Gini Dietrich has it all.... Beauty, smarts, huge heart, and then top that with the most amazing sense of humor. I've been connected with Gini for almost six years now and not only has she been an amazing leader to watch, she's always been someone I admired and when she gives advice, I listen! She is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm. She also is the founder of the professional development site for PR and marketing pros, Spin Sucks Pro, co-author of Marketing In the Round, and shares her wittiness on her award-winning Spin Sucks blog!
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?
The truth is that I have a real problem with authority. I had a couple of bosses early in my career who I deemed as not-very-smart and I had a really hard time following their directive when I knew they were wrong and they were going to make me look bad, too. It’s not a great quality to have and it makes for a really bad employee. But I’ve taken that weakness as I’ve built my firm and turned it into a culture that allows everyone autonomy and provides empowerment. I never want someone here to be afraid to offer a different solution, just because their supervisor said it had to be done one way.
WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?
Oh, man. I take LOTS of risks on my bicycle. I ride too fast. I ride too aggressively. I’m way too competitive. These traits come through in business, too. My philosophy is to at least try. If we fail, let’s recognize it as that and move quickly to the next thing. That said, I’m very risk-adverse when it comes to hiring people. When I had to lay off half my staff in 2009, I made a promise to myself that I’d never do that again. So I hire way too slowly and that hurts us because everyone has to work 24/7 before I recognize we need help.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?
I’m scared to death of another recession. I obsessively read the economists and it sounds like we’re heading for another tech bubble, but more that we could have another recession in 2017. It’s really hard to plan for that…and that scares me.
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?
Oh, wow. I don’t know! I wouldn’t say there has been a major turning point. There have been many course corrections and things that I did accidentally that have built to the success we’ve had as an organization. Getting on Twitter early on, writing two books, speaking around the globe, being opinionated when it comes to blogging…all of these things have contributed.
WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
1. It isn’t in that we fail, but in how we get up when we do.
2. Stop biting your fingernails. It undermines your expertise and knowledge. (You’ll notice I always have color on my nails and that’s why…I won’t bite them if I know I’m going to chip nail polish.)
3. If you hit a wall, get away from your desk. Though it seems counterproductive, = clearing your brain for just 15 minutes helps.
Just one?! If I have to choose just one, it was running up my line of credit to hire people I couldn’t afford to chase business we shouldn’t have chased. I went into 2009 with $350,000 in debt and a loss of $1.2MM in revenue.