Mr. Must Think Happy Thoughts dies

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle at 1:49 pm by George Smith

Zig Ziglar’s obit, at the Washington Times, today:

Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar, 86, the man of a million motivational maxims who bucked up and cheered on three generations of Willy Lomans over a 40-year international speaking career, died near his home in Plano, Texas, Wednesday …

Mr. Ziglar’s peripatetic speaking career reached hundreds of thousands of salesmen, corporate executives, business owners and would-be entrepreneurs, many of whom issued Facebook tributes Wednesday as news of his passing spread.

As an important part of the corporate brainwashing industry, Ziglar was described by Barbara Ehrenreich, in Bright Sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America.

“[The message] of the featured speaker Zig Ziglar was — ‘It’s your own fault; don’t blame the boss, don’t blame the system — work harder and pray more.”

Ziglar occasionally merited mention in this blog because of his traveling carnivals in which big name speakers were and are paid handsomely to tell thousands of the desperate and gullible how to turn their lives around.

Notably, Colin Powell became famous on the Zig Ziglar train of clowns after he’d disgraced himself as Secretary of State during the Bush administration.

A sample from one such Powell speech, delivered to census workers who were thought to be laggards, by a supervisor, in 2010:

Never receive counsel from unproductive people.

Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how.

Not everyone has a right to speak into your life.

You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person.

Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere.

With some people you spend an evening: with others you invest it.

Be careful where you stop to inquire for directions along the road of life.

Wise is the person who fortifies his life with the right friendships.

If you run with wolves, you will learn how to howl. But, if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.

Ehrenreich’s Bright-Sided fully examined this inspirational brainwashing, of which Ziglar was a part, first taken from the standpoint of its role in the wellness industry. However, Ziglar-like thought, the equivalent of a pick-yourself-up grab bag of cheap-ass slogans, maxims and sermons, has been applied to everything in the American group belief that a certain Norman Vincent Peale-outlook in life must always be conveyed to become an accomplished and well-rounded person.

Ziglar was 86. And in case you’re still wondering why he was the topic of even minor posts at DD blog — well, he was one of the great contributors to our Culture of Lickspittle.


  1. Floormaster Squeeze said,

    November 29, 2012 at 6:31 am

    In 2006 there was a great mocumentary on the BBC (probably the most real ever made as it used real people and a real company so it was confusing) called the Armstrongs featuring of incredibly petty “brightsiders” John and Ann Armstrong (only you tubes I could find was: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe5rnyXMzDU ). They had an episode were they flew to Texas to meet Zig Ziglar and he was featured; that episode was priceless (the mocumentary part was a bunch of consultants and ideas that the show “added”); I am sure you would love it.

  2. George Smith said,

    November 29, 2012 at 9:04 am

    From what I could see they must have become objects of derision, “cringeworthy” is the word used to describe that YouTube bit.

    Here’s something equally so, dead serious, at the same time the Ziglar obit was running.


    “How to Rise to the Top in a Down Economy”

    1. Ride the wave.
    Those who succeed are able to identify the great tidal waves of change and ride them to success …

    3. Learn to “on-ramp” quickly.
    When you join a company of any size, it pays to learn as much as you can about the corporate culture. Get to know as many employees as possible and ask this magic question: “What should I know that would not appear in the employee handbook?”

    5. Be a problem solver.
    Ask your boss this question: “How can I make your life easier?” Then do it …

    12. Have faith.
    “In the end, you have to have a certain irrational faith, because without it you get depressed” …

    It’s unbelievable anyone would find such shite anything other than hilarious at this juncture. But, hey, it’s the USA — where at least half the people are delusional for a good portion of each day.

  3. Chuck said,

    November 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Funny that you should mention Norman Vincent Peale–a couple of days ago, I caught this story about his fiercest disciple:


    You know, if you associate with eagles, you can soar–unless you’re a fish, in which case you get eaten alive.

  4. George Smith said,

    November 30, 2012 at 8:11 am

    Was behind a pay wall, but this tells the same story.


    Also, if you fly with eagles, DDT will have nearly wiped you out in the Seventies and now you’re protected except from poachers with lead shot.

    Here’s one from the New York Times’ column by positive thinker, Jane Brody:

    “Fake it ’til you make it” … could serve as a battle plan for the millions of recent college graduates now searching for work in an unforgiving job market, as well as for older adults trying to re-enter the workplace after a long hiatus …


    The butterflies fluttering around the blue-eyed head are wonderful.

    Maybe there’s a commercial opening for an anti-positive thinking site. Americakicksyourass.com and Yousuckyouloseyoudie.com are both open. It’s early, I’m sure we could come up with something more clever.