Today, we lost Zig Ziglar, one of the greatest men the speaking business has ever known (and I don’t think that’s an overstatement — although, I have a feeling Zig might not want to hear it himself).
Zig’s greatness is not only in the fact that he touched millions of lives — including mine, and I’ll get to that in a minute — as a speaker, author and seminar leader, but it’s how he lived his own life at the same time. I never met Zig myself, but one of our very own speakers here at The Speakers Group, Vicki Hitzges, worked closely with him, and this is what she told me when I asked her about Zig following an interview a few months ago:
“He was as fine a man off stage as he was on stage.”
That’s what everyone admired about Zig, and that’s why he will continue to be a role model for speakers and authors in the personal growth space for years and years to come.
No one can emulate what Zig did on stage as a speaker, and no one needs to. He was one of a kind, just as every great speaker is. The key to greatness as a speaker is bringing the best of who you are to the platform — you don’t have to imitate Zig or anyone else. You can look at the congruence between his life and work and model that, though.
Vicki had more to say about that:
“He was always known for talking about his faith, and he was very bold about that. This is one thing I liked about him: People would stand up and they would walk out because he would talk about his faith in Jesus Christ and that would offend people. I remember asking him once about that and he said to me, ‘Vicki, three percent of your audience comes to be upset, angered, or ticked off,’ and he leaned forward and said to me, ‘Don’t disappoint them!’ He was fine with that. He was who he was and he was not ashamed of what he believed and I always admired the courage he had.”
Now about how Zig made an impact on me: My dad was what you might call a “self help junkie” — in a good way — when I was growing up. As a kid, I can remember the old tape sets from Zig, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins and others lying around our house. I didn’t listen to the tapes much myself, but I heard all the key lessons regurgitated by my dad (whether I wanted to hear them or not)! I’m grateful for that, and I have no doubt that that early “education” has helped me to “think big,” press on, and keep my head up in the midst of life’s challenges.
Today, I’ve come to truly appreciate Zig and all the other speakers I have the privilege of working with.
If you had told me when I was a child that in 15-20 years I would be working with some of those speakers whose voices were heard in our house — and many more — I wouldn’t have believed you, but I’m coming up on 14 years in the business and I know this is where I’m supposed to be.
Thank you, Zig, for all the wisdom and inspiration you shared, but most importantly, thank you for being you.