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The #OscarsFail Reminds Us That Career Lessons Pop Up in the Oddest Places

Moments after La La Land producer Jordan Horowitz gave his acceptance speech for best picture and handed the microphone to co-producer Marc Platt, it became apparent that something was wrong.
oscarsfail
Image Credit: Prayitno/Flickr

“I’m holding the envelope and the award, and I had just given my speech, and there are people on the stage with headsets, and I thought, ‘That doesn’t seem right,’” said Horowitz at the Governors Ball after the event.

“They asked to see my envelope, which I haven’t opened. Clearly something was wrong. They open my envelope, and it says ‘Emma Stone, La La Land.’ So clearly something is not right. The guys in headsets were going around with urgency looking for the other envelope — it just kind of appeared,” he said. “One of the guys opens it, and it says Moonlight, and I took it onstage and went to the microphone and said what I said.”

After a third producer, Fred Berger, confirmed that La La Land had lost, Horowitz took the microphone again and announced, “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won best picture. This is not a joke.”

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There’s a good blow-by-blow account of how the mistake happened at The Washington Post. Or, watch for yourself:

OK, So Where’s the Career Lesson in All of This?

It’s here: after some banter with host Jimmy Kimmel and confirmation from the aforementioned guys in headsets, Horowitz said, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends at Moonlight.”

“That’s nice of you,” Kimmel said. And it was: how many people would have accidentally blurted out something far less gracious in similar circumstances?

Soft skills, including interpersonal skills, are essential to a successful career. We hear a lot about listening to others, and taking responsibility and ownership, and so on. But, one of the most important skills you can acquire is the ability to be gracious in disappointment.

Soft skills are essential to a successful career. Click To Tweet

The fact is, there’s no such thing as a career without disappointment or reversals. Learning how to accept them well is a skill that will go a long way toward propelling you to your next success.

The mix-up obviously wasn’t the most important or inspirational part of the Oscars — see Mahershala Ali’s speech, in which he thanked his teachers, or Viola Davis’s speech, in which she talked about the importance of artists, for front-runners there. But the aftermath of the mistake was a good lesson about how to respond when things don’t go your way in your career. And given how much everyone is talking about the incident today, it’s also a reminder that the glitches in life tend to stand out. Behave well during them, and you’ll make a positive and lasting impression on your colleagues.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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