Punched in the Gut

gut instinctCEO NOTES

Journal Entry July 1

Today I was pretty pleased with myself. I just had this feeling that if I stuck to my guns, I would be right, and of course, I was. It’s really hard to teach gut instinct to all these wannabes coming up behind me—either you have it, or you don’t. And I’ve got it in spades.

As per our corporate overlord’s decree, we embarked on our annual strategic planning exercise—really more of a check-in on what did or didn’t happen the previous year—but for the sake of our underlings, we call it strategic planning. As always, we’re on track for big bonuses as a result of my leadership—I have this thing nailed. We went through the list of all of last year’s projects, and not only are they on track but they are also set to net bigger profits than anticipated and likely to be done early. I was quick to point out that without my intervention last year, we may not have gone down this road; so, thanks to my 100 percent right track record of “gut,” we nailed it. They gave me a round of applause that was a little weaker than I would have expected due to my leadership and the results, but no matter, at least they are recognizing it.

Then we started talking about the product strategy for the coming year and the need to refresh some of the older products, which, ironically, were selling like crazy. My gut was telling me that this retro trend was responsible for the increase in sales of these dinosaurs, so why mess with a good thing? The product manager started blathering on about compatibility to the latest technology, et cetera, and I just held up a hand and cut him off. He had all sorts of charts and data to back up his ideas, but let’s be clear: my gut trumps that crap all day long. Were we not just looking at the unchallenged success of my gut instincts from last year? Sometimes I really wonder how dumb these guys are. Oh well, that’s good for me because I’ll never have to worry about any of these signposts challenging me for my job.

The conversation got pretty quiet when I said we’d be continuing to take advantage of the retro trend, so no need for any product updates in the line in question. Of course, I did the CEO thing and pretended to care, so I asked for any differing opinions. To my surprise, the numbnuts who had all that data raised his hand and started to object. Jesus, I guess he thought I really meant it when I asked for differing opinions; not my fault the idiot wants to commit career suicide. I shut him down by telling him that my gut has gotten me this far in life and it was going to get me a lot farther than his stupid data. Well, that shut him down.

So once again, I was able to use my trusty gut to guide our “strategy” to success and the team was impressed with my acumen and smarts. Let the bonuses roll in!


Journal Entry September 26

OK, so I really hate to admit this, but that dumbass product manager might have been correct with his stupid data. The product line is sinking like the Titanic, threatening to put our entire budget in the red for the year and possibly even next year. This means my bonus will be cut in half and the rest of the team will get nothing—but it’s kind of their fault for not seeing this. My gut has never failed me before, so I’m really not sure what happened here. There must have been some market condition that changed or was out of our control, or possibly the knowledge was unavailable, causing this to go south.

Now I need to figure out how to blame it on something or someone else because I’m not giving up that my gut is always right. And I want that bonus. Competitors? New technology? Market saturation? Coolness of retro cooled off faster than I thought— make that faster than anyone could possibly have predicted? Yep, that’s the ticket because the first three were what that doofus product manager with the data told me, so I’ll go with the last one and point to some others who were caught in the same spot. I can spin this because it’s actually true—it’s not my fault, my gut is still the ticket to success, and it was completely out of my control! Gut instinct is a leader’s best friend—at least it’s mine.


While there is a lot of research to suggest that “gut instinct” can be a good guidance system to follow, it doesn’t mean you should do so without any research or facts to back you up when it comes to strategy. That’s just reckless and likely to result in failure. Or, like our hapless CEO, it’s vanity. Good leaders who listen to their gut use a “trust but verify” method, not the “my way or the highway” method. Ignoring all evidence to the contrary will punch you in the gut every time.

The other thing that got our CEO into trouble was his big ego. One or two correct guesses or gut instincts that turn out well do not make a faultless gut. It means your gut may have had some good feelings and you probably got lucky. Humility is a good thing when it comes to getting things right. Experience, gut, luck, and DATA will keep you on the straight and narrow every time—and you won’t need to go in for a “gut check” when you fail.

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