My First Heckler

PerryMarketing Blog8 Comments

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Have you ever felt F E A R ?

Let me tell you about mine.

At the Sunday morning of my first-ever seminar in 2006, I gave an optional spiritual talk. (I’ve made a practice of this ever since. A lot of people appreciate these talks.)

The day before, I told everyone, “Tomorrow’s seminar starts at 9. But if you want to come at 8, I’ll give my Gen-X take on spirituality. But it’s optional. If you’re not interested in that, stay in your hotel room and watch Gilligan’s Island.”

My anxiety about this was off the charts. It was the first time I’d ever done such a thing. It was also my first seminar, which was very complex and intense and I kind of wanted to hide in my room.

So anyway, about half the people showed up to my talk. I got started. About 45 minutes in, I was just beginning to tell the story of our Foster daughter, Drea.

Suddenly a guy in the back stood up and started shouting at me:


"So many options for growing my business, but what should I do NOW?" Tell me your most pressing business problems and I'll show you your BEST next step.

(I had a premonition something was going to happen. Now it was happening.)

I heard the still small voice say, “Just be silent.” I stood there and just waited.

Seconds ticked by.

I took a drink of my water.

It seemed like an eternity.

Suddenly, folks in the audience started shouting back at him: “IT WAS OPTIONAL!!! PERRY TOLD YOU THAT 2 DIFFERENT TIMES YESTERDAY!


The guy stormed out of the room. I went on with my talk.

You know what’s funny about that?

As soon as he started shouting, all my anxiety vanished. Gone.

How could I stay nervous? The thing I was most afraid of had just happened. And I hadn’t died or anything.

That was a breakthrough experience.

There’s more to the story (what happened after that was equally interesting). Matt Gillogly interviewed me about it. Hear it here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Download 25 minute MP3 part 1

Download 15 minute MP3 part 2

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

8 Comments on “My First Heckler”

  1. A Book that I learned more about Jesus is anywhere else is Autobiography of A Yogi,

    by Paramahasa Yogananda.

  2. People are NUTS,

    Always wondered what the first name of Heckler was , Sam ,Charles. Ira?

    All the best to you and your Family.

    Frank Cavalluzzi

  3. Perry,

    I was there on that day as well. This was the first Internet marketing type seminar I ever attended. I thought it was brave and very cool that you decided to share your beliefs on Sunday morning.

    When the guy started ranting, I thought, this’ll be interesting, let’s see how Perry reacts.

    I thought it was fascinating, that you chose to pause in silence. I know from my negotiation training that pausing and staying quiet is an important strategy. The reason for this is that people struggle with the silence and will often fill the void with information.

    The fact that your audience came to your defense and confronted the heckler displayed a far greater appreciation for your time invested than any type of applause.

    Discussing the outburst after your presentation with the person sitting next to me opened the door for a very interesting discussion about Christianity even further.

    I continue to share the story of the incident on many occasions.

    Dave Jabas

  4. Hi Perry,

    I was in the audience that morning, and the silence was palpable after that guys outburst. I was sitting 3 chairs away, and was stunned.

    The beauty of it was that you didn’t need to say anything, as you were being well cared for.

    We’re all well cared for, we just need to believe it.

    Thanks for who you are,

  5. It’s an interesting story, and a different perspective. I’m not sure I agree that good and evil have an actual embodiment and their own desires.

    People have conflicting interests and tendencies. Sometimes it becomes difficult for us to tell what is good for us. I think that explanation is sufficient on its own.

    Also, your audio never actually makes it to the part where you’re telling the continuation of your story. It cuts Matt off in mid-sentence as you’re leading up to talking about the seminar.

      1. Thanks Perry. Hearing the full story was fun.

        I have taught salsa dancing lessons for several years. I’ve found there are 2 types of problem students.

        The first is mostly harmless (and they’re usually men). They’re insecure about learning to dance and so they compensate by being disruptive. An extra moment of attention and hard eye contact will settle them down.

        The second kind is rare. They are the bad seeds – probably the same people who get red hot road rage. They are looking to make someone in charge look bad. They act like the world is out to get them.

        I’m sure there is some deep psychology to explain their behavior, but it doesn’t matter. What to do about them is really all that matters.

        You’re absolutely right – the one thing, the only thing you can is maintain composure. The slightest flinch of shrinking and they’ll be hopping all over you, and they can take the whole class with them.

        Well played. And I hope you gave the guy a refund and barred him from ever attending another seminar. (Or maybe something a bit more measured….)

  6. Talking about going to war with distracting thoughts reminded me of Genesis Chapter 3 describing our God-given enmity:

    “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, because thou hast done this… upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.

    And I will put ENMITY between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

    And unto Adam he said… cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life…

    Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; …in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground…

    And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil…”

    That last paragraph has always given me great insight into God’s nature and his purpose for and interest in our lives.

    Make no mistake, the ground is cursed, we’re going to get beaten and bruised, and unless we choose to make it otherwise, it’s thorns and thistles for dinner.

    But, why? Is it a mindless/incomprehensible test of obedience? To me, this scripture suggests otherwise and provides a more majestic view of the human experience – that is instead the process of “becom[ing] one of us, to know good and evil.”

    Perry – this post has been another in a string of reminders for me lately, that “hatas gonna hate” and every great thing demands a Thick Face and a Black Heart.

    Thanks (as always) for the great content.


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