Zig Ziglar biography, motivational quotes and books

Zig Ziglar - Toolshero

Zig Ziglar (Hilary Hinton Ziglar; 6 November 1926 – 28 November 2012) was a famous American salesman and motivational speaker. Although Zig Ziglar experienced several major tragedies, he had a special ability to see these in a positive light. Next to his biography and is role as speaker, this article also highlights some of his famous Motivational quotes and books. Enjoy reading!

Who is Zig Ziglar? His biography

Early years

Zig Ziglar was born in Coffee County, Alabama, as the tenth child of a total of twelve children. His mother’s name was Lila Wescott and his father’s John Silas Ziglar. For most of his childhood, Zig lived in Yazoo City, Mississippi after his father got a job there as manager in 1931.

Zig was 5 years old at the time. A year later, both his younger sister and his father died completely unexpectedly. From this moment, his mother had many mouths to feed with a minimal income.

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Zig Ziglar describes his mother as a remarkable woman for her efforts to care for the family and the values she imparted to her children. During primary school, Zig started selling peanuts to make extra money and help out his mother. Later, as an adolescent, he worked as a grocer.

After high school, Zig served the United States Navy during World War II. He then went to the University of South Carolina, based on Columbia, and got a part-time job as a salesperson for the WearEver Aluminium Company. He quickly learned the tricks of the trade and sales management, and soon excelled at what he did. Zig himself attributed his success to division supervisor P.C. Merrell.

Merrell encouraged Zig and told him he had the ability to become a great salesman. Zig worked hard, and was soon promoted to division manager. He spent most of the following decades in the sales world, learning how to encourage and motivate others to achieve great things.

During World War II, in 1944, Zig met his future wife Jean. Two years later they married and had four children in total. Zig always emphasised the importance of a calm and stable home environment throughout his career. He was convinced that this was essential to his successes.

Motivational speaker

In 1970, Zig Ziglar decided to quit his sales career and become a full-time motivational speaker. Together with Richard Dick Gardner and Hal Krause, Ziglar was a charter members of the founding of the American Salesmasters in 1963.

The goal of this company was to enhance the image of salespeople in the United States through seminars. The company booked auditoriums, assembled various speakers, and contacted local businesses to sell tickets. The audience included advisers, entrepreneurs, car sellers, insurance agents, and more.

He introduced himself as H. H. Ziglar, but in no time he was nicknamed Zig. He quickly won the hearts and minds of the general public, with statements such as: ‘People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.’

During his early days as a motivational speaker, he wrote the book ‘See You at The Top’. The manuscript was initially refused by more than 30 publishers, but was eventually accepted and published by Pelican. The book didn’t perform too badly, and remained in print during the first half of the 21st century.

In 2001, Zig Ziglar received the Cavett Award from the National Speakers Association. This award is presented to speakers who have honoured the art of public speaking by teaching and guiding others.

Coach Zig Ziglar

Ziglar also became a major sales coach for Mary Kay Cosmetics. Moreover, in 1968 he became vice president and director of education for the Automotive Performance Company in Dallas, Texas.

However, the company went bankrupt several years later. In the years that followed, Ziglar regularly spoke during Get Motivated seminars and meetings for Peter Lowe.

Zig Ziglar net worth is estimated at 15 million American dollars. Zig Ziglar net worth will most likely stay constant as a momentary observation.

Final years

As a result of a serious fall from a staircase, Zig experienced serious memory problems in 2007. Nevertheless, he continued to participate in motivational seminars, until he retired in 2010.

Together with his wife Jean Zig Ziglar moved to Plano, Texas. Here they both lived happily until Zig Ziglar’s death following a brief struggle with pneumonia on November 28, 2012. His death came two days after the couple’s 66th wedding anniversary. Zig Ziglar was 86 years old.

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Motivational quotes

  1. “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”
  2. “You were designed for accomplishment, engineered for success, and endowed with the seeds of greatness.”
  3. “You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”
  4. “If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you.”
  5. “I believe that being successful means having a balance of success stories across the many areas of your life. You can’t truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles.”
  6. “Being productive gives people a sense of satisfaction and fulfilment that loafing never can.”
  7. “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”
  8. “Success is the maximum utilization of the ability that you have.”
  9. “Yes, it’s absolutely true that anything worth doing is worth doing poorly – until you can learn to do it well.”
  10. “When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.”
  11. “Time can be an ally or an enemy. What it becomes depends entirely upon you, your goals, and your determination to use every available minute.”
  12. “Every obnoxious act is a cry for help.”
  13. “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
  14. “Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs.”
  15. “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

Books and publications of Zig Ziglar

  • 2019. Secrets of closing the sale.
  • 2019. Top performance: How to develop excellence in yourself and others.
  • 2011. Network marketing for dummies. John Wiley & Sons.
  • 2010. See you at the top. Pelican Publishing.
  • 2007. Ziglar on selling: The ultimate handbook for the complete sales professional. Harper Collins Leadership.
  • 2007. Better than good: Creating a life you can’t wait to live. Thomas Nelson.
  • 2004. Courtship After Marriage: Romance Can Last a Lifetime. Thomas Nelson.
  • 2004. Confessions of a grieving Christian. B&H Publishing Group.
  • 2003. Selling 101: what every successful sales professional needs to know. HarperCollins Leadership.
  • 2002. Raising positive kids in a negative world. Thomas Nelson.
  • 1998. What I Learned on the Way to the Top. Honor Books.
  • 1997. Over the top: Moving from survival to stability, from stability to success, from success to significance. HarperCollins Leadership.
  • 1995. Goals. Simon and Schuster Audio.

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Janse, B. (2020). Zig Ziglar. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/toolsheroes/zig-ziglar/

Original publication date: 04/01/2020 | Last update: 02/12/2024

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Ben Janse
Article by:

Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.


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