How Zig Ziglar Changed My Life by Planting a Seed

Check Out My Podcast Appearance on The Ziglar Show

Some people make a lasting impact. I recently posted about the lasting legacy that can come from planting a seed. One person who planted a seed with me was someone whose name has become iconic in the world of motivation and goal-setting—Zig Ziglar.


I was a freshman in high school when I was given the opportunity to travel from Fillmore, Indiana to Kansas City, Missouri to attend the national Future Farmers of America (FFA) convention.

I had never been that far away from home, and had never been in a place with so many people at one time—tens of thousands of young people like me from all across the country.

I remember being in the auditorium with ten thousand young people yelling and screaming and I was caught up with all the emotion. And then they introduced the keynote speaker, none other than Zig Ziglar.

Now, in all fairness, at the age of fourteen, I’d never heard of him. But I remember him walking out on the stage and, within a matter of seconds, having the audience in the palm of his hand.

He began sharing all kinds of wisdom with easy takeaways. I don’t remember them all, but one of the things he talked about I vividly remember even today—goal-setting.

At that stage of my life I hadn’t set too many goals. But Ziglar said, “Young people, a goal properly set is half-way reached.”

He then walked through a process for setting goals. He gave us a visual image of what our life could be like if we would set goals, share those goals, and put those goals in places where we would see them.

He had planted a seed.

The Seed Begins to Grow

As a direct result of that speech, I actually started setting goals. I would write down my goals and put them on my dresser. I’d put them on the bathroom mirror. I’d carry them in my wallet.

Soon I started achieving those goals.

As a freshman, I set a goal of becoming the FFA state president. I achieved that goal as a senior.

I set the goal of becoming a national FFA officer. Out of 500,000 students, only six are chosen to be a national officer, so it was a very lofty goal. But in 1990, I was back at that same national FFA convention, running for a national FFA office.

And yes, once again, the keynote speaker was none other than Zig Ziglar.

This time I wasn’t sitting in the back of the auditorium. I was sitting about twenty feet from the stage. The entire time that Zig was talking, I felt like he was talking only to me. It was as if the 10,000 other people that were in there with me just disappeared.

At one point Ziglar got down on one knee, pointed at us, and said, “Young people, you can have everything in life you want if you will simply help enough other people get what they want.”

Once again, a seed was planted.

Two days later, I walked across that same stage as the national FFA President who would lead the entire organization for the next year.

A Special Invitation to Grow

Zig was so impressed with the national FFA organization at that point that he offered a scholarship for any of the national officers to come to Dallas, Texas to attend his Born to Win conference.

Born to Win was his premium conference that CEOs and presidents of companies flew in from all over to attend. Ziglar offered it to us, a group of nineteen- and twenty-year-olds.

But he didn’t stop there. Not only did he invite me there on scholarship, but he invited us into his home, because he personally wanted to make sure that we got the most out of our experience.

We got to spend time with him, interact with him, sit down with him, get to know him, and laugh with him. No doubt about it, by the end of that week one thing was crystal clear to me—I was born to win, and my life was not to be wasted.

Ziglar had planted yet another seed.

I listened to his cassette tapes over and over. In fact, I still have those cassette tapes today. I’m not sure I even have an apparatus that will play them, but there is no way in the world I would ever get rid of them because of the impact and the difference that it made on me.


Still Having an Impact Today

As I look back on my time with Zig Ziglar, I realize that the wisdom that he planted in me some twenty-five years ago still stays with me today as a father and business leader.

Even though Zig Ziglar is no longer on this earth, I am here to tell you that his legacy lives on through the values he planted intentionally in the hearts of countless people.

I’m also very privileged today to still be connected with the Zig Ziglar family. His son Tom Ziglar recently invited me to be on his podcast, The Ziglar Show. I spent an hour with Tom and Kevin Miller, talking about family, the future, and the value of being intentional.

In addition to discussing the relevance of Zig Ziglar’s message today, we talked about the message I care so much about—how to win at home.

Given Zig Ziglar’s extraordinary impact on my life, I was both humbled and proud to be a guest on The Ziglar Show.

I would encourage everybody to visit the Ziglar blog here and subscribe to be alerted when the podcast episode goes live there on January 26.

Listen on iTunes on January 22 here.

Check it out and enjoy. And be sure to plant a seed with someone today.

Question:How has Zig Ziglar influenced your own growth story? What other people planted a seed in your life when you were younger? I’d love to hear your story. You can share your thoughts by clicking here.


Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post.

I'll send you a FREE eBook as a thank you.

Thank you! You have successfully subscribed. Check your email to claim your eBook.

I reserve the right to delete comments that I think are off-topic or offensive.

  • James McLamb

    Thanks Mark for writing this. Look forward to you joining the Ziglar family.

    • Thanks James! Getting excited about ZLC!

  • Doug Dimick

    Thank you Mark for writing and sharing this!! It brought back memories of when I was in the FFA back when I was in High School. I was reminded of the State Conventions as well as the one National Convention in Kansas City! Yes, it was many years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday!

    I really wished that as a younger person, I would have been taught to set goals. Now as a Zig Ziglar Certified trainer, my passion is to help younger people by teaching them, goal setting, building winning relationships and building the best you. I was not able to meet Zig Ziglar, but his last book Born To Win, definitely had an impact on me!! Thank you again for sharing!!

    • Doug, hey thanks so much for your kind words! It is incredible how Zigs legacy lives on in each of us impacted by his life and inspiration. Hope we get the chance to meet in person someday. My best, Mark

  • Janie Seltzer

    So Mark, this explains everything I know about you as an employer, a father, a husband, and a friend! How could I not know of Zig’s impact on your life? :) Since you asked, the deepest impression on my life when I was young was made by Cori Ten Boom and her story of forgiveness expressed to a cruel Nazi guard, and Elisabeth Elliot and her message imprinted on my soul: “Trust Me,” no matter what!

    • Janie, that is funny that I had not shared my love for Zig and his influence in my life. It has been so much fun to re-connect with his son Tom and his family. They are for sure keeping the legacy alive. Love your testimony to Cori Ten Boom as well. See how much more we have to talk about next time we are together! See you in a few weeks…..

  • Mark, was a complete honor to have you on The Ziglar Show! I know you’ll bless all the listeners, as you blessed my life, and my family’s, with your message.

    • Kevin, thanks for your kind words. Let me know if there is more I can do for you and your incredible family!!

  • Mike Southerland

    Mark, I found you today on the Ziglar Podcast. Great show, and very inspiring. I loved the pdf book you sent out. I did want to let you know of a technical glitch. At the bottom of several pages, you have a “click here to read more.” Those links aren’t working, at least on my computer. I know that in particular you would like the survey feedback. Trying to click on that at the end of the book didn’t do anything either.

    For our family, I believe a meeting shouldn’t be too terribly hard to implement. We have been doing regular family worship times for years now. One night a week to add in “family business” shouldn’t be too tough. I look forward to implementing several of your suggestions into my own family.


  • Carolyn Barto

    Mark, I need all the help I can get PLEASE? I am not that good on the computer anymore. I had a brain injury over 8 years ago. I can receive text messages on my Verizon phone. (919)417-3604. I do believe that I was born to win. I do not want to have a negative attitude. I do have 3 children. None of them live with me. :( I am ready to put my past behind me and move forward positively! Please mail me your book to: Miss Carolyn Barto 582 Rogers Road Zebulon, NC 27597. Thank you!