Zig Ziglar: One Of The Best Gifts You Could Ever Receive

By: Dan Kennedy on: November 29th, 2012 41 Comments

I was inspired.

Those three words describe how I felt the first time I saw Zig Ziglar speak over 40 years ago.

A large part of the reason I ended up in speaking was because of author, salesman, and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar.

Yesterday morning the news of Zig’s death after a bout of pneumonia inspired people to share their memories and stories of Zig.

Today I’ll share one of mine.

A number of years ago, I had the privilege to be interviewed alongside Zig by Bill Glazer.

Zig began by talking about growing up during the depression and how that influenced him. He said that besides his mother being an incredible role model, he noticed something.

He said throughout his life he observed in every decade that regardless of what was going on in his community, he noticed that some people lived in nice houses, took great vacations, and drove the nicest cars. And that even when the economy was bad, some people thrived and that in good economic times some people still struggled for survival.

Zig said those who did well realized that they couldn’t do anything about the national economy, but they could do something about their “personal economy.” He said those that thrived, no matter what was going on, accepted responsibility for their own economy, in other words they worked hard and did whatever they had to do and whatever is necessary to not only survive, but flourish.

When I was growing up I saw both sides of that experience firsthand. My family had times of doing quite well and I also remember being one step away from food stamps. So I started at an early age searching for principles and strategies for what made the difference.

No matter what the small town, big city, good economic times, bad economic times, no matter what those variables are, in every area, you can always find somebody who’s doing really, really, really well even if everyone around them is weeping and wailing and gnashing teeth.

As an entrepreneur, you may want to follow Sam Walton’s lead. When asked about the recession in 1991 Walton said, “I’ve thought about it, but I’ve chosen not to participate in it.”

During our talk, Zig hit on a couple of key principles that allow you to be one of those people that thrive no matter what the conditions. Not surprisingly, one of them was how to get motivated.

Zig said, “Don’t wait to get inspired. You have to manufacture your own inspiration and motivation.” He said you do that by talking to like-minded people and reading books. Zig read over three hours every day for over 30 years. His reading material included autobiographies, newspapers, and the bible.

Zig said everyone can find a mentor—and should. That who you associate with and what you read are great sources of inspiration.

He also said that you refuel and restart your motivation by re-reading things that inspire you so you can be reminded of what you need to know and the things that motivate you.

I agree. Repetitive reading and mentors are key. If you’re hanging out with anybody that you don’t need to have a notebook to scratch notes in, then you should evaluate who you are hanging out with.

Author Clem Stone discussed inspiration to action. Inspiration to action or action to inspiration, it doesn’t matter where you start, you just have to find out what gets you there. For me, I start working and find the inspiration in the work.

But what happens when you are inspired and you are missing something other than skill—what do you do then?

Zig said that when there is someone that is very knowledgeable, but not living up to his or her full potential that the missing piece is the picture they have of themselves.

Zig talked about his early selling days. He said his self-image was of when he was a boy who was always struggling. He quoted Dr. Joyce Brothers, who said “You can’t perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.” In other words, if you see yourself struggling you will always be struggling. If you see yourself poor, odds are you’ll be poor.

Struggling financially for over two years as a salesman selling waterless cookware, Zig went to a meeting—that he almost missed. (There’s an important lesson in that alone.) The president of the company Zig sold cookware for and Zig’s hero, Mr. Merrell, pulled Zig aside after the meeting.

Mr. Merrell told him, “I’ve watched you for 2 ½ years and I’ve never seen such a waste. I believe you could be a national champion if you just recognized your own ability, believed in yourself and went to work on a regular schedule.”

Zig said nobody ever said he could be a champion before. Having a man who he had a great deal of respect for telling him he could be a champion was a turning point in his career. He began picturing himself as the champion that Mr. Merrell said he could be. That year he went from the bottom of the sales rung and became No. 2 in the company out of 7000 sales people.  When his self-image changed, he became successful.

I’ve seen this over and over. You can have all the skills in the world, but your confidence level needs to match or exceed your competence.

The first time I really ever saw this was when I was working with chiropractors. I was doing coaching with hundreds of doctors. We’d give them identical systems and they would have identical numbers of leads coming through the door—but one would be stuck while another would be skyrocketing.

You have to change what is going on internally.

One way I’ve seen this happen is when a successful and credible person takes someone aside in a mentoring or coaching role and tells them they can do better, much like what happened to Zig.

Another way is at events. I’ve seen people come to seminars where they are suddenly exposed to hundreds and hundreds of people getting phenomenal results, the success in numbers has an effect on them.  When they see that a successful person doesn’t appear any smarter or any different, the exposure hanging out with successful people triggers something—and once it happens, all of sudden it seems to happen again and again.

Repetitive reading and repetitive exposure of hanging out with like-minded people who are successful has an effect. Seeing, reading and knowing Zig had an effect on me—a gift I’m glad I got to receive.

A positive self-image is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

And not to get all corny…

But this holiday season, if you know someone who doesn’t have one, you have the power to give it to them…and it won’t cost you a penny.

Do it as a tribute to Zig.

Note: You don’t need to wait to receive the gift of a positive self-image. If you need a mentor or coach to help or you are looking to experience success in numbers, we can help. Check out our different mastermind and coaching groups and eliminate the barriers that are holding you back while being inspired by the members in your group. Or attend one of our upcoming events…from Fast Implementation Bootcamp to SuperConference, we hold events all year round to give you live, in-person access to the best minds in marketing today…which draws an attendance of some of the most successful entrepreneurs and small business owners in the world. Find out more…

Not a member yet?  Get on the right path with the Road Map To Success – Getting Started System now.  You’ll get $648 worth of strategies, tactics and money-making marketing plans for FREE.  To get this now go to www.DanKennedy.com/rmsreport


Dan Kennedy is internationally recognized as the 'Millionaire Maker,' helping people in just about every category of business turn their ideas into fortunes. Dan's "No B.S." approach is refreshing amidst a world of small business marketing hype and enriches those who act on his advice. For more money-making marketing tips, tactics and strategies, go to www.GKIC.com

41 Responses

  1. Bryan says:

    Thanks Dan, Zig was one of a kind and will be missed.

    Best regards,

  2. Jim Campbell says:

    An awesome article about a truly remarkable man. Well done Dan. Thank you for this!!

  3. From manufacturing celebrity to manufacturing inspiration, there seems to be a common thread in your writing which I entirely agree with.

    By the way, I chose not to participate in the 2008 recession, and it was the best decision I ever made.

    Please please please keep up the great writing. Thank you!



  4. James Orr says:

    Very sad to hear about Zig’s passing. He was a true inspiration to me and to a lot of others. I appreciate your comments Dan about seeking out mentors and helping others improve their self image. I will give that gift to at least 10 people this month in honor of Zig. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. Willis Combs says:

    Thanks for the ALWAYS great info and inspiration! And the No B.S. truth telling – def. read the good ones regularly – many of which are written by Dan! In your debt, and taking big actions to becoming one of the many successful entrepreneurs you have helped make! THANK YOU!!

  6. Thank you, Dan. Thank goodness for come-to-Jesus tellers of the truth like Mr. Merrell. And that Zig got it. RB

  7. Ruth Elliott says:

    Thanks Dan! I loved Zig too. He lifted ME up when I needed it too. His words live on to inspire us all!

  8. Thanks for the nice tribute. I only “discovered” Zig Ziglar a few years ago, and I’m honored to have learned a lot from him while he was still among us. Will meet again.

  9. Liz Alton says:

    Thanks, Dan. It feels like you just summed up all the best advice I’ve ever been given in 800 words….

  10. Dan says:

    Very inspiring! I’m printing this out and keeping it in my personal self-motivation swipe file. You hit on all the core points of what it takes to be a success, from accepting responsibility for your own economy, to the importance of hanging out with like-minded people and those you actually need to “take notes” from, to the importance of a positive self image. I’ve never seen it said any better.

    I’ve been a fan of Zig Ziglar for over 30 years, since my grandparents introduced me to his books and told me how they had met Zig personally on numerous occasions. “See You At The Top” and “Secrets of Closing the Sale” were two of the very first self improvement books in a library that would eventually expand to the hundreds. Needless to say, Zig had a very positive impact during my formative years.

    Thanks, Dan, for a moving and uplifting tribute to a very great man. He will be missed, but I’d like to believe his spirit now lives on in the millions of people he’s touched in one way or another.


  11. Thanks for this and the reminder that we can control our own personal economy, some people just call it the hustle. Beats laying on the couch leaving the bills unpaid. Keep up the good work and stay healthy.

  12. David Letourneau says:

    Thanks Dan,
    Zig was the best in the business for an entire extended career. I discovered him in the sixties and met him personally in the seventies. He is still one of my mentors through his many CD’s, books and motivational material. We’ll miss him immensely but there is no doubt that he has left this world a better place.

  13. Mary Simpson says:

    Thank you ever so much for a wonderful article. Zig Ziglar was one of my heros, and I found his writing to be very inspiring as well as providing valuable insights. I truly appreciate you sharing your experience and perspectives with us. This article is a real “keeper.”

  14. Bill Gatten says:

    Dan, I’ve respected your wisdom for some time now (‘and still do); however…

    Using the announcement of Zig Ziglar’s death as an opportunity promote your business was not at all a good idea. I hope you’ve realized that by now (mine must not have been the only note of its type re. this issue).

    Zig Ziglar is also responsible for my own success as an author, presenter and teacher, and I , too, would like to announce the sad, sad occurrence to my circle of friends, associates and students…’but when I do, the message will not be accompanied by any sales pitch or solicitation.

    I honestly think you need to apologize to everyone on your mailing list for having done that. Your name is is revered by many, and your reputation to date has been impeccable (as far as I know); but, Dan, I truly believe you advertising in this manner was in bad taste and a real faux pas on your part.

    One doesn’t go to a funeral to hand out business cards.

    Bill Gatten

    • Dear Bill,
      I found Dan’s tribute inspiring and I found his again offering what he could to anyone observing fine as well. I had intended to write a snide comment to you, but realized that you’re one of the good guys too! I don’t want or need an apology from Dan – for what? Nor do I want one from you! Again, for what? So, I’ll just apologize to you for my initial impulse to castigate you even if I did catch myself and realize my error before it came to fruition.

      So, Bill, let us all just miss Zig and enjoy Dan, … , and each other!
      Live long and prosper,
      Charles E.

  15. What a beautiful tribute to Zig! I still listen to his “cassettes”. He always makes me smile!

  16. Rachel Young says:

    This was not only a beautiful tribute to one of the most genuine, caring, and giving souls I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing – it was a timely message as well.

    Thank you, Dan, for reemphasizing the importance of a healthy self-image. The Theater of the Mind plays whatever movies you wish to see – but the person in charge of the projector needs to WANT to see those positive images, too.

  17. Tom Beal says:

    Thanks for sharing this Dan. Great reminder and a tribute with a message Zig would be proud of. Will take on your challenge and pull some friends and associates aside who I know can do better…starting with my self. :)

    • Mike Stodola Admin says:

      Tom, just make sure you actually do this! Don’t put it off.

  18. Hal Hoadley says:

    Very nice tribute to Zig, Dan. I’ve read many books Zig wrote. He is an inspiration to me. I also got to meet him at your Los Angeles Event 2006. I believe you presented him with a birthday cake for his 80th birthday.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Hal Hoadley

  19. Doug Bryan says:

    The news of Zig’s passing caught my wife and me by surprise yesterday. I saw him speak several times. ( I live in Dallas.) I’ve read his books and listened to his tapes repeatedly. One of the world’s great motivators.

  20. Anshit says:

    Thanks Dan for sharing, this article made me think deeply and I took one solid decision to change my self esteem. I am already a member of the GKIC inner circle.

  21. Zig Ziglar had given and left us all with so much encouragement to change our lives. He will live on in many of us. Thank you Zig Ziglar, and thank you Dan Kennedy for your tribute. I am blessed to be a member of GKIC.

  22. Quentin Pain says:

    Im just glad I found GKIC and from that found Zig. Thank you.

    • teri pickens says:

      I agree with Bill’s comment. this was not the forum to honor Zig Ziglar’s memory and then do a sales pitch! You should have given something away in his honor. I am disappointed.

  23. Thank you adminn.

  24. Leonardo says:

    May Zig’s words and teachings keep making a difference in our lifes!!!

  25. Mary Wang says:

    I was shocked by the news that Zig Ziglar passed away yesterday. Zig Ziglar is the person who introduced me to the world of sales and marketing through his tapes and books several years ago. Most importantly, he taught me how to be positive and be a leader. Thank you for sharing this insightful tribute to Zig Ziglar.

  26. Paul Guyon says:

    Dan, thanks for the article. I am intrigued by what Zip said about self-image is inspiring and a clue to what is holding many people back.

    “Zig said that when there is someone that is very knowledgeable, but not living up to his or her full potential that the missing piece is the picture they have of themselves.”

    Thanks for sharing your insights on a wonderful motivator!

  27. Doug Powell says:

    “You have to change what is going on internally.”

    Thanks for this piece Dan. Ziglar on Selling was one of the first 3 inspirational/motivational books I purchased. Pulled it off the shelf and flipped through it today and “discovered” where many of the motivational statements were birthed.

  28. Chris says:

    News travel rather slower up towards Canada, many of us don’t have the luxury to meet great people like the late Mr. Ziglar due to distance To me he was like a movie star that you hear and read only in magazines and the TV. I’ve read many of his books and have many of them in my phone downloaded as audiobooks and I listen to any time I need to be reminded about the principals of abundance and prosperity.

    His powerful voice keeps coming back to my mind often, his humor was a breath of fresh air. I feel blessed to have known him and followed his teachings as well as other great minds like yourself and many others.

    My condolences to his family, he left behind a great legacy for generations to come.

    Chris Violetis

  29. mike logan says:

    It was a nice story about Zig right up until you made it about selling your coaching program.
    Come on Dan ( or whoever wrote this ). A great man has died and you want to turn it into an opportunity to make money.Show some class.

  30. Jose Ortega says:

    Hi Dan,
    Thank you for this magnificent insightful, inspirational note. I really needed to hear this, since I ignore that Zig had pass, He was a not only a great motivational speaker and writer but also a great dad and husband to his “Red Head” and a mentor to me too… Was also a great Christian man and role model… on a side note I say to Bill that is complete acceptable to deliver Business cards at the end of the Funeral… Dan paid tribute and Homenage great “Mammoth” that left us a legacy that will not be forgotten…

    Thanks Dan

  31. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, RIP ZIg Ziglar

  32. Great Story Mr. Dan. Zig Ziglar was an great man, who spoke in a enthusiastic and uplifting manner, encouraging and motivating thousands of people all over the world. Zig has said that he spoke in 9 grade level so everyone could benefit from his talks. He really was a remarkable man!

  33. Hi Dan,

    There aren’t many times that I stop and think …”Oh my God”…. the last time was when Jim Rohn passed away. The world is a poorer place today…

    Let’s thank Zig’s efforts with gratitude today… and indeed everyday.

    Thanks Dan, lovely tribute…



  34. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the tribute and insight of how Zig influenced your own success.

    There are just a few exceptional individuals put on this earth whose purpose is to help their fellow man.
    Life has not been fashioned to make everyone successful and so it behoves us to somehow make success happen; which most are never able to do. But we can follow those who have and that’s the point here.
    If one can genuinely help another achieve success who wouldn’t want to know about it!

    Thanks again.


  35. Thanks, Dan, for a wonderful tribute about a remarkable man. Back in 1999 I bought a secondhand book with the title “The Secret of Closing the Sale” by Zig Ziglar for R12.00 (South African) – about USD1.50 in today’s money. That book changed my life for the better and I have never looked back since. It was a sad day for me to learn about his passing.

    Zig will be sadly missed, but his legacy will remain with us for many, many years to come.

    Andrew Molobetsi

  36. Jann Plemel says:

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I’ll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

  37. Bryan Boule says:

    Merely wanna input on few general things, The website design and style is perfect, the written content is really excellent :D.

Leave a Comment