The Scoop @ MSCO

When There Are No Words

1354791_14808834More than anything else, marketers play with words. Invent them. Embellish them. String them together in luscious archipelagos that excite and tug at the mind, emotions and spur people to action.

We can take the drab, the dull, and the meaningless and vest it with importance, power, sex appeal — whatever will move the dynamics of the marketplace. We can sell anything with the force of our imagination and the words that flow from it.

But then, out of nowhere, comes a tragedy for which words have no meaning. Where they fall flat on their face, useless in the face of the dark mysteries of life.

Last week I offered to speak at the funeral of my best friend’s son. Even as I did so, I knew that I could not live up to the true test of what I was volunteering for: no one would be comforted, the life would still be lost, the hearts would still be broken, the parents’ lives shattered. My talk would be just sounds, a formality, a honorable attempt to have a positive impact but an honorable failure just the same.

Sometimes there are no words.

Or are there? In the heavy tearful silence of the sanctuary, the father, my dear friend, rose and spoke to his son and then to God in a way that shook the room and turned the earth on its axis. It was not a formal speech. It lacked traditional structure. It had no beginning or end. It was a man, girding himself against the bolt that had struck him, his wife and his younger boy, simply asking God “Why?” and searching for his son in a wailing plea he knew could not be answered.

It was brave and fine and strong and heart wrenching. And it proved that there are words when they are shaped by the passion of the moment and the heart that is true.


  1. Ami ∣ November 30th / 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Seth Godin had a little blurb that “all marketers are liars” was somewhat of a mistake. Some marketers don’t know they are liars before they read the book. It’s a matter of perspective, “inside” the marketing process, we sometimes forget that there are people on the “outside”. I guess what I want to say, is telling people they are “stupid” or that their “company sucks” might have lots of truth in it. BUT, this is all they have. They can certainly do “better” if they listen to you, but you will never get to them. One way to see how Godin figured out not to tell people they are “stupid” and “their work sucks” is by looking at his Amazon page. The “liars” book is the ninth one down, and the only odd title is “we are all weird”. So good luck with your sarcasm… you are losing lots of audience at the title (my US$0.02 is that is not good marketing for yourself :(

  2. Mike ∣ December 1st / 2011 at 12:54 pm

    Mark I was introduced to you through a mutual friend (Elena Patrice), and while I have read, and enjoyed your posts in the past, none have moved me as much as this one to comment. I couldnt agree more that sometimes the unscripted,unrehearsed, not thought out words from the heart, trump those which we develop in our minds to envoke even the same desired response, or emotion. As in this case, where the desire of both, (written word and felt words) would be to sympathise, and pay honor to the tragic loss of a Life, ecspecially in it’s Youth, of a loved one and their family. When passion takes over, and when spoken from the heart (even a broken one) the words take on a power all of their own. It’s the raw emotion and the feelings, and not how we articulate our thoughts that is the difference. As any, slightly, educated person would have most likely established by now, I am not a writer (unless all sentences are this long) I only wish to pay my respect, and to honor to the family and particularilly, your friend for your last statement, which I appreciate you closing with. The hardest part about being a man sometimes, is when it’s time to be a man. When a broken hearted mother can hardly stand on her feet from grief, when a child asks why their brother has been taken away? When there are arangements to make with Organ doning, the Church, the Funeral Home, or even to sit and write an obituary for your own son. Regretfully I speak from the experience of having lost my own son almost two years ago, and I can tell you in my own case the “brave and fine and strong” (the heart wrenching was natural) came from powers beyond my own and in hine site, I credit God for knowing that he didnt make me strong enough for any of it. I too stood where your friend stood and spoke at his service and the words were hardly “the sermon on the mound” but the senserity and the pashion were the no less. I pray for your friend and his family not to lose touch with that strength or the one who empowered him with it. Thank you, and God Bless.

  3. Elena Patrice ∣ December 2nd / 2011 at 9:18 am

    Thank you for the gifts you give out to the world and for being the soul you are. Always I will continue to say “you give me hope in this crazy world” … (real hope that is ;))

    Stay rock-solid always!

    Peace & kindness,


  4. Mike Kelly ∣ December 2nd / 2011 at 12:55 pm

    Very thoughtful and moving. Well written. My condolences.

  5. Bryan Westra ∣ December 3rd / 2011 at 1:42 pm

    I have read most of your books and find your perceptions wonderfully enlightening. I first found out about you on a LifePath Unlimited interview where you were interviewed by Patrick Combs. Ever since I heard your explanation of why you feel that being ‘unconventional’ is a powerful way to live your life, where you cited an example of ‘balance’ in a person’s life, in that being “If you like your job, then why shouldn’t you make it your life, if that is your desire.” Going against the conventional thinking of keeping time set aside for many areas so as to create a more balanced life. You explained it much better than I am in this comment, but I really love your blog and just wanted to comment that.

    Best Regards,

    Bryan Westra

    PS: Your book Rich is A Religion and Your Marketing Sucks! were phenomenal reads. I look forward to more of your books.

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