Four Things I Learned From Ruben’s List


Reuben: Look, we all go way back and uh, I owe you from the thing with the guy in the place and I’ll never forget it.
Danny: That was our pleasure.
Rusty: I’d never been to Belize.

-Oceans 11, (2001)

One of my favorite movies is Oceans 11.  Two convicts put together a team of crooks to rob a bad guy’s casino.  As they put the team together, they go see Ruben.  Ruben is the money guy and quietly connected to the underworld.  Some unknown favor is referenced by Ruben and the convicts are almost dismissed.  Then Ruben asks inquisitively, “Who do you got in mind?”.   They go through the list of candidates with Ruben and all sorts of connections are considered.  They select the team of “proper villains” from a long list of thieves based on relationships, experience and trustworthiness.

Here are a four lessons to consider about Ruben’s list:

1) Make meaningful connections before you need them. You should try to get to know people before you need to know people.  I am not suggesting cheesy or pushy efforts to aggrandize yourself to people in the “right” circles.  As Jimmy Fallon would say, “EW”.  I am suggesting reaching out to people and make connections.  Just get to know others and be known to others.  You never know when your name may come up.

It is easy to pass over an unknown name on a list and much harder to pass over the name of someone with which you have a personal connection.

2) You should try to help people for no good reason.  I am recommending a “helping without hustling” approach.  Don’t help people because you expect favors in return.   Help is not a baseball card to be traded.   The favor might be returned, but it might not.  Don’t do it for a return payment.  Help others for no good reason.

3) Help other people because someone helped you when you did not deserve it. You will never be able to adequately repay all the good things that others have done on your behalf.  But try anyway.  Don’t just return kindness, but create an opportunity to help someone completely different.

4) Seek to help others because it creates the right environment for your life and your relationships. Help people because it is a good thing to do all on its own. This is how the good things of the world grow.

Oh yes, and help other people because you might want to knock over a casino and you need Ruben’s help to fund your 11 bandits. (If you don’t get the reference in the post today, do not consume any other media until watching Oceans 11.  Watch it at least twice. That is my unsolicited favor to you.)


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