Zig Ziglar, one of the inspirational greats, passed away on Wednesday, November 28. His twelve books are full of wisdom and his first, “See You At The Top”, was very instrumental in my personal and professional growth. I’ve had the honor of hearing Ziglar speak several times and each occasion was inspirational and motivational. Here is Ziglar’s obituary from the New York Times.
Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker, Dies at 86
If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. Attitude, not aptitude, determines altitude. Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile and a grateful heart. There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.
Be grateful. Believe. Try.
Zig Ziglar said so, over and over and over, and he made a fine living doing it. For more than 40 years he traveled the nation and the world as a motivational speaker, stirring corporate groups with his distinctive blend of sound-bite optimism, country wit, Christian faith and good-natured nudging for people to see the bright side of life. The Ziglar Way, he called it.
“When I leave,” Mr. Ziglar said in an interview late in his life, “we want to be sure to leave all of the messages that we can.”
Mr. Ziglar, who died on Wednesday in Plano, Tex., at 86, left many, many messages. He reached people through more than two dozen books with total sales well into the millions; through his children, who have helped run his company; through cassette tapes and later podcasts; and of course through his personal presentations. At his busiest, he said, he spoke 150 times a year, and well into his 70s he was speaking 60 times a year. His fee was $50,000 a speech, plus expenses.
He had a formula: Prepare extensively every time, be funny (“Every seven to nine minutes I’ll have them laughing”), and frequently reinforce the broader message (“I make certain that every five minutes I’m giving them a concept, an idea, a process, a hope builder”).
He told a story about a woman in Alabama who he said was bitter about her job and angry with her co-workers. He advised her to write down whatever positives she could thing of — the solid paycheck, the benefits, the vacation time — and then stare into the mirror and say how much she loved her job. Six weeks later, he ran into her again.
“I’m doing wonderfully well,” she told him with a bright smile, adding, “You cannot believe how much those people down there have changed.”
Hilary Hinton Ziglar was born Nov. 6, 1926, in Gary, Ind. The 10th of 12 children, he grew up in Yazoo City, Miss., where his father moved the family after accepting a job as manager of a farm. His father died soon after the move, when Mr. Zigler was 5. Mr. Zigler enrolled in a Navy college training program during World War II but did not graduate.
He died of pneumonia, said Jay Hellwig, a family spokesman. Survivors include his wife of 66 years, Jean; two daughters, Julie Norman and Cindy Oates; a son, Tom; 7 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandson.
After a long and difficult career as a salesman, pitching products as diverse as cookware and insurance, Mr. Ziglar decided that the product he sold best was his own energy and optimism. He began speaking to sales groups in the 1950s, but he could not afford to do it full time until the early 1970s.
He often said that the turning point in his career was when he became a born-again Christian in 1972 and began teaching “biblical principles,” though he did not necessarily label them as that in his presentations.
“Our whole philosophy’s built around the concept that you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want,” he told Brian Lamb in an interview for the C-Span program “Booknotes” in 2002. “That works in your personal life, your physical life. It works in corporate America. It works in government. It works everywhere.”
A version of this article appeared in print on November 29, 2012, on page A28 of the New York edition with the headline: Zig Ziglar, 86; Sold Energy and Optimism.