Harvey Weinstein

You may not believe it – but there is a connection between the Falklands War and the sexual harassment of Harvey Weinstein.

I had the pleasure to hear the noted naval historian and analyst Norman Polmar speak on the Falklands war between the United Kingdom and Argentina.  One story has stuck with me because it pertains to so many situations including the recent fall of Harvey Weinstein.

It seems that Argentina had one modern submarine during that war.  The captain was ordered to go out and attack the British – what he thought was a suicide mission.  After all, the British navy had the reputation of being the best ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) force in the world.  The British in fact had invented ASW in World War I and made significant improvements in World War II.  So, obviously, it was suicide to go against them.

Except it wasn’t.  True, the British did sink one Argentinian submarine – old and obsolete.  But this captain went out, stalked and fired torpedoes at the British, was counter attacked – and survived!  On returning to port, it was discovered that the torpedo control board had two wires reversed which resulted in the torpedoes being given directions opposite to what was intended.

With the corrections to the torpedo control board made and the submarine reprovisioned, the captain was sure that he was going to sink British warships.  Fortunately, for the British, the war ended before the captain could return to sea.  The world would be a very different place if the captain had sunk British warships.

In many ways, it’s the familiar David and Goliath story.  The underdog wins when everyone expects them to lose.  But, it’s only in hindsight that that we see why the underdog could win as Malcolm Gladwell’s book David and Goliath explains.

And this should be a cautionary tale for all executives or persons in positions of power – your power may not be a great as you think it is.

Harvey Weinstein had power in Hollywood and he let it go to his head – and other parts of his body.  His power was only about producing movies, but he thought it extended beyond that.  And it did because people let him get away with it until the first person publicly called him on his behavior, and then another, and another, and …..

Like the Argentinian submarine captain, people discovered that they could expose his behavior without being destroyed which had been the fear.

There are two ways in which fear stops working as a motivation:

  • When the results the fear is based don’t happen – the fear turns out to be false, or
  • When the intimidated no longer have the fear of losing whatever is threaten.

The Argentinian submarine captain found out that the British weren’t supermen and he could survive.  Those who came out against Harvey Weinstein were either powerful enough or had nothing to lose anymore – and Harvey came tumbling down because the fear no longer mattered.

A physicist by trade, author by choice, a born teacher, a retired veteran, and an adamant problem solver, Frank has helped the White House, federal agencies, military offices, historical museums, manufacturers, and over 250 technology startups get stuff done, communicate effectively, and find practical solutions that work for them. In his spare time, he makes sawdust and watches Godzilla movies.