Leadership Profile: Zig Ziglar

January 7, 2013

I had the privilege of meeting the late Zig Ziglar (1926-2012) a couple years ago at a seminar in Richmond, VA. Zig’s words and ideas have impacted my life probably more than any other thought leader out there. It was truly one of the highlights of my year getting to meet the man who literally wrote the book on success. I realize not everyone has been acquainted with America’s “Master of Motivation,” so six weeks after his passing, I’d like to pay tribute to Zig Ziglar in my first leadership profile of the new year.

Me and Zig

Both Zig Ziglar and I will see you at the top!

Who was Zig Ziglar?

Zig Ziglar was born in Alabama in 1926 as the 10th of 12 children and grew up in tiny Yazoo City, Mississippi. He grew up during the Great Depression and following a stint in the military, began his career in sales. His fledgling performance took a dramatic turn for the better following some inspiring words from one of the company’s senior executives. Soon afterward Ziglar was promoted to the executive level and began giving motivational speeches on the side. Dedicated to helping others get everything they want out of life, Ziglar’s speaking career took off soon after that.  He routinely shared the main stage with former presidents, world leaders, business icons, authors, and celebrities while sharing his philosophy of character, attitude, skills, and faith. Ziglar eventually became a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and wrote over 30 sales and motivational books, 10 of which became best-sellers, including his first book, See You at the Top.

What We Can Learn from Zig?

Because of the way Zig Ziglar connected with his audiences, perhaps the most impactful takeaways are some of the inspirational quotes he shared. Below are some of my favorites which represent the main flavor of everything Ziglar stood for:

“You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness.”

“Failure is an event. It’s not a person. Yesterday really did end last night. Today is a brand new day, and it’s yours.”

“You were born to win, but in order to become the winner you were born to be, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”

“Positive thinking won’t let you do anything. But it will let you do everything… better than negative thinking will.”

“If there’s hope in the future, there’s power in the present.”

“Building a better you is the first step in building a better America.”

And my all-time favorite: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

My friend Dan Black posted a list of additional Ziglar quotes here.

Ziglar Resources

The great thing about Zig Ziglar’s work is that most of his resources continue to be available to us. Here are the ones I’ve found to be the most helpful:

How to Stay Motivated (19 CD set) – I purchased this CD set in 2008 while on a military deployment in the Middle East. I have since listened to it over and over again. This is the resource I recommend the most highly.

How to Be a Winner (CD) – If you want to start with something shorter than a 20 hour series, get started with this one hour audio presentation.

Better Than Good – This is my favorite Zig Ziglar book.

Success for Dummies – The down and dirty guide describing how motivation works and what success looks like.

Confessions of a Grieving Christian – Although I have not read this book (yet), it’s reported the Ziglar family received more letters of thanks for this book, which Ziglar wrote following the death of his daughter Susan, than all the others combined.

Inspirational Tribute Video – This five minute video was created following Ziglar’s passing and includes a special message Ziglar pre-recorded for you!

Ziglar on Facebook – Receive periodic inspiration from Zig Ziglar in your Facebook news feed.

Ziglar.com – Visit Zig Ziglar’s corporate website if you are looking for professional training solutions, a speaker, or to sign up for the Ziglar newsletter. (I was fortunate enough to be featured in the Ziglar Newsletter last October).

How do you help other people get what they want? In my next post, I’ll share the eight things Zig Ziglar identified that ALL people want, no matter who they are.

Nathan Magnuson is a leadership consultant, coach, trainer and thought leader.  Receive his ebook Trusted Leadership Advisor by subscribing to his website or   follow him on Twitter.