Scooter Braun (longtime manager for Justin Bieber, Arianna Grande, and others) gave an interview to Kara Swisher at the SALT conference that you can listen to here. One thing the attendant hedge fund managers have in common with an artist manager like Braun is that they have to understand the importance of going with their gut and the meta-significance of the guts of their clients.
Braun said that a person, whether proven right or wrong, should never have a problem after they’ve gone with their gut. Even when the data stands against us, if we can look back at our decision and feel like we tried, it’s better than looking back and feeling like we didn’t take the shot. Braun pointed out that the spread between winning and happiness is largely determined by how well we actually listen to ourselves. Wins that we aren’t bought into feel hollow, and losses that we aren’t accountable for aren’t growth opportunities.
Before this gets all high school commencement speech-y, let’s pop a few bubbles. In context, Braun’s statement implies that a person making a decision with their gut has actually looked at some data, understands the data, and is only then making a choice – potentially (but not always) against the weight of the data. This isn’t a comment on blind luck, this is a comment about putting in the effort so when something big is on the line we can feel good about owning whatever choice we make.
In our own businesses, it’s easy to get lost in the factors that managers, consultants, and gurus want us to track, monitor, and understand. It’s on us, as professionals, to figure out what matters and why before we ever have to pick a rule to break. Since we’ll never hit all of the goals that everyone else so kindly wants to set for us, it’s really important to know which goals we want to hit for ourselves.
Clients are trickier. In many cases, we know more than they do – which is a key part of why they’ve hired us(sometimes I need to remind myself of this). However, their gut has a funny way of getting to their ears and uncertainty starts to sound a lot like unconfidence. It’s in these times that we need to recognize what’s happening and step up to getting their gut back in line with our process. We won’t always succeed, but if we’re not on the same team we’re never really going to win, and we’re especially never going to find some sense of durable happiness.
Trusting our gut is walking a tightrope. Data and evidence are how we find balance, but moving that left foot in front of our right is on us. As professionals, we throw our client’s gut-logic on our backs too, adding a whole other element of complexity. As Braun can attest, it doesn’t make for easy passage. But, when we understand how to confidently step forward and find peace with our decisions, winning and actual happiness becomes attainable.