Last week we mourned the passing of Zig Ziglar, perhaps the most popular and most respected motivational speaker of our time. Those of us who started in sales were well aware of his thoughts, ideas and challenges. He tried to make people better, make their lives more meaningful and make people more successful at what they do and understand those things that were really important. As a sales person he made the work meaningful. Take a look at Zig’s obituary in the New York Times to get an overview of what the man was all about.
Perhaps the best way to remember Ziglar is to take a few minutes to read over some of his most memorable sayings and reflect on them for a couple minutes. He talks about the importance of goals and then working to achieve them. Selling is all about the other person, not you. Laughter is critically important. Attitude is the key to everything. Adversity is what is needed for change and eventual success. It is not how much you have but rather how much you use. Self image is critically important. Motivation is something you need to do every day like taking a bath. Tough times are opportunities. And the lessons go on and on.
The more I review all that Ziglar has taught us the more relevant I think it is for today. These teachings are not some witty sayings that keep sales people motivated but rather basic principles for all of us. I am fortunate to be able to work with lots of marketing people in lots of companies. These are not “entry level” positions and most have been extremely successful in their lives and that is why they are running significant brands. The most successful ones clearly have consistent character traits that have been developed throughout their lives. It might be worth the time to reflect on some of these patterns and see if you don’t see the same in your workplace.
Perhaps the number one trait I see for those who are successful is that they really care about other people. In their personal lives they work with nonprofits and are engaged in their kid’s activities. They are concerned about the issues of the world. At work, despite being extremely successful, they concentrate and worry about the success of others. They are concerned about the patients who take their drugs and the physicians who provide them. They are constantly trying to make people around them better, not just to improve the business, but also to allow their colleagues to achieve their own personal goals. There is an aura of selflessness.
Successful people always seem to be having a good time. They laugh and don’t take themselves too seriously. They do take work and the development of others seriously but they are quick to point out where they themselves mess up. They work long and hard and it is this attitude of always trying to have a good time that seems to keep them going. They are fun to be around and just seem so full of life. They get promoted not just because they are good at what they do but because people want to be around them and have them on their teams. It just makes sense, people want to be around people that make them feel good rather than depressed.
I always try to stress the importance of treating others in a way that shows they are important. Return phone calls. Send an occasional email. Remember them. One of the thoughts I like to leave people with is that when a vendor, a coworker or whoever comes up with that one spectacular breakthrough idea that could change the world you want them to come to you first. Think about where you would go with your idea. My bet is it would be to the person who treated you with respect and cared about you as a person and who you trust. You see, Zig’s thoughts are really about becoming successful by doing the right things to yourself and for others every day. These ideas will live forever.