voluptuous tits,” he said without breaking stride.
“And who are you going to be sitting next to? Some disgusting wilderbeast with three days of razor stubble in a sleeveless muumuu crammed in next to you in a carload full of groceries.
“You’ve got toto deal with your problems by becoming rich!”
A sentiment welcomed with applause and laughter, by an audience that contained Apprentice candidates past and present – current Aussie hopeful Mark Wright and food entrepreneur Leon Doyle, an unsuccessful 2011 candidate both spotted in the audience .
“I really said that,” Belfort added, with a big grin. “That was one of the funniest things I’ve said in my life, I was just on a roll and I couldn’t stop. Friends still go about that to this day.”
Regardless of his past extra-curricular activities, Jordan Belfort much surely rank among the top business speakers in the world.
Just getting a crowd on his side is some achievement, but with a host of unique and inspiring anecdotes , plus a sleeve of clichéd business mottos – “It’s roots that create fruits” – that would sound corny coming from anybody else, the 52-year-old is in his element.
“I’ve had a weird f***ing life,” he reflects. “Wild ups and some bad low moments, but I’ve had the ability to come back up from failure.
“Truthfully I learnt a lot more from failing than I did from any of my successes.
“Not getting what you want is part of the process of the success.”
Expanding on his rise back up the slope, Belfort reveals his incredible ascent from the depths of depravity to Hollywood A-lister came from a unlikely source.
After ending up behind bars, he found himself sharing a bunk with famous Canadian musician, actor and comedian Tommy Chong, himself mid-way through a nine-month sentence for selling drug paraphernalia, who inspired him to start the book.
In fact, although describing it as the “worst moment” in his life”, the 22-months didn’t sound all that bad.
“It wasn’t the worst prison in the world – I wasn’t butt-f***ed every night,” he joked. “But prison is a very dis-empowering place.”
Speaking alongside a trio of friends and business experts throughout the day, even someone as inexperienced in financial jargon as myself came away with plenty.
Funny, intelligent and inspiring – a day with the Wolf of Wall Street is one to remember.
Jordan Belfort returns to the ExCel for a three-day boot camp on February 27 2015.
For more information visit jordanbelfortlive.co.uk/digital