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Grant Cardone VS Jordan Belfort: the cagefight

Doesn't take much skill to see the power dynamics between these two.

You can cut the power tension with a knife.

Grant came in with a combative mindset of overpowering Belfort.

And Belfort started early to frame the interaction as adversarial when he says people wanted to see the "match between heavyweight salesmen" (terrible self-frame, BTW).

At the end of this exchange below Grant Cardone tells Jordan Belfort they should have a cage fight match.

See here:

Belfort: tell me about the 10x conference
Cardone: what do you know about it
Belfort: I don't know anything about it
Cardone: please
Belfort: I don't know anything about it buddy
Cardone: How do you know about to ask about the 10x conference
BelfortI've seen it advertised online
Cardone: Did you hit my website?
Belfort: No
Cardone: The only way you'd see my advertisement is if you hit... You were doing research on me!
Belfort: Nono, I wasn't, I swear to God
(...)
Cardone: You and I we should do a cage fight

Can you see the deeper power-issue they're tussling over here?

Overall, people seemed to side with Belfort, and for good reasons, I think.
Grant Cardone overdid it, came across as overly aggressive, but also scatterbrained and outskilled in sales and debating.

I didn't come out of it with a very high opinion of Belfort either though, especially with the follow-up interviews.

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Growfast
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

The game is who's the authority in their domain, sales in this case.

Cardone wants to frame Belfort as following him and researching him.
So Belfort is expending time and effort to invest into what he's doing.
This gives Cardone authority.

Belfort rejects this by saying that he doesn't know anything about it.

Additionally, Belfort says Cardone is advertising a lot in a flashy manner.
The established brands in the world don't need to advertise so aggressively, at least in a flashy manner.
In a way, this frames Cardone as an up and coming brand.


I think big brands do advertise consistently.
I still see Coca Cola everywhere.
But Coca Cola is smarter in how they advertise.
With fun scenes on the beach and their signature refreshing sound.

The company doesn't ask you to buy Coca Cola now.
Coca Cola doesn't say it's the best drink directly.

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Lucio BuffalmanoGrowfast

In that specific exchange Cardone wanted to sub-communicate:

  • "you know about me and my work because I'm a big shot in this industry"
  • "you researched me because I'm an important guest"

Belfort negates both of them when he says he knew nothing about it.
So he sub-communicates:

  • "I know nothing about you because you're a nobody"
  • "I know nothing about you because I didn't take time away from my more important things to research a small player such as yourself"

It was a Machiavellian mean move in my opinion because, in all likelihood, it wasn't true that Belfort knew nothing of the 10x conference.
And that told me Belfort was being insincere and also probably had his own dark agenda.

Chances are Belford did research Cardone and did have at least an idea about the conference.
That's simple business practice: know something about the person you interview. Add to that that they're competitors and in the same industry, and that this was probably the most important podcast in Belfort's career and... It makes little sense that Belfort wouldn't at least spend a few minutes to know about Grant Cardone.

Plus, Belford knows the seminar business: he later admits he has experience in it.
Indirectly, Belfort also tells us he lost money in the seminar business. Cardone could have used that to his advantage but didn't do so properly.

A trap for Grant Cardone

This whole thing felt to me like Belfort had prepared a Machiavellian trap for Cardone.

He wanted to make Cardone look dumb, and self-frame as the main authority on sales and persuasion.

His post-interviews in which he goes really hard on Cardone -he called him a "moron"- provide some evidence for this view.

Cardone Easy to Trap

Cardone wasn't the most difficult man to trap.

Everyone who knows a bit about people knows he's not the most prepared individual on people and persuasion.
He's got ADD, and that prevents him from truly going deep into things and/or using any other mode than hard sell and fast-talk.

Cardone is good at that.
Plus, he's been one of the front-runners of the fame-based entrepreneurial model (Tai Lopez, Sam Ovens, partially Gary Vee, etc.).

But outside of that, he's skin-deep.

Belfort's interview was structured around the details and intricacies, designed to show Cardone as a clueless one-trick pony.

Cardone’s Mistake

Cardone made it even worse on himself.

He focused on dominance and frame control instead of saying something intelligent -the "dickhead-dom" mode we warn against here-.

That made him come across as both clueless and insecure/over-aggressive.

The interview turned out a PR disaster for Grant and a boon for Belfort.

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Growfast
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I think that it is actually quite fair for Cardone to market himself as an important person in the industry.
Belfort was already playing the host so he had a natural advantage when it comes to branding and public relations.

Personally, I didn't have to go too deep to find out about the 10x conference when reading about Grant Cardone.
I have trouble believing that Belfort doesn't know about Cardone's conference.

I get the feeling that Belfort is lying too.
Belfort wavered and stumbled when Cardone questioned him:

Cardone: How many of you think he's bullshitting right now?

Belfort: Do I ... Am I bullshitting?

For someone as dominant as Belfort, I don't think that will be his go-to answer when being accused of bullshitting.

What do you think about Belfort's outstretched hand?
It gave me the feeling that he was a bit anxious and stretched out his hand for more space & control.

Everyone who knows a bit about people knows he's not the most prepared individual on people and persuasion.
He's got ADD, and that prevents him from truly going deep into things and/or using any other mode than hard sell and fast-talk.

Grant Cardone reminds me of Gary Vaynerchuk to a certain extent in terms of mannerisms.
Quite all over the place but talks with a lot of energy and passion.

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Lucio BuffalmanoGrowfast

I feel like Cordone insisting that Belfort has to have researched and Belfort repeatedly denying harmed Cordone that he wasn't researched before.

Instead my thoughts are that Cordone could have accepted that Belfort didn't research it and played it off in a different way as so.

Jordan : You are lucky you didn't research in the way that you are going to learn about the seminar fresh from me personally and if you didn't understand some things it can be quickly and easily cleared right now.

What would you have done in Jordan's position?

Quote from Growfast on September 15, 2021, 1:14 pm

I feel like Cordone insisting that Belfort has to have researched and Belfort repeatedly denying harmed Cordone that he wasn't researched before.

Instead my thoughts are that Cordone could have accepted that Belfort didn't research it and played it off in a different way as so.

Yes, absolutely, great observation.

First off, he thread-expanded on a negative.

And he had no way to win that one.

He insisted on a position that was very easy for Belfort to defend, and almost impossible to win for him.

Cardone cannot prove that Belfort has researched him.
And him insisting make him look far worse than Belfort looks by denying.

Belfort also played is super well.
He truly made his denial seem natural, and framed Cardone's insistence as "weird", out of place, and low-value.

Another powerful reminder that what's true matters little in life.

Edit:
Added "thread expanding" which was key.

Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

I think Cardone should have used an indirect way to probe Belfort.

Belfort: tell me about the 10x conference
Cardone: what do you know about it
Belfort: I don't know anything about it
Cardone: What are your favourite sales conferences?

Now if Belfort says he doesn't know anything about sales conferences, he looks clueless.
If Belfort says something, Cardone has a benchmark.

Belfort: I really like (name of conference).
Cardone: That's our rival.
So we host 10x confernece on a different month of the year.
And both conferences do pretty well.

I think he wouldn't come out too bad like this.

This is also a possible strategy when a customer doesn't know your up and coming brand, but you have a better product.

Cardone didn't ask enough questions to Belfort after watching some segments of the interview.
He was too focused on forcing things.

Quote from Matthew Whitewood on September 15, 2021, 5:37 pm

I think Cardone should have used an indirect way to probe Belfort.

Belfort: tell me about the 10x conference
Cardone: what do you know about it
Belfort: I don't know anything about it
Cardone: What are your favourite sales conferences?

Now if Belfort says he doesn't know anything about sales conferences, he looks clueless.
If Belfort says something, Cardone has a benchmark.

Belfort: I really like (name of conference).
Cardone: That's our rival.
So we host 10x confernece on a different month of the year.
And both conferences do pretty well.

I think he wouldn't come out too bad like this.

Not bad indeed.

If he wanted to save it after the initial mistake:

Belfort: I don't know anything about it
Cardone: please
Belfort: I don't know anything about it buddy
Cardone: man, you don't research the basic information about your guests?

Now Belfort is trapped.

Continue denying, and he looks like a terrible interviewer.
Admit he does have at least an idea about 10x, and it re-empowers Cardone.

And Cardone can accept that, build on it, and rebuild some goodwill as well, but this time as a higher power, as well as more collaborative, leader.

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Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?

What do you think about adding this to the following article?
What To Do When People Pretend They Don’t Know You

I think this thread covers an important social scenario when you are forced to stay in an interaction with someone who pretends to forget you or your details.

I suppose even if Jordan uses a pick-and-choose frame

Cardone: man, you don't research the basic information about your guests?

Belfort: I am familiar with your work but not the 10x conference.

This would still raise Cardone's social status.

I see a deeper strategy here.
Tying your anchor to your rival's ship.

The frame here feels like

If you drag me down, you're going down with me.
Instead we can choose to empower each other by being "in the know".

There's the general strategy of aligning interests not only for win-win but to disincentivise win-lose.

Albeit quite a different dynamic, I did that here with my ex-boss:

Boss: (talks about an industry)

You: Some of my friends are working in this industry.

Boss: Then, what happened to you? (condescending tone)

You: I came to work on your project.

And Donald Trump did this with Hillary Clinton when asked to admit his wrongdoings.
The hide your problem behind their problem tactic:

What we can takeaway here is that Cardone made a mistake by using too much frame dominance and imposing.
He could have achieved better results by being fluid in his frames and taking into account Belfort's interests which he could have known better with better preparation.

Cardone lost credibility because any decent salesperson knows that one should not unnecessarily frame-impose when talking to leads and customers.

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Lucio Buffalmano

Thank you Matthew, that's a great tip to link this thread with that early article, they're the exact same dynamic indeed.

I also added it to PU now, there is a section on "pretending to forget".

And by the way, here's another even simpler technique for Cardone:

Belfort: I don't know anything about it
Cardone: please
Belfort: I don't know anything about it buddy
Cardone: Well, it's quite a major conference for sales and personal branding, and probably the most famous product of all of my work. The price tag to attend is also quite high, and still last year more than 10.000 attended. I'm surprised you've never heard about it

This is "easier" for people to fall back to because:

  • It talks up the conference, which comes naturally to most people
  • The technique is simple honesty and vulnerability ("most famous product of my work", / I'm surprised you never... ")

And it's exactly the honesty and vulnerability that do the trick.
Everyone at that table and anyone watching the episode would nod along thinking "indeed, pretty strange Belfort knows nothing about it... Was he pretending, or is he clueless about the industry he's in?"

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Matthew Whitewood
Have you read the forum guidelines for effective communication already?
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