Zig Ziglar dies at 86; motivational speaker inspired millions

Zig Ziglar speaks at the Get Motivated Seminar at Staples Center in 2004.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Zig Ziglar died Wednesday at age 86, a deep-voiced motivational speaker whose clever way with words inspired millions to stop looking for shortcuts to success -- and instead earn it the old-fashioned way by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.

“Zig Ziglar” was a trending term on Twitter, Yahoo and Google today, social media outlets that were unfathomable when a young Ziglar returned from World War II and landed a job in sales.

It was on the job that Ziglar developed a curiosity about human nature -- What made a man tick? Why did some succeed where others failed? -- that ultimately led to a thriving career in motivational speaking.


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Ziglar’s speaking career came later in life, something that no doubt added to his appeal to many Americans who felt that after a certain age there was nothing to do but give up. Ziglar’s first book, “See You at the Top,” was published in 1975 when he was 49.

He would go on to rub elbows with U.S. presidents and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, according to the Associated Press.

Ziglar’s personal assistant told the Associated Press that Ziglar was suffering from pneumonia when he passed away at a hospital in the Dallas suburb of Plano.

A devout Christian, Ziglar credited his faith and his red-headed wife, Jean, with much of his success. The couple had celebrated their 66th “honeymoon” on Monday. (Watch the video below to find out why Ziglar and his chose to celebrate “honeymoons” instead of anniversaries, and his sweet little joke about his wife’s hair color.)

To today’s audiences, Ziglar’s words might seem kitschy and a little bit corny, or involved wordplay. Among them: “Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street” and “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”


But it was that same easy-to-remember, home-spun simplicity that caught on with people including rapper-actor L.L. Cool J and social media guru Jeff Bullas, and prompted many to tweet their sadness at Ziglar’s death and pass along their favorite Ziglarisms.

What follows are just a few of the Zig Ziglar-inspired Tweets, Facebook postings and YouTube videos being shared online today:

[<a href=”//” target=”_blank”>View the story “Remembering Zig Ziglar” on Storify</a>]<h1>Remembering Zig Ziglar</h1><h2></h2><p>Storified by Nation Now · Wed, Nov 28 2012 14:24:47</p><div>Zig Ziglar rest in peace. Your life inspired us. Thank you.LL COOL J</div><div>There was none better. Mentor and Friend Zig Ziglar woke up in Heaven this morning. I miss him already.Dave Ramsey</div><div>Zig Ziglar - Discipline and Commitmentonlinemotivatorpt</div><div>"Some people find fault like there is a reward for it." - Zig Ziglar #SubShotKubi Michael Udofia</div><div>"Success is one thing you can’t pay for. You buy it on the installment plan and make payments every day." ZigZiglarKen Hallman</div><div>If you aim at nothing. You will hit everytime! - zigziglarBalaji Oriflame</div><div>"Positive thinking won’t let you do anything,” Zig Ziglar says. “But it will help you do everything better than negative thinking will.”Stanley G. Jack</div><div>"Don’t let the mistakes and disappointments of the past control and direct your future." ~Zig Ziglar"O.B.A</div><div>“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” #Zig ZiglarAustine Bones- IIP</div><div>Those who dare not, do not! Zig ZiglarStacey Yates</div>


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