Remembering sitting down and meeting with the master of selling and personal development, Zig Ziglar. The opportunity to speak with my hero was humbling and gratifying.
“Wow! What an amazing experience. What did he teach you that was new?” is the first reaction I typically hear from people when telling them I had spent an afternoon with Zig at his headquarters. So, what impact did Zig leave on me that I have taken to heart? What profound, new and valuable message was I able to walk away with from my meeting with this highly acclaimed guru and though leader?
Before I answer that, here are just a few of the things that Zig and I casually chatted about:
• How the selling profession and the profile of a salesperson changed and evolved since the time he authored, The Secrets of Closing the Sale, 25 years ago.
• What salespeople need to do today to ensure their success in this new marketplace.
• What leaders need to be more mindful of if they want to ensure the success of their organization.
• The people who have impacted his life the most.
• Zig’s definition of integrity.
• A message for the younger generation out there, who are working hard at trying to build a successful career and a family.
• His legacy.
• What parents need to do to be more accountable around raising children with stronger, more meaningful values.
• How people actually go about developing or upgrading their attitude.
The Ultimate Epiphany
I was fortunate to gain the perspective of such a worldly man grounded in the values that matter. You would even think that it would be a bit of a challenge to retain all of the gems Zig shared with me. Conversely it wasn’t. It was surprisingly, yet reassuringly very simple. You see, the priceless message that Zig delivered, was grounded in the core principles that are and have always been right in front of us.
Zig reinforced what really mattered most: the basics. Yes, that’s right. The basics that we so often gloss over, neglect, take for granted and assume we already have in place. The very basics that are paradoxically, still the undeniable and timeless secret to success and designing a life worth living.
The basics of truth, being your word, living a life of integrity, honoring your core values and your commitments, honesty, family, faith in yourself and helping your fellow man and woman selflessly and graciously. Yes, the basics that our society seems to have an unyielding tendency to put aside and dismiss in search of the latest and greatest, the next “Big Thing” or the flavor of the month. We have fooled ourselves into thinking there is some other secret out there that would help us get what we want most and propel us to where we want to be, both in our home life and at our work life.
We are hiding behind the guise of “What’s next” without honoring the core, fundamental beliefs and values that make us all worthwhile human beings. As we immerse ourselves in our own thinking, as we get distracted and challenged by the upsets and problems at work, as we continue to allow the media to erode our thinking and our heart-centered priorities as well as sensationalize our deepest fears and insecurities, we move farther and farther away from the person we truly want to be, and then with a shock, we turn around and notice that the person we have become, is not the person we want to model, especially for our children.
Our integrity has now been compromised, and we wonder why we continually feel, “off,” out of sorts, or out of balance with ourselves, regardless of how much more money we make or what other possessions or successes we amass. We can’t understand why personal satisfaction, our self worth, sense of fulfillment and our peace of mind continually escapes us and our grasp, and becomes more and more elusive.
Follow the Footsteps of Zig
To reinforce Zig’s message, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with his son. When talking with Tom Ziglar, the CEO of Ziglar, Inc., he shared with me so many wonderful stories about his dad. During one of our conversations, he shared with me one of his dad’s quotes which was, “How much better would world be if people cared as much about their responsibilities as they do their rights.” With the level of greed and American Entitlement that has plagued our society, which has only come into our direct line of vision due to our challenging marketplace and the media continually reporting on the failure of so many large institutions and organizations, this message is so timely today, more than ever before.
Zig’s message touches the heart, soul and spirit of everyone he interacts with, especially those who work with him. It was during my video shoot later that day, as I was filming some new training and coaching insights, when someone else in Zig’s office shared another story that is yet another testament to Zig’s character and being a man who lives by his word and walks his talk. I was told that, throughout all of the years Zig has traveled the word, before every seminar or presentation he ever delivered, even as they’re introducing him and calling him on to the stage, he would always make it a point to pick up the phone and call his wife, just to tell her he loves her.
What a better place our world would be if every man and woman would call their spouse or significant other on their way to work, just to say, “I love you.” To this day, Zig cherishes his wife and the relationship he has with her (the Redhead, as he lovingly refers to her in his books). He keeps her on the pedestal that she so rightfully deserves to be on. Again, what would our world be like if we followed in Zig’s footprints, doing the things that really matter most.
Connecting Spirituality and Selling
When it was time to conclude our conversation, one of the final questions I asked Zig was, “I’m not sure if you’ve been following the numbers on your book sales and where they rank in terms of popularity. So I took the liberty of seeing how The Secrets of Closing the Sale has been doing on Amazon. Currently, your book holds the following rankings regarding how popular they are in specific categories. In the category of sales and selling, your book is rated number 15. Now, here’s what I found interesting. Under the category of spirituality, your book is holding strong at number 3. Now, I know you’re a very spiritual man. And regardless of your faith, how do you explain this? What’s the connection between success at selling and spirituality?”
To that question, Zig smiled and responded with a resonating message that reinforced why the holistic approach to professional development will always be the most effective and long lasting. That was, while skill, talent and what you do is important, it is the essence of a person, your character and who you are that matters most.
I don’t know if there are too many authentic heroes like Zig left in the world, and I know he’s still one of mine. And as I look on my desk at the gift that my children had given me just the other day, I’m reminded why I do what I do and what gets me out of bed each day. My five year old twins came back from school and in their youthful exuberance, handed me a picture frame they had made with the cutest picture of each of them wearing a suit and tie that their teaches had dressed them in. On the top of the frame it said, “When I grow Up I want To Be Just Like My Daddy.” How important our role is as parents, our most significant role we will ever have. That message was a happy reminder of how important it is for me to follow in the footprints of success that my hero has left behind for all of us to travel on.
Photo credit: Keith Rosen