Always Check Your Work

Double check, and then check again for good measure.

Everyone makes mistakes at work; sometimes they’re big and sometimes they’re small. Maybe you copied the wrong person on the email or maybe you forgot to file the thing you meant to file last week. Maybe you left a typo in a memo that went unchecked by the person you submitted it to, only to find said typo blown up in a PowerPoint at an all-hands meeting in front of the entire company.

Or, maybe you handed the wrong envelope to the right person and caused a scene.

As you are likely aware by now, La La Land was announced as the winner for Best Picture at the Academy Awards on Sunday, only to be hastily corrected. It was Moonlight. Moonlight won Best Picture. Bryan Cullinan, one of the accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that handles the Oscars every year, handed Warren Beatty the wrong envelope. Warren Beatty read what he was handed, panicked and handed it to Faye Dunaway who looked at the information she was given and did what she thought was right.

Here’s what happened. There are two sets of envelopes for each category. One accountant stands stage left, and the other stage right. The presenters come on stage with the envelopes, which are handed to them by the accountants.

Ms. Ruiz gave the best-actress envelope to presenter Leonardo DiCaprio, the knowledgeable people said, which resulted in Mr. Cullinan having the extra envelope for that category, which he inadvertently gave to Mr. Beatty. The best actress award was presented immediately before best picture.

Something else to note: the New York Times reports that they used different envelopes this year, making them possibly harder to read. All the various close-ups I saw of the envelope show the category title in teensy-tiny writing near the bottom of the envelope. Why they wouldn’t put it at the TOP OF THE CARD IN BIG LETTERS LIKE THIS is beyond me, but I’m sure they have their reasons.

Also included in the piece from the WSJ is that Cullinan was tweeting pictures of celebrities holding their awards before he had to do the final part of his job, which was to hand Warren Beatty the correct envelope for Best Picture. It’s a mistake. Mistakes happen. It’s a big mistake, to be sure, one that reflects poorly on PricewaterhouseCoopers, but really, everyone is human. Sometimes people do things they’re not supposed to do, not out of malice, but human error, or the excitement of being a part of something that’s big and fancy and fun.

It’s always prudent to double check your work.

Look it over once, then twice. Send it when it’s ready. Read what you wrote, take your time, and send. Maybe you missed something. Maybe you forgot to add a zero. Maybe there’s an extra one. Whatever it is, look it over. Take a minute. Make sure the report you’re about to hand in or the email you’re about to send or the envelope you’re about to press into the hand of Warren Beatty is correct. It takes two seconds! Just look it over. Please. Check your work.