Gini Dietrich

Always Obey Your Gut

By: Gini Dietrich | April 21, 2011 | 

It’s Facebook question of the week time and this week I was not too lazy to shower and record a video. I even rode for my 13th day of #30daysofbiking and it’s not even 7 a.m. yet.

I love mornings. No interruptions. Tons of work gets accomplished. You get to watch the sun rise. But, I’ll be completely brain dead by 7:00 tonight. So there’s the con to getting up early.

This week’s question comes from Michelle Fraser, the principal at Yap Yap Communications and Marketing in Perth Area, Australia. She also works with the West Australian Ballet, which I find VERY cool because I studied ballet for most of my life.

She asks,

How do you select if you should work with a client, especially when your head and heart are disagreeing?

Now that I’ve done the video (and you can see my advice by watching it here, if you can’t see it in your Reader), I realize that I might have answered the wrong question. I answered more of, “What if my gut is telling me not to work with this client, but there is some reason I feel like I should?”

But now that I reread the question, I think Michelle is saying her heart is saying one thing and her head another.

So watch what I have to say and comment below if you’d answer her differently or if you think she is saying her head and heart are disagreeing.

P.S. I think we should have had Michelle record the question so we could hear her accent.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to head over to the Arment Dietrich Facebook wall and leave a question for us there! I will send flaming bags of poo to your house if you don’t!

P.P.P.S. I made sure Alfred was in the shot this time, Ingrid Abboud!


About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Every time I don’t listen to my gut, I pay a very dear price for that. Very recently, we had a client who was interested in our small company marketing them. When I met with the client with my boss this man said he did not respect women.

    That meeting was over before it started. I told my boss I had a bad feeling about that client and he was willing to overrule me until we saw what a lousy person this client was. Then he changed his tune. He also took the credit. Oh well.

    The moral of the story is that the other developer fired this difficult man, and he is looking for someone with a better personality to work with. So, see what happens when you disrespect me in meetings? (I am from Jersey – I will send someone in a track suit to your house!)

    Always listen to your gut. It is never ever wrong.

    • “I am from Jersey – I will send someone in a track suit to your house.” HAHAHAHAHAHA!


  • Spot On Advice, Gini! We Have Had to Turn Away Money From a Potential Client That Would’ve Brought In ALOT of Money. But Because the CEO Was a BIt Jerky and the Product Didn’t Line Up With Our Value System, We Turned it Away. the big Push Back for Us Was This Guy’s Ego,

    I Know From Experience (Early-On in My Career) That Having a Client Like That Takes Away Your Overall Focus and Productivity…We Had to Do Far Too Much Hand-Holding With This Fella and It Showed in Our Work. Moreover, b/c He Was a Bit of a Loose Cannon, We Had to Monitor Everything That Was Said and Why…I Can’t Tell You How Much Time We Wasted on Second-Guessing What Was Said, How it Was Said, Etc. b/c of All This.

    Big Time / Energy Suck. It’s Never Worth the Money…Ever.

    My Two Cents,
    Narciso Tovar
    Big Noise Communications

    • It’s so true! And so hard to manage. You end up losing money on clients like that. It’s not worth it, in the end.

  • In couple instances, instead of listening to my guy, I justified taking jobs because of the revenue. But passing up the instant revenue would have made me move forward with a more sustainable business plan. So I lost twice — disobeying my gut, and being set back by continuing down a bad road. Tough lessons that I hope not to relearn.

    • You have a guy?! 🙂 I’ve done the same thing…more than once. So don’t beat yourself up too much!

  • Gini,
    Boy oh boy can I relate to both sides of the balance sheet on this one. This much I know, the heart is always right. Knowing that, the challenge then becomes whether or not to listen to it.
    That leads to the question, how much crap are you willing to put up with? For me, that’s solely dictated by how busy I am. In the pool biz, for example, empty schedule = get what I can get. Funny how when sales are good all problems mysteriously disappear:)
    Great question Michelle, thought the vid was spot on Gini!

    • Ha! Great point. I had someone ask me the other day what kinds of clients we’re looking for and I said, “PLEASE don’t refer any business to us!”

  • Hi Gini – great response to Michelle’s insightful question. I think we all understand the value in firing an existing client who is a problem, but there’s something in most of us that wants that new business sooooo badly that we fail to see potential issues from the beginning. That is precisely why our intuitive nature is important. We owe it to ourselves to consider the rumblings from the inside when we are approaching a new client relationship (or any other for that matter.)

    Thanks for your post! Have a great Thursday!

    • A few weeks ago, we had a third meeting with a prospective client who we really, really liked. He brought his CEO to the meeting and she FREAKED OUT over Jack Bauer (our office dog). The funny thing is the CMO had been here twice before so he knew (and loved) JB. Never once told us about his CEO not liking dogs. Well, Jack freaked out over her and growled and was really unhappy with her. We knew, before the meeting started, we weren’t going to be working with that company. Dogs are a great judge of character when we refuse to listen to our guts.

  • RachelRodenborg

    Definitely spot on. When the red flags pop up in your head or your gut starts to prod you–pay attention. It isn’t always easy, but as others have said, you end up paying for it in the long run if you don’t “obey your gut.” Saying no isn’t easy–especially when you need the business, but valuing yourself and your work enough to say no to a potentially damaging or costly situation leaves you open for the next GREAT opportunity. Cheers! Rachel

  • Head and heart are both worth listening to. It is hard to find the balance between the two because sometimes your heart pushes you to take on things that you probably shouldn’t do.

    Yet the contradiction remains because sometimes your head is so focused on the tangibles you miss the opportunity that exists because head is focused on details and hard facts.

    • Great point about the opposite side of things and potentially missing a great opportunity. I always make decisions with my gut, not my head or my heart. That way I tend not to miss anything.

  • Gini,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. Always follow your gut. ALWAYS. The “gut” is your body trying to tell your brain “Whoa–we’ve been here before. Don’t make that mistake again.” But your brain tries to convince your gut that your firm needs the money, or that you didn’t really hear that horribly offensive statement that the client just made, or that you can change the client. It’s not going to happen! When I look back at any errors I’ve made over my career, I can honestly say that it wasn’t due to my judgement being off, but to my not listening to my own gut.

    • Gini Dietrich


  • I knew Spin Sucks would have a back up redundancy plan for when Amazon Cloud Died taking with it half the social media starts in existence.

    It really comes down to gut and ethics. Don’t take business to be greedy. Kharma will bite you. Don’t take business if you see red lights everywhere. They often are true. Don’t take business you have an ethical problem with. Because it will taint you.

    I always wondered what the Ad Agencies and PR Agencies that worked for big tobacco denying cancer and trying to get kids hooked felt like. I bet like a drug dealer on the street hawking crack to elementary school kids.

    • Uhm sorry that last paragraph just flowed like Hemingway Gini. Or Walt Whitman. One or the other but I wasn’t in control of my typing. My apologies.

    • Gini Dietrich

      I’m dying without Livefyre, but I also don’t want the comments to not be here. Oy.

      Great point about what it must be like to work for the tobacco companies or the leaders who kick puppies. We’re lucky – we get to make those decisions. Not everyone is in that position.

  • G’Day Gini,
    Firstly, I just can’t wait to meet some lissome limbed lady from Chicago whose legs can reach Sydney to kick me in the knees.

    Secondly, I agree generally with “go with your gut.” But sometimes your gut’s out of sorts for a variety of reasons.

    Over many years, I found a way of deciding if my gut was processing things right.

    1. Decide, with the client, what you’re trying to achieve in clearly measurable terms. No “understanding,” “gaining insight into,” “appreciating,” or windy waffle terms like that.

    2. Work out, with the client, how success will be measured; again, as precisely as possible.

    Once you and the client agree, you can work out all the details like timing and cost.

    If the client baulks at any of that, walk away. There’s only one problem with this approach: you have to be prepared to have your work measured definitively.

    You may get fewer assignments. But they’ll pay better, be more satisfying, have fewer hassles and enhance your reputation. And when you prove that you can deliver, the repeat business will come too.

    Hope this helps,

    Best Wishes,

    • Well now I know you watched all of the video! Thanks for the additional feedback. I agree it’s more satisfying, but you definitely are held accountanble.

  • Hi Gini,
    I think your video was right on! You always need to listen to your gut even though sometimes you disagree or don’t fully understand the underlying reason why you feel a certain way. Perhaps in some situations you defer a decision and get more information or do additional due diligence because you respect and listen to the feeling of your gut.

    • And sometimes you can let the office dog make the decision for you…just in case you don’t pay attention to your gut.

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  • mbraining

    Hey Gini, you are spot on with what you say. We definitely need to listen to our ‘intuitions’ when making decisions. Turns out that ‘listening to the heart’ and ‘listening to the gut’ are NOT metaphors. Neuroscience has recently shown that we have complex and functional neural networks or ‘brains’ in both our heart and gut. We’ve just completed 2 years of behavioral modeling research, informed by the neuroscience evidence, tracking the core competencies and prime functions of the heart and gut brains. And we’ve uncovered simple and powerful techniques for communicating with and aligning the three brains (head, heart and gut). So you are right when you say you need to listen to and align your multiple brains. And if you are interested you can read more about our work at or in our book ‘mBraining – Using your multiple brains to do cool stuff’.

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