Four Career Lessons Learned From the Late Zig Ziglar

When we heard about Zig Ziglar’s passing yesterday, we couldn’t help but think about how the man was literally a brand before branding was king.

Upon reading his illustrious obituary, there are several career pointers we can all learn from the man whose birth name was actually Hilary Hinton Ziglar.

1. Be patient. After all, the best is yet to come! If you ask someone on the street what the man was best known for, perhaps a few words would come to mind: “Motivational speaker and author.” As pointed out in his obituary in the Los Angeles Times, his first book, See You at the Top, was published in 1975. What’s the significance of this date, you ask? He was 49 years-old when he became an author!

2. Live by your sound bites. As #ZigZiglar started trending on Twitter, countless succinct yet profound quotes came pouring in. For example, there’s a Ziglar quote, “Those who dare not do not.” And this one, too: “People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.”

We really like this one as well: “Failure is an event, not a person.” Not only was he known for his motivational mojo, he lived it, breathed it, and walked the walk.

3. Simply begin: You gotta start somewhere. Waking up every morning to the “opportunity clock,” Zig embodied the same success he preached. Sure, he eventually held “Success Rallies” and “Born to Win” seminars and penned more than 25 self-help books but he built his empire from the ground up.

Ziglar left the University of South Carolina to begin working as a door-to-door cookware salesman, as per the Washington Post. After getting promoted, Ziglar became aware of his ability to movitate others and started giving talks at churches and Rotary Club meetings.

After settling in Dallas in a job training workers at a sales company, the company ended up folding and he founded the Zigmanship Institute (now known as Ziglar Inc.). We’re not big on overnight success stories and his doesn’t read like one — it was a career path, yes, but also one that he carved, created, and honed over time.

4. Own your brand. Remember that we mentioned his birth name wasn’t Zig but rather Hilary Hinton? If you’ve heard him on audiotapes or YouTube, you’re familiar with his southern drawl. And his corniness, too: “Have you ever noticed that people who are the problem never realize it? They’re in denial. They think denial is a river in Egypt!” Well, everything worked for him because he worked it. He marketed the quintessential package: Himself!