"Interesting fellow, very smart guy," is Madden's reaction to hearing the name Jordan Belfort. "We used to be very close friends." Not anymore. Belfort, "The Wolf of Wall Street," persuaded Madden to pretend to own shares in an IPO that Belfort actually owned. It was illegal. "I got involved with these guys, and it was some short cuts and stuff I'm not proud of," Madden said. "At the time we sort of thought it was a gray area of IPOs, but it wasn't."
Both men went to prison. Belfort served 22 months, but Madden stayed 31 months. "It made me sharper, it made me more conscious of time," Madden said. It worried him that his business might fail while he was away, that the fashion world would move on. But it didn't worry him that much. Madden wasn't searching the prison library for copies of Vogue. "When you're in prison, you're not thinking about shoe styles. You're thinking about surviving, and you're thinking about your mistakes. You're thinking about your family."
Madden was released in 2005 and barred for a time from having any role running his company. He describes a moment when he ran into Martha Stewart shortly after she, too, was released from prison in connection with a stock trading scheme. "I sensed this bond between us, it just was, you know, she made a mistake, and I made a mistake, but the great thing about America is you get second chances."
Madden is using his second chance to continue guiding his company, but with a little distance. There is a CEO and management team which he credits with growing sales even while he was incarcerated. "My role is different, I'm more of a cheerleader," said Madden, adding, "that's been an adjustment for me, it's really been actually hard."
Does he ever call management to complain about a new shoe? "Every day," he laughed.
So after succeeding, then failing, then making a comeback, here is Madden's advice on how to make it.