I began my career on Wall Street, and became a partner at the infamous Stratton Oakmont, of “Wolf of Wall Street” fame. After launching my own firm that grew to 500 employees, generating $100 million in annual revenue, I was arrested for securities fraud, and spent 22 months in a federal prison. Upon release, I had nothing - no job, no money, and no prospects. I finally found a home at Defy Ventures, the prominent reentry non-profit, where I served as director, leading to my founding 70MillionJobs, the first for-profit recruitment platform for individuals with criminal records. In a short time, the 70MillionJobs has amassed a huge community of ex-offenders--a population emerging as a vital economic and political force--and have begun working with large, national employers.

I have experienced the dizzying heights of success, the inevitable plummet to abject failure, and ultimate redemption in discovering the intersection of good works and good business. AMA.

For job-seekers with a record, for large employers, and anyone else who wants to connect, please visit: www.70MillionJobs.com

PROOF: https://imgur.com/m7QHN8N Further proof: https://www.forbes.com/sites/zackfriedman/2017/04/12/this-ceo-wants-to-hire-70-million-people/#69e341bc7be7

EDIT: Alright Reddit, I'm signing off now. Thanks for a great evening. Come visit us at 70MillionJobs.com and contact us with your thoughts. -Richard

Comments: 225 • Responses: 61  • Date: 

santaschesthairs185 karma

Do you feel bad for making me think this was a Richard Branson AMA for a few seconds?

RichardBBronson85 karma

lol. Yes, I'm deeply sorry.

RichardBBronson1 karma

A logical mistake.

terrapin_bound53 karma

So you scammed the system once, did time, and came out with nothing.

Can you prove to people here that your new venture is not a scam? Just by the name of it, seems pretty fishy to me?

RichardBBronson19 karma

I understand how you feel.Under the circumstances, I know I have a lot to prove, including to my investors. All I can say is wait and see.

imgladisaidit18 karma

Alright, this is going to be a rather harsh sounding question here. But please understand that I'm not bashing you.

So, how do you view your return to working in light of the massive disparity between Caucasian and African Americans both in incarceration rates and success after release?

In other words, if you weren't Caucasian and with the background you had before being convicted, do you think that you would have been able to achieve the relative return to normalcy in an executive position?

As a secondary question to that, how do you think we as a society could improve that disparity?

RichardBBronson30 karma

Not harsh at all. You're stating some depressing facts. There's huge racism in this country. 85% of those incarcerated are African American or Latin. This is vastly unjust and what I work towards righting. The fact that I'm a white male with a college education definitely makes things easier than what my brothers and sisters of color face, so in a way I'm fortunate. But anyone that's done time carries a stigma that resembles a life sentence.

pokinfolks15 karma

I think this sounds amazing and super ambitious. What's the projection for the 70 million placements? Months, years? I used to think It would be cool to have a team in an rv with resume building and wardrobing to travel and do this on a smaller scale with homeless.

RichardBBronson12 karma

I like your RV idea. But having worked in the non-profit space, I was eager to find ways to scale this enterprise and move the needle. To me, it means finding 1 million people jobs. that was my goal starting out. If we do an RV, may we count you in?

pokinfolks9 karma

Absolutely. I'd originally thought of that because it could have a more down to earth vibe with the right team, and just take the time to enjoy and understand individuals stories to build on. Maybe it could even be documented in an entertaining way that could be used for positive promotion of potential employers.

RichardBBronson11 karma

It's really a great reality tv idea.

Raiderz40814 karma

Knowing what happened, would you do it again?

RichardBBronson34 karma

Great question. Honestly, I never had as much fun as back in those days. We were all such great friends and I never laughed so hard. But the pain I caused my friends and family was so great, and the shame that I felt and continue to feel isn't compensated by all the sex, drugs and rock and roll. I wasn't put on this earth to do bad. I'm trying to save my soul every day. Thanks for asking

sahhhnnn6 karma

That’s an honest answer that I can relate to. People will always hold the past over your head but once you’ve truly changed and found meaning in what’s really important in our short time on Earth, your soul is already saved. I wish you all the success in your new endeavor and pray you help 70 million and more.

RichardBBronson4 karma

Thank you. Kind of you to say.

aidensmom12 karma

So you came out with nothing and a non-profit helped you out. Now you go and create a for-profit to compete with them. What exactly did you learn? Sounds like you're still in it for yourself...

RichardBBronson7 karma

I get the fact that it's hard not to judge me negatively, but the non-profit didn't help me out. I worked there, helping out people with records (job readiness, job placement). I don't compete with the non-profit at all. And if by being "in it for myself...", I am trying to earn a living and do well, but there's many things I could be doing that would be far more lucrative. We are committed to getting one million people with records jobs. You can decide if what I'm doing is good or bad.

shooter_mcgav9 karma

Best party story from the wolf of Wall Street days?

RichardBBronson17 karma

Oh god! Do I really have to answer this? Let's see. I don't want to name any names that you may recognize (hell, you'd definitely recognize). There were so many days of shaving heads for $5k, eating wasabi for cash, abusing casino hosts, all stuff I'm very embarrassed by. There were times of 48-hour stints at the blackjack tables, people passing out left and right at the dinner table, celebrities that wanted to befriend us. It was all a drug-fueled blur, with endless laughing. Great, but also very sad

shooter_mcgav5 karma

Thanks for the answer! Best of luck with anything.

By the way, Did you ever try ludes? If so, thoughts?

RichardBBronson24 karma

Loved, loved, loved them. However, I broke my hip falling down stairs while high, and destroyed a ferrari. Drug casualties

ClaudioRules6 karma

Considering the pain and suffering you said you caused did you get off easy?

How would you prosecute financial crimes?

RichardBBronson15 karma

Prior to being arrested, I returned all ill-gotten money to investors, so that had a lot to do with my relatively soft sentence. But I was guilty, no two ways about it. I deeply regret my behavior and am committed to making right those wrongs.

HardHiss6 karma

What was the best lesson you learned while in prison?

RichardBBronson18 karma

Another good question. I learnt about humility. It's hard being a big shot when you're scrubbing the toilets of 100 men. It's a lesson I try to absorb every day.

CatchingRays6 karma

Can you present your job seekers to clients with confidence that recidivism will not be an issue? How?

RichardBBronson5 karma

Consider this: There's an almost 80% chance that someone will be re-arrested within 5 years of leaving jail or prison. Almost all of these people will be unemployed at time of arrest. Contrariwise, people with jobs almost never recidivate. Employment is the silver bullet. Period.

thesheriffisdead6 karma

Hi! Very fascinating. Have you seen the movie ? Are you in it as a character by any chance ? The movie is one of my favorite of all time. Crazy world!

RichardBBronson15 karma

Yes, I've seen the movie. I was not a direct character, thank God. I love Scorcese, so I enjoyed it. But real life isn't a movie. But I thought it was surprisingly accurate.

majikmyk5 karma

Do you specialize in finding these folks certain types of jobs, or do you just help whoever find whatever work they can do? How do you make money off that?

RichardBBronson10 karma

  1. Companies pay us a fee for every applicant they hire, like any other recruiting firm. We focus on large, national employers in the retail, food service, health care, call center, trucking, logistics, warehousing, etc.

SarahXDress5 karma

Any advice for job interviews? Also finding a good job as a non college graduate?

RichardBBronson15 karma

Research the company before you show up. Have lots of questions to ask interviewer

coryrenton5 karma

which large company has a good track record with employing ex-offenders and which large company does a bad job at it?

RichardBBronson14 karma

Great question. Uber is a great company that's committed to being 2nd chance friendly. Most of the big tech companies talk a good game but at the end of the day really don't deliver on their promises.

CatchingRays4 karma

What is the longest that one of your ex-offenders has been employed successfully? What is the job?

RichardBBronson4 karma

We're a relatively young company, so none of our applicants have been employed very long. What I can tell you is that generally after hiring our applicants, companies come back to us, asking for more folks like those they hired. That has nothing to do with us, but rather some really great, inspiring people who deserve a second chance.

VampNightClub3 karma

I am curious about one angle. It seems every time you read about these big time scams (10's to 100's of millions) the ones that get busted are always cleaned out. Why don't the scammers ever think "Gee I should bury 1, 3, 5, 10 million just in case". I know they are pretty thorough in hunting down assets but it seems like they would never find truly hidden cash. Is it a "I'll never get caught thing?"

RichardBBronson4 karma

Interesting question. Most people, I think, do stash money, but I didn't. (the US govt spent lots of time looking for it, and the judge was very surprised to find I didn't). I felt so awful about what I had done, that after paying everyone back, paid the lawyers, paid the govt, I took everything else I had and donated it to charity. It was the only thing that made me feel like a good human being.

CatchingRays3 karma

What makes your organization better than any other established nonprofits that provide the same kind of services to ex-offenders?

RichardBBronson2 karma

I don't know if we're better or worse than anyone. In our line of work, we count up the people we helped get a job and consider that a success. We don't compete with non-profits, but rather partner with them. We have great relationships with most of the largest, as they refer us clients. We all consider that we're on the same team. Generally, non-profits operate locally, and are not in a position to work with large, national employers. We have a national footprint and the technology to integrate with theirs.

Army_of_mantis_men3 karma

It just seems strange to me you came out with nothing (at least, officially). Easy for me to say this, but "if I were you, I'd hid the money better" - maybe simple cash burried somewhere, or a Swiss bank account (maybe I'm just biased by the Hollywood). How can it happen, that someone with such success (in terms o revenue) comes out after only 22 months with nothing? I just can't wrap my head around it.

RichardBBronson3 karma

I understand your amazement. Please see my answer above that addresses this.

hehnon2 karma

What advice would you give your 25 year old self?

RichardBBronson9 karma

Don't be impatient. Figure out what you're good at and what makes you happy. Get involved in the industry at any level, then work hard. 80% of life is just showing up. Most people give up on their dreams. Don't do that.

fighter_pil0t2 karma

What was it like founding Virgin Galactic?

RichardBBronson1 karma

good one

starmancer2 karma

Gotta ask: Do you invest in cryptocurrencies? What are you thoughts on the whole scene?

RichardBBronson6 karma

I don't have the dough to invest, but probably would. See answer above.

stephen2502 karma

How was your prison experience? Have you helped any inmates you were in the clinker with find gainful employment?

RichardBBronson9 karma

Prison was boring, more than anything else. I was not in a max security facility, and it was federal, which means it was clean, organized and not violent. Under the circumstances, I was very lucky.

SecondRyan1 karma

Which industries and employers have been most receptive to 70million jobs so far? Which industries do you predict have a lot of growth in store as well as an established interest in hiring people with records? Curious to hear your observations.

RichardBBronson0 karma

Historically, these industries have shown a willingness to hire the formerly incarcerated: food service, retail, warehousing, logistics, health care, sales. Big retailers experience huge employee turnover, so they have to be fairly open in their hiring practices.

SecondRyan2 karma

Some of those industries will be facing increased automation, if we're to believe all the predictions. Which industries do you think would be willing to pick up the slack?

RichardBBronson3 karma

Wow. That's a tough question. What do you think?

iambestfresh1 karma

How can one get started with investing? simply put.

RichardBBronson1 karma

Not a simple question, but there are some great index funds, etf's, roboadvisors that are providing great service with a very small fee structure, that outperform more famous, much more expensive money managers.

TIREddit1 karma

I am going to apply to y-combinator in the near future for a software i'm am creating. Any advice on what the judges/reviewers are looking for in order to better my chances at being part of that incubator?

RichardBBronson1 karma

You can contact me by going to 70MillionJobs.com>contact us. I'll be glad to give you some advice

vin_ordinaire1 karma

How do you plan to ensure that those who had committed a 'real' crime don't get placed in a job where trustworthiness is essential?

RichardBBronson1 karma

I assume that trustworthiness is important at any job. But the actual facts will surprise you: studies have shown that folks with records actually perform better than those without. (THey are deeply grateful for the opportunity, and have no sense of entitlement. They stay on the job longer, as well. And finally, when a company hires someone with a record, they're automatically covered under a federal bonding program. Interestingly, although this bonding has been around for decades, only a very few claims have ever been made. Bottom line: these people generally DON'T get into trouble after employed.)

mickeybuilds1 karma

Were you portrayed in the movie?

RichardBBronson1 karma

I was not a specific character in the film.

mickeybuilds1 karma

I'm confused about your story. Were you a part of the firm from Wolf of Wallstreet and arrested there, or you started there, did your own thing and got arrested while at another organization? Either way, it's smart to use the movies popularity to market your new company.

RichardBBronson1 karma

I started there, became a partner, then founded my own company that largely followed that (crooked) approach.

BrunoPassMan1 karma

Looking at the IMDB page of the movie, I can't see your name as a character- who played you?

RichardBBronson1 karma

Again, I was not a specific character in the film.

Samus_is_waifu1 karma

Will you rename your company as your successful client base increases?

RichardBBronson1 karma

70 million jobs refers to the number of people with criminal records. I'd be thrilled if I had to change the company's name to 60MillionJobs.

ToucanSam1111 karma

Do you miss qualudes as much as I do?

RichardBBronson2 karma

lol. Honestly, yes.

GeekyNerdy-1 karma

Hi Richard,

Do you provide some sort of career training to get former inmates back into their feet? What's the process like?

RichardBBronson1 karma

We specifically do not offer career training. That along with treatment for substance abuse, mental health, family issues, housing, etc., are typically tackled by local non-profit organizations, along with parole/probation. There are very high-touch areas that require lots of time and do not scale well. Our goal was to supplement this work with a scalable solution (we aim to employ 1 million people), employing technology. We generally don't work with people fresh out of incarceration, as generally they have multiple issues to address prior to their becoming potentially successful employees, but rather with folks who've been out a couple of years, and basically have their act together. They often just need a little help, one less door slamming in their face, and then they'll do very well. That's where we think we can have the greatest impact, efficiently and economically.

KokoKnutz1 karma

Do you ever see / talk to Jordan Belfort or Danny Porush anymore? Do you feel that they are rehabilitated, changed for the better?

RichardBBronson2 karma

I've seen Danny fairly recently, Jordan mostly through facebook. I don't feel comfortable opining on their rehabilitation, and definitely don't think that I should be judging anyone.

PrettywhenIcryNY1 karma

Sorry, Richard. Addressed my question in the wrong place.

Are you still taking questions and if so, how would someone get in touch with you if they'd like to work with you?

RichardBBronson1 karma

Visit 70MillionJobs.com > contact us, and send me a message

RichardBBronson1 karma

You can visit our website, 70MillionJobs.com > contact us, and send me a message

majikmyk1 karma

What do you think of the wealth inequality in the US and would you be willing to help smash the oligarchy when the revolution comes knocking?

RichardBBronson2 karma

I'm an old hippie, who marched at many a protest back in the day. I'm not sure the revolution will come knocking; maybe more through a notification on my smart phone.

stuckinPA1 karma

Hi Richard. Can you share where you were incarcerated?

RichardBBronson1 karma

Yes, Eglin AFB and Montgomery (both federal) Was also at Rikers for a couple of weeks

bestadamire1 karma

Not an ex-offender, but think you could hook me up with a good paying job?

RichardBBronson3 karma

Sorry--we have our hands full with folks w/records

aaronthenia1 karma

What was your drug of choice and how often/much did you imbibe in?

RichardBBronson6 karma

I took a lot of quaaludes. Pretty much every day. If they hadn't stopped making them, I'd probably be dead by now.

hereandnowhereelse1 karma

[deleted]

RichardBBronson3 karma

Thanks for your question. The sad truth is that most of the men and women in prison don't have a lot of job experience nor education. Combined with their absolute need to find a job (which might be a condition to their freedom on parole or probation), they consider themselves fortunate to find anyone willing to hire them. There's a huge degree of negative bias and racism at work. Folks with degrees and advanced skills generally figure out how to negotiate the system. They may never rise to run Google, but they can find a reasonably good job. Those with a record are deeply f'ed. Turns out that when they are hired, they generally emerge as an employer's best hire, and stick around longer. Combined with generous federal tax credits, there's compelling reason why hiring this population is very good for business.

hereandnowhereelse1 karma

[deleted]

RichardBBronson1 karma

I'm happy for you that you had people in your corner

RichardBBronson2 karma

Sorry-didn't address all of your question. We're trying to do the greatest amount of good as quickly and efficiently as possible (there are real lives at stake). We target the folks who've been out of prison for a couple of years, who basically have their shit together but just need one less door slammed in their face. So we try to help them out, knowing that they'll do very well once given the chance.

prdlph1 karma

What’s your plan re the name as the number of ex prisoners keeps going up?

RichardBBronson4 karma

Well, the good news is the prison population is actually going down somewhat, and there's lots of progressive thought regarding reentry. I'd be delighted to change our name to 60MillionJobs.

lollibean1 karma

Any advice for someone also seeking the intersection of good works and good business? Sometimes it seems they're mutually exclusive.

RichardBBronson3 karma

Yeah, I know what you mean, but I do believe that there's been an evolution in peoples' expectations that of what a business should stand for. Companies like Virgin and others believe that there's a righteous connection between taking care of your employees, pleasing your customers, and doing the right thing. The old "greed is good" mentality seems like ancient thinking. Employees won't accept that. Times have changed, and mostly for the better. Doing good, I've come to learn and believe, can in fact be reflected in your bottom line. Maybe that's because I'm a 63 year old man that's very concerned with his karma. But I get incredibly positive response to our business model. And I sleep better at night.

DaleKav121 karma

Is the Wolf of Wall Street movie an accurate representation on what Wall Street was like at that time?

RichardBBronson5 karma

I had worked at large, so-called reputable WS firms before Stratton Oakmont, and they were fairly crooked in their own way. Stratton made no bones about why we came to work: disengage money from our clients. We did lots of drugs, gambled like crazy, took private planes, had fun with incredible women. Yeah, pretty accurate.

ecm271 karma

Hi Richard. What are your thoughts on Bitcoin and its future?

RichardBBronson13 karma

I've traded lots of irrational markets (and manipulated them as well). Blocktrain tech is real, and I look forward to regulation to iron out the volatility. Don't know when to buy or sell, but I'm considering doing a raise.

mydogbuddha1 karma

[deleted]

RichardBBronson0 karma

I'm ashamed by much of my behavior, but I sleep at night in the knowledge that I paid everyone back. And we did not open accounts with retirees, widows and children. I have devoted my life to doing the right thing.

stickfigureghost1 karma

What is the greatest obstacle 70MillionJobs has had to overcome to gain success and how was it overcome? I would love to ask on a more personal level but I know time is money haha. Thanks!

RichardBBronson6 karma

We haven't begun to reach our goals of "success," but needless to say, there's lots of negative bias regarding the formerly incarcerated. We think the time is right for our business, but we may be a little early.

PompeyJon820 karma

In the UK we are looking to 'Ban The Box' which is not ask the question on an application if the person has done time.

Could that work in the US?

RichardBBronson0 karma

Ban the Box has already been adopted by many cities and states in the US.

PM_ME_YOUR_NAUGHTIEZ0 karma

How do you feel about our current political climate?

RichardBBronson5 karma

I am waiting to awake from the nightmare of our current administration. I'm a NYer, and none of us take our spray-painted Pres seriously. He is blithely ignorant, unengaged and clearly racist. As a patriotic American, I'm ashamed of him.

PM_ME_YOUR_NAUGHTIEZ-2 karma

My thoughts exactly. He is just a nightmare. He has set the nation back DECADES in the eyes of the world. This is not progress, it is the last breath of the baby boomers political preferences.

RichardBBronson-2 karma

amen brother

fooaddict950 karma

Tootski?

RichardBBronson3 karma

Yes, some of that. Mostly quaaludes

almasinfe0 karma

What was your most memorable crazy nights out?

RichardBBronson2 karma

I spent a memorable evening with an eight-ball, a case of Cristal and four women way out of my league

psychedelicshotguns-1 karma

Who played you in the movie?

Coke or quaaludes?

RichardBBronson1 karma

I wasn't a specific character in the movie. Mostly quaaludes

[deleted]-1 karma

[deleted]

RichardBBronson1 karma

good one