Friday, April 4, 2014

We only have one life to live and we all know there is no turning back.  You only hope you can repair the messes you have made, learn from your mistakes and move on perhaps to even a better life.  Not many of us have that opportunity but when you hear of someone who has done that, changed   their life for the better, it is remarkable and worth talking about.  The real life greed depicted in the   Academy Award winning movie The Wolf of Wall Street in real life involved an important person in the foot wear   business.  The movie was about real life greed that continues in some part on Wall Street’s till today.

His name is Steve Madden and if your girl has any sense of style, she probably has a pair of his shoes in her   closet.  He doesn’t look like the ordinary shoe designer.  He looks like an ordinary hardworking husband even now as a very successful man.  His shoes are sold in nearly 60 countries and he enjoys to be part of every part of his business including weekly visits to his own New York stores.  He even knows the name of almost all his shoe styles.  Last year his company walked off with more than $1.3 billion in sales.

Women love his shoes because they are comfortable and very stylish.  From boots to sandals to   stilettos, Madden   designs many of his top selling shoes   in his factory in the New York City borough of Queens   not   far from where he grew up in a Long Island suburb.also a place near where I grew up.  As a teenager his first job was working in a shoe store.  He fell in love with the marriage of art and commerce.  In 1975 he went to college at the University of Miami and seemed to have majored in sun tanning and drugs and didn’t pass many classes.  He dropped out of college because his father refused to pay any more.  He was told to go get a job because he wasn’t taking school seriously and his father  wasn’t going to waste any more money paying for it.

With only about a grand in the bank he went back to working   in a shoe store again.  He started selling a clog he named The Marilyn and the shoe was an instant hit.  Within three years, Madden had opened his first store in New York’s trendy Soho.  Then more of   life’s mistakes happened. Greed crept into his soul.  In 1992 he went into business with Jordon Beaufort   the crooked stockbroker played by Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s film The Wolf of Wall Street. Jordon’s brokerage firm took Madden’s company public and artificially inflated its   stock   price.  They raised more money for him than he ever dreamed was possible.  In the beginning he thought   it was legitimate but then after   a while   he knew   something had to be crocked.  By then he was in too deep.

The price for his   greed was 31 months in prison.  A sentence Madden began serving in 2002.  It may have been the best thing that ever happened to him.  Yes we only have one life but it is a long life where many things can change.  While being locked up, Madden grew close to one of his employees Wendy who visited him regularly and they began holding hands, then kissing, then writing love letters.  All behaviors that never happened in their working relationship before he went to prison.  She made his time in prison better and gave him something to look forward to.  The excitement built as their heart beats raced as they counted down the months to his freedom.  They married immediately after his release and now they’re blessed with three children.  Madden has a life now surrounded by love that he probably would not have had if he did not go to prison.  Wealthy   single men rarely settle down to   a wife and kids.

He was able to go right back into his business because customers   don’t care if you’ve gone to prison, they still want great shoes.  Now he feels a greater purpose to his life.  It is no longer about making as much money as you can.  Life is about giving back.  It is about devotion to his wife and children and to his customers.  At age 56, Steve Madden has gone full circle.  He no longer   hobnobs with trendy stockbrokers but hangs out with his kids.  He is   still very busy being   a famous designer and a hands on businessman.  Madden is kicking up his heels.  Steve admits that he is sorry that   he had been so foolish to break the law however he realizes that without   going to prison, he  never would have gotten close to the woman who now is his wife and had his kids.  He loves what he does and is grateful that he has been given a second chance at life.

Yeah this was a warped feel good story, but I am a whim and I like good love stories every now and then.  What is important is that whatever God that you believe in, he or she or it never lets us see one moment into our future but our   past can haunt us forever. So look   forward to your future.  It may surprise you despite the foolishness you do today, the price you pay tomorrow, for perhaps something good in the long run.

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