The Death of a Father – The Release of a Son

I received this from Ken Heikkila a few days ago. For years he’d worked dumb jobs having given up hope on making a living as a classical guitarist but then discovered that on the Internet he could capture an audience and not only teach his skills to others but expand his customers’ sense of meaning and purpose.

With the passing of his father he found a new opportunity to reflect on where he’s been:

Hi Perry…

You’ve been a constant source of the future for me in the last year and a half as a conduit for my life as a musician.

for that I am forever grateful….Julie and I are indebted to you for the opportunity to make a living at what we love.

We talk about it almost everyday.

My father passed away on January 18th after a long illness and I am just coming to the point where I can talk about it.

to make a long story short, I look back on the accomplishments I’ve had with Adwords and the chance my father had to see my ‘dubious success’ in his eyes. These are life’s moments.

none-the-less, as I continue with matching keywords to ads to landing pages and see the psychology of multiple markets responding to a single keyword in various ways, I am reminded of how a father unknowingly influences the life of a child, permanently, unalterably.

I think you understand this.

Adwords is about human suffering, not about information, it’s about the search for truth and I refuse to make my campaigns anything but….

And some forum posts condemn me for it….

I have come to accept that because the overwhelming response I receive regarding this is support.

As always, I turn to you to express my feelings because you’ve been kind enough to make my story part of your fold and I am very proud of that… that perhaps my life could help another see something they would not have seen before.

A father should be the starting blocks for the fledgling sprinter in life. Good or bad, everyone of them is… in their own way, and the child always responds.. good or bad.

I chose the good…and I am glad he saw me come full circle whether he agreed with it or not.

We are all nothing but a snapshot in history and I am extremely grateful for your vision and offering a life opportunity for those who are ready to seize the moment and face the truth in themselves.

You’re messages never go unnoticed.

Onward , Perry, ever onward…life is short and I don’t intend to waste a single minute of it…and I’ve had pro’s try to keep me from myself. What a journey these last two years have been ! The release has been nothing short of amazing.

Ken Sakari Heikkila

Fathers have a profound effect on how we see ourselves and what we become in life. Ken’s father didn’t really understand him and never fully acknowledged his success. Some months ago I told him: that, in fact, may never happen. He may not get that from his dad. But he can still give that recognition to himself.

About my own dad… when I was about thirteen our family was in turmoil for a whole bunch of reasons and I had no respect for him. He was getting kicked in the head from every direction and I was happy to supply a few kicks myself.

Fast forward a few years and a lot of that stuff has been repaired but we’ve got a different problem.

Dad thinks I’m lazy.

I pretty much refuse to get a flipping burgers job and I ignore all his suggestions about job searches.

One time I did go out and fill out a bunch of job applications but when the rejection letters came back addressed to “Penny” dad could see I obviously didn’t even fill out the forms carefully enough for them to be able to read my name correctly.

Dad was on a trip once and I was keenly feeling the pressure to prove to him I wasn’t a lazy bum and I got a phone call from one of my friends. He called me and this other guy and said there was a janitorial job being offered and between the two of us, the first to arrive on the scene would be awarded the job.

I didn’t have a drivers license, but I drove there anyway. Got the job.

My older sister tattled on me.

So it was good news / bad news. Good news is, dad comes home and Perry is now in the ranks of the employed. Bad news is, he drove to the job interview illegally which is a serious offense if you get caught.

I worked my ass off at that job. Made about three bucks an hour working after school until 7pm every week night, and six months later dad says to me, “Perry you’ve proven you’re a hard worker and if you want to do something different, go ahead.”

I took him up on that offer and started my speaker building business, which sustained me through the rest of high school.

Just before my senior year in high school, the challenge was, dad had terminal cancer. We had a number of heart to heart talks before he died about all the responsibilities I would have and what it would be like without him.

About 2 months before he died, I got my first purchase order from a “real business”, a local retail store. I convinced the owner to sell a line of speakers I was making in his showroom.

This was just before my senior year. I went to the hospital and told him about it. He was beaming with pride. Within a few hours all the friends who visited him from work had heard about it. Perry starts a successful business in High School and #1 Son is gonna turn out OK after all.

That was my “father blessing” and it was a giant boost. When he died I knew he was proud of me.

That was a very, very big deal. I know that a whole bunch of men go through life having never gotten their father’s approval and are subconsciously in a never-ending mission to get it. Dad’s blessing lent me a level of confidence some people have to fight very hard to attain.

So when I read a story like Ken’s, I pay attention. Hey, the guy didn’t really get what he wanted from his dad. But before dad passed on, he recognized this as an unmet need, that he would press on in spite of it.

Now in his father’s absence, the ghost of dad is not going to haunt him and affect his actions in some way that he refuses to deal with.

A lot of people are going to read this and think “Gee, this guy is awfully philosophical.” Well, maybe.

But he sure does nail a few things:

Adwords is about human suffering, not about information, it’s about the search for truth and I refuse to make my campaigns anything but….”

Powerful observation, Mr. Heikkila. AdWords – and all advertising and all persuasion – is in fact about human suffering, not data. Not that every Google search is necessarily driven by misery and agony.

But that all of it is driven by a certain level of discomfort. Even (especially) if there’s pleasure involved.

And because of this, most marketing failures are rooted in a failure to understand the felt needs and human experience of the customer.

Furthermore, the best markets are the ones that are driven by misery and agony.

Most people are squeamish about this.

Well… your health insurance provider sure isn’t squeamish about it.

Your gas and electric company aren’t squeamish about it. If you refuse to pay, they’ll cut you off, and they won’t care all that much if it causes you freeze to death.

So why should you be squeamish about charging money for what you do?

It’s real, real hard to be successful in business if you’re not OK with the fact that you’re benefiting from someone else’s pain and suffering.

What’s important is that if you take their money, you are, at minimum, giving them a fair shot at reducing it.

Onward with more of Ken’s letter:

And some forum posts condemn me for it….

People who post on forums are generally professional bitch sessioners. Yes, I have seen notable exceptions – like once I knew a brilliant, prolific, extremely productive guy who also appeared to spend most of his time posting on message boards. He designed ingenious products and must have had an IQ of 200.

But he was an exceedingly rare exception.

Most people who hang out on discussion forums are lame-ass complainers who just like to see themselves type.

But anyway, if you squarely deal with problems rather than pussyfooting around them and selling band-aids that mostly just allow people to rationalize their mediocrity, you’re going to get criticized for it.

Ken went on to write to me:

There is a huge need for those searching for themselves in my niche and apparently that comes through to them as they visit my sites. Funny, I’m not selling my stuff as much as I’m providing a conduit for people to find their stuff. Often for the first time. Many in their 70′s and 80′s wishing they would have found me 30 years prior.”

If someone comes to your site to buy anti-itch cream or watch batteries, they’re probably not engaged in some deep search for themselves. But Ken understands that if someone’s going to pick up a guitar and commit many hours each week to practice, there’s something deeper that’s going on below the surface. It is because he understands this that he connects with his audience at this level.

This is the kind of connection that defines the difference between someone who merely has customers vs. someone who develops a cult following. The other day Mark Power was here at my office for a 4-Man Intensive. Mark is a speech pathologist from California who helps people who stutter.

We asked Mark a lot of questions about what he does and who he does it for. I saw a tendency for him to lapse into therapyspeak – talking about the various methods and equipment he uses and how it works and the methodology and procedures.

But things got really interesting when I asked him to tell me his story. What it was like to be a stutterer and why it took him so long to get rid of his stuttering (it took 30 years), what it was like to finally be free of it and how he felt while he was still struggling with it.

The story of stuttering and what it’s like to live with it is in many ways entirely different than the process of treating it. But the treatment of stuttering is part of the story of an ex-stutterer and stories must start from the beginning.

We spent the morning re-defining his sales process in terms of his story, rather than his practice. Four days later I get this email from him:

Thanks for an overwhelmingly productive two days at your house and a great night with the boys from Jersey! I implemented the Google Ad

Old Ad:

Stuttering: Get Help Now

Learn How to to Stop Stuttering!

5 Day Intensive Clinic

2.0% Click Thru Rate

New Ad:

Stuttering Therapy Failed

I tried therapist after therapist And still believed it was MY FAULT

9.1% Click Thru Rate

I guess not following the crowd and pushing my envelope is getting me in touch with more people

that I can help! To our success…


This was way outside of Mark’s comfort zone. He’d never seen speech therapy sold this way. With story, with empathy, with naked honesty. He’s only seen it sold with credentials and detached professionalism.

You can see the difference – four and a half times more response. He’s going to kick his industry’s collective ass once he’s got this whole thing sorted out. Then he’ll get reamed on the discussion boards for being able to charge 300% more money per hour than everyone else does.

He also has to adjust to the reality of dissing his colleagues. Most of them don’t know how to treat stuttering and some of them still stutter themselves. By setting himself apart from them he automatically draws their ire. That comes with the ability to address human suffering more effectively than others. “No good deed will go unpunished.”

So how does the story continue? I asked Mark to tell me about his journey from stutterer to stutterfree.

Some amazing gems came out. Together we wrote this copy for his landing page:

Did they saddle you with yet ANOTHER well-meaning, ineffective speech pathologist every year in school?

Did she finish her unsuccessful attempt to “fix you” and then blame you for the failure?

Are you sick and tired of promises, promises, promises with high fees but still stuck in the same miserable place you’ve been in your whole life?

Do you HATE sitting in the back of the room and avoiding conversations and missing out on the good jobs and not meeting new people because of this embarrassing problem?

This is my story…

Hi. My name is Mark Power and for 35 years I felt like a misfit and an alien. No matter where I went, I could not escape my stuttering problem and my hatred of talking. I hated the sound of my own voice.

At my school there was one other kid who stuttered and he didn’t have a clue either. We didn’t know why we did this. We just knew we were ashamed of ourselves, and the school would set us up with a therapist every year. We would lumber through their suggestions about taking deep breaths, making eye contact, talking about how I F-E-E-L about stuttering severely, being told this was a psychological problem, slogging through two miserable years of psychotherapy…

It was a total waste of time.

My mom drove me from New York to Greenwich Hospital in Connecticut for therapy twice a week for two years and when it didn’t work, they told her it was HER fault!

On my way to the first stuttering program that actually worked, I stopped at a lonely gas station in the middle of the night. When I walked into the office to ask for the key to the restroom, I stuttered so bad that the attendant panicked (he thought I was crazy), reached into his desk drawer and pulled out a .45 automatic.

He pointed the gun at my head and I stammered, “I’m a stu-stu-stu-stu-sssstutterer.”

I didn’t know it then but the tunnel of darkness was about to come to an end. Dr. George Shames and his wonderful staff changed my life. After one week of intensive therapy I found myself striking up conversations with…. yes, even gas station attendants whom I would have never talk to before, just because I could.

(And none of them pulled a gun on me!)

Iwas liberated.

After 35 years of communication prison, I had a LOT to say. I was making up for lost time.

You will too. When you discover what I discovered: That it’s not your fault. That the ineffective therapists were trying their best but the knowledge they’d been given was inadequate.

That the system has been stacked against you for decades and only now are growing numbers of stutterers

breaking out of this old mindset and discovering what can really happen when you’re finally set free.

“For The First Time In My LIfe, I Could Say Anything I Wanted To Say.”

I want you to say what YOU want to say. Anytime. Anywhere. With anybody.

I would like the opportunity to tell you the whole story. Exactly how it happened, from the rocky road of failed efforts and well-meaning therapists to the breakthrough that de-programmed me from all these horrible lies and enabled me to set hundreds of other stutterers free. Being stutter-free for 26 years now and suddenly able to help people like you too.

I’ll tell you how we did it, what happened and how it can happen to you too.

Tell me your name and your email address and the story will begin to unfold right away.

To your success,

Mark Power

Recovered Stutterer

President, Power Stuttering Center

Want to hear the rest of Mark’s success story? Stay tuned, because I’ll tell you in an upcoming issue.

Meanwhile, seize the day – don’t be afraid to address the human suffering and the real story head-on.

Your audience will reward you for your honesty.

Perry Marshall

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