Zig Ziglar died yesterday after a short battle with pneumonia. We’ve been missing him for the last couple of years ever since he took a bad fall down the stairs at his house and now he’s gone and there is no one who can take his place him in this world. That’s not something you can say about many people and I mean it literally.
Zig was on stage with Peter Lowe’s motivational big stage tour for 22 years. When he had to leave the stage at age 84, Peter looked everywhere for someone to take Zig’s spot. Zig drew people into those arenas like no one else, not even Presidents. People loved him and they loved him as much in Los Angeles, California as they did in Birmingham, Alabama. Peter said that Zig saved his company many times over the years all by himself with his ability to draw a crowd wherever they went. How he did that is no mystery.
He made an emotional connection with people from the stage and it didn’t matter whether you were sitting in the 22nd row of the 4th deck or right in front of the stage ... you could feel him get to you. It wasn’t a connection based on Zig getting all emotional up there like you see some preacher’s do on Sunday morning TV... He didn’t do that. He just talked to us and he’d reach right into your heart and hook you into his and take you off on a one-hour journey where everything became possible again. Its no mystery what he did to become beloved. How he did it ... well, that’s something about 10,000 motivational speakers would love an answer to.
I spent a lot of years on the road with Zig and his wife, Jean, the Redhead. As everyone who ever talked to Zig even a little found out, Jean was the love of his life and his guiding star. She is an absolutely wonderful human being who deserved every bit of praise and respect Zig heaped on her. There was something in his relationship with Jean that might be a clue to his genius as a motivator. He loved her with 1000% percent commitment and she reciprocated. Those two were married for over 50 years and they were like newlyweds backstage. The love just flowed. I think Jean grew Zig’s heart to a superhuman size, so big that all that love was there to pour out onto the audiences he loved.
Zig and I spent quite a bit of time back stage over the years with Get Motivated. We both were on stage in the morning and Zig usually finished speaking before I arrived but we overlapped in our respective green rooms most events. I asked him once what his secret was and he looked at me like I was from Wazoo, Mississippi and said, “Everything I do comes from here” and he pointed to the Bible he kept with him on the road. And to give credit where credit is due, he did base everything he said on verses in the Bible. But the Redhead was right there holding his hand when he said it and she just looked at him with love in her eyes and smiled.