Zig Ziglar

Looking back over the previous authors whose bios we’ve shared with our readers, I realized that many of them would be much more familiar to Baby Boomers as opposed to those in Generations X, Y or Z (New Silent Generation). However, even though the more recent generations may not recognize these authors by name, they are, indeed, familiar with their narratives, strategies, philosophies, and anecdotes. The work of these early authors (Napoleon Hill, Denis Waitley, Og Mandino, Ken Blanchard, and Zig Ziglar) have been shared, repackaged, reframed, and updated by more recent authors for later generations.

In choosing Ziglar, I pondered my decision to include him among our author bios. I say that because Zig is much more than an author. He’s a tremendous salesman, leading sales trainer, a legendary motivational speaker, a beloved religious leader, and, of course, a very successful author. He’s done it all and yearns to share it with others.

I’ve personally lost count of the number of times I’ve been in the audience to hear this gifted orator share his down-home wisdom over the decades. However, I do remember the first time I ever saw him on a stage. Until that day, I had never seen nor heard of Zig so I had no idea as to what to expect. From the minute he walked on the stage, I was mesmerized … riveted to his every word and movement in an effort to determine if he was a motivational speaker or a very talented comedian successfully emulating an orator. I make that statement with the greatest respect, but I mean it sincerely.

He made his entrance with gigantic strides, appearing to be at least seven feet tall. I’m sure he’s shorter, but his impeccable black pin-stripped suit, long, confident stride, ear-to-ear smile, and direct eye contact transforms him into a gentle giant you immediately trust.

Zig made Fred Astaire look clumsy as he glided from side to side across that enormous stage as though he owned it—which he did during the extent of his presentation. He made certain he connected with every person in the audience.

I mentioned the possibility of his being a comedian because of his style. He jumped, glided, twirled, and kneeled on one knee—whatever it took to emphasize his point and convince you of his sincerity. Blend that incomparable choreography with a southern drawl, which immediately convinced you that he was raised in the small Mississippi berg of Yazoo City, and you were hooked for the duration. Add his many captivating props, and you were in for an exciting experience.

Very few of his boundless fan base were aware of the fact that Zig was born Hilary Hinton Ziglar as the tenth of twelve children in 1926. He lost both his sister and father in 1932 and suffered much hardship as his mother struggled to raise 11 children alone.

After a stint in the Navy, he tried his hand at college at the University of South Carolina but soon chose to pursue a career in sales. Although struggling early on, Zig soon fine tuned his craft. He sold sandwiches to college classmates for a while and then moved on to selling pots and pans where he became a true sales champion. He placed second in one national firm of more than 7,000 and first in another company with a 3,000-plus sales staff. He went on to set sales records selling a variety of products for various companies.

He soon began receiving requests to share his secrets with many sales organizations and gained such notoriety that he walked away from a record-setting sales career to focus on helping others to become more successful. The rest is history.

Zig soon became one of the world’s foremost sales trainers. His name was synonymous with confidence, motivation and success. His success with sales training led him to focus on personal development as well. In 1970, he launched his full-time speaking career and built a multi-million dollar corporation on the same philosophy he expounds to his audiences—hard work, common sense, fairness, integrity, commitment, and an infectious sense of humor.

Since 1970, an extensive array of Ziglar audio, video, books, and training manuals have been utilized by small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, U.S. government agencies, churches, school districts, prisons, and non-profit associations, affecting lives in a profound way.

Over the last 30-plus years presenting himself and his motivational ideas, he has developed a world-wide following. He has grown from a one-man show to chairman of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, headquartered in Dallas, with a staff of more than 60 employees—an organization which is committed to helping people more fully utilize their physical, mental, and spiritual resources. Zig has traveled more than 5 million miles throughout the world as a speaker.

A well-known authority on the science of human potential, Zig Ziglar has been recognized three times in the Congressional Record of the United States for his work with youth in the drug war and for his dedication to America and the free enterprise system.

Titans of business, politics and sports consider Zig Ziglar to be the single greatest influence in their lives. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in Sales and Marketing, and the National Speakers Association honored Zig Ziglar with its highest award, “The Cavett.”

Individuals and institutions worldwide have utilized an extensive collection of Ziglar audios, videos, books and training curriculum. The client list of Ziglar Training Systems reads like a who’s who in American and global business. Nine of his books have been on the best-seller lists, and his titles have been translated into more than 38 languages and dialects.

Over the decades, Zig has personified his long-time motto of: “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

Last year Zig fell down a set of stairs and hit his head, resulting in a serious concussion. Suddenly, life was very different as this vibrant motivator no longer moved with the energy of a 65-year-old man as he had for so long. Almost overnight he aged 15-plus years and began the struggle to overcome and live with a brain injury.

After 32 years as the heart and soul of a business, Zig Ziglar has decided it would be best if he gave up his day-to-day operational role of his company. He has decided to hand over his company to his son, Tom Ziglar, president, and son-in-law Richard K. Oates, chief operating officer, as he concentrates on what he does best: produce best-selling books and energize crowds.

If you ever get an opportunity to see Zig in person, do yourself a favor and do so. You’ll never regret it. I’ve heard many colleagues say they make it a point to see Zig in person as often as possible. Does that mean that previous motivation didn’t last? I think not. Zig, himself, says “that people often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing—that’s why I recommend it daily!”

Here are just some of the many books Zig Ziglar has written:

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

2 thoughts on “Zig Ziglar

  1. I’ve been a big fan of Zig Ziglar for over 25 years now and have attended many of his seminars. I have most of his books, the majority of his audio tapes, and all of his video tape training programs. I’ve used many of these materials in training my staff members at every level of our own company and have been very successful in doing so. He appeals to employees of every age. Your description of this motivational icon could not have been more accurate. Reading your detailed description of Zig on stage made me feel as though I was once again in his audience absorbing his wit and wisdom. Thank you for that trip down memory lane.
    Dr. Lester Abraham

  2. In my early 20’s Zig Ziglar inscribed his 8 X 10 Glossy Headshot for me, “See You at the Top, David Simone, Eph 3:19” {…and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.} on 11-11-11 his prophecy will be fulfilled. Thank you, Zig. Love you!

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