Success is one thing, but after success comes succession. How do you pass on one person's accomplishments for others to continue in a way that honors the source without being reduced to a fading photocopy? This is not only the classic dilemma of the successful empire-builder (think Henry Ford, Thomas Watson, Steve Jobs), it is also the challenge of every network marketer. Succession is what we do for a living—or seek to do.
There is perhaps no name more synonymous with the concept of "success" than Zig Ziglar, the self-made best-selling author and motivator of millions. Ziglar's story is the stuff of legend—but the legend we know is only chapter one. With Ziglar Senior having just passed his eighty-fifth birthday, how does Ziglar 2.0 unfold in the years to come?
For this story it seemed appropriate, rather than speaking directly with the man himself, to speak instead with his son, Tom Ziglar, CEO of Ziglar, giving us an opportunity to see legacy in action. — J.D.M.
How on earth do you follow in Zig Ziglar's footsteps?
Being Zig Ziglar's son, people often ask me if I do the kind of speaking he does. If it were about duplicating Dad's personality, that would put an impossible burden on me. I would have to stand up there and be motivational, inspirational, very energetic, and so on. And that's just not my style at all. But Dad has always made it clear that you need to make a distinction between personality and principles.
What so often happens with leadership, especially when you have someone like Dad who is such a role model for so many people, is that we want to try to copy everything he does. But what we really need to copy is not his style, but the qualities of his character.
What Dad has always taught is principles, and each of us brings to those principles our own unique gifts and personality style.
Dad was inspired to be a speaker over fifty years ago by a man named Bob Bale. Imagine if Dad's goal in life was to be the next Bob Bale. Nobody would have ever heard of Zig Ziglar!
Bob Bale was a great speaker, and there were definitely things Dad learned from him. But at a young age he realized that he couldn't be Bob Bale—that he had to be Zig Ziglar.
This is such a crucial part of legacy. For your organization, your company, your family, or whoever's going to follow you after you're gone, you have to leave them a path to walk on, guideposts to make decisions from—but not a specific way to do it, because we're all built differently.
Tom Ziglar surrounded by his parents and the rest of the Ziglar team.
How are you different from your father?
I'm not a speaker like Dad. I'm more laid back. I live more inside my head.
I'm also much more into technology than Dad is, and that reflects directly on the direction of Ziglar today.
What is your role in the company?
As president and CEO, part of my job is to look into the future, to see where we need to be five years down the road, and then create a bridge based on the principles, values, and core philosophies we teach. Those are never going to change, but they are going to have to be made relevant to today's generation, and they're going to have to be communicated on the most effective platform.
Dad was a master at this. He started speaking before sound systems were developed. Through the years he went from chalkboard to overhead projector to screens and pre-produced video, to the point today where we've got PowerPoint and multimedia.
The core message doesn't change, but the way we communicate it has to change.
Can you give an example of this?
Sure. About thirty years ago, a psychologist was listening to Dad speak, and afterward he came up to Dad and said, "Did you know that you use a lot of humor in your talk?"
"Yes," said Dad, "that's on purpose. When I see the audience's attention wandering, I tell a joke, and that brings them back."
The psychologist said, "Have you noticed how often you tell a joke?" Dad had no idea. "You tell a joke every seven minutes," said the psychologist.
Dad was fascinated and asked him if he knew why that was.
"Because," the psychologist replied, "that's the span of time between commercial breaks on a television show."
The point is that Dad didn't go into the talk mad that people had a seven-minute attention span. He went into the talk with one goal in mind, and that was to change somebody's life. When he saw that he had to recapture their attention, he made sure he was ready with a joke.
Speaking from the front of the room today, you notice that the attention spans are a lot shorter. Why? Because we've got Facebook updates, instant messaging, Twitter, and email on our phones. The typical attention span is probably more in the two- to three-minute range.
That means if we're going to go out and do a presentation, we've got to do something that's going to bring people's attention back every two to three minutes. We might do that with humor, by changing the media we're using, by asking questions, doing some role-play ... there are lots of ways to do it.
But we need to go into the event or the leadership situation knowing that's the way it is. Don't fight it, use it to your advantage.
At Ziglar, who makes up your prime audience? Is it largely in the realm of sales?
Our audience is mainly two large groups of people. First is sales-oriented people, whether home-based business or corporate. These are people who work on commission, so they know that if something's going to happen, it's because they went out and sold something.
The other group, which is perhaps even bigger, is made up of people who realize that their success in life depends upon the choices they make. So they pick up a book, attend a seminar, spend extra time studying, go find a mentor.
These are people, in any and all walks of life, who understand that their success is up to them.
People who have embraced the entrepreneurial spirit, whether they are literally entrepreneurs or not.
Correct. And the great thing is, once you have that skill set, you can always provide a living. It's not the opportunity that's important, it's the person in the opportunity that matters.
How did your new book, Born to Win, come about?
This is Dad's capstone legacy book, and we really wanted to do two things with it.
We wanted to bring together all of Dad's core philosophies in one book—eighty-five years of wisdom in one place.
We also wanted to make sure it was practical and tactical; in other words, easy to implement.
When you look at what it takes to be successful, Dad has a famous quote. He says, "You were born to win—but in order to be the winner you were born to be, you have to plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win."
So you have three distinct phases: plan, prepare, expect.
Planning means understanding where you are and what you've got to do to get to where you want to go.
Next, there's preparing to win, which includes actually doing the work.
Recently I asked Dad, "Other than character and integrity, what's the number one reason for your success?" He said, "Persistent consistency."
Consistency means doing something every single day. If your goal was to lose weight and get in better shape, consistency might mean working out every single day.
Persistent consistency means taking it up a notch. Running ten minutes today, eleven minutes tomorrow, twelve the next day. In sales, it might be making thirty calls today, thirty-one calls tomorrow, and thirty-two the next day.
Or even better, being more effective every day. Today I make thirty calls, and tomorrow I make thirty calls but also add a new introductory sentence, or give my value proposition a little bit differently. In other words, I'm steadily raising my game.
Preparing to win is that work ethic of persistent consistency. Persistent consistency breeds competence, and when you're competent you can expect to win.
Sometimes people say negative things about positive thinking. Doesn't work, empty promises, blah, blah, blah.
Right. Dad says, "There's a big difference between positive thinking and positive believing. Positive thinking will allow you to do everything better than negative thinking will—but positive thinking is not as good as positive believing."
Positive believing is based on a realistic hope, based on preparation.
Back in the seventies, if Dad said, "I could fight George Foreman, the world heavyweight champion, and win," that's positive thinking. He could have gone in there being as positive as he could, and what would that give him, maybe another half-second in the ring?
Muhammad Ali, on the other hand, had positive belief. He had a track record and he'd done all the training. He could go in there and believe he'd win.
Is the new book, Born to Win, more about achieving personal success, or success in business?
It's about both, and we look at each one independently. We wanted to connect all the key points Dad's known for in both areas.
For example, we talk about seven components that make up the wheel of life, on a personal level. The three most important ones are the physical, the mental, and the spiritual. We believe people are tridimensional, and that if you work on each of these three dimensions every single day, everything else in your life will go better.
If you're in good physical shape, then you'll have energy, you'll sleep better, and when life knocks you down, you'll be able to get back up again.
Mentally, if you're a constant student, continuously learning more about your world and about everything you need to do to be more successful, that gives you an edge.
Spiritually, if you're always working on your awareness that there is so much more to life than just this physical existence, that there are eternal reasons we do things, and that there's somebody we can call on when we don't know the answer, that makes a tremendous difference in our lives.
As Dad says, "I've done the math—and we're going to be dead a whole lot longer than we're going to be alive."
And the other four components?
The other four categories are family, personal, financial, and career.
My friend Howard Partridge says, "The sole reason your business exists is to provide a vehicle for you to achieve your life's dreams." When you look at your career, you have to ask yourself, "Is this the vehicle that will achieve my life's dreams?"
You could be working for yourself, or have your own networking business, or be a salesperson selling for a company. You could be working in a nonprofit. Regardless, it can be completely congruent to be in any one of those situations and have that be the vehicle for achieving your life's dreams.
It could also be that it isn't.
That's right. And if it's not, then you've got to look very carefully at your business and say, "Can I make this the vehicle for achieving my dreams—or do I need to make a new decision here?"
How do you transpose the wheel-of-life concept into business?
We teach that there are five key areas you need to look at to ensure the business is healthy and strong. This will hold true whether you're a conventional business owner or you're in network marketing.
First is marketing, which is how you bring prospects into your business. Next, sales, which is how you convert those prospects into customers. There's operations, how you serve and support those customers; then there's administration, the systems, processes, and finances that allow you to run smoothly as a business. And finally there's leadership, which is how you manage all the other four.
We assess each one of these spokes and see how strong and balanced a wheel they create. We'll have you rate each aspect of your business on a scale of one to ten, with one being a very short spoke that barely emerges from the hub, and ten being a long spoke that stretches clear out to the rim.
You start out by rating how well your business is doing in its marketing. Do you have good SEO [search engine optimization] happening? Does it have a list-building mechanism? Do you have a referral program? Do you have a rewards program for your referral customers? When you get a prospect into the funnel, do you have a smooth transition over to sales?
As you evaluate each of these spokes, ask yourself, "How can I move this from a two, or a three, or a five, to a ten?"
And the same with the personal wheel.
Exactly. Let's say in your personal wheel your finances are a two, but all the other six spokes are pretty healthy eights and nines. Well, you've got a serious flat spot on your wheel—and when it rolls down the road it's not going to roll very smoothly, is it? You've got a bumpy ride ahead.
In other words, if you want to have a smooth ride, you've got to make sure every single one of those spokes is an eight, a nine, or a ten.
What if they are all twos and threes?
Well, then it'll roll pretty well—but you won't really get anywhere, because it's so small!
Connecting the personal wheel with the business wheel is a big part of Born to Win.
Why has your dad had such a broad and enduring impact on so many people?
I've actually studied this question for years, and I think it's a few things.
I've grown up at the feet of the best speakers in the world, and I've been at events where I came away tremendously motivated and inspired. But when I look back at my notes six weeks later, I see that I haven't done anything.
How is it that this person inspired me yet I didn't take action—but we still get letters every day from people who heard my Dad speak, and then took action? What's the difference?
At first I just thought, "Well, he's just such a great speaker." But eventually I realized, no, that's not it. It's a specific formula he follows.
So if you're a leader in your organization and you want to copy Zig Ziglar's formula for getting other people to take action, here it is.
Can't wait to hear this...
The first step is hope.
If you don't have hope, you won't do anything. Why bother? It's not going to work anyway. If you're going to do anything you have to have hope. So he starts by creating hope.
When Dad first steps out in front of an audience, he says, "How many of you here today believe there's something in your personal life, your family life, or your business life that you could do in the next three weeks that would make things worse?"
Everybody laughs and raises their hand.
Then he says, "Okay, now is there anything you can do in your personal, family, or business life that would make things better?"
And of course everybody raises their hand again.
Then he says, "Now whether you realize it or not, you just admitted to yourself that you have the power to make things better or worse—and the choice is yours."
In that instant, hope is born.
And step two?
Next he goes to identity.
He says, "I was born in the heart of the Depression. My dad died when I was five, and I went to work when I was six. I never did well in school. After school I went into sales, and I was horrible; I couldn't sell a thing.
"Then somebody spoke into my life, and then I started selling a lot, but then I lost it all, and then I sold a lot, and then I lost it all again..."
He goes on like that, telling everyone what a hard time he had and what a failure he was for the first half of his life.
Which allows people to relate to him.
Exactly. The audience all walked into this convention center with 20,000 people in attendance thinking, "Zig Ziglar's the most amazing guy ... I could never be like Zig Ziglar."
And then they hear this story and suddenly start thinking, "If he can do it, I can too."
In any company, the great leaders will tell their own story—how hard it was, how they did things wrong, how they eventually figured it out, and how even then they still had failures and bumps in the road.
When you do this people think, "Man, I thought they were rich and famous and everything was easy for them. I had no idea that his first wife died when they were newly married, and then he got divorced, and then he had this problem and that problem, and he lost this business and that business..."
The last three steps of the formula are will, skill, and refill.
Will is your heart, attitude, passion, desire—your want-to.
Skill is the technique, the process, the how-to, the competence. Being good at what you do.
Refill simply means you refill your will and skill every day.
Do all that, and two weeks, three weeks, a month or two from now you'll wake up and find you're suddenly in a new place.
If we asked your dad right now what he would most want to be remembered for, what do you think he'd say?
I've heard him answer this question before: he'd say he wants to be known as somebody who loved the Lord, loved his family, and gave hope and encouragement to everyone who needed it.