Your so-called flaws are Genius. Look closer.

I’ve noticed when clients are trying to find their marketable genius, they try to avoid their flaws and search instead for what they think is “marketable”.  But still, almost every client brings up a ‘fault’ somehow in the session.  I’m too easy going, I’m too stubborn, I’m too perfectionist.

This is when I get focused like a laser because I know we’ve likely just hit on a pillar of genius.

If a characteristic is ‘who you are at your core’, and you don’t know how to be any other way – it’s probably linked to marketable genius.

Even though you’ve been battling against it, hiding it, marketing yourself as the opposite of it (maybe trying to convince yourself otherwise) – when we look closer, we find it’s marketable genius.

For example, at a conference last fall, I was presenting on the topic of true differentiation and ideal clients.  A guy at the back of the room piped up “I’m a web designer and my ideal client just gets out of my way and lets me do my job. I get annoyed when clients call me continuously and ask a million questions and send me some article they found on Google and tell me to ‘do that’.  I know what I’m doing and I like to be left to do it.”

eeeerrrrrrrrp!  Just like when a jukebox flips off when a cowboy walks in the room – the whole room spins around in their chairs to see – who IS this guy?

And I smile because I know we’ve just found genius.

So, I ask the audience – ok, who can describe this guy?

Nobody says a word.  Then one polite soul offers hesitantly…umm…confident?

No, I don’t think that’s quite it, I say.  Another guess?

Then I hear someone from the back say – Arrogant?  I spin around to see.  Luckily, it’s THE guy.

Ok. Yes! Arrogant! That’s closer!  Good.  Now, is that really who you are at your core? Does that characteristic show up in other areas of your life? Your personal life?

Remember – Who you are at your core doesn’t only show up in your work.  You will find your genius as a pattern, integrated into your whole life.

And he says “you mean in terms of ex-wives?”

Laughter from him and the audience – ok, he has a sense of humour, we’re on board to see how this turns into genius.

I continue asking a few questions into how this so-called ‘arrogance’ manifests in personal, work, throughout his life, until we’re satisfied this is a solid characteristic.

Note to reader: Do not get distracted by the word Arrogant.  We are not copywriting the website at this point. We are only working on the ESSENCE of the concept.

Now – I ask him, as the audience watches enthralled – how does “arrogance” manifest as a benefit to your Ideal Clients?

The light bulb goes on.  Of course!! he says.  My ideal clients are super busy – they don’t want, don’t have time, and are utterly not interested in researching and getting all involved in their web design project.  They want to do the work upfront to ensure their ideas and needs are understood, then toss it over the wall and give the project to someone they know can run with it, and is confident he can get the job done.  They want me to fully understand their requirements, so they can get back to their own work, and let me do the job.


Now, I ask what does your current marketing say?

Does it say things like “we work with you continuously to achieve the website you want”, or “we partner with our clients throughout the process…” etc etc.

Yep.  And therein lies the problem.  You’re attracting non-ideal clients.  Hoping to cover up your so-called flaws instead of seeing them for the seed of genius that they are.

You’ve got to work with your genius, not against it.

So, now this guy’s got to get back to his office and blow all that off his website.  His website should say something like…

“We love to work with clients who are brilliant at what they do, and don’t have the time or the interest to become an expert in web design.  Our clients love our initial in-depth process of completely understanding their needs, so that they can “toss it over the wall” with complete confidence to a designer who can run with it, and deliver an amazing end result.”

And now you’ve converted a so-called flaw into marketable genius for your ideal client.  You are using ALL of who you are, to create a product and service that your Ideal Client truly wants.

So put your left foot in, put your left foot out, and shake it all about, ‘cause baby, that’s what it’s all about.

Now You:

What are you so-called flaws?
Look closer.  Could they be a seed of genius?


  1. I absolutely love this!! One of my old mentors used to say what makes you good makes you bad… and if you flip it, what makes you bad, makes you good. Thanks Cristi for the great post – you my friend are genius!

  2. I’m with you, and right back atcha!

  3. Fantastic post ! As an internet marketing firm owner. I have felt the same way as your example has! I like that you spoke to the fact we have flaws, and they’re likely not going away, so it’s much better to leverage them than ignore them 🙂

  4. Hi Laurel, love your comment, thank you! So, if you were thinking of your flaws as strengths, how would they manifest as a benefit to your Ideal Clients? See if you can noodle on that for a bit. Work your Quirks!!

  5. Good post, Cristi

    I like how you remind people to ignore their gut-reaction to the word “arrogance” while you explore the traits inherent in the word. Knowing the message and the audience’s needs in raw form, before any marketing creativity is applied, is hard work—often scary work—yet far more valuable. A person (or organizational culture) can’t hide from their authentic behaviour; they need to capture it and celebrate it.

    People also need to explore the characteristics that aren’t “flaws”, though, too. Digging deeper in to positive traits—instead of using them at face value—will often reveal a more compelling, yet still authentic, value proposition.

  6. BRILLIANT post! Both searing AND endearing. Love it. Thanks for bringing YOUR genius to the world in helping us find ours!!

  7. Hi Stephen! Thanks! You are totally right – I am looking for genius whether it’s in a client’s DNA (just who they are!), Experiences that have shaped them, or Education/Credentials. ALL good – flaws, strengths, etc. I’m looking for Patterns. I think you and I are on the same page! You are right it can be scary for clients, although I’m always amazed at that, since I find it FASCINATING, rather than scary 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! I truly appreciate it!

  8. My pleasure, Krista!! Thank you!! xo

  9. Cristi – I love your unique insight into people and the whole approach of looking at “I don’t know any other way to be”. It seems like such common sense now, but it never would have occurred to me to look at my inherent, unchangeable characteristics as part of my Genius!

  10. Hi Linda – thanks for your comment! You can’t fight Genius – so the capitalistic side of me says – how can this be a unique, marketable characteristic that manifests as a benefit for *ideal* clients? And that’s how my mind works 🙂

  11. Awesome, thanks! 🙂
    I was wondering… It would be a huge inspiration to have some sort of list of most common quirks and their positive flip sides. Do you have more examples available?

    E.g. arrogant recluse becomes independent creative.

  12. Hi Chantal! Actually, there is no “common” flip side to a quirk. Each person is so individual – and that’s why this work is quite different than other work like “Values Assessments” or “Personality Profiles”, where you choose from a predetermined list or predefined profiles. Everyones quirks are going to manifest differently, especially when applied to ideal clients. But, great question! Keeping me on my toes! Thanks!

  13. Great post!
    This has got me thinking about my own flaws and how they can be leveraged to help me become more clear about the people I would love to work with more!
    Thanks, Cristi!

  14. Thanks for the comment, James – you are right on track, to consider your own “so-called” flaws, and think about how it could be genius. If you want a little on-page worksheet (I call it the Work Your Quirks™ worksheet – LOL), you can download it here, let us know how it goes:

  15. Arvind Kumar says:

    Very good article, thanks!!

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