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Business lessons learn from Ocean 11

James Huang | 2021.02.06

Danny Ocean dreamed of hitting three Las Vegas casinos and walking away with $150 million in cash. This is one of my favourite movie which inspired me to be a pre-sales consultant.  One of my favourite scenes in the movie Ocean's 11 is where Rusty (played by Brad Pitt), explains the "art of conversation" to Linus (played by Matt Damon).  It is a short scene, but it offers some great business lessons.  

The biggest one I take from it, is that less is more.  When selling, don't say more than you have to close a deal. When leading people, don't push people past their breaking point when inspiring them.  When setting targets, keep them simple, short, measurable, and easy for everyone to understand.  When reaching for new levels in your success, don't take on more than you can handle.

Less is more.  Simple is simple.  And simplicity, executed well, leads to great results.  When worked as a I.T. engineer, I always drill to detail but miss the focus which actually arose client's key interest.  The "less is more" actually meant to be make thing relevant to the audience.  It is definitely not an easy task, but you can learn from kindergarten kid; which always straight to the point without fear.


The term "networking" may let you think of "the business card shuffle". I have been there. In my early career, I attended a few networking events, where nervous people stood around in a sweaty room and forced their business cards on each other. That is not what networking is about at all.  (Which I don't do it anymore)

Real networking is building relationships. Real networking is giving and serving someone else for not good reason. Real networking is seeking advice and wisdom from someone else. Real networking is about being perceived as a trusted advisor. It is not a hustle.

At first, Ruben is reluctant to help and shuts them down. He says he is not interested. But as the conversation begins to close, Ruben asks inquisitively, "Who do you got in mind?" Rusty and Danny go through the list of candidates that will work on the team. They outline the team of "proper villains" they are putting together from a long list of thieves based on relationships, experience and trustworthiness. After Ruben hears the list of villains involved and who they are going to rob, he is in. What ever happened in Belize created trust and got Ruben involved. As the movie later reveals, Rusty and Danny could not have pulled off the heist without him.

People asked me how I convert be a "Sales person". I told people I never sell, I am actually helping out and people pay for a fair price on my assistant.  In other words, as an entrepreneur, here are some key principle you should always remind yourself, which I have been doing it for many years.

  • Make meaningful connections before you need them.

  • You should try to help people for no good reason. I recommend a "helping without hustling" approach.:

  • Help other people because someone helped you when you did not deserve it.

  • Seek to help others because it creates the right environment for your life and your relationships. 

  • Think of helping people as a free sample of your work.

It is OK to hand out your business card. You can't make meaningful connections if you don't get out of your office and meet people. But meet people because you want to help somebody and have a real connection. Going to the networking event and handing out your card can really be OK if you are there to build relationships. Disbursing business cards alone does not lead to success. Real connections with people lead to success. Standing around in a sweaty room handing out business cards in the pursuit of a sale doesn't cut it. Opportunity is build on friendships and trust, not from a hustle. Of course, you should always be professional and helpful.

Business lessons learn from Ocean 11
MERCURY TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION, James Huang 6 February, 2021
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