Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Ocean’s 8

A Reel Leadership Article

There have been many classic heist films in the history of cinema. Heat, The Bank Job, Baby Driver, Ocean’s 11 and 12 (fun little fact, I viewed Ocean’s 12 at my bachelor party oh so many years ago), and Bonnie And Clyde to name a few.

Heist films are all about a team pulling off an impossible job. They rob a bank, steal a bunch of cars, or knock over a casino. You get to experience the thoughts and actions of a team as they go for the score of a lifetime.

Leadership lessons in Ocean's 8

Ocean’s 8 continues in this vein.

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) is finally released from prison after five years, eight months, and 12 days for her part in a previous Ocean robbery. Upon her release, she begins to implement a scheme she’s been devising for all those years behind bars.

Ocean’s 8 brings together a great cast of female actresses to help Debbie pull off the greatest heist of her lifetime. Rhianna as Nine Ball, Cate Blanchett as Lou, Helena Bonham Carter as Rose, Awkwafina as Constance, Mindy Kaling as Amita, Sarah Paulson as Tammy, and Anne Hathaway as Daphne Kluger are the main cast and do an excellent job pulling you into the latest Ocean’s 8 movie.

You will get a great heist film with the movie. You will also discover loads of leadership lessons in Ocean’s 8.

Caution: Ocean’s 8 spoilers below.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Ocean’s 8

1. People will lie to your face:

Debbie Ocean went before the parole board. During her parole interview, Debbie told them she wanted to lead the simple life.

She lied through her teeth as she told those before her this lie. She didn’t want the simple life. What she wanted was to pull a heist when she was released from prison.

You have to be careful in whom you place your trust. You will have to navigate lies and mistruths as you lead.

Those you lead may lie to your face. They will be looking out for themselves and when they’re scared or want something, they may go for the lie.

To help prevent this, you can do a couple of things:

Create an environment where truth is valued

Allow the space for failure

Take a hard stance against lies

2. Be creative:

Shortly after Debbie’s release, she entered a Bergdorf Goodman store. This is a high-end retailer.

She walks the aisles and sees many luxury items she would enjoy. She began to take these items off of the shelf. Then she does something unexpected.

Debbie goes to the Bergdorf Goodman customer service desk and asks to return the items. When the customer service representative asked for a receipt, she said she didn’t have one. The customer service representative said she couldn’t accept the returns without one.

Debbie becomes a little belligerent. Then she comes up with a creative answer. She tells the customer service representative she will not be returning the items and leaves the store with the ill-gotten goods.

While Debbie was deceitful (and I’m not advocating theft or deceit), she was also creative. She found a way to obtain high-end perfumes, bath soaps, and more without paying for them.

Are you stuck in a financial pickle? Could you use more manpower? Do you need to move a stagnant project forward?

Look for creative solutions to these problems. Maybe you move employees around. You might take a pay cut to reduce the financial strain on your business. Or you might bring in a new consultant to finish the project.

You have to look for new options. New options bring new life. And they get the job done.

3. Reuben Tishkoff:

Sometimes just knowing the job will work is enough, you don’t have to do it.

Elliot Gould reprised his role as Reuben to deliver a special message to Debbie Ocean. He met her at Danny Ocean’s (George Clooney) grave and tried to dissuade her from going ahead with her plans.

Reuben knew what Debbie was planning and wanted to stop her. He encouraged her that sometimes just knowing what you plan on doing is good enough. You don’t have to go through with your plans.

A lot of ideas run through a leader’s mind. Not all of those ideas are wise or proper. Because of this, leaders have to be careful in the ideas they pursue.

You can have an idea. You can know the idea will work. But you don’t have to go through with your idea or plan if it isn’t right.

Be careful of the plans you go through with.

4. Pique the interest of others:

When Debbie meets with Lou, Lou is hesitant to be a part of her plan. She tells Debbie to not tell her any of the details. She doesn’t want her interest piqued.

The reason? She knew if she hears the plan, she’ll be interested and will want to go through with the plan.

Debbie does. Debbie spills the beans. And Lou is in.

You have to pique the interest of others as you lead. This will help you get the buy-in you need.

Share the juicy, tantalizing parts of your mission and vision. Get people excited about what you’re doing. Then get them to join your team.

5. Debbie Ocean:

Because it’s what I’m good at.

This is the reason Debbie gave for continuing to try to pull off heists. She knew what she was good at. So she continued to do what she was good at.

Do you know what you’re good at? You might be good at:

  • Organizing teams
  • Inspiring others
  • Financial budgeting
  • Vision casting
  • Or a plethora of other leadership abilities

Discover what you’re good at doing. Then do them.

6. You have to put together a great team:

For the heist Debbie Ocean was planning, she knew she had to assemble a great team. And this is what she does in Ocean’s 8.

She and Lou seek out some of the best people for the team. They bring in the hacker Nine Ball, Rose the fashion designer, Constance, Amita the jeweler, and Tammy.

The team works together in unison. They push one another and got the job done.

To lead effectively, you have to have a great team. You have to find the right people. Assemble the right people. And inspire them to the end.

7. Reassure your team:

Daphne was a huge starlet in the Ocean’s 8 universe. She was also a huge part of the MET Gala ball where Debbie’s team was going to pull off the heist.

Rose, the fashion designer, was with Daphne as Daphne began to freak out over whether or not the Toussaint necklace would look good on her neck. Rose knew it would and told her it would be okay.

Eventually, Daphne calmed down. The heist could continue.

You’re going to set some huge goals before your team. Some of the goals will make your team members feel inadequate.

When this happens, it is your responsibility as their leader, to help reassure them they have what it takes. Remind them of past successes. Show them how it’s been done in the past. Let them fail without consequence.

Reassuring your team isn’t a sign of weakness. Reassuring your team shows them you believe in them.

8. You’re only as good as your weakest link:

The security at the MET Gala was tight. But it was also weak.

One of the security members, Paul Damanian (James Hindman), loved the Soft-coated Wheaton Terrier. Once Nine Ball discovered this love, she created a fake Wheaton website and placed a link on Paul’s desk.

Paul’s love for the Wheaten dog breed compelled him to click the link. His click allowed Nine Ball to take control of the security cameras.


Unfortunately, you’re going to have weak links on your team. They’re going to fail or not even try. That’s a problem.

You have to be ready to deal with weak links. Whether this is through proper training, micromanagement for a time, or letting them go, you have to know who your weakest links are and keep an eye on them.

9. Lou:

Why do you always have to do this? Why do you have to do a job inside a job? Why is there always an asterisk?

The reason Debbie Ocean had been in prison was that Claude Becker (Richard Armitage) had flipped on her. He told the police he had been conned by Debbie when they were running the con together.

Claude was still around and Debbie used him as a pawn in her game. She used him to get her revenge.

You have to be careful of your reasoning for doing things. Think about why you’re leading or going in the direction you’re heading.

Are they for the right reasons? Or are they personal, selfish reasons?

Knowing WHY you’re doing what you’re doing goes a long way. It gives you direction and can keep you on track.

10. Play the long game:

Debbie didn’t come up with the idea to steal the Toussaint necklace overnight. Oh no! She planned this for 5 years, 8 months, and 12 days.

She knew she had to play the long game. It wasn’t going to be an overnight success. It was going to take time and she was okay with the wait.

Are you okay with waiting? Are you okay with success taking longer than expected? To be truly successful, you have to be willing to play the long game.

11. Loneliness is dangerous:

Daphne, the beautiful starlet, joined Debbie’s crew. Despite all of her success, she was lonely. She had no friends to confide in.

This is why she wanted to be a part of the heist. She wanted to have female friends.

Her loneliness drove her to crime.

The recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain reveal the appearance of success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. People have a deeper desire than success.

People are dying because they don’t have a support system they can count on. Loneliness and depression are crushing them and they don’t know of any other way out. So they choose death or crime or some other inappropriate way to express their pain.

Be careful of alienating yourself. You need to find a support group. A group of men or women who will hold you up and keep you healthy.

12. John Frazier:

You know… One of these days you’re going to have to let this go.

John Frazier (James Corden) is an insurance fraud investigator. Frazier had previously busted Danny Ocean and was now coming after Debbie Ocean.

He knew the history between Debbie and Claude. He also knew Debbie was gunning for Claude to go down because Claude had turned Debbie over to the authorities.

Frazier also knew the bitterness, the anger Debbie held towards Claude wasn’t good. She needed to let go of the anger she was holding onto.

You need to as well. You need to let go of any anger or bitterness you hold towards those you’ve done business with or who have done you wrong.

Look at your past. Where are you holding onto bitterness or anger? Who do you need to forgive?

Go forgive them. Get rid of the bitterness. You’ll be better off without it.

Question: Have you seen Ocean’s 8? If you have, did you see any leadership lessons in Ocean’s 8? If you haven’t seen the new movie, what leadership lessons from Ocean’s 8 that I shared resonated with you? Let me know in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this Reel Leadership article, you may enjoy our collection of Reel Leadership articles eBook. You can get this eBook for free by signing up for updates by clicking here.
Follow Me

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.