It is MY fault: Harvey Specter on Leffert’s Law

The Lefferts law of management: It is your fault

Suits, the TV series, narrates the happenings of a New York legal firm.

Mike is a young rookie with lots of potential, but a lack of business knowledge and real experience. Harvey is an admired, goal-oriented professional, that gets the hardest part of the work done, in search of a sidekick who can take on his legacy in the future. Thus Harvey and Mike develop a protégé-mentor relationship since the moment they first meet.

We don’t have to wait many episodes to see Mike, the mentee, spoil a negotiation for an important client, after being late filling a form.

Mike is worried about Harvey telling the client the mistake was Mike’s fault.

Harvey: You think that’s going to be a walk in the park?
Mike Ross: Hey. Harvey. Did you tell him it was me [my fault]?
Harvey: Why would I do that? I’m responsible for you. It was me [my fault].

Mike was worried about what the client could think of him. But Harvey didn’t tell the client that it was Mike’s fault. Not because Harvey is good people, not because he wanted to preserve his mentee’s reputation.

He didn’t told the client it was Mike’s fault… because it wasn’t.

Even if Mike had been late, it really doesn’t matter. Harvey, nor any mentor, should expect Mike to behave exactly the way he is told. Mike needs to learn by himself. For doing so, he needs to learn from success, but also from failure. He needs to learn to make hard calls with incomplete information during crisis.

And that’s precisely why he needs a mentor in the first place. He needs someone who advice, lead and guide him. He needs someone who can own his mistakes while he learns from them.


  • Related: The Lefferts law of management on ScottBerkun.com “If you have the title ‘manager’ in your name you should tend to absorb blame for what’s going on, while distributing the rewards. When all else fails, be the fall guy.[…] Being passionately accountable creates a shield for others and makes it safer for them to invest more personal responsibility in their work.”
  • Related: Who is your sidekick. “On the other hand, a sidekick is someone you can train as your replacement.”
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What’s the song that sounds while you interview candidates?

Hiring people is starting a relationship. What’s the original sound track of your process?

Maybe you are interviewing to the rhythm of Bonnie Tyler. Looking for strong, fast and fresh heroes, because your company’s survival depends on them.

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight

Heroes are handy for start-ups and rapid-growing business, where and when fulfilling short-term needs is top priority.

On the other hand you could sing Tina Turner’s We don’t need another hero.

Looking for something
We can rely on
There`s gotta be something better out there
[…]
All else are castles built in the air
And I wonder when we are ever gonna change
Living under the fear till nothing else remains

All the children say
We don`t need another hero

Companies trying to strengthen their foundations, searching for scalability and growth, don’t need heroes anymore.

And there is a third option. You can sing The Chainsmokers’ Something like this.

I’ve been reading books of old
The legends and the myths
Achilles and his gold
Hercules and his gifts
Spiderman’s control

And Batman with his fists
And clearly I don’t see myself upon that list

But she said, where’d you wanna go?
How much you wanna risk?
I’m not looking for somebody
With some superhuman gifts
Some superhero
Some fairytale bliss
Just something I can turn to
Somebody I can kiss
I want something just like this
I want something just like this

Hiring people is starting a relationship. The interview is not only a filter to separate the ones who fit from those who not. The interview is the very first big moment for making the candidate fall in love with your company.
If you are able to make him want to work with you, it would be much easier for you when/if you reach the negotiation stage.
Hiring people is starting a relationship. Take care of what sounds when interviewing. It would be your first song. And the candidate will remember it.

Quote on being done

Science isn’t about being right every time, or even most of the time. It is about being more right over time and fixing what it got wrong. (Scott Adams, Sciences biggest fail)

Sometimes, some things are just never done. You just need to iterate until the result is not perfect nor complete, but good enough for your customer.

Quote: The magical power behind deadlines

nano-bernsteins

[To write a novel] You need a super-powered, diabolical device that will transform you into a bastion of literary accomplishment. And I’m happy to report that this implement is in the house, and it’s just waiting for you to pick it up.

Without hyperbole, I can say that this tool is the most awesome catalyst that has ever been unleashed on the worlds of art and commerce. Nearly every beautiful and useful thing you’ve ever touched or witnessed was born in its mighty forge. It’s portable, affordable, and nonpolluting. 

[…] What you need to write a novel, of course, is a deadline.

Deadlines are the dynamos of the modern age. They’ve built every city, won every contest, and helped all of us pay our taxes reasonably close to on time for years and years.

Chris Baty. Why deadlines are every writer’s secret weapon

I first published in my school’s newspaper when I was eleven. Since then I started to write a novel at least three times, never achieving more than a dozen pages.

Then NaNoWrimo came to scene, with its gigantic deadline. 50.000 words. 30 days. A novel from start to end, while doing your best to keep up with your life.

NaNoWriMo. A challenging but clear goal in an agreed, achievable time box. I couldn’t do anything but commit.

A deadline is, simply put, optimism in its most ass-kicking form. It’s a potent force that, when wielded with respect, will level any obstacle in its path.

Chris Baty. Why deadlines are every writer’s secret weapon

Optimistic ass-kicked as I was, I won. Four times. Thanks to the magical power of deadlines.


Related: How to make deadlines actually work, Jason Fried at Inc.com
Related: Why deadlines are every writer secret weapon, Chris Baty at NaNoWriMo.org
Related: About NaNoWriMo at nanowrimo.org
Related: Quotes on planning, Quotes on time pressure

A choosing paradox: the more options, the less changes

When I was a child, Spanish broadcasting world was limited to just two TV channels. The First One and The Second One (not very original names, by the way).

TheFirst_and_TheSecond_logos

Every children my age remembers how, during San Isidro and San Fermin festivals, at mid-afternoon, the cartoons and series for kids that The First One transmitted everyday, were replaced by bullfighting. So every children arriving at home after school had to choose one of two options: Watch bullfighters or watch history and art documentaries on The Second One.

And that is the choosing paradox. I had so few options, I needed to choose something new. This way I discovered I didn’t like bullfighting, but I also found out I like history a lot.

Nowadays, I’ve so many channels available, I don’t need to watch anything I don’t feel like to.

YomviSo I end up watching the same as always. The same type of movies, the same type of series, or, worst case scenario, the same old chapters of the same old series again and again. I can always find on TV something I KNOW I LIKE, so I don’t need to watch anymore something I could eventually love.

Sometimes, the best way to taste something new is having very few options available.


  • Related: Choices = Headaches (joelonsoftware) “On many laptops, there are also four FN+Key combinations to power off, hibernate, sleep, etc. That brings us up to 13 choices, and, oh, yeah, there’s an on-off button, 14, and you can close the lid, 15. A total of fifteen different ways to shut down a laptop that you’re expected to choose from.”

The subject is the message. 3 simple rules to write more efficient e-mails

The medium is the message. – Marshall Macluhan

E-mail is cheap, both in time and in money. People can send it to an arbitrary number of people, lists, aliases… People can send it from their desktop, while commuting, while having dinner with their boss or their family.

So now, you receive, let’s say, some hundreds of mails per week. Some of this mails require an answer from you. Some of this mails are just to keep you informed. Some of them can wait, but some of them needs an answer right now.

But you need to open them, just to tell which is expected from you.

Only if we could have a look without needing to open them.

Yes, we can.

Just taking advantage of the subject of the message.

Rule#1: Always read the subject before answering. If the subject doesn’t relate anymore, adapt it to the new theme. Particularly if the subject has become just a bunch of chars like “Re:FWD: RE:RE:RE: Fwd Re:FWD: RE:RE:RE: Fwd: Yesterday’s meeting minutes”.

Rule#2: The FYI (for your information) mark is pretty useful. Why hiding it into the body? Just include the FYI in the subject.

Rule#3: If it’s a short message, don’t even use the body of the message. Just type the message on the subject and use “(eom)”  (End of Message) to tell the recipients they don’t even need to open it.

The additional croquette and why you should keep your workers informed and motivated

I was having some tapas with five of my friends from college.

We arrive to that big fancy bar.

Before ordering, someone realized something strange happened with the menu…

  • 6 croquettes: 6 €
  • additional croquet: 0,75 € each

It was an obvious mistake, we agree. If you would order six croquettes you’d pay 1€ for each one. And then, from the seventh on, you would get a 0,25€ discount.

But we were having fun, so it couldn’t hurt to ask the waiter about it. So we ask him if we could order six “additional” croquettes instead of the six pack.

He told us, “if it’s in the menu, you can ask for it”.

We explained him that it should be an error, that if we ordered only additional, they were making less money.

“I only work here”, he answered.

In the beginning, he didn’t know about the menu. But in the end, he didn’t care about the profit.

Please… please, please, please… If you are a boss, a manager, an owner, keep in mind that your workers make the profit. Keep in mind that they need to understand how this profit is made. But, above all, keep in mind that they need to care about it.

Inform them. Motivate them. Good news is that both things are strongly related.