“If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

Zig Ziglar

Hilary Hinton Ziglar was born prematurely on November 6th, 1926, in Coffee County, Alabama. Nine days after his birth, he died – but was revived by his grandmother. Nicknamed ‘Zig’ in elementary school, he was the 10th of 12 children. The family moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi, where his father was a farm manager. After his father died when Zig was just 5, his mother raised him along with his siblings. In Zig: The Autobiography of Zig Ziglar, he credits his mother, who was a “remarkable woman” that thrived on adversity, with instilling in him the values that inspired him the rest of his life. 

Ziglar met his wife Jean in 1944 in Jackson, Mississippi. They married in 1946 and had four children: Suzan, Tom, Cindy, and Julie. 

In 1947 he dropped out of college and went to work full-time as a cookware salesman. At first, Ziglar was not a strong salesman. Then P.C. Merrell, a divisional supervisor, gave him advice and encouragement. After this, he excelled in sales, received promotions, and moved to larger territories and positions. During this time Ziglar also became interested in self-help and began speaking to sales groups. In 1963 he became a charter member of American Salesmasters and began speaking across the South and midwest. 

 It was not until the 1970s, when he was in his fifties, that he was able to quit his sales job to speak full time.  

On July 4th, 1972, he became a born-again Christian and subtly integrated Biblical principles into his presentations.

In 1975 Pelican, a small publishing house, published his first book, See You At the Top. Although more than 20 publishing houses initially rejected it, it sold more than 250,000 copies. Ziglar became one of the country’s top motivational speakers, covering more than 5 million miles speaking and talking to over 500 companies. 

He wrote over two dozen books that sold millions of copies. He charged $50,000 a speaking engagement, plus expenses, and at his peak spoke 150 times a year. In his seventies, he was still doing about 60 engagements a year. He had a strict formula for his speeches, planning down to the minute when he would give information and make the audience laugh. 

He retired in 2010. His son, Tom Ziglar, took over as CEO of the company, and his daughters Julie and Cindy, work for the company as well. His eldest daughter, Susan, died in 1996 at the age of 46 from an incurable disease. In 1998 he wrote Confessions of a Grieving Christian to help him, and others deal with loss. 

Lesson from Ziglar

His philosophy was built around the idea that you can have “everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” Writing can be one of the most powerful tools in helping others – both non-fiction and fiction. 

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