My Marathon Heckler And How She Reminded Me Of Marketing Manipulation!

I recently ran/walked my first 5K.  Simply committing to this event and showing up was a big success for me personally because my whole life I’ve never been a “runner”. 

For this particular event they let us customize our bibs and I very proudly customized mine as follows:

As I started the run I was delighted by the number of people who cheered me on from the sidelines, as well as many fellow runners, when they saw I was participating in my first 5K.  People would clap, give me thumbs up, slow down to talk to me for a moment, and mostly make me feel so proud of myself for undertaking this feat.  People are so good!

And then we came upon the heckler.  Yes, there was an older woman in the crowd, perched in her chair, vocalizing her discontent with those of us that had to slow to a walk.  Her exact words were, and I quote:


No, this was not said in an encouraging way.

My husband Pete was at my side and his usual calm and happy demeanor gave way to something I rarely see; he wanted to turn around, defend my honor and tell the woman that at least we were up moving vs. sitting on our butts (ok, not his exact word). 

As we proceeded on our run/walk/walk/walk/run I figured there must be a business/life lesson in that experience or why else would I have had it!  And then it dawned on me…

How many times have you felt like there were people standing at the sidelines basically shouting to you to GET GOING, GO FASTER, and PLAY BIGGER?

Sadly, in our entrepreneurial community this happens far too much by what I believe to be mostly well-intentioned experts and mentors.

And sometimes that well-intentioned PUSH can feel a little bit more like judgment and at its worse, manipulation.

Are you still with me? Have you ever felt, through the messages you receive and perhaps even people in your life that sometimes there are messages tossed your way that don’t exactly HELP and more than anything make you feel very unseen?

I’ve had many conversations about this exact topic with my colleagues and clients.  Sometimes PLAYING BIGGER, or MAKING A MILLION, or DOING IT FASTER can feel severely out of touch with what is going on in YOUR life.  And that’s sad because…

YOU are brilliant.

YOU have your own divine pace.

YOU have your own unique dreams.

YOU have your own way of doing things.

YOU have your own obstacles to overcome. 

And NO ONE really knows what is right for you.  No one.  Only you. 

My point is this:  sometimes people standing on YOUR sidelines (everyone other than you, including experts) get it all wrong and really don’t understand what you’re going through.  And just because they get it wrong doesn’t mean you don’t have a big dream or have what it takes.  It just means they don’t see YOU. 

My friend Natalie reminds me often of how important it is to march to the beat of your own drummer.  I couldn’t agree more!  Now, marching to your own beat doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea to go it alone.  Let me be clear, I do think if you have gaps in your knowledge about building your business it’s good to fill those gaps with insightful, proven information, from a trusted expert.  And yes, I completely believe that having a gifted coach/mentor in your corner can make all the difference. 

I think a shift is occurring where many of us are becoming fed up with in your face marketing and tactics that are designed to fill us with fear and dread and that feeling we have to hurry. 

Just like the woman shouting, “Run!  People are watching” had much more to do with her own insecurities than what all of us fabulous walkers were up to, I feel in your face/fear-producing marketing actually often does more to keep people stuck than move them forward.  And that’s so sad, isn’t it?  I mean, I do know fear can be a powerful motivator but there’s a very fine line between motivating someone and manipulating them and far too often too many marketing messages tread into manipulation. 

I know for certain one thing:  I love working with people and experts who HONOR me.  See my brilliance and get out of judgment and honestly over themselves.  I can honestly say I will never work with any expert who doesn’t truly see me, want to get to know me, build a relationship with me, and fill me with possibility.  All I want is my gifted support system to SEE me, not SAVE me.  There’s a powerful distinction in that!  (And if you think you need saving there are plenty of experts that will prey on that insecurity so please be careful.)

Now, admittedly, there is a fine line when it comes to clearly communicating the value of your product and service.  I do think it’s OK to point out the obvious such as (Not closing enough sales?  I can help with that!)…a message like this is very clear and to the point and doesn’t get ugly. 

I think this is an important conversation to continue in our Passion Into Profit Community.  I’d love to hear your comments so please leave them below.  Let’s start a conversation about this!  It’s important.  Let us know how you have felt about some of the fear-producing, too in your face, bordering on manipulation, marketing you’ve seen experts use.  You have a voice here!

Bottom line:  I ask you, soooo what if people are watching (I had to seriously ask myself this question during the 5K)?  And then I remembered my favorite Dr. Seuss quote:  “those that matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter.”  I say hallelujah to that!   

Finally, there are a few more lessons the heckler-woman helped deepen for me, yet again. (So yes, after I got past her rudeness, she did deliver to me a gift of clarity!)

1) OWNING your place and pace in the world is key! 

2) We all have our own DIVINE timing to everything!

3) Hecklers can only get you down if you let them. 

4) Don’t let yourself be manipulated or bullied into thinking you’re not enough…you are and the right coach/mentor/expert will support you in discovering YOUR keys to success

5) And more than anything, without question, the world is filled with amazingly supportive people.  Just enter a 5K to see what I mean.  The world is lovely and there are many people that would rather support you than fill you with fear and dread.  Surround yourself with those fabulous human beings!


17 thoughts on “My Marathon Heckler And How She Reminded Me Of Marketing Manipulation!”

  1. Cari, congrats on finishing your first 5k! Yay for you! I love how you found the positive in this and turned it into a teaching moment. There were a lot of benefits out of the experience and bravo for seeing them, including the chance to see your husband get protective of you (feels good, doesn’t it?).

    I admire you so much Cari for your ability to stay present and see the big picture, among many other admirable traits! 😉


  2. Love this Cari – it’s a pet peeve of mine as well that there is so much “hit 7-figures now!!” stuff out there. I’m all for growing to whatever place we want to grow to in our businesses, but the expectation out there can cause us to skew our view of success. I remember a few years ago that I set the goal of hitting 7-figures in my biz, and come towards the end of the year I was no where near that goal… and I didn’t care. Because I realized I had set the goal because I thought I *should* vs. because I wanted to… because I thought that once i was in the 6-figure range I had to then go to 7-figures next or else I wasn’t really successful? Wierd stuff, and it was getting in the way of celebrating where I was (which was pretty damn good but I wasn’t seeing it as it wasn’t enough by those measures) and working towards the next level of growth. Not to mention that a focus on growth and money for it’s own sake doesn’t build a business – and can actually lead to some pretty ick situations (financial woes of all kinds.) Ah I could go on but i’ll get off my soapbox now, LOL. 😉

    And huge congrats on your first 5K! Such an accomplishment for you both.

    1. THANK YOU, Tina…no apologies needed…I happen to stand on the same soapbox.

      Yes, the messages that are out there mess with our heads and that’s sad because it delays progress and possibility for very gifted business owners because it does get into our heads.

      That’s why building our inner resolve and getting in tune with what we really want is so important. If we listen to our own hearts it’s less likely we’ll be derailed by these messages.

      SO…I CELEBRATE YOU and your accomplishments! Yes, you’re very gifted and have so much to celebrate!


  3. Just came across this quote, 10 minutes after I read your post here. SO appropriate:
    It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy course; who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

  4. Congratulations on your 5k and for keeping your composure when many wouldn’t have!!

    It’s times like those that make me wonder about how individuals like this go through life and how much they are truely missing out on because they can’t celebrate with someone else’s triumphs. They seem to forget that we all have to start somewhere and we each have, like you said, our own pace. When looking through the eyes of judgement and ridicule, compassion, understanding and joy can’t be felt – for others or self.

    The message may have been directed your way but you were not the only ones it was meant for. I believe everyone who heard it, adults and children alike, recieved a teachable moment in maybe a hundred of different ways. I’m a parent and I take every opportunity to teach my kids in moments like these.

    I guess this ties in with your question about marketing tactics and yes I know exactly what you mean.

    There are wonderful teachers out there but the ones I relate to your message with are the ones who push the fact that if you commit you will find the money to pay for their over priced program. This is where I see the manipulation.

    I get it that there are worthy programs that do require a somewhat large investment but each of the teachers that truely respect their followers don’t make them feel less important, less capable or degrade them in any way. Particularly if they don’t have the funds. There will always be a portion of followers that can’t jump into their programs – today. If these people are treated with respect they will find the funds in the future.

    I think some have forgotten where they started from and have lost touch to their whole purpose in the first place. Or maybe they just get caught up in what ever everybody else is doing.

    I have no idea how many times I’ve heard that you have to go where the money is. Funny how the people I want to serve probably don’t quite fit into that catagory but I will figure out the way to make it affordable to reach them! Going against the grain – yup. Will I be successful – time will tell but I know anything is possible.
    Thanks for this post. Needed to get the adrenilin moving!


    1. Hi Rose,

      Thank you so much for your comments!

      I do feel that in order to grow our businesses we have to be willing to get out of our comfort zones and sometimes that looks like spending money before we feel confident doing so. HOWEVER, no one should force or manipulate you to do so.

      At the core of each person is the wisdom to know when to say YES and when to say a clear NO.

      Listen to your instincts and work with experts that want you to do so. It’s honoring all the way around!

      Love to you…


      PS. And thanks for your wise words around my 5K. I felt totally supported by so many more than this one bad apple and yet she did make her impact. I wonder if she has any idea of the good conversation we’re having because of it!

      1. She has absolutely no idea.

        But maybe, just maybe a bystander chose the most perfect words to reach deep enough to create the mirror she desperately needs. Maybe it was her moment to reflect and take a good look inside.

  5. Congratulations Cari on completing your first 5K! And kudos to you for running the race your way….and thank you for sharing the experience and lessons with us. You ROCK!

    1. Thank you, Carol. There’s a lesson in everything, isn’t there!

      I knew I was getting fed up with a lot of the marketing I see being put to use (and I’m not talking just from “internet marketers”) so I had to say something. Between the blog posts being offered up and facebook posts I do think this topic is resonating.

      I hope you’re well!


  6. Great article Cari! I take your words to heart every day by learning to go at my own pace. This is why we love you 🙂

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