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March 20, 2013

A few years out of college, I started listening to business speakers and motivational speakers. I would pop in a cassette tape (yes, not a misprint, it was a cassette tape) and listen away, trying to glean a few nuggets. I told a college buddy I was listening to Earl Nightingale and he said, "Earl is good but Zig Ziglar is great." Hmmm, never heard of this motivational speaker with the interesting name! My friend sent me a tape series and I listened to the fast talking southerner tell story after story and describe the importance of goal setting, attitude and commitment as only Zig could. He kept your attention, that's for sure!

I was a relatively self-motivated person back in those days, but I had a tendency to begin something and maybe complete it, and maybe not. Looking back, I could have been a little ADD. One day, I started listening to the audio on goal setting. Zig told the story about setting and achieving the goal to implement a running program and lose a significant amount of weight.

As I recall, he ran 1/2 a block the first day and worked to run completely around the block. He was so excited about this accomplishment, he woke his wife to give her the news! Then he ran mile, 1 mile and then several miles. He started slowly, didn't miss a day even when he was travelling for speeches, and the weight came off. He looked a lot better, felt a lot better and achieved a goal many of us struggle with.

I wanted to run a 10K (6.2 miles). I was playing racquetball and basketball, but not running. "I will structure my plan like Zig," I thought, so I broke down what I would do every week. I ran every other day, rain or shine, cool or extremely hot and humid. Soon, I was running 7 miles and felt great. And I could eat something known in Springfield, IL as a Horseshoe, a sandwich with approximately 3,000 calories and roughly 70 fat grams - and not gain weight!!

Like many, I feared failure, so I would not attempt certain things. I still remember Zig saying over and over "Failure is an event, not a person." Zig helped change my attitude and boost my confidence. I started a business at age 28, continued to listen to business tapes and learn from the lessons. One day a flyer arrived promoting a live, 3-hour Zig seminar in St. Louis. My wife and I attended, and Zig gave a great performance. The business person in me wondered if I could bring Zig to Springfield for a live seminar. Just a few years earlier, I would not have thought I could pull off something like this and would have thought more about failing than succeeding.

Original Program Cover from Zig Ziglar Seminar

So, I approached the Zig Ziglar Company with my proposal. They politely declined. I persisted. I know what they were thinking, this guy owns and operates a printing company and had never organized and promoted a seminar. Yep, this is a potential recipe for failure. But, I kept asking, and they finally said yes. 1,500 people packed a hotel ballroom to hear Zig. A lot of work? You bet, but a thrill and big confidence booster.

Two years later, we brought Zig back to town before an even larger crowd. This time, some circumstances were different. My wife, at age 37, was diagnosed with breast cancer and was scheduled for a mastectomy one week after the event. I chatted about the situation with Zig at the conclusion of his talk, and he gave me his full attention and understanding. A few days after the surgery, I received a call at work and I was told Zig was on the line. Now, I have friends who call and make up names, so I was pretty sure it was a friend. Nope, it was Zig, and he wanted to know how my wife was doing. We had a great conversation. He was busy with events and running a corporation, but he made a point to give me 10 minutes of his time.

Book Cover and Inscription by Zig Ziglar

Zig was the teacher I needed, and I only wish I had him in my life during my teenage years. Sometimes it is about learning math, history, sociology and economics. But, sometimes it is learning goal setting, perseverance, improving attitude, overcoming adversity and peak performance and what these traits mean to your overall success and happiness. There is an old saying that knowledge is power, which is actually incorrect. Knowledge is power...IF you use it.

Zig passed away on November 28 at the age of 86. I am sure there are many people who have stories similar to mine. I was very, very fortunate to know him and learn from him.

-- Mike Klemm

Posted by CapCitySpeakers | Posted In : General

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