Advisorist Podcast – Episode 9: How To Write An Authority Generating Book That Sells With Tom Ziglar


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In line with Ziglar legacy, business success all comes down to a few foundational principles and values. Here’s the path to winning sales and marketing, according to Tom Ziglar.

In this episode Tom Ziglar shares:

  • Where to start when you’re overwhelmed by all the noisy inputs to get CLARITY
  • The UNIQUE sales approach at the root of Ziglar’s success
  • A twist on the sales relationships that creates TRUST and enthusiasm in your prospects
  • How to navigate and grow a legacy brand in a way both contemporary and AUTHENTIC
  • The one CRITICAL aspect of business success robots can never replace
  • A simple, secret way to write a WINNING book, build your authority, and open new doors to success
  • The BIG BENEFIT of having direct conversation with your audience and prospects, beyond sales


Tom Ziglar is an author, speaker and podcaster as well as CEO of Ziglar, Inc – founded by his father, legendary sales expert Zig Ziglar. He co-wrote with Zig Ziglar ‘Born To Win’ and just released the brand new book, ‘Choose To Win’, which carries on the famous Ziglar philosophy: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”


Note:  This Advisorist Podcast transcript was created in part by computers – Please forgive any grammatical or spelling errors…or sentences that just downright don’t seem to make sense!  Please compare to corresponding audio if clarity is needed.

Jeremiah: Hi, this is Jeremy Desmarais, Founder of Advisorist and it gives me great pleasure and really it’s an incredible honor to introduce to you one of the hosts of the Advisorist podcast, Michael Levin. Michael is not only a personal friend, but he’s one of the most established ghostwriters in the nation and a New York Times best-selling author who’s written, co-written, or ghostwriter over 550 books. Hundreds of them in the financial services arena of which 18 are national bestsellers. You would be hard pressed to find somebody that hasn’t been in more outlets than Michael. He’s been on Shark Tank, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Politico, the LA Times, The Boston Globe, Writer’s Digest, CBS News. I mean, the guy has even had his work optioned and made for film by Steven Soderbergh of paramount, HBO, Disney, ABC, Frank Perry, and so many more. He ghostwrote for some of the biggest names in sports and business including Dave Winfield, Pat Summerall, Howard Bragman, former Schwab CEO David Pottruck, Marketing legend Jay Abraham, NBA star Doug Christie, and the list goes on and on and on. As the host of All Eyes on You, Michael will bring his unique blend of insights and wisdom as it relates to using books to get to the level of your dreams that you’ve always desired. They are one of the most powerful introduction tools that financial advisors and insurance agents can use today. I know when I got my book written, oh my, did the doors open up. That’s why I’m so excited to have Michael hosting All Eyes on You as part of the Advisorist network. Michael, take it away my friend.

Michael: Hey, it’s Mike Levin. I’m glad you’re here. We are here with Tom Ziglar. You may know the Ziglar name because there was a fellow named Zig Ziglar you may have been familiar with. Tom is the CEO of Ziglar Inc., and he’s an author, speaker, podcaster and his new book is called ‘Choose To Win’. You can find it at He co-wrote a book called ‘Born To Win’ and he co-wrote that with a man named Zig Ziglar who happens to have been Tom’s father and a very inspiring person to millions and certainly a very inspiring person for me. Tom, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for taking the time.

Tom: Well, it is awesome to be here. We have a long history with you so I’m thrilled and delighted we can share a few minutes.

Michael: It’s really my pleasure. I had the unique privilege of serving as an editor on ‘Born To Win’ which was your father’s last book and your first book if I’m not mistaken?

Tom: Yes, that was the first book that I contributed to and I had the privilege of I think writing the intro and the last chapter. I would tell people, at least you know that 85% of this book is awesome because it’s dads and everybody chuckle. So now, ‘Choose To Win’ is one of my own that I’m really excited about.

Michael: Let’s talk about that. Tell me about ‘Choose To Win’.

Tom: Choose To Win. Somebody asked me, he said, “How long you’ve been writing this book?”, and I told him 53 years because I was kind of born into this. I’ve been working here at the company over 30 years and really my whole life. One of the things that I’ve noticed especially for our industry, it’s kind of cliche, “Hey, just be happy. You can do it. You’ve got what it takes.” If somebody have a trusted relationship with tells you that, it means one thing, but when somebody you don’t know says that it means something else entirely because let’s face it, we need to plan, we need a how to, we need a little bit more than just “You can do it.” Choose To Win was really written for that person who’s overwhelmed, distracted. I think we live in the A.D.D. world of multimedia, social media, texting, too many inputs, and how can we create a simple way of getting it done? The subtitle is transform your life one simple choice at a time and what I’ve done is basically say, “Hey, you’ve got to have a direction you want to go. What’s your why? You start with that.” Then there’s 7 areas of your life and all 7 areas are important. We need to be winning in each one of those areas. So what are the simple choices we can make in each area? It’s really on this foundational quote which is, “The fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits.” So all I have is a simple good choice done over and over again then we go from there.

Michael: Tom, I want to tell you my favorite Tom Ziglar story.

Tom: Okay.

Michael: Which is also one of my favorite Zig Ziglar stories, and people can find the book at

Tom: Hey, Michael. It’s just so you send them to the right one.

Michael: I’m so glad you told me that because I don’t want to have them go to something that doesn’t exist. It’s On one of Zig’s many audios, he tells a story about how he was playing golf with you, Tom, and you guys were having a very competitive round. Tom is going to be very modest about his golf game but he was so good that he was really considering the pro tour at one point. I’m correct about that, aren’t I?

Tom: Yes.

Michael: Okay. Which is pretty cool to even have that as an option in your life. There’s a story that he tells on an audio, it’s an audio about sales, and he’s basically telling you as the salesperson that you want to root for the customer to buy which is a really unique approach to selling. You’re not trying to get over on them, you’re rooting for them to buy. To illustrate the point, he told a story about playing golf with you in a super competitive round, and it was the last shot, it was your last putt. If you sink it, you win and you sunk it and you won and you said to your father, and this kind of brings tears to my eyes. Dad, were you rooting for me to make the putt? He said, “I’m always rooting for you, son”. Do I have that story accurate?

Tom: You got the intent right. It was reversed though. I’ve made my putt. At that point, this is when I was 12 and I never beaten dad and in a hole before. I was just starting so I made a long birdie putt and he had about 8 or 10 feet for his birdie and he made it. He looked up at me and he said, “Son, were you rooting for me?” I said, “Dad, I’m always rooting for you.” That was kind of a defining moment in our relationship in our golf together and a story that he loved to tell. But you’re absolutely right in sales, nobody likes to be sold but everybody loves help buying. So we’re really rooting for our customer through the process, right? We want the best for them, we want them to win and that’s why we have the moral integrity to only do things that benefit the customer then we can root. We can both win.

Michael: I like that a lot. I it’s funny that I have the story backwards. I wonder if it’s possible that he reversed the roles for the sake of the story. Would he ever done something like that? I don’t know.

Tom: I don’t know because the story is I made my putt first and he says, I don’t know if you remember this, he said, “When Tom made his putt, he jumped up in the air 30 feet, still beat me to the ground by three seconds.”

Michael: Zig is saying that. I actually got to have lunch with you, your sister Julie, and your father Zig and that was really one of the highlights of my life. Meeting all of you and just having been a Zig fan for all those years prior to that.

Tom: Yeah, well, the work that you did just turned out beautifully and a lot of people think that’s their favorite of all Zig books. What a great response to that.

Michael: Basically, I was reading the manuscript, and I’d see a story and the story would only go on for part way and so I’d say in a note to Zig, “The rest of the story is XYZ, why isn’t the rest of the story here?” So if you’re going to edit Zig Ziglar, then you really ought to be familiar with the full palette of his works so that you know not just what’s there, but what’s not there and could be there. That was how I was able to contribute. That was one of the highlights of my entire career working on that book with you and with Zig. It still blows my mind that I get to do that. So now here’s a question for the audience. You got two very, very difficult tasks. One is keeping the Ziglar name alive, meaningful, actionable in the business world so that people aren’t looking at it as something that’s the previous generation, but is actually current and useful today. It’s not because the material is any less important, it’s because the world has so many people trying to offer whether it’s sales training, or character training, or whatever the Ziegler organization offers today. The other is you’re an author, and just trying to cut through the clutter and get potential for your book is really hard. In each of these two areas, I’m wondering, the listeners are wondering, what do you do? What is the single organization do in order to stay top of the mind in a world where, as you said, ADHD is the order of the day?

Tom: Well, there’s a couple of things. One of the things that Dad said is he said, “You will never really know, true freedom until I’m gone.” I didn’t understand what he meant. I mean, I never understood that until he was gone. You got to understand that Dad passed away 6 years ago and so for 26 of my 30, almost 32 years here at the company, it was all about creating the platform for Zig Ziglar. I mean, maybe the world’s greatest speaker and ever is up on the stage, millions of books sold. So it’s a personality driven company. So everything that I did was to build that platform. Now, when he steps off the stage and is no longer speaking, and then he passes away, the personality is not there anymore, right? The one who’s been the public front of the company is no longer there. Now it becomes a very interesting task because my gifts and talents, my personality, the things that I’m good at are completely different than what Dad had. Immediately, if I try to imitate that, or we try to do things the way we always did, it’s not going to work because the sheer force of nature, that’s how the company was built and so we have to understand as business owners, especially if you’re in a legacy business where you’re the second or third generation, you bring your own skill sets, your own gifts and talents, and you got to put your stamp on it. Because, if you try to copy the playbook that was there, you’re not the right person to run that place. That person had moved on, and so my Dad said, “You’ll never know freedom until I’m gone.” Now suddenly, Dad’s gone, that’s what I suddenly felt not only more comfortable, but I knew it was a requirement. If this company was going to exist and continue to grow, then I was going to have to use my gifts, skills and talents and maximize them. Dad said this, he said, “Success is the maximum utilization of the abilities that God gave you.” That’s a task. I’ve talked a lot to marketing experts who said, “You know what? It’s actually easier to start a brand new company and brand than it is to reinvent one.” But at the same time, look at this legacy we have. Literally millions of people have been impacted by our material. What we’ve got to do is figure out the transition. How do we stand for the same principles and values, but do it in a way that makes sense in 2019? We’ve done that. We’ve got almost 5 million fans on Facebook. We’ve got Instagram. We’ve got all the social media and as an overall impact on the bottom line, that’s a small fraction of what makes the cash register ring and what brings in accounts. But, if you don’t have that you’re not considered relevant, right? You’re not doing what it takes. So you’ve got to create new material, new content. So the way I’m leading that forward is to do all of those things around the needs of 2019. Here’s the reality, the principles and values have always worked and will always work but the way you communicate them, and the way that people access them are different than they were even 5 years ago. As we got Artificial Intelligence and robotics and all these things coming into the future, that are going to change even more the way business is done, which I love that prospect because what that means is fundamentally, the people who are going to win in the future, are going to be the ones who know how to build relationships built on trust, and no software computer, algorithm, Artificial Intelligence will ever replace that.

Michael: So you’re talking about taking a legacy brand, if you will. And I agree that it’s probably easier to start something from scratch than to essentially repurpose a well-known brand that has just suffered the loss of its originator. From a marketing standpoint, how do you retool the image that people have of the word Zig Ziglar mean if there is not there?

Tom: Well, here’s the interesting thing since I know you’re very savvy in the marketing space. One of my good friend and mentors and Seth Godin. Seth was in our office, and I said, “Seth, we’re putting together this program and we can teach other people to teach the content. It’s called Ziglar Legacy Certification.” We actually now have 300 certified Ziglar trainers around the world in 19 different countries. What we did is we took this life changing content that works better today than it ever has and we teach people and equip them to go and teach it in their own community. So they can teach it in different languages, they can put in their own illustrations, but the principles and values never change. Here’s the question I asked, I said, “Seth, in the training itself, we have the capacity to show a video of Zig and he could deliver a 5 or 10 minute segment of that training in a classroom setting and that might give the speaker, the trainer, the facilitator an extra tool to use.” Seth looked at me directly and he said, “Oh, I would never do that.” He said, “Nobody competes with Zig Ziglar.” He said, “Do this. Have the person in their own way from their own experience and being a product of the product. In other words, they’re living out what we’re teaching. Have them teach the class, but then send the class home with Zig Ziglar on audio.” He said, “Because nobody in the world has ever been or will ever probably be as good as Zig Ziglar on audio.” Then the person, regardless of their age, will complete the image. And the image won’t be of a video that was filmed in 1987, or 1994. The image will be of this brand new experience and here’s somebody reinforcing that concept. I think, one of my other mentors, his name is Rabbi Daniel Lapin.

Michael: I’m having dinner with Rabbi Lapin next Tuesday night.

Tom: I just did a podcast with him. He’s unbelievable. One of the things he talks about is that probably the laziest activity we can do is to watch TV or a movie that fills in all the blanks. It puts our brain to sleep. One of the most vital things that we can do to really stretch ourselves is to read good writing because good writing, the brain gets active and starts filling in the blanks, right? It starts making the scene, it starts creating it. Right behind good writing is really good audio because great audio is the same thing. The brains got to fill in the visual part. So what Seth was really saying for us is that this is life changing information, it always will be but what we want to do is we want to get people’s brains engaged where they are right now so that they never have to fight that battle, “Oh, well, that’s an old video so it probably doesn’t work.” That was just one little thing that we did. That idea of vintage 2019, I think that’s the blend. So what I do when I go and speak is I will use a lot of Zig Ziglar quotes, but I’ll tell my own stories, and of course, they’re in the moment experiencing it. And that’s a lot better, I think, than saying, “Hey, watch this video from 1987.”

Michael: I just can’t imagine what it’s like to try to follow an act like Zig’s. That’s a pretty tall order for anybody.

Tom: Yeah. When I traveled with Dad, especially if it was a big group, 5, 10, or 15,000 people, there was always one person that would come up and say, “Hey, Zig, I’m going to be just like you.” My goal was to be the next Ziglar. He would just look them in the eye and he’d say, “Oh, that’s a horrible mistake. There’s only one Zig Ziglar but you know what? There’s only one you. Why don’t you focus on being the best you possible?” So Dad, even though some people were like, “Wow, what a burden. How heavy is this?” Rabbi Lapin and I actually talked about it because his father was a well-known Rabbi. Very, very influential. And he said, “Did you struggle like I did?” And I said, “Well, I did until I figured one thing out and that was this.” I used to think when my early speaking days, I used to think I would have be all nervous, I would think, you know what people want me to be like Dad on stage. Then I realized, no, they don’t. They want me to carry on the same principles and values, but they want me to be the best version of myself. I think that’s what Dad was really saying. He said, “You’ll never know freedom until you’re set free to be the best version of yourself without worrying of how it’s going to impact your other responsibilities.”

Michael: Why did he have to pass away for you to experience that kind of freedom though?

Tom: You know what? Maybe he just understood the love and loyalty that we would have. I still get people coming up to me, and they say, “Wow, you’ve got a great story to tell. Tell it. Don’t worry about telling so much about your Dad.” And my answer is, “Well wait a second. The stories I tell about my Dad are the ones that I lived with him. They’re my stories too.” I think he knew that there was just a love and respect and an honor in there that maybe while he was alive that we just didn’t even think about doing anything other than supporting him. Now, it’s like the only way we can really support him is to grow into the person God created us to become.

Michael: Makes sense to me. Let’s talk about your book. Let’s talk about Choose to Win. The website for which is contrary to what I said earlier. Tom, launching a book is no small task. You have the benefit of the organization behind you. What are the specific things that you’re doing? The book comes out in early March 2019. So by the time this podcast airs, the book will be available. What are you doing in order to get the word out?

Tom: We’re doing a few things. First off is Thomas Nelson is the publisher. One of the benefits to me in that regard is they publish some of other Dad’s books. They’ve got experience with the Ziglar brand and name. They have been a huge asset for us. We’ve got almost 5 million Facebook fans, the Ziglar Show Podcast in the business section has been one of the top 100 podcasts for years in business. We’ve had tons of experts on that podcast through the years. I’ve been invited to a number of their podcasts. So I probably will do 10 or 12 pretty significant podcasts before this is over. That is a huge asset in this. And then of course, there’s a speaking in the front of the room that goes along with our business that makes it easy to keep the word out. Then we have our own lists that we’re doing. So all of this kind of adds up. I think in marketing a book, it’s not any one thing that you do, it’s making sure you do all 100 things enough to get that word out then you pray for momentum. You pray that it catches fire, and that the book is good and that people refer it and like it. One of the things, if anybody’s listening who’s an author or wants to publish, if you do a blog where you get feedback, or like I’ve had to do, I do live webinars. I have a membership where I do webinars. I’ve been testing this book for over three years with feedback and forums. That’s really the way Dad wrote ‘See You At The Top’. He spoke about that probably over 1,000 times, well over 1000 times before that book came out. He moved from audience reaction that it was going to be a winner. So I’m hoping for that same thing. So this is not something that was baked in my brain and nobody ever saw. This was something that’s been drugged out in public for the last five years and now it’s finally putting into written form.

Michael: What I hear you saying is that anyone wants to do a book, and who does not have the mighty resources of the Ziglar brand and organization behind him or her and most of us certainly do not, that you ought to be testing the material on audiences, and seeing how they respond. Not unlike a stand-up who goes around from city to city and tries things and discards things and keeps things in and hone them. Basically, what I hear you saying is let the audience indicate what parts of the message resonates, and learn from that so that the book is going to resonate most with the audience.

Tom: When I first started a webinar series, and I’ve been doing it for three years now, I used to get a ton of questions after every webinar, and throughout the webinars probably the first year. Then the second year, I would get fewer questions. Now, I almost don’t get any questions. I started thinking to myself, “God, do I just lose people?” And I don’t because I asked questions they had to respond to. I realized what’s happened is because I know that questions that are coming, I filled in all the blanks in my presentation. That’s when you know that you’ve kind of hit into something is when you get all the people shaking their head, “Yes” and then doing things. When they do ask a question, it’s not a, “What did you mean by that question?” It’s a, “Here’s my situation, how would you recommend I use this question?” That’s one of the benefits of either doing blogs or presentations on a regular basis around your material.

Michael: So what I hear you say is test the material as often as you can and as many formats as you can for many different types of audiences as you can so you know what works and run with that?

Tom: Yeah, that’s what worked for me.

Michael: I like it. Tom, I promised I wouldn’t keep you more than 20-25 minutes, and we’re just passing that window. So I gotta let you go. I just want people to get your book, Choose To Win at If they’re interested in Ziglar training, where we you send them?

Tom: They would go to So we have lots of good stuff, we got some free gifts there. There’s some free gifts on the site as well. It’s exciting. We’ve had several hundred people read the book and the review process and all of that. We’ve gotten great feedback. I think if I could just encourage anyone, it’s this. The choice you make today is going to determine your tomorrow and sometimes we don’t know where to start. Sometimes we just get overwhelmed. This book makes it so simple. The idea that I can make one simple choice today that will compound and have an impact and create the habit that will change my future. That’s what I love about the book. So if there’s any area of your life you want to get more out of then this book will get more out of you.

Michael: I like the sound of that. My guest has been Tom Ziglar. Tom, thank you so much for taking the time. I really enjoyed this I got so much out of it. I’m sure the listeners did as well. I will send regards to Rabbi Lapin when I see him Tuesday night, how’s that?

Tom: Perfect. Thank you.

Michael: Okay, thank you so much, truly a pleasure.


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Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah Desmarais

Jeremiah is the founder and CEO of Advisorist® and is a 23-time award winning financial marketer, a TED speaker and philanthropist. He’s been featured on Forbes, CNN, and Worth. His work has generated over $2 million insurance leads and helped advisors in over 51 countries generate over $300 million in sales commissions. He is the author of the best selling book, SHIFT.

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