Gut instinct is the secret work weapon of Engine's Debbie Klein

Debbie Klein: chief executive, Engine Europe and Asia
Debbie Klein: chief executive, Engine Europe and Asia

Engine's Debbie Klein has learnt when to trust her instincts.

One of my mentors once told me to be willing to trust my instincts, especially if I couldn’t find answers elsewhere.

How right she was. The moment I realised my instinct would not let me down was many years ago when we were asked to pitch for Armani Jeans, to the man himself. I was a newly installed chief executive and I was determined to be more choosy about what we pitched for.

 knew this one had trouble written all over it. But I allowed myself to be persuaded otherwise, and we duly wasted much energy, time and money. I decided then that I would listen to my heart more.

Our gut always knows what our head hasn’t quite worked out yet. That niggling feeling you have when you interview someone and everything doesn’t quite add up.

That twitching nose when discussing taking a particular idea to a client and you’re thinking "no". But you think, "Well, everyone else thinks it’s the right thing to do, so who am I to argue?"

And so you let the opinions of others become so noisy that they drown out the little voice that’s trying to guide you. Later, when it turns out that you were right, you don’t feel good about it. You just feel annoyed with yourself.

When gut feeling strikes, it’s almost as if all of the experiences I’ve ever had are subconsciously joining forces and telling me the right thing to do. It can take a while to figure out what my instinct is telling me. But I’ve honed my radar and I know that sometimes, no matter how good something looks, if it doesn’t feel right then you have to walk away.

Equally, when I feel elated after interviewing someone just once, or giddy with excitement when I meet a potential acquisition that I just know will fit perfectly into the Engine family, I hang on to that feeling and go into overdrive.

Some of the best decisions I have made have been when I have trusted what my gut was telling me. It has turned out to be a powerful ally.

Debbie Klein is the chief executive, Engine Europe and Asia.

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