Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wolf of Wall Street optimistic about Mongolia

By James Watkins

Jordan Belfort, former stockbroker, entrepreneur, and fraudster turned motivational speaker, visited Mongolia on Friday, June 6.

The self-proclaimed “Wolf of Wall Street,” whose life was dramatized in the award winning Hollywood blockbuster of the same name, visited the Mongolian Stock Exchange and a number of financial companies during the day, and in the evening gave a speech to a room full of business people at Blue Sky Hotel.
Belfort’s autobiography received its big-budget film adaptation in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the rags-to-riches New York stockbroker who made millions out of thin air, before being jailed for 22 months for fraud. The film received criticism for the debauched and often shocking displays of Belfort’s indulgences with sex and drugs, however he has said that the reality was “even worse” than what was depicted, telling Friday’s assembled crowd that he “was taking enough drugs each day to sedate Mongolia.”

Since his imprisonment in 1998, the “Wolf” has moved on from Wall Street. He has been sober for 17 years, and now works as a public speaker, telling audiences about his astonishing life, giving motivational seminars, and explaining the “Straight Line System”—his unique method that earned him his millions and is now used by thousands of companies worldwide. It is rumored that these speaking engagements earn him over 100 million USD per year—he disclosed on Friday that some multinational companies pay him up to 100,000 USD for a one-hour seminar with their sales team. The financial arrangement behind Friday’s two-hour event is unclear, which was hosted by CBM LLC along with a host of other sponsors.

Most of Belfort’s presentation to the Mongolian audience was about his life story, drawing lessons about how to succeed in sales, as an entrepreneur, or more generally from his life experiences. He emphasized the importance in business of managing risk so you can push boundaries without ever being fully invested—learning to “fail elegantly”—as well as not settling for moderate success by setting high personal standards and “succeeding wildly.” His assertion that, “the story you tell yourself about why you can’t get what you want in life is what stops you from getting what you want in life,” drew applause from the capacity audience.
The business lesson from the Wolf of Wall Street was well received by the assembled audience of around 250 business people, many from the mining sector. His expertise will also be employed by figures from Mongolia’s nascent but growing brokerage and investment banking sectors, which he discussed with hope for their future.

Belfort also provided specific advice for Mongolian industry. He argued that despite recent withdrawals of foreign investment and a lack of liquidity in Mongolian markets, “the greatest opportunities come at times like these.” With low global resource prices and a tightening Mongolian economy, this period will prove to be a “blessing in disguise” for those “brave” enough to invest big now while the market is depressed. And, addressing the business people who have yet to see the fruits of recent labor, Belfort stressed that their hard work has been building strong roots that will allow for massive growth in the future.

Mongolia’s long-term economic outlook couldn’t be better, it was argued. With vast resource assets that have undeniable value, combined with crucial proximity to China, a “friendly government that is learning from its own missteps,” and a young, educated, and driven population, Belfort was extremely optimistic about the country. The way forward, then, must be to convince investors of the true value of Mongolian assets (and that they are currently undervalued), to continue to ease the sovereign risk of inconsistent government policy, and to “keep telling the story” of Mongolia to foreign investors with enthusiasm.

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