About 25 years ago, I read my first book on selling. It was,
The Secrets of Closing the Sale. Like many sales and business
professionals, this was the first book that I was ever exposed to which focused
on the subject and the art of selling. 25 years later, I had the distinct
pleasure of sitting down and meeting with the master of selling and personal
development, the often imitated but never duplicated, Zig Ziglar.
Now, if you’re in sales or a self help junkie, you know who
Zig Ziglar is. (If not, you’re either someone who hasn’t truly invested in your
career and embraced lifelong learning by continually investing in your
development, you’re fairly new to the selling profession or are just starting
out, or you’ve been living under a rock for far too long.) Zig (he prefers to
be called Zig over Mr. Ziglar) is truly an American Legend, an icon in the world
of personal and professional growth and one of my personal heroes. (The
conversation I had with him further cemented why this is still true today). Zig
has shared the platform with many distinguished Americans such as Presidents
Ford, Reagan and Bush and has authored over two dozen books on personal growth
and success, family, sales and leadership that have touched the lives of
millions of people across the world.
Zig has an appeal that transcends barriers of age, culture,
industry and occupation. Since 1970, he has traveled over five million miles
across the world delivering powerful life improvement messages, cultivating the
energy of change.
Zig Ziglar’s corporation is built upon the same philosophy
he expounds to his audiences – hard work, common sense, fairness, commitment
In his autobiography, Zig offers a candid and inspiring
account of his transformation from a “too small, poor boy from Yazoo City,
Mississippi,” to one of the world’s most highly regarded motivational
experts. At the heart of his story are his many heroes who modeled solid values
such as faith in God, commitment to hard work, compassion for others, common
sense, integrity, and a sense of humor.
“Wow! What an amazing experience. What did he teach you that
was new?” This is the first reaction I would typically hear from people when
first telling them I had spent an afternoon with Zig and time at his
headquarters. So, what impact did Zig leave on me that I have taken to heart?
What profound, new and valuable message was I able to walk away with from my
meeting with this highly acclaimed guru and though leader?
Before I answer that, (no, I won’t make you wait until my
next blog post) here are just a few of the things that Zig and I casually
chatted about. (Our conversation was videoed and I will be posting the video to
share with you in the very near future.)
- How the selling profession and
the profile of a salesperson changed and evolved since the time he
authored, The Secrets of Closing the Sale, 25 years ago.
- What salespeople need to do
today to ensure their success in this new marketplace.
- What leaders need to be more
mindful of if they want to ensure the success of their organization.
- The people who have impacted
his life the most.
- Zig’s definition of integrity.
- A message for the younger
generation out there, who are working hard at trying to build a successful
career and a family.
- His legacy.
- What parents need to do to be
more accountable around raising children with stronger, more meaningful
- How people actually go about
developing or upgrading their attitude.
I was fortunate to gain the perspective of such a worldly
man grounded in the values that matter. You would even think that it would be a
bit of a challenge to retain all of the gems Zig shared with me. Conversely it
wasn’t. It was surprisingly, yet reassuringly very simple. You see, the ultimate
epiphany I had, the priceless message that Zig delivered, was grounded in the
core principles that are and have always been right in front of us.
Zig reinforced what really mattered most; the basics. Yes,
that’s right. The basics that we so often gloss over, neglect, take for granted
and assume we already have in place. The very basics that are paradoxically,
still the undeniable and timeless secret to success and designing a life worth
The basics of truth, being your word, living a life of
integrity, honoring your core values and your commitments, honesty, family,
faith in yourself and helping your fellow man and woman selflessly and
graciously. Yes, the basics that our society seems to have an unyielding
tendency to put aside and dismiss in search of the latest and greatest, the
next “Big Thing” or the flavor of the month. We have fooled ourselves into
thinking there is some other secret out there that would help us get what we
want most and propel us to where we want to be, both in our home life and at
our work life.
We are hiding behind the guise of “What’s next” without honoring
the core, fundamental beliefs and values that make us all worthwhile human
beings. As we immerse ourselves in our own thinking, as we get distracted and challenged
by the upsets and problems at work, as we continue to allow the media to erode
our thinking and our heart-centered priorities as well as sensationalize our
deepest fears and insecurities, we move farther and farther away from the person
we truly want to be, and then with a shock, we turn around and notice that the
person we have become, is not the person we want to model, especially for our
Our integrity has now been compromised, and we wonder why we
continually feel, “off,” out of sorts, or out of balance with ourselves,
regardless of how much more money we make or what other possessions or
successes we amass. We can’t understand why personal satisfaction, our self
worth, sense of fulfillment and our peace of mind continually escapes us and
our grasp, and becomes more and more elusive.
To reinforce Zig’s message, I’m reminded of a conversation I
had with his son. When talking with Tom Ziglar, the CEO of Ziglar, Inc., he
shared with me so many wonderful stories about his dad. During one of our
conversations, he shared with me one of his dad’s quotes which was, “How much
better would world be if people cared as much about their responsibilities as
they do their rights.” With the level of greed and American Entitlement that
has plagued our society, which has only come into our direct line of vision due
to our challenging marketplace and the media continually reporting on the
failure of so many large institutions and organizations, this message is so
timely today, more than ever before.
Zig’s message touches the heart, soul and spirit of everyone
he interacts with, especially those who work with him. It was during my video
shoot later that day, as I was filming some new training and coaching insights,
when someone else in Zig’s office shared another story that is yet another testament
to Zig’s character and being a man who lives by his word and walks his talk. I
was told that, throughout all of the years Zig has traveled the word, before
every seminar or presentation he ever delivered, even as they’re introducing
him and calling him on to the stage, he would always make it a point to pick up
the phone and call his wife, just to tell her he loves her.
What a better place our world would be if every man and
woman would call their spouse or significant other on their way to work, just
to say, “I love you.” To this day, Zig cherishes his wife and the relationship
he has with her (the Redhead, as he lovingly refers to her in his books). He keeps
her on the pedestal that she so rightfully deserves to be on. Again, what would
our world be like if we followed in Zig’s footprints, doing the things that
really matter most.
When it was time to conclude our conversation, one of the
final questions I asked Zig was, “I’m not sure if you’ve been following the
numbers on your book sales and where they rank in terms of popularity. So I
took the liberty of seeing how The Secrets of Closing the Sale has
been doing on Amazon. Currently, your book holds the following rankings
regarding how popular they are in specific categories. In the category of
sales and selling, your book is rated number 15. Now, here’s what I found
interesting. Under the category of spirituality, your book is holding strong at
number 3. Now, I know you’re a very spiritual man. And regardless of your
faith, how do you explain this? What’s the connection between success at
selling and spirituality?”
To that question, Zig smiled and responded with a resonating
message that reinforced why the holistic approach to professional development
will always be the most effective and long lasting. That was, while skill,
talent and what you do is important, it is the essence of a person, your
character and who you are that matters most.
At 82 years of age, he still has
that spark, that twinkle in his eye, that presence he naturally exudes from a
man who we can all use as a model of what it means to be not just remarkable,
but to be human; that’s the Zig we know and love.
I don’t know if there are
too many authentic heroes like Zig left in the world, and I know he’s still one
of mine. And as I look on my desk at the gift that my children had given me
just the other day (an early Fathers Day present), I’m reminded why I do what I
do and what gets me out of bed each day. My five year olds (twins) came back
from school and in their youthful exuberance, handed me a picture frame they
had made with the cutest picture of each of them wearing a suit and tie that their
teaches had dressed them in. On the top of the frame it said, “When I grow Up I
want To Be Just Like My Daddy.” How important our role is as parents, our most
significant role we will ever have. That message was a happy reminder of how
important it is for me to follow in the footprints of success that my hero has left
behind for all of us to travel on.
I am profoundly and deeply appreciative of my time with Zig
and of the gifts that he has shared with the world.
And to Mr. Zig Ziglar I say, I am grateful for the
contribution you have made to me, as well as the impact that you have had on
all of us throughout the years. Keep shining.