The Sorbie Bornholm Book Club is back! I posted one book review last year, so if I do two books this year, then we’ll consider it good progress. Read on for my thoughts on “The Wolf of Wall Street” by Jordan Belfort:

I’m sure many have seen the Martin Scorsese adaptation of Wolf of Wall Street. I was surprised at how closely the film followed the book. The book, however, extends the timeline and includes details about Jordan Belfort’s stint at a rehab center and his journey toward sobriety and accountability.

Coincidentally, my elementary school mascot was originally a wolf, but it was changed to ravens by the time I reached high school. Initially, when the school was considering the change, it was quite the controversy amongst students. It felt like they were taking away our super cool, threatening wolf mascot and trading it in for a boring, black bird. Our biology teacher explained the reasoning – sure, wolves are vicious predators who hunt in packs. But ravens are clever. They are some of the smartest predators in the animal kingdom. They are inquisitive, playful, and these vocal birds will actually call other predators, including wolves, to open prey for them. In other words, ravens see the bigger picture. They know how to delegate and work with different types of teams. Wolves may be flashy and have an obvious cool, but ravens are the real leaders.

Jordan Belfort had many qualities that might have made him a good leader: charisma, vision, process development and implementation, and at times, even seemingly genuine care for his team. But qualities are not enough in the face of poor decisions, and Belfort made many poor decisions. It’s the day-to-day choices that ultimately define who we are and what we will be remembered for. Our choices are informed by our values. Without strong values, one unethical choice ultimately leads to other unethical and even illegal decisions. Good leaders must define their values, and hold them in the face of challenges and temptations, even when it’s not a popular or obvious path.

So, are you a wolf or a raven?

NEXT: “13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown” by Simon Johnson. (I’ll try not to wait a whole year to talk about it 😁)

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