Zig Ziglar passed away a few weeks ago, and I wanted to take a moment to say, “thanks.” For those who may not know of Mr. Ziglar, let me take a moment and bring you up to speed. He was born in Alabama, the tenth of twelve children, and served in the United States Navy during World War II. He later worked as a salesman in a number of companies until his 40’s, when Zig started his career as a professional speaker. He published his first of 30 books at the age of 49.
Zig Ziglar was a prolific speaker, and he appeared at events with world leaders, including several Presidents and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain. Although he took a fall down a flight of steps in 2007, which caused some short-term memory problems, he continued to travel and deliver motivational seminars.
I never had the pleasure of meeting Zig Ziglar, but I felt like I met him twice. The first time I met Zig Ziglar, I was 23 years old. I was selling life insurance and struggling. Oddly enough, I wasn’t struggling with the sales side of things; I was struggling with the spiritual side of things. In swooped Zig Ziglar.
He came to me by way of a set of cassettes called “Prime the Pump.” I was curious to listen to the tapes, mostly because I had never heard of a person named “Zig” before. So I listened. Quite frankly, I never knew anyone could communicate like that. I had heard inspirational speakers, motivational speakers, and entertaining speakers, but the “high” that was left with the audience faded about as quickly as the speed with which those speakers flew out of the room after they had finished!
When Zig Ziglar spoke, however, he did not just inspire, motivate, and entertain; he informed. He could touch your heart with a story, make you laugh with a joke, make you think with an analogy, and make you care because he cared. After my first “meeting” with Zig Ziglar, I listened to those tapes over and over and over again. Zig not only pushed me to want to become the best insurance agent I could be, but he also inspired me to become a professional speaker. So Zig Ziglar helped to change my path in life, and a professional speaker is the career I pursued.
Thirty years later, I met Zig Ziglar again. I was working on my latest book, and my publisher requested that I solicit endorsements. I sent out a bunch of letters, but then I decided to shoot for the stars, just like Zig Ziglar taught me to do. I sent a letter to Zig himself. I had no idea that he was not well, and I expected either no response or a response of a form letter. Instead, I heard back from his executive assistant Laurie, one of the nicest people I have ever communicated with. Laurie and I exchanged many emails over the next few weeks, and soon Zig’s son Tom was in on the communications as well. Although they hadn’t met me or heard of my work, they wanted to help me in any way they could.
After going through the manuscript, Tom Ziglar was thoughtful enough to write a kind endorsement for my book. The words he wrote under his quote were more precious than the quote itself, and spoke volumes about the kind of man Zig was. It read:
Proud Son of Zig Ziglar
Zig Ziglar, may you rest in peace. You changed so many lives with your words, your actions, and your good deeds while on this earth.
Proud Admirer of Zig Ziglar
(Here is a link to a YouTube version of “Prime the Pump” by the Great Zig Ziglar.)