There is a lot of well-deserved controversy surrounding the notorious stock swindler, Jordan Belfort. Let’s be honest – you either love him or you hate him, but it’s simply impossible not to have an opinion on this sneaky, unorthodox ex-stockbroker.

Belfort has been out of prison for almost nine years now, and has been making an effort to show the world how much he has changed.

“No matter what happened to you in your past, you are not your past, you are the resources and the capabilities you glean from it. And that is the basis for all change.”

Yup, the same man who squandered 200 fraudulent million on cocaine and prostitutes is now traveling the globe, preaching his tale of redemption and the importance of business ethics.

Some Background:

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Jordan Belfort was born with a salesman heart that to this day pumps equal parts blood and business. Because of his predispositions and quick wit it didn’t take him very long to transition from his middle-class upbringing to his new, record-breaking Wall Street millionaire lifestyle.

Although, his methods were far from ethical, Jordan Belfort’s story is nothing if not impressive.

At the same time Belfort was committing fraud on Wall Street, he also kept busy by marketing penny stocks via a firm he founded with his friends – Stratton Oakmont. Talk about multitasking… more on that later.

Soon after acquiring his riches, Belfort started to spiral out of control and began to use several types of recreational drugs. During interviews he talks a lot about his experience with Quaaludes – a sedative hypnotic. At one point, Belfort claimed that he was almost constantly under the influence of at least “several ‘ludes at the same time”. Just to put that into perspective – a single pill is potent enough to knock out a Navy Seal.

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Although, Belfort has built up a tolerance to these powerful sedatives, his experiences were not always positive. There are a few occasions where his decision-making was affected by these drugs to the extent where he damaged millions of dollars worth of property. For starters, he managed to sink his 166 foot yacht, and crash his helicopter in his own backyard – all thanks to the ‘ludes. While most people would learn from these events, Belford did not. Seemingly nothing would slow down his lavish lifestyle.

Belfort was married twice, and both times to women he claimed to love. Clearly he loved to have fun more than both of his wives, though. Especially considering the fact that he was involved in many affairs, and often times with prostitutes. These affairs, along with other personal problems, including claims of domestic violence, tore apart both marriages.

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Just like his marriages, Belfort’s Wall Street career ended with him getting caught. In 1999, Belfort plead guilty to securities fraud and money laundering. He was then sentenced to serve four years in prison, and pay $110 million in restitution.

While in prison, Belfort befriended his cube mate – Tommy Chong, who, after listening to Belfort’s crazy stories convinced him to write a memoir. Upon completing 22 months, Belfort testified against several of his former partners and subordinates to arrange for his early release in April of 2006. A year after he was released, The Wolf of Wall Street was written.

The memoir was published in 2008, and has since grew in popularity – so much so, that the story was adapted to film in 2013, with Leonardo DiCaprio leading as the main man himself.

Belfort’s book was only the first step in the right direction and since its release he has become strongly involved within the community. Belfort started giving speeches to motivate and inspire anyone who’d listen. He is very good at what he does, and his words, along with his story, have helped many others find that spark of ambition within.

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The success of his first book fueled his creative side, and he soon wrote another bestseller, Catching the Wolf of Wall Street. This book contained even more crazy tales, and unbelievable stories. The contents of both of his memoirs seemed so abnormal that many claimed the stories to be made up. Belfort, however, has stated several times that everything in his books is fact. Either way, pick up one of his books and judge for yourself.

Having two best-selling books and an award winning feature film is sure to net a pretty penny. Officials kept a close eye to make sure that Belfort didn’t slip off into his old ways and take off with the cash, as the money was supposed to go towards paying off his restitution debt.

Speaking of his debt, Belfort still has a long ways to go. While, he paid off a small fraction of this debt, a large chunk still remains. The government claims that Belfort is avoiding paying off the debt, considering he has (allegedly) made north of $100 million last year alone – which was more than enough to settle his transgressions. As far as actual numbers go, it’s estimated that he has only paid off about $11 million.

It’s hard to judge whether or not Belfort is trying to stretch out his owing, or avoid paying altogether. That being said, there would be little point in giving charity seminars, if he were still tempted by his old habits – guess time will tell.

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In case you still haven’t noticed, Belfort is quite the unusual character. If you’ve ever attended one of his seminars, watched his interviews or even read one of his books, you already know this. Without debate, it can be said that Belfort is both very charismatic and extremely intelligent. On top of that, he definitely has grit – most people would be tempted to give up on themselves after going through the same hurricane of events that he had. Belfort, instead decided to work on redeeming himself by offering his expertise and provide others with the tools to improve their lives.

In essence, Jordan Belfort is giving his students a weapon that can be used for evil, or for good. The knowledge he shares in his seminars contains a lot of powerful information, and much of his advice will surely help you improve the quality of your life and financial situation. At the very least, Belfort will make sure you leave the auditorium feeling motivated enough to give it your best shot.

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Belfort’s advice can be effectively summed up with just one of his quotes –

Whether you say, ‘I can’ or ‘I can’t,’ you’re right either way.

Belfort is a strong believer of self confidence, and he will argue that success with grow from the hunger you have for achieving your goals. Additionally, he claims that –

The easiest way to make money is [to] create something of such value that everybody wants and go out and give and create value, the money comes automatically

Can’t really argue with this point; take a look, for example at any uber successful person. Are they where they are because they are taking value, or because they are giving value?

This is where Belfort himself fits in; right now the man is in the middle of transitioning from being a value taker, to becoming a value taker.

While it’s hard to be sure if he is really paying off his restitution amount, Belfort still definitely offers value to those that listen. Through his seminars and workshops, Jordan Belfort is starting to convince the masses that he isn’t the same person that he was before. We’ll know soon enough whether or not Belfort is being genuine in his operations, but in the meantime we can hope that he continues following his newfound ambition.