If people learn from their mistakes, Jordan Belfort may be one of the most learned people in America.
“Some of the greatest people have made mistakes,” says Belfort, better known as the “Wolf of Wall Street” stockbroker who swindled $100 million from investors, wrote a book in jail and ended up being played by Leonardo DiCaprio in an Oscar-nominated film.
“I’m not looking to change anybody’s mind about me,” he says.
But Belfort — who is bringing his “The Truth Behind His Success” speaking tour to San Francisco on Tuesday — does want to change the way people communicate by teaching the sales techniques that made him a millionaire stock broker at age 26.
“The most important skill is persuasion.” says Belfort, 52, who lives in Southern California with his fiancee. “It could be getting your children to do their beds, do their homework. How to communicate what’s in your mind? It’s not just in business, it’s in your life.”
The event at Davies Symphony Hall, part of a tour that has gone from Dubai to Australia, touts Belfort’s “Straight Line” sales psychology: “It is an overall system, which allows you, as a salesperson, to influence, to create certainty in another person that lines up the different elements like emotional certainty, logical certainty.”
For those not versed in business jargon, “it breaks down what other people need to think and feel” to close a deal, Belfort says.
Right now, Belfort is working on making victims of fraud perpetrated by his Stratton Oakmont brokerage feel whole.
The wild sex, massive amounts of drugs and dumb stunts seen in the 2013 movie were funded by real people’s money. As part of his 2003 conviction for money securities fraud and money laundering, Belfort was sentenced to four years in jail (he served 22 months) and ordered to pay $110.4 million to his victims.
He says 100 percent of profits from his speaking tour is going to the fraud victims, and bristles at recent claims that he’s fallen behind on restitution payments.
“It’s the most idiotic thing,” Belfort says of claims that he’s supposed to be giving half his income to victims. “In the judgment, it said 50 percent for three years.”
Belfort also isn’t concerned about people wary of paying $75-$499 for financial advice from a man who once shared a jail bunk with comedian Tommy Chong, a fellow salesman (of bongs). “If they don’t believe in redemption,” Belfort says, “that people make mistakes, those people probably shouldn’t come.”
IF YOU GO
Where: Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Tickets: $75 to $499