Zig Ziglar: See You at the Top

December 9th, 2012
in Op Ed

by John Hussman, Hussman Funds

In Memory of Zig Ziglar

I was 23 years old, walking through an office supply store, and the recording was just an impulse purchase. I pushed it into the cassette deck of my car, and he began in a cheerful voice:

“The name Howard Hill will probably ring a bell in the mind of some of you, but not all of you. Howard Hill was a good Alabama boy. He was an archer. Many people said that he was the greatest of all time… Now, I have never shot the bow and arrow professionally, but I am an instructor par excellence – that’s French, which means I’m really good. As a matter of fact, I am so good as an instructor of archery that I could spend 20 minutes with any man or woman in the audience this evening, and provided your eyesight is normal and your health is good, at the end of 20 minutes I would have you hitting the bulls-eye more consistently than Howard Hill could have hit it the best day of his life. Provided of course, that we first blindfolded Howard Hill – and then turned him around a few times so he would have no idea which direction he was facing. And you say ‘Why Ziglar, that’s the silliest thing I’ve ever heard. How in the world could a man hit a target he could not even see?’ That’s a pretty good question. Here’s one even better. How can you hit a target that you don’t even have? The question, my friends, is do you have your targets?”

Follow up:

That was my introduction to Zig Ziglar, more than half of a life ago. Having never met my grandparents, Zig at that age struck me like a funny, wise grandpa full of character and good advice. I took to him instantly. I collected a dozen or so tapes of his presentations, and it was impossible to listen to them without somehow feeling by the end that you were better for it. Anyone who knows me well has heard me repeat Zig’s words that honestly changed my life – “You can have everything in life you want, if you’ll just help enough other people get what they want.” Some people might hear that and focus on the “have” part, but what Zig really meant was that when you choose to serve others first, everything else follows from there.

Zig is often associated with salesmen, but we’ve never had a sales or a marketing department, and he made his impact regardless. When people ask why I write these weekly comments, or why most of what I have goes to charity, you can be sure that somewhere in the answer is Zig’s voice telling a 23-year old kid about the importance of serving others. His enthusiasm and his faith ran through everything he did.

Some quotes from Zig:

  1. “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.”

  2. “Among the things you can give and still keep are your word, a smile, and a grateful heart.”

  3. “Feed your mind with the good, the clean, the pure, the powerful, and the positive.”

  4. “If you want to lose weight, don’t eat cottage cheese – I have traveled the world over, and have found it to be universally true that ‘ain’t nothin’ but fat folks eat the stuff.”

  5. “The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity.”

  6. “The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now.”

  7. “Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.”

  8. “The average person goes to the end of their life with their music still in them.”

With gratitude and respect for a great man and mentor. Thanks for sharing your music. See you at the top.


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