Zsolt: Today, we have Tom Ziglar with us. Hi, Tom. Thank you for being available to us for this interview.
Tom: My pleasure.
Zsolt: I love the way you introduce yourself; you always say “the proud son of Zig Ziglar,” but we would like to hear a little bit more about you so please just tell me about yourself and about your business.
Tom: You bet. Well, I do say that in the email, where I say I’m the proud son of Zig Ziglar. Zig was my father, and he had a huge impact in the speaking/training industry, and the personal development world. We estimate that he impacted over 250 million people. But the reason that I’m happy to say that is because he lived a life of integrity and he treated everyone with respect and kindness. He lived every day to help people be more, have more, and do more. And so, because of his influence and the number of books he’s written, and CDs and tapes that are out there, no matter where I go, it’s like I’m surrounded by brothers and sisters, because I’ve read and heard that before. It’s an honor to say that. And his legacy lives on. We have a training company. We work with people; individual level, sales training, presentation skills, leadership, we work with business owners, and we work with other people in the training and speaking world. So it really is a privilege to continue on what he started.
Zsolt: That’s amazing. I ran into a couple people, not much, but a couple people, when I said Zig Ziglar, they said, “Who is Zig Ziglar?” If you would have to say who is Zig Ziglar, how would you say it? A proud father of Tom Ziglar?
Tom: Zig Ziglar, I tell ya’, there are two things I love about him: He loved the Lord and he loved my mom, and he lived a life of integrity. It’s just hard to add to that.
Zsolt: My next question is, “How and why did you become a Christian?”
Tom: This is pretty cool. When I was seven years old, Dad was searching, and when he had found a church, we started going to church. He became a Christian in 1972, which was the same year that I became a Christian. We actually got baptized partly because of his fire to seek out God meeting him halfway. When he got sick, I saw that and I was with him at church. I was blessed to have a preacher who just spoke God’s word plainly. I accepted Christ, and I say I’m blessed and lucky because I don’t have a story like a lot of people who have suffered through a ton of bad decisions and then come to Christ later in life. I was brought up in church and in His Word, and I was blessed to be able to avoid a lot of that. So Dad and I actually got baptized together at the same time.
Zsolt: That’s great. And remember when you and I were in Dallas together last year, and you had shared some really amazing thoughts about parenting. It’s, in one sense, not a business topic, and on the other hand, the majority of business owners are parents. Being raised up by such an amazing dad and motivational speaker, and a great encourager and God-fearing man, what is it that you learned by being Zig’s son, and what can you share with us fathers and mothers?
Tom: You know, Dad, he taught by the way he lived his life. Most people say he was a great speaker, he had such wisdom in the words that he would say and in the quotes that he would speak, and that’s all true. But I got to see him at home, in a relaxed setting around everyone, and I can tell you he walked as he talked. One of my friends said, “Yeah, your dad is a really good talker, too.” For me, it was his everyday life. The way he treated my mom, my family, me, strangers, friends. I can remember… I was just thinking a couple days ago that one of the lessons occurred when we were at a restaurant. Back in the old days, when they would calculate your bill by hand, he would look over the receipt and make sure that it was right. I’m probably eight or nine years old, just old enough to start paying attention. He called the waiter over because they had not charged us for something. So, he told them. He looked at me because he saw I was paying attention, and he said, “Son, we always do what’s right. If they charge us too much, we tell them. If they don’t charge us enough, we tell them. Because what’s right is what’s important.” So that was the example that I had. When you see somebody who doesn’t compromise on the truth at any time, somebody who comes to ask for forgiveness when they mess up, and somebody who wants the best for somebody else… it’s just a great example and a great role model. And like I said, people saw that in his public life, but they were seeing half of it. And the other half was even better. The private life was better.
Zsolt: Can you share, for the sake of the audience, the story of thinking positive and failing the math test? I love this story.
Tom: That was kind of a famous Zig story. This boy comes home and tells his dad, “Hey, dad! I failed the math test.” And the dad says, “Come on, son, you need to be positive!” And the son says, “Okay, dad. I’m positive I failed the math test.”
Tom: And one of Dad’s quotes was this: he said, “A positive attitude won’t let you do anything, but it will let you do everything better than a negative attitude will.” A lot of people get confused. They think that a positive attitude or a positive belief will allow you to accomplish and do anything. That’s just not true. There are just some things, like if I wanted to play center in the NBA, I’m 5’9 and 49 years old. There’s no way I can play center in the NBA. But the reality is, even if I have no chance, because my attitude is really, really good, I might get a little closer to achieving that goal than if my attitude is negative. That’s what we mean: a positive attitude, a strong belief will allow you to do more than if you had a bad attitude or a negative belief.
Zsolt: That’s true. Going back to our original train of thought, do you feel it challenging to be a Christian businessman in this world?
Tom: You know, the funny thing is that most of the challenge is between our own ears. We’re scared to speak up; we’re afraid of what somebody might think. Generally, when our attitude in our position is to seek the truth and love, in the appropriate time, it’s fine. People respect that. They understand it. I say this about Dad: I did a study. The study was, from God’s perspective, what is the number one quality we can have as a believer? As a Christian, what is the number one quality that God would want us to have? There are a lot of great qualities: there’s the quality of obedience, and love, and humility. These are qualities and characteristics. But the one that struck me the most was the quality, or the characteristic, of brokenness. Brokenness is that ultimate realization that there is nothing of eternal significance that I can accomplish, that nobody can accomplish, without God’s input. Brokenness means that pretty much without God, I have got nothing. So, it’s like the ultimate humility. I’ve met humble people who still had areas in their life in which they needed some work. They’re not completely humble in an area. A broken person is at the end. They’re completely like, “Ok, God. What do you want me to do?” A broken person realizes that they only have two responsibilities: number one is to maintain that relationship with God. And number two is to share the truth and love. The thing is that when Dad would go and speak to people, he could be bold and fearless, no matter where he was because when he walked on stage, he wasn’t trying to make the front row happy, he wasn’t trying to make the people paying him happy. He was trying to please God. Because he was trying to please God, that meant automatically he had a great responsibility to prepare well and do the absolute best job that he could. And number two, while he was speaking, he had a responsibility to share the truth in love, to speak the truth in love. Because of that, because of that attitude, that foundation, Dad could say things that other people couldn’t. They knew it was coming from the right spirit. They knew he was put there for their own good and because he loved them. A lot of times, a broken person knows their only responsibility is to please God and share the truth in love. That means that whatever somebody does with what you share with them is up to them. You have no responsibility for it. Dad was free of the burden of needing for people to like him.
Zsolt: That is true.
Tom: The human condition is that we all want people to like us, right? We don’t want to be rejected. We do want to be liked. We do want to get the deal. That’s what we really want. But when you look at the total landscape, when we share the truth, what they do with it is between them and God.
Tom: The number one attribute of a broken person is they never worry. Because, if you’re pleasing God, if you’re maintaining that relationship and you’re speaking the truth in love, that’s all you can do. You got nothing else to worry about. So Dad lived an incredible worry-free life because of the way he lived it out. As Christians in the marketplace we get intimidated or afraid to share our faith because one, we don’t know how to do it. Sometimes, we don’t have the right idea or spirit to do it. And two, we worry a great deal about how it’s going to be received. We shouldn’t worry about how it’s going to be received at all. We leave that to God.
Zsolt: That’s great. You mentioned a few minutes ago that it happens in between our two ears. My question is: Did you ever have to make a difficult decision in which your flesh was dictating one way and your convictions were dictating the other way? And did you make the decision against your flesh, and based on your convictions instead? Regarding business, obviously.
Tom: That happens quite a bit. In our business, we get invited to other people’s pages. They invite us into their place. Sometimes, they will request what we say and what we don’t say. We always, as much as we can, try to accommodate them, but we say, “Look, the reason that you’re requesting us is because we have a track record of success, and we need to share the components of that success in order to give your group the best chance.” When we explain it that way, they’re comfortable with it. We actually get invited to speak at places, and we get to share the truth. You would not think that we would have the opportunity, but we do because of the way Dad laid the foundation. When you share the truth in love, you get opportunities like that. I do remember specifically when I first became president of the company, there was an opportunity. Dad was speaking for a large group, and he was speaking many, many times a year. They brought somebody we disagreed with into the group. We felt that he couldn’t go to speak for that group anymore. Long story short, when he said, “I can’t speak with you anymore,” that represented over 30 percent of our revenue at the time to which he said no. As a company, that was the difference between breaking even and losing a lot of money. I remember him coming into my office and saying, “There’s too big of a chance for confusion between what I say and what this other person says so I just can’t do those things. I don’t want people to come to hear me, and then be led astray by that other person.” So we looked at Dad like he was nuts!
Zsolt: And you were CEO by this time?
Tom: Yeah. We agreed with the principle of it, but the reality of it at the time was “swallow hard.” Literally, within five months, that organization had to part ways with that individual that we didn’t feel comfortable with at that time. They called us, desperate for us to come work with them again. Over the next year, we did more than twice as many engagements with them because they had to make up all the ground they lost. There was a short-term, belt-tightening event of asking ourselves what are we going to do next. But, almost immediately, God blessed it. I want to make sure, however, that believers don’t think that’s the way it always works. I know there’s a fantastic Christian organization called Hobby Lobby, and they decided many years ago—you can look it up and research it—to start closing their stores on Sunday. It was three years or four years before they made that money back. They lost a lot of money because of that decision. Then, something interesting happened. They started hiring the top managers from Wal-Mart. The leadership and management people at Wal-Mart are very well trained, some of the best in the industry. We discovered that they were able to hire these great store operators because they didn’t want to work on Sunday. So, Hobby Lobby made a decision because it was the right thing, and they suffered financially for several years. It wasn’t overnight. However, the quality of the organization changed, and it became the place where everybody wanted to work because they had strong family values. When we honor God’s principles, it always comes back. It just doesn’t always come back right away. And it might come back in a totally different way. You might have what you think is your dream and it’s ready to go; however, then you get convicted, you shut it down and it goes away. That dream never comes back, but it’s always replaced with a bigger one.
Zsolt: Awesome. My next question is not as obvious as in your case. So, I’m going to ask the next question, and I will answer the question on your behalf. The question is, “How is your business administrating?” So, I’m just going to share. I let everybody else answer. In your case, I’m not going to let you answer. I watched your conference in Dallas, and I have never seen so many Christian business professionals, spiritual people with very similar goals, in one place. When you approached the stage and when you spoke, the atmosphere was so extremely anointed, like a Church service. Furthermore, Friday night, the closing night, was a prayer meeting. It just gave me a new vision and revolutionized how I see Christian businesses and Christian businessmen in my life, and you guys are having a tremendous, tremendous eternal impact. I’m just very thankful for what you and your organization are doing. Your business is truly administrating.
Tom: Thank you, Zsolt
Zsolt: The last questions: how do you see yourself as the boss? What is your role as the boss? What is it that you make yourself do? What do you want to be like toward your employees?
Tom: That’s an ever-evolving understanding. One of the things that I’m appreciating more and more is that God gives each one of us our own unique set of talents, gifts, personalities, styles and experiences. In order to have a successful business or to lead a successful organization, I’ve discovered that great leaders come to the table with their own strengths. We don’t have all the bases covered. We’re really good at one or two aspects. We have some gifts in some specific areas. We might be a great communicator or we might be great in finance. We could be an incredible salesperson or marketing person. Whatever the category, no matter what you’re gifted with or what your expertise is in, leadership is when you understand what your strengths are. You then build a team of people who have other strengths. You equip them and give them the authority to maximize their strengths. Of course, as a believer, you base the way you make decisions and work with people on the principles, values and character qualities of God’s laws. That’s just an incredible game-changer in running a business. It’s understanding that God created each of us with special abilities, talents and gifts, and we need to focus on that as well as on what we are good at and what we were designed for. We need to seek out others who have different talents than we so they can fill in the gaps. When we do that, we have an incredible chance for success. One of my friends told me the following. I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan. Tony Romo is the quarterback, and Jason Garrett is the head coach. What if Jason Garrett called in Tony and said, “Tony, you had a great year last year, but there’s three areas that you’re really weak in. You don’t know how to tackle; you’re a horrible field goal kicker; your blocking is atrocious. So, next year, that’s what we’re going to focus on: field-goal-kicking, blocking, and tackling.” If you know anything about football, that’s crazy! You’ve got one of the best athletes in the league. He’s a great passer, he knows how to call plays, and you’re going to have him focus on kicking, blocking, and tackling? That’s ludicrous. The same thing happens with leadership. We try to do things for the quarterback. We try to get them to block and tackle. Well, guess what? There are people who God designed to do those other things. We need to equip and empower them to do that. Work on our strengths and equip others to do the same.
Zsolt: That’s just amazing. Well, thank you so much, Tom. Is there anything that you want to share with the readers or listeners about your next big step or anything coming up within the Ziglar Corporation that you want to share with us, promote or lift up?
Tom: Yeah, the main thing is that we have an amazing variety of ways to help individuals and organizations to be more successful. The best way to find us is via either Ziglar.com or our Zig Ziglar fanpage on Facebook. We’ve got a million fans right now, and it’s just a great community. So, if you’re trying to grow your business or trying to grow as an individual, Ziglar.com is the place to check out.
Zsolt: Thank you very much, Tom. It was an amazing time.