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Oscars Mix Up: The Promise of Being Present - Jason Hewlett

By cmiadmin | February 28, 2017

Following the biggest gaffe in Academy Awards history, PricewaterhouseCoopers launched a full investigation into the mix-up of the Best Picture envelope mishap.  

(I was so wrapped up in what had happened from a Stage Performer’s perspective that I blogged HERE the night of the incident)  

It was revealed there are two of the same card showing the winners names in the secret locked briefcases of those overseeing the stage production, with PwC workers on both sides of the stage ready to hand each presenter the appropriate envelope.  In this case it was Martha Ruiz, and managing partner, Brian Cullinan.  

Upon Emma Stone winning Best Actress for “La La Land” she went backstage and was quickly photographed by Cullinan of PwC, who was excited for her win.  He then posted about it on Twitter.  Meaning, immediately in the middle of doing his job he was distracted by something he wanted to share with the world, and was temporarily unfocused on his job and the task at hand.  

This is normally not a big deal, to update your Twitter account with something neat that just happened, but in this case it caused all kinds of problems.

His job was: Give the correct envelope for the next presenter to speak from stage.

Unfortunately those next presenters were Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, now marked for life as having made the blunder, as they were handed the duplicate card for Best Actress Emma Stone and “La La Land”, which is what they read on stage for Best Picture!  

Sadly in this case the world will always remember Beatty as the culprit.  

Sadly this could have been prevented.  

I made the case in my previous post that Beatty could have read the card in his head, noticed it was wrong, and asked for the correct card.  He certainly looked confused upon rewatching the video.  Obviously, stage time is warped, and eyesight is compromised, I have experienced it, and so that can prove very challenging to catch such a mistake when confused and thinking you were handed the right envelope.  

However, the obvious culprit is officially now the PwC employee, even managing partner Cullinan, who was trusted to do his job correctly.  

How does this apply to The Promise and why am I so passionate about this occurrence?  

That is easy: The Promise is PRESENCE.  

Be where you are, in the moment, and do your one and only job.  Do it with care, with precision, with focus.  

In this instance focus was lost, he shared his excitement online with Twitter, which would be everyone else in the world that didn’t matter in that moment, instead of concentrating on where he was in full presence and needed to be focused solely on the job at hand, and because he wasn’t it caused the greatest mishap in Awards Show history.  

This happens all the time in many business settings and in life.  

In business, I once missed the performance given by someone right before me in favor of hitting the bathroom.  Upon taking the stage I launched into my opening number, Billy Joel’s “The Piano Man”, harmonica and piano blaring, and absolutely no one singing along, which never happened before.  The whole show was thrown off.  Later I found out the opening act had done one song, one number….yep, “The Piano Man” by Billy Joel.  Had I been present in that moment, watched what was happening before me, I could have changed my opener.   I wasn’t present.  

In healthcare the biggest cause of malpractice and lawsuits is in unfocused employees mistakenly giving the wrong patient someone else’s medicine, resulting in death.  In law enforcement the most horrific accidents occur when there is a lack of communication, or getting all the information, or distraction.

In every day life the personal examples run rampant of the outcome from lack of presence.  The first time my daughter ever scored a goal in soccer I was scrolling through Facebook on my phone.  Hate to admit it, but that’s a real story.  Worse than that is distracted driving while on your phone, which has resulted in true tragedies.   

Ladies & Gentlemen, this was simply an Awards Show.  Really in the big scheme of things it was not life and death, really not a big deal if we look at it that way.  However, it could have been prevented!  And when we lose focus, aren’t present in the moment, mistakes happen that can affect many people.

Point is this: Keep Your Promise!  Be Present!  You may miss the first soccer goal, the big moment, or could change a life while driving.  In this moment one man decided to focus on an audience he wasn’t paid to keep up to date – his Twitter followers – and he ruined a whole awards show by not being present in one very small simple moment that made all the difference.  

I feel bad for him, as I’ve made mistakes in all areas of business and life too, and that is literally one of the main reasons I created The Promise is to help others avoid the same.

Question is: In what ways are you not Present when it matters most, in life and work, and what are you going to do about it?

More from Jason!

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