Miami Beach-based Jordan Belfort was interviewed by BJT Editor Drew Limsky.

Part 2 Of Our Exclusive Interview With Jordan Belfort

The ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ talks about the movie’s famous Lambo scene, his 'NSFW' investment book & more.

This is the second of a two-part interview. To read Part Oneclick here.

A lot of people may feel that the events depicted in your book and the film were exaggerated, but I read—and you can confirm or deny—that your publisher Random House actually had you pull back on the salacious details. 

It was not exaggerating; it was under-exaggerated. I mean there were some scenes that were fictionalized to serve the narrative, but most of that was really about collapsing characters, so maybe one character took on the traits of three people, or events were made to seem closer together for cinematic effect. But the book is entirely accurate and it's a very fair representation of what happened. The movie is, too. 

There's this famous, tour de force scene—it's iconic—of Leo, who was so brilliant trying to drag himself from the house, down the stairs, across the driveway into this vehicle.

The only change is that it wasn't a Lamborghini; it was a Mercedes, but everything else in that scene is 100% true.

How did you teach him to become an amazing salesman?

That was easy because he’s naturally talented, so I just taught him the straight-line system that I teach people around the world. So, I taught him basic tonalities; I wrote a script that was perfect for the scene, and I just taught him how to read through the script and the sort of tricks of the trade of being a salesperson, and he took to it very, very quickly.

The first time you saw the film, did you have this sense of, I can't believe that my life is up on the screen

I was blown away, like Oh my God. The first time I saw it I was out of breath afterwards. To this day, when I see the movie, it's a big movie; it's really so well done, and Scorsese is Scorsese for a reason.

I wanted to ask you about Scorsese. What were your interactions with him like?

He's amazing. I interacted with Leo far more, but when I was on the set and met Scorsese, everyone has tremendous respect for his genius. I think Marty's gift is that he has a way of putting characters on the screen without trying to moralize. He doesn't tell you if you should love them or hate them—he lets you come to your own conclusion, while some directors almost telegraph too much of how they want you to feel, and I don't like being spoon-fed morality. You can root for people who are doing things wrong, and you can hate people for doing things right. Life is very nuanced. 

I read that it hurts you to be known, identified, as a criminal. Do you ever think about how your obituary is going to read? What will be the first line?

The greatest redemption story ever.

Are you redeemed?

That's not for me to say.

In your effort toward redemption, what does it take the form of?

It’s just how I go about living everyday, going out there and giving massive value to people and earning money from that, but making sure that you give more than you get and wanting everyone’s life to be improved. That's really how I live my life today, and it's a great way to live.

How do you motivate people during your speaking engagements? What are the kinds of things that people respond to most?

Let's just say that all people either are moving towards something that they perceive to be pleasurable or moving away from something that they think could have caused them pain. That's different for every person, but they're the universal truths. Some people are much more dominant—they'll move primarily towards pleasure—while others will move away from pain. It's really about giving people a message, to alert them to some of the belief systems that you might be holding them back. There are certain states of mind that lead people to succeed, others that lead them to failure, so it's like really highlighting the elements of success—not just saying work hard, rah rah, but really giving them strategies, like these are the elements that you need to line up in your life.

Do you live your life seeking out safety or stimulation?

Stimulation. Safety is a given. I don't think you ever win playing defense; I think you win in life playing offense. I'm safe enough—I don’t have to seek out more safety at this point in my life. I like to be stimulated and have fun and do great things, but you that doesn't mean that you can't be stimulated and be safe. They're not mutually exclusive.

Let me ask you about your lawsuit against the producers of The Wolf of Wall Street—Red Granite. It was in the news a lot a couple of years ago and then it sort of faded away. Did you settle with them?

In the process of settling now right now.

You've said before that you had your antenna up from the beginning.

They seemed like they were spending daddy's money. Like, they spent money in a way that you would expect from someone who didn't earn the money. They had massive oil money flowing into the company, like they were playboys. Ten dollars would come into the company and $5 would go to T&E. Sort of insanity. The fact that it was fraud didn’t come out for many years.

Didn’t they bring in Kanye to some event?

Yeah, I mean that was one of the things I thought was so astounding. They spent so much money on a launch party in 2010 or 2011. I was like God, these guys are just blowing money like there's no tomorrow.

What bases are you using to fly privately these days?

Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. 

And this is your home base, Miami Beach, or do you still have a home base in New York?

Miami is my home base and it’s great.

What do you want people to get out of your new book?

My new book answers the question of what do you do with your hard-earned money after you make money? You have to spend money to live and then you have savings—hopefully, especially in this market the savings are pretty large. So many people deploy their capital way that's self-defeating. They have it managed by people who charge massive fees and are engaging in a lot of trading, which is tax-inefficient. It's simple, especially in this market, to build a massive multi-million-dollar nest egg, just by investing in index funds, balancing a portfolio, keeping your expenses low and playing the long game. That's what this book is all about. It shows you how to do it in a way that minimizes your tax burden, maximizes your returns, and also exposes you to the power of long-term compounding. The book is funny, it's informative, but it's also a page-turner. I think every person in this tax bracket should read it.

I'd be remiss if I didn't ask you what was it like to prepare yourself mentally, physically, and in every other way, for prison?

You can't prepare yourself, but you go in and you make the best of it. You take a deep breath and it's not nearly as bad as you think it is. In my case, it was far worse waiting to go; that was the worst part. Once you arrive, it's just counting it down and it is what it is.

Were there were there any moments where you were surprised how normal it was? Did you ever feel threatened?

No, never. Tommy Chong was my bunkmate, so it was it was very normal for me. It was tennis, weightlifting. The most important thing I did was that I spent 10 hours a day teaching myself to write.

By looking at the works of other writers?

It was Tom Wolfe, especially. I read Bonfire of the Vanities, used it like a textbook and that really was an inspiration. I used to underline certain things in the book, unpack his strategy. It gave me sort of a purpose when I was there, so I didn't waste my time. That was the most important thing.

Let's end with this: What's the biggest misconception that you'd like to clear up?

The biggest misconception is probably that all this all happened in 2013, right before the movie came out. I mean, this stuff happened over 30 years ago—1988 to 1994. Some people think it's very new, and it's actually really, really old stuff. But it ages well, and people love the movie. I appreciate that I'm very lucky and fortunate that it became a cult hit and it will stay relevant for many years to come.

As a Wall Street character, you’ve eclipsed Gordon Gecko, which people thought was impossible.

Thanks to Scorsese and Leo, it didn't hurt.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed.