I finished a fantastic book while on holiday – The wolf on wall street.
Jordan Belmont “partied like a rock star and lived like a king”. Jordan started working as a stockbroker and within 6 years had founded his own brokerage firm. He taught his brokers aggressive tactics to sell shares and would try to manipulate the prices of shares for his own benefit.
While not at work he took drugs, slept with prostitutes and spent money like you wouldn’t believe.
And yet, despite being unbelievably selfish and morally wrong on many fronts, you almost feel sorry for Jordan Belmont. A bit like David Duchovny in Californication.
Reading the book made me think again about life, success and money.
How did he get so rich?
One example of when he would benefit was when he helped a company start trading on the share market for the first time (called an initial public offering). He (and the brokerage firm) would own shares in the company going public to be sold to investors. They would drive the price up (by having his brokers and other brokerage firms sell to the public). Then Jordan would sell some of his own shares at the top price.
How much is enough?
Jordan was sometimes earning $1m a month and more. But he still managed to spend ridiculous amounts of money (by staying in the top suites of hotels, buying a yacht, buying pretty much everything you can imagine). He decided to set up Swiss bank accounts so that he could avoid paying as much tax (which was one of the reasons for his downfall).
Does having everything materially you could ever want make you happy?
The short answer is no. Money or possessions don’t make you happy.
Dave Lee Roth (80’s rocker from Van Halen) was quoted as saying that “money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you a yacht big enough to pull up right alongside it”.
But I believe this is wrong – having a yacht (or two flat screen TVs or a mansion or whatever it is), might make you happy for a while but then you get over what you have and want more.
Also – just like on New Year’s Eve, life is never as good as you think it is going to be. Particularly at 12:25am when the main celebration is over and you are wondering how long it’s going to take to get home.
Nothing more depressing…
I still remember watching a documentary with Janet Jackson where she said that there is nothing more depressing than knowing you could purchase anything you wanted and you are still depressed.
At least for most of us who want more, we can think ‘if only’. IF ONLY I had a house, a car, a big house, a sports car, whatever it is, THEN I would be happy.
Hope is a part of being human. You hope (and often assume) that if you achieve your dreams (or goals), happiness will follow.
For Janet Jackson and Jordan Belmont – they couldn’t say ‘if only’ I had more money I would be happy as they were already among the richest people in the world.
What makes you happy?
Obviously this is a very personal question.
What makes me happy?
Holidays spring to mind as happy times. Things I do to have fun or relax like surfing or playing guitar are next. But without family and friends it seems pretty hollow.
What can I do to be happier?
Maybe the best thing is to realise how fortunate we really are. The fact that you are reading this on the internet means you are among the world’s wealthy.