11 Tips from Ocean’s Eleven

First, build the right team. You cannot achieve goals without the enthusiastic cooperation of a talented team. Just like Oceans Eleven, you need a team that possesses unique and complementary skills. They need to be enthusiastic about the mission. And above all they need to be loyal to each other. It is a great feeling to work with a team that has your back.

Second, plan plan plan. Oceans team planned every step of the way. They did their homework. And most importantly they set clear, specific and timed objectives. They were meticulous in their execution.

Third, don’t make it about money. You and your team will not be inspired. Focus on a purpose and a mission. A lot of business owners and executives make the mistake of thinking that staff are motivated mainly by money. All the research proves otherwise. Pay staff what they are worth but don’t use sticks and carrots to motivate them. People want to be motivated by the mission more than ever. So put purpose before profit.

Wharton Business School published a book called “Firms of Endearment” which showed that businesses who were focused on purpose made the most profit. They outperformed the S & P 500 by a ratio of 9 to 1 over a 10-year period.

Fourth, look after your staff BUT do not accept mediocrity. Expect and demand excellence. This is a tough one to enforce in Australia because talent is so scarce that most businesses will put up with average performance. In fact some businesses put up with bad attitude. My advice is to hire slowly and fire quickly. Being short staffed for a short period of time is better than having people who will poison your culture; especially if you are in the service industry.

Fifth, hire people that can work on parts of your business you’re not good at. Stick to what you’re good at. Embrace diversity in your team. Don’t hire mini-you’s.

Sixth, accept that you are not perfect. Keep learning to master your craft. Attend training seminars and conferences as much as you can. Get a business coach and mentor. Make sure it is someone with a little grey hair. In business, experience is everything. Danny Ocean had Rueben as his mentor.

Seventh, start a rainy day fund in case things go wrong. The economy, poor health or whatever. This takes the pressure off and work becomes a sport. You start to play with confidence and not fear knowing you have that safety net.

Eighth, do NOT diversify into areas of no competence. I meet many people who make money and instead of re-investing it in their own business they go into other areas. I knew a guy who was a very successful mortgage broker. He made a lot of money but instead of investing it back into his own business, by say, hiring more staff or opening a shop front, he opened a café. He lost a lot of money and took his eyes of his own business. So, stick to what you know.

Ninth, work harder not just smarter. I do not believe in or adhere to the 4-hour workweek. I appreciate Tim Ferris and his adventurous spirit but the constant focus on making a quick dollar is what’s wrong with Western Economies. We do not lack intelligence. We lack a strong work ethic. We constantly focus on making money quickly instead of working hard daily. Building a business is brick-by-brick, day-by-day, there’s no easier way.

Tenth, stay focused on the micro. Ignore what is happening at the macro level. We cannot control that. So don’t be obsessed with the business news. It makes you fearful and you start to work defensively and out of fear. Business is like sport. If we start playing defensively we stop scoring and eventually we lose the game. There are a lot of businesses that made it through the GFC stronger and bigger and more confident. It’s because they focused on what they could control. If you have a good brand and good product then all you have to do is to stay focused on delivering to your customers. Look at APPLE!

Eleventh, develop a calm, down-to-earth, and charming personality. When its crunch time and you need someone’s vote or support, these qualities will make the difference. It did for Danny Ocean.