Last week was a very sad week. We lost another GREAT one.

Zig Ziglar passed away.

I’m at a strange time in my life where people that have been indirectly involved in my life for most of my adult life and have impacted it, are now leaving this earth. Steve jobs had been part of my life ever since I first learned to program in LOGO on a MAC in middle school. Jim Rohn was the first motivational speaker I ever heard speak.

Zig was another person who had been a ‘part’ of my life for so many years.

One day I was cleaning out the trunk of my mother’s car and I saw a red book in the back of her trunk. The book cover was missing, it simply had the title on the spine and on the front. I asked my mom if I can could have the old book and she said yes as long as I promised to read it.

His book, “See you at the top”, was the very first ‘self-help’ book I ever read. If I recall, I was about 16 years old. I would tell my brother, quit that “stinking thinking”! Or it all starts with a “check up from the neck up”! … it still makes me crack a smile. I wonder if after all these years, if his book was the catalyst for where I am today? If I had never read that book, would I have still taken the same journey through the personal development field?

We’ll never know, but what I can tell you for certain is Zig was one of the best and he was a role model for me when I was speaking for Tony Robbins.

I loved Zigs style. I had the pleasure of seeing him speak many times. He was smooth, inviting and very funny. I saw his temperament closest to mine and thus, I tried to emulate him. One of his favorite sayings that I would incorporate into my speaking was, “people often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why I recommend it daily.”

An interesting fact about Zig is he didn’t get his start as motivational speaker until he was in his 40’s. And his first book, ”See You at the Top,” was published in 1975, when he was 49.

So if you are reading this essay and have aspirations of becoming a motivational speaker but feel you may be too old to start, remind yourself that one of the all-time greatest even start didn’t start until he was ‘over the hill’.

And he did it right up until the very end. When I last saw him speak at his “Get Motivated-Success Seminars” his health was so bad that they had to escort him out and set him in a chair. Though his body was weak, the words that came out his mouth had never been more powerful.

I remarked to myself that this was a different kind of talk than his previous ones. His talk was very, very spiritual, Zig was extremely devoted to his faith. It felt more like a talk a father would give to his children on his death bed – what’s the purpose in life, what’s important in life, the lessons he had learned in life and his regrets. I still have the the notes from that day.

Zig’s purpose in life was to teach his followers some external truths about character, commitment, hard work and self-determination.

His message of positive thinking and external truths are the foundational secrets to many a man’s success. If I was forced to pick just one mantra to live every aspect of my life by it would be this: “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want”.

From a speaker’s point of view Zig was one of the most polished speakers to walk on stage and one the most prolific story tellers of all time. His southern charm, common sense and sharp wit always come through in his stories that offer great insights for a better life. He made audiences hang on ever word and feel every emotion and feel the impact of every punchline, zinger or moral to the story he told.

In Zig’s world, the morning alarm rang on the “opportunity clock.” And “if you aren’t on fire” when you get to work, “then your wood is wet.” And you have to remember that “money’s not the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen.” And there will be setbacks, but “failure is an event, not a person.”

You will be missed Zig Ziglar! A human exclamation point! The world’s most popular motivational speaker.

Did Zig Ziglar impact your life? Or do you have an interesting story about Zig? Please share here.

See you at the top,

Jeff Paro

[Ed. Note: Jeff Paro is the editor of the “The Influenceologist” and the co-creator of “Video Marketing Content” and “The Influencer’s Playbook“.]


  1. Presentation Coach on December 3, 2012 at 7:26 am

    My first book that I read from Zig was “Zig Ziglar’s Secrets of Closing the Sale” and it really helped me a lot. For me, Zig was one of the best storytellers and teachers in the business and his message has impacted me tremendously. Zig, you will be missed!!!

  2. Helena on December 3, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Zig would talk to me, entertain and motivate me in the privacy of my car while I drove to appointments. He was the perfect companion whose voice soothed and encouraged while I navigated between my roles – mom, writer, contract negotiator, friend, new business developer.

    And Zig, brought a consistent message and modeled good salesmanship…. all from the cassettes, I actually still have. Loved all his stories and was especially surprised to hear my hometown Winnipeg, named in one of his inspirational examples. Even knew the family.

    Indeed.. worlds apart, never met him, but so close to home for me in many ways.

    Thanks Jeff for your heartfelt and well stated post.


    • Jeff Paro on December 3, 2012 at 5:31 pm


      Thanks for sharing! It’s almost mind boggling to think about how many people Zig has impacted in his lifetime. He was a legend and it’s sad that I don’t see very many people that are going to fill his, or Jim Rohns shoes.

      I’m with you, I loved the sound of his voice.

  3. Susan Lerner on December 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    I have a read a book or two of Zig’s, many years ago. As a seasoned sales-person, he was to me, the best of the best. I had the pleasure of seeing/hearing him speak in California in the early 2000’s and it was truly a great thrill for me. I found him mesmerizing. I was also a big fan of Jim Rohn and still listen to his tapes occassionally.

    I was not aware of Zig Ziglar’s passing last week and am saddened by the news. Thanks Jeff for sharing. He will be missed by so many!

    • Jeff Paro on December 3, 2012 at 8:57 pm

      Hi Susan!
      Thanks for sharing… I agree he’s one of the best sales trainers (if not the best). He is going to be missed by so many!

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