Money tales: Jordan Belfort and friends

Jordan Belfort
Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?
"The speakers exude wealth from every pore and their X Factor-style introduction videos may as well have been 30 seconds of them shouting 'I'm so rich' and rolling around in a pool of money"
  • | by Abbie Laughton-Coles

An excitable young man runs onto the stage, wearing a Madonna-esque mic.

He giddily paces around, bidding the crowd good morning, inviting us to give ourselves a round of applause for investing in our future. This is a sentiment to be repeated throughout the day.

So, where am I? Well, I've snagged a ticket to a live session with a host of wealth creation experts, headlined by Jordan Belfort, a convicted fraudster who inspired the Wolf of Wall Street – a blockbuster film directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Belfort is still paying off his debt to society today. Ironically, by showing people how to make money quickly (all legally this time, of course).

So I've come along to see what he's got to say…

The warm-up

Wolf of Wall Street event

I arrive in time for the 9am start, but a quarter of an hour later, with no sign of the man himself, people are starting to get antsy – particularly the group of Barbour-clad advertising executives behind who are discussing colleagues' salaries loudly. As we all know, the first rule of business is to turn up on time, especially if there are 3,000 people waiting.

The event is a 10-hour seminar, so I've come prepared for the marathon of get-rich-quick titbits with provisions – a litre of water and a family pack of muffins. It's time to disappear down the rabbit hole.

The speakers exude wealth from every pore and their X Factor-style introduction videos may as well have been 30 seconds of them shouting "I'm so rich" and rolling around in a pool of money.

Indeed, wealth creation expert Greg Secker drives into shot during his VT in a sports car with the licence plate PRO5PER. He also used to trade while hovering over Canary Wharf in a helicopter, presumably just for the fun of it.

The Wolf arrives

Finally, it's Jordan's turn to speak.

After walking on to rapturous applause at the start of the day, Belfort asks everyone to stand up and recreate the chest-beating scene from the Wolf of Wall Street. "I never did that," he tells us, explaining that Marty (Martin Scorsese to you and me) saw Matthew McConaughey doing this to gear himself up for a scene and had to put it in the movie.

Belfort himself is an intriguing character with a bulldog-like stature. He exudes easy confidence and has the audience eating out the palm of his hand, which comes in handy when you're trying to sell courses for around £2,000 each.

And you have to give it to Belfort, he knows how to tell a story. The self-deprecating manner in which he shares with everyone how he wrote his book in prison (after being encouraged by Tommy Chong of Cheech and Chong fame, incredibly) makes him more relatable. "I hate writing more than anything, I despise it," he says. "It's the hardest thing in the world. I wrote the way I spoke and you couldn't read past the second sentence – it was so stupid."

In between delivering funny anecdotes and quips ("Money doesn't change you, it makes you more of who you are already. If you're an asshole, you'll be a bigger asshole," he jokes), there's blatant flogging of his 'Straight Line' course and some actual advice, most notably that you "shouldn't be afraid to fail".

This, however, is rather at odds with the theme drilled into us that if you follow their advice (by taking part in courses) then you would actually have to go out of your way to lose money.

Throughout the whole morning session there's no doubt what everyone is here for. We're constantly asked if we want to be rich at every given opportunity, by every speaker.

In fact if I had a pound for every time we're asked that question… well you know where I'm going with this.

The participation game

Audience members on stage

It's clear that these guys need participation throughout their talks to keep the momentum going.

This is true in particular of Andy Harrington, a public speaking expert, who asks the crowds to lift their hands and say 'yes' so often that I feel like I'm getting repetitive strain injury.

There's no doubt that they're all slick selling machines and have what Secker calls the "testicular fortitude" to talk to a big audience without breaking a sweat.

But it quickly becomes apparent that the day is only an aperitif to the main course – the courses they're trying to flog. There's no way that they were going to waste their prize material on people who have only paid around £50 a ticket, after all.

My theory is proven correct when I receive the following blanket email around a week after attendance.

 Email from Success Resources

Well, you don't get rich without being persistent, do you?