Character: Do most of us ever change, really?

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wolf of wall street poster
The story of Jordan Belfort (Wolf of Wall Street) show the boundaries of business ethics aren't always perfect. Con-games certainly succeed for a time (and some may argue the best cons have yet to be uncovered.)

The movie ran late: We attended a 9:30 p.m. Christmas Day showing of The Wolf of Wall Street, and were not home until 1 a.m. This movie has a long run time. Its message (interspersed within many sex scenes, which my sixteen-year-old son also enjoyed) about sales practices, securities fraud and the American Dream gone off the tracks, captures a rather gruesomely powerful perspective of human character flaws (and potential).

We enjoyed the movie in part because my wife, who self-directs our family’s investments, decided a few years ago that the Cineplex movie theatre chain would be a wise stock purchase. Indeed, the shares have produced mind-boggling capital gains in our investment portfolios, although the overall results, while quite satisfactory, have simply modestly exceeded inflation — though that is enough now to provide some affluence.

Jordan Belfort, the story’s hero/villan, purportedly has paid his dues to society and has started a new career as a motivational speaker and writer, whose primary marketing success has been in Australia. I’ve tried to decipher his sales training and motivational tools and am not prepared to spend almost $2,000 for his home study course. This 1.24 hour video may provide some clues. (He is appearing at a Frank Kern event. Kern has achieved some fame and reputation in the Internet marketing world, where somewhat dubious practices abound.)

There are some incongruities about how successful Belfort has been in his post-fraud-conviction career. See the relevant Wikipedia posting:

According to federal prosecutors, Belfort has failed to live up to the restitution requirement of his 2003 sentencing agreement. The agreement requires him to pay 50% of his income towards restitution to the 1,513 clients he defrauded. Of the $11.6 million that has been recovered by Belfort’s victims, $10.4 million of the total is the result of the sale of forfeited properties. The sentencing agreement mandates a total of $110 million in restitution.[11]

In October 2013, federal prosecutors filed a complaint that Belfort, who had income of $1,767,209 from the publication of his two books and the sale of the movie rights, plus an additional $24,000 from motivational speaking since 2007, paid restitution of only $243,000 over the past four years. The government is currently not holding Belfort in default of his payments in order to keep negotiations open, but it is unclear when the full amount of the mandated restitution will be repaid.[12]

I dunno.  “$24,000 from motivational speaking since 2007” seems a bit low to me, but I suppose I wouldn’t complain about the book sales.

Has Belfort changed — or is he still playing the con?

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