It’s hard for me to find a 70s song that is both intensely fun and danceable, while not being as cliche and overused as Saturday Night Fever or Staying Alive. What song is at that perfect intersection of that Venn diagram, while also having possibly the most ’70s video of it ever? Nancy Sinatra’s–yes, daughter of Frank–These Boots Are Made For Walking.

The song’s lyrics are ostensibly a list of observations how her loved one has been touching things he shouldn’t be touch, and by his touching what he shouldn’t be, it’s causing problems:

You’ve been a messin’ where you shouldn’ta been a messin’

[…]

You keep lying when you oughta be truthin’

And you keep losin’ when you oughta not bet

You keep samin’ when you oughta be a changin’

[…]

You keep playin’ where you shouldn’t be playin’

And you keep thinkin’ that you’ll never get burned, ha!

So that description reminds me of someone other than that one particular oh-too-common type of boyfriend, that one particular oh-too-common type of client: the Meddler.

We’ve all had a client or two or many who is The Meddler. It’s the person who when he was a kid, pressed every button on the remote control nonstop until it broke. Now, all grown up, the one who never learned the very emotionally complex art of Delegation. Who hires the experts and then immediately distrusts any decision or advice of him. The one who has to feel in control. The one who is too scared to let go even a little bit because, without his hands on the ship, it’s all so likely to collapse.

(I mock such people with love; I used to be among their ranks!)

But the song makes a powerful point (my hands just mistyped the penultimate word as “powerpoint” which is a funny typo these days.) It’s not just that the Meddler won’t delegate and won’t trust anyone else. It’s that he goes a step further than that: he insists on putting his hands in every little detail. The Meddler is, in fact, to use the more commonly accepted business parlance, the bane of every employee’s existence: the Micromanager.

Let’s recap the above lyrics and see if they apply to micromanaging clients or bosses:

You’ve been a messin’ where you shouldn’ta been a messin’

Yup. They put their hands to mess with, say, your Google Ads campaigns.

You keep lying when you oughta be truthin’

Yup. They always deny that they’re making big changes, just saying they’re “taking a look” or doing “minor tweaks” when really they’re doing transformational and even suicidal changes to the accounts.

And you keep losin’ when you oughta not bet

Yup. They keep on micromanaging and meddling to the point of failure of the whole project. (For which, of course, the consultant or PPC takes the blame and is inevitably fired!).

You keep samin’ when you oughta be a changin’

Yup. They keep on doing the same thing again and again, rather than changing their behavior to learn from their past mistakes. In fact, they consistently get the wrong lesson from the mistakes: they think that they just “made the wrong tweak” last time, rather than considering the possibility that the whole fact that they’re making tweaks like that could be wrong in and of itself.

You keep playin’ where you shouldn’t be playin’

Yup. The Micromanager thinks Google Ads accounts are merely toys to be “played” with.

And you keep thinkin’ that you’ll never get burned, ha!

Yup. They really have convinced themselves that they won’t get burned.

This song is a great reminder that the one whose personality is to meddle, will always meddle–be it in relationships or in ad campaigns. So thus the converse of that is also true: those who have a karmic tranquility and stoic strength to face insane clients, can probably use the same karmic tranquility and stoic strength when dating the likes of Nancy Sinatra.

But what happens to those meddling micromanagers? Nancy Sinatra constantly repeats the famous chorus:

One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you

 What’s notable about that is it’s a threat. This isn’t a song about how “you touched what you shouldn’t touch, and that gave you a disease from which you’re going to die a slow and painful death.” (That’s the song that I want to sing to meddling clients who fiddle with their Google Ads accounts and then TANK IT completely, not realizing their little changes destroy the campaigns. They are worthy of a painful death only after those who were condemned by Dante to the bottom rung of 9th circle Hell: those who listen to sounds from computers and phones in public without using headphones.)

She says she’s going to punish him… but does she actually ever punish him?

Not in the song, at least. Even at other points in the song, she makes other threats, and still has no indication that they will be carried through:

I just found me a brand new box of matches, yeah

And what he knows, you ain’t had time to learn

I will not comment here on people who make threats but never carry through on them, other than I myself am distinctly not of that particular tribe.

But here’s the thing: this is how most digital marketers, PPCs, and in fact, most professionals are. They put up with clients treating them terribly, with clients sabotaging their very work.

If there’s any lesson I’ve learned from my many interviews with people about disastrous client experiences ( https://clienthorrorstories.com ), it is that most people stick around toxic relationships until far, far too long after the toxicity has become apparent even to them. Perhaps the larger risk is just the addiction to the high you get from being in the toxic relationship, a high so hard to fight that the professionals stay with them until there’s really no other option but to quit. Perhaps Roger Palmer said it better: “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.”