True success is found at rock bottom
Jordan Belfort is living out the best advice he has ever received.
Good things take time.
For a man who once had it all, he is discovering every day that the fruits of delayed gratification are what actually bring true fulfillment.
Jay Shetty and Jordan Belfort recently sat down to discuss Belfort’s new definition of success and his best-selling book, The Wolf of Wall Street in an episode of On Purpose with Jay Shetty.
A long-time fan and follower of Belfort, Jay Shetty recognizes the power of Belfort’s life journey and how important his story can be for others.
“Your experience is so powerful,” Jay Shetty said to Belfort. “You've experienced it all. When we're hearing from you, we are actually hearing from someone who's been there and done that at extremes. That actually helps a lot more people who are in the middle of it now.”
Belfort’s journey has not been one of just passively sitting by while waiting for good things to come to him. He was born with a tenacity and drive that has served both positively and negatively in his life. From an early age, he locked his eyes on the prize and used whatever means necessary to attain it.
No matter what.
Belfort, the world’s leading sales trainer, author, and former stock broker knows today that the truly good things in life can’t be measured in dollar signs. He is thankful for the example passed down from his hard working parents and the heritage of healthy ethics that helped him course correct when he hit rock bottom.
Belfort’s Early Years
From an early age, Jordan Belfort wanted to be rich. He grew up in a lower middle class household where his parents worked constantly, yet barely made ends meet. Belfort envisioned a different outcome for his own future.
His end goal was crystal clear, even if the details of how to attain that were fuzzy.
Belfort told Jay Shetty he is deeply grateful for his parents’ example. Their discipline, hard work, and integrity instilled a strong sense of ethics in their children. Belfort largely credits that foundation to his coming full circle after taking his life down a disastrous wrong turn.
A History of Struggle
Belfort didn’t have a plan for his future. When asked what he wanted to be, young Belfort simply responded, “Rich!” He wasn’t picky about how it happened, he just knew it needed to happen.
Seeing his parents struggle through life had planted within him a desire to live differently and achieve more.
“I watched my parents struggle,” Belfort said. “They're brilliant people. Hardworking, educated … and broke. I'm like, wait a second, what's missing from this picture? Like why would they – hardworking people, wildly educated with college degrees – why would they not make money?”
Belfort and Jay Shetty discussed three things he thinks made a difference.
- They were risk averse and had a Depression-era mentality.
- They thought that things like sales,persuasion and marketing were inherently evil. Because of that, they never tried to market their skills. They only worked for other people for a paycheck.
- They never thought about buying a home.
Although Belfort describes his parents as wonderful, amazing, and loving people, it broke his heart to watch them struggle yet never seem to get ahead. In his mind, their beliefs were failing them.
“I think what happens with most people is that when you see your parents’ beliefs, you either adopt them or you go the exact opposite way,” he told Jay Shetty. “I went the exact opposite way. I always did.”
After noticing his uncle’s success, Belfort decided to become a dentist. He set out for dental school with his parent’s approval and his eye on gaining wealth.
It only took one day of dental school to change his mind. Upon learning on the first day of class that dentistry does not pay well, he quit. It was back to the drawing board for the natural born salesman.
A Gift For Sales
Belfort’s family didn’t trust salesmen. His mother always wondered what they were hiding underneath their sales tactics.
“Why do you think it is that we have this inherent belief that sales persuasion, negotiation, and marketing are evil?” Jay Shetty asked. “Where does that come from?”
”My mother saw sales as shallow and lacking depth,” Belfort said to Jay Shetty. “She thought having to work at selling something meant there was no inherent value to it.”
Belfort didn’t agree. He recognized that like anything in life, sales could be used either positively or negatively, and he couldn’t help but see the potential to help people and enhance products through promotion.
Young Belfort was a natural salesman. He didn’t even have to try hard, and it seemed he sold everything. His hustle paid off.
“Sales was always part of me,” Belfort told Jay Shetty. “From a really young age, I was one of those kids with a lemonade stand. At the age of 8, I was going door to door delivering newspapers and expanding my business.”
By the age of 10, he was shoveling sidewalks during New York snowstorms at $20 a pop. At age 12, a TV special on David Copperfield inspired him to do magic shows at children’s birthday parties.
“I hit it really big at 16,” Belfort said. “I started selling Icees on a massive beach in New York called Jones Beach. I went blanket to blanket and made $300-$400 a day.”
Belfort sold it all. He knew early on that there was something special about sales. He had a gift.
Fulfillment Doesn’t Come In Pill Form
“I went into adulthood very insecure,” Belfort admitted to Jay Shetty. “I had a lot of wounds and insecurities from my childhood. I believed that when I got rich, then I would feel secure. I grew up thinking that I would find fulfillment when I found wealth.”
Belfort believes this is the cause of the downfalls of many famous or successful young people today. Although they seemingly have everything they could ever want, they crash hard.
“When you are chasing success and don’t feel good inside, you excuse it,” Belfort said. “You think, ‘I don’t feel good inside now, but when I get wealth and success, I will.’ And you get there and realize you don’t feel good inside. When you realize that, panic sets in.”
Carrying a bag of half a million dollars down Wall Street became that ‘it’ for Belfort. It somehow scratched the itch, and subsequently started the downward spiral.
Belfort had it all – money, cars, houses, yachts, and women. He had reached the top, but he was still impatiently waiting for that feeling of fulfillment to come. Instead, panic set in.
Shady business practices and illegal activity didn’t bring fulfillment either, only stress and anxiety. It was then that he followed the worst advice he had ever received.
“It’s okay, everyone is doing it.”
Belfort began to take pills in an effort to combat the stress. Instead of relief, they only brought addiction, and the downward spiral picked up momentum.
“I don't think I really ever felt whole until I lost all my money, went to jail, came out and met my current wife,” he told Jay Shetty. Rock bottom helped him redefine success.
A Change of Scenery – And Perspective
“I always feel that if we don't willingly uproot our negative values or the values that are driving us crazy, we'll be forced to uproot them in a different way,” Jay Shetty said.
Belfort couldn’t agree more.
He isn’t one to deny his wrongdoing or shy away from his transgressions. In fact, he told Jay Shetty he respects the FBI agents and the prosecutors who put him behind bars for the way they did their job.
Jail was his uprooting and a time of reckoning for Belfort. It was there he got really serious about who he wanted to be when he got out.
“In my mind I was so dead set that when I get out of jail, I am never going to make a mistake like this again,” said Belfort to Jay Shetty. “I'm never going to use the skills I have for evil purposes, and I'm going to do it right. I'm not going to cut any corners. I'm going to play the long game. I'm never going to embarrass my children, who I love more than anything, again.”
He vowed to stay out of trouble, and he has.
“There is no amount of money that I would cut a corner for,” he said. “I'll never make a dollar by stepping on someone else again. Unless I'm giving more value than I'm getting back, I'm just not going to do it. I've stayed true to that from the day I left jail.”
Honesty Is The Way To A Child’s Heart
“What was it about that whole experience of going to jail, coming out, meeting your wife, all that you spoke so beautifully about,” asked Jay Shetty, “What was it about that experience that gave you new found confidence?”
Belfort credits this new confidence with learning how to write as a way to solidify the lessons he was learning and be his authentic self. He set out to write a record of his time on Wall Street, and he didn’t hire a ghostwriter. He wanted to own every word.
“Writing my book was like the most incredible form of self-therapy,” Belfort explained to Jay Shetty. “I really got this crystal clear understanding of what drove me and the progression of things. I definitely emerged from that experience feeling I had grown so much. I have a much greater understanding of the demons that drove me.”
Belfort dug deep to rediscover the values and beliefs that had been deep inside all along. Facing his demons and unpacking his journey to rock bottom wasn’t easy, but it brought him back to the foundation of integrity his parents had instilled in him.
Losing everything left him with what was most important.
“I was shocked into really examining my values,” Belfort told Jay Shetty. “I made a shift. It was like ‘Whoa, I had it wrong!’ And then everything changed in my unconscious mind.”
“It is so powerful that once the underlying root shifts, everything built on those old roots rearranges itself automatically,” he continued. “I think that was the shift. That was the shift in my values.”
A Wolf Of A Different Pack With Jay Shetty
These days, Jordan Belfort’s tenacity and laser focus remain. This time, however, he has his sights set on a different target.
“I've always believed intention is everything,” Belfort told Jay Shetty. “I started with a simple intention that I really, really wanted to help people. I didn't even have a strategy when I started. All I knew is I had this deep desire and intention to help. I started with that and then I got more strategic and organized and focused.”
For Belfort, this means giving back to people out of his natural talent. He teaches classes and leads sales seminars around the globe. Belfort has built a movement of people who have found success by following his tips on the ins and outs of locking in sales.
His newest venture, a podcast, will give voice to people from many walks of life. Belfort believes all people have value to share with others, and he is excited to give some, famous or not, the platform to do so.
At the end of the day, Belfort has left the shame of his past far behind. He fills his days pouring into other people and celebrating his success. Time spent with his kids and his wife is his greatest joy, and he can’t wait to have grandchildren to spoil.
Looking back on all he has achieved, he wouldn’t change a thing. He sees how each step of his journey brought him to this place today.
“What I love about you is that we're sitting here, and you come across super genuine, super happy,” Jay Shetty said. “You know, you're a real human being. You've had the courage to redefine who you are.”
“I think all of us go through failures in life, but the extreme of the rock bottom and lows that you've hit in your life, to emerge from that must've taken a lot,” Jay Shetty continued. “How you've risen through failure is very rare.”
While it’s true that the “Wolf of Wall Street” can sell anything, the greatest thing he peddles these days is an accurate picture of success and the beauty of second chances.
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “Being the Wolf of Wall Street: How to Spot Limiting Beliefs & Changing How You Define Success” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.