by Andrea Doyle | November 29, 2012
Zig Ziglar, a motivational speaker who has inspired millions, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 86. Ziglar’s impact on the meetings and incentives industry is indelible. For more than 40 years, he traveled the globe as a motivational speaker, inspiring groups with his optimism and country philosophies. 

“Zig Ziglar was an inspiration. I never saw him in person and never listened to one of his lectures but when I was 20 years old and just starting out in the business world, I read his book See You At The Top.  It was the first self-improvement or motivational book, whatever you want to call it that I ever read.  I still remember and practice things I read in that book. There are books I’ve read since then that I don’t recall at all, but that one stuck with me. There was a strong pang of sadness when I heard he had passed away.  He touched my life with his writing as I’m sure he did countless others,” says Caprice Caster, CMP, director of events and promotions for Automotive Parts Associates, a member-owned cooperative made up of over 100 independent warehouse distributors.

A World War II veteran who grew up poor in Mississippi, Ziglar worked in a succession of sales jobs. As his sales grew, so did his interest in motivational speaking. During speeches, his messages of hope, encouragement, and faith showcased his way of life, forming what is called the “Ziglar Way.” He wrote more than 29 sales and motivational books -- 10 of which have appeared on bestseller lists -- on leadership, sales, and personal development.  

The quotes Ziglar has left behind are renowned and include, “Except the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.” 

“If you can dream it, then you can achieve it.”

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” 

Marketing expert Seth Godin wrote on his blog, “My teacher Zig Ziglar died this morning….Thanks for 72 hours of audiotapes, listened to so many times I wore out the cassettes twice. Thanks for that one day we spent backstage together in Milwaukee. Thanks for making goal setting so clear. Thanks for elevating the art of public speaking, and making it personal, not something to be copied. Thanks for believing in us, the people you almost never met in person, for supporting us with your voice and your stories and your enthusiasm. Thanks for teaching so many people, people who will continue to remember you and to teach as well. You'll be missed.”

Ziglar’s message will continue through The Ziglar Company, which includes his son Tom Ziglar, daughters Cindy Oates and Julie Ziglar Norman, and granddaughter Katherine Lemons. The company offers seminars, customized educational workshops, corporate training programs, and keynote speakers advocating the “Ziglar Way.”