Posts Tagged ‘Zig Ziglar’

Mother Flunker

May 11, 2014

Saturday May 10th, 2014 – Island Lake, IL

I am in pain today. It is excruciating pain. It is a pain so intense and overwhelming that I don’t want to live anymore pain. I thought I would never have to come back to this horrible place, but here I am. It is an ugly and a terrifying place. I wish I wasn’t so damn familiar with it. But I am.

It’s like my soul is a teatherball attached to a giant rope on a pole, and no matter how hard I try to escape I just come back to where I started. This is the place I have been trying so diligently to escape from as long as I can remember, but here I am again and I don’t know how to deal with it.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and I have been getting that stinging fact rammed down my throat every time I have turned on my radio for the last week. It’s been non-stop, and it’s getting to me just like Christmas ads. It’s unavoidable, and a constant reminder of what I have missed in life.

I must admit, I assumed getting back in touch with my siblings would finally remove that pain, and to some degree I think it did in the Christmas department. I felt a strong need for some kind of closure, and I got it. One dinner meeting doesn’t mean everything is now “fixed”, but it was a gigantic step in the right direction. At least they showed up so we could compare notes as adults.

I didn’t think we’d ever have the chance to do that but we did, and I know it was good for all of us. I’ve been in touch with my brother Bruce since, and it’s been all positive. He was the one that I never dreamed would be willing to come around but he’s been unbelievably great. I hope we’re all able to keep it going so we can heal. It took a long time to get it done, but it was SO worth it.

Deep inside I always felt that if we could just sit down peacefully as adults we would be able to talk things out intelligently, and that’s pretty much what we did. I don’t anticipate any arguments with any of them ever again, only because it takes two to argue and I’m not up for it. If they had smoldering issues with me, I’m sure anything would have been brought up during our meeting.

The issues we all had with our tyrant father are hopefully dead along with him. We don’t miss him, but we all missed out on a nurturing father/child relationship. He was a vicious bastard, and a bully to boot. He didn’t love himself and he sure didn’t love us, but his memory is now fading.

With my mother it’s a different story. All of us are united on the fact our father was a pecker of epic proportions, but our mother situations are all different. Bruce’s mother and I never hit it off, but I will say she doted over Bruce and gave him everything she could under the circumstances.

I say good for Bruce and good for her. She was forced into the role of step mother, and I have a whole different view of it now than I did then. Bruce was her only child, and I see why it worked like it did. It was brutal to deal with back then, but I get it now and have no hard feelings at all.

Whatever problems Bruce may have sure don’t originate from a lack of love and attention from his mother. In retrospect I’m very happy for him, because he doesn’t have that hideous feeling of total isolation that I have felt for a lifetime. It’s overwhelming, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

My mother Jean left abruptly when I was five months old. Tammy was 4 ½ and Larry was 2 ½, and that can’t be good for any of us. Kids need a father figure at the very least, but the mother is the source of loving and nurturing and life itself. Fathers take off all the time, but whoever hears of mothers doing it? I can’t think of many others, and most people can’t relate to the aftershock.

Looking back from an adult perspective, I have no doubt my mother leaving when I was at the age I was did major damage to my emotional growth. How could it not? I have to believe it was also devastating to Tammy and Larry. They were to the age where they had at least some sort of memories of her. Larry might have been a tad young, but I would think Tammy still has some.

I never talked about this with either of them, because it just never felt right. I was never all that close with any of them growing up, and it was a delicate subject that wasn’t ever brought up. Our father never sat us down and told us what went on, so it kind of got swept under the rug forever.

This is all very deep and personal, but I’m writing about it because I need to get it out so others that have similar struggles – and I hope they are VERY few and far between – can know they’re not alone and hopefully gain at least a little comfort in knowing others are suffering like they are.

I don’t enjoy knowing that others are in pain too, but it does make me feel a little less freakish. Nobody wants to be out there all alone, but that’s where I’ve been for as long as I can remember. I grew up with our grandparents, and Tammy and Larry stayed with our father who’d married the woman that became Bruce’s mother. They all grew up in the same house, while I was the freak.

People have told me my entire life to just “shut up and get over it already” and “that was in the past” and any other kind of half baked Zig Ziglar or Hallmark Card cutesy slogan. “God is in the driver’s seat” and “Everything happens for a reason” is really easy to say when you’re doing ok.

Well, I’m not ok and I know it. I’ve tried to “suck it up” and “hang in there” as long as anyone can, but after enough time passes one realizes the hoped for “ship” is just never going to come in. If it hasn’t by now, it isn’t coming. My mother left and never came back, and that’s what dented my can the deepest. If she was dead at least I could have closure, but she isn’t. All I have is pain.

My self esteem and self worth is completely in the toilet. How the hell could I expect to attract the ideal quality mate when I’ve got so many things still hurting so badly inside? If I at least had some financial security I wouldn’t be under so much constant stress to survive month to month.

The people that tell me to “lighten up your blog” can kiss the fuzziest part of my pink buttocks. This is not for you. If you want light and fluffy, go read Marmaduke in your morning newspaper. This is mainly for myself, but also those that have had to navigate their own insane life jungle. It isn’t easy even when things are ‘normal’, but for dented cans life can be absolute hell on Earth.

That’s where I am now, and I’m not going to lie. I am REALLY hurting to the point of wanting to end my life. I’ve had enough and I can’t stand the pain anymore. I have talked to a few shrinks over the years, and I guess it maybe helped a little at the time – but I don’t see what’s so different about writing about it here. The only hope I have is that it might give someone else a little hope.

No matter what happens, I can honestly and proudly say I have tried my best to pay back all of the bad breaks I’ve caught in life with good. I never thought I was the only one suffering, but my problems are far from what most others face. I have helped a large number of other people when I didn’t have to, and I did it because it was the right thing to do. Warts and all, I do have a heart.

What I don’t have is someone to go to when I need a boost. Where was my mother? I never got even ONE hug, or a cake for my birthday or anything a child is supposed to get from a mother. If you haven’t experienced that deep emptiness, you have zero right to tell me what to write about.

No matter how old I get, there's always going to be a lost little boy inside looking for his mother.

No matter how old I get, there’s always going to be a lost little boy inside looking for his mother.


Wandering Wisconsin

January 19, 2014

Friday January 17th, 2014 – Milwaukee, WI/Stevens Point, WI/Merrill, WI

Plenty of stops to make today – and all of them happened to be in Wisconsin. Even though that wouldn’t raise many jealous eyebrows most other places, it’s my home state so I was fine with it. I had a lot of fun with a lot of nice people, and it shouldn’t matter where that happens. I loved it.

My first stop was at Fox 6 studios in Milwaukee to be on their “Real Milwaukee” show to plug the breast cancer benefit at Memories Ballroom in Port Washington, WI tomorrow night. Getting on TV is never a bad thing, and for this particular event I did it twice. I think that’s a first for me.

After that I drove to Ted’s Diner in Wauwatosa, WI to have breakfast with Steve “The Homer” True. I hadn’t seen him since his horrific car wreck in November, and wanted to hear all about it. I had a similar one twenty years ago, and was lucky to have survived. He is too, and he knows it.

Homer has always been one of my very favorite people in the broadcast business because he is completely unaffected by any of the glitz and glamour. He’s a real person, and has a heart about as big as a watermelon. Every benefit I’ve ever done in Milwaukee he has not only showed up to support, but also donated money completely under the radar. He’s a super talent on the air also.

I would love to team up and do some kind of motivational presentation with Homer. His father Dr. Herb True was a pioneer in the motivational speaking business along with others like Charlie “Tremendous” Jones and Zig Ziglar. Homer understands how crucial the entertainment aspect is.

After a fun visit with Homer I drove to Stevens Point, WI to have dinner with my cousin Leah, her husband Rob and their daughter Janine to celebrate Janine’s birthday. I can’t believe she’s 20 already, and no longer the cute little kid that used to laugh at everything I said. Time slips away.

After dinner I drove about an hour farther north to Merrill, WI for a show at the Lincoln Lanes bowling center that has never tried live comedy before. It was booked by my friend “The Mighty Jer Dog”, and I never know quite what to expect at any of his gigs. That’s part of the adventure.

Tonight was a pleasant surprise, as the owner had done his homework and packed the place to the rafters. He got the word out in town, and people showed up. He’s a smart guy in his late 30s that bought the business from his father. His grandfather started it, so there’s some history there.

I liked the guy from the second I met him, and that’s extremely rare for most club owners. I’m used to keeping my guard up at all times, but not tonight. I saw this guy was sincere about doing shows, and people like that make a drive to Merrill, WI in January worth the trouble. It was fun.

He even had my name in lights on his marquee. That’s always a kick, even though I have zero drawing power Merrill, WI. It felt good to work for a guy that cared, and I know he made money tonight so that’s even better. Would I come back here again? Sure. Nice people are nice people.

Normally the venue puts us in a set hotel, but tonight the deal was that I received a stipend for my own lodging. I wasn’t tired after the show so I drove to Green Bay and got a room there. Life sure is a blast when everything is running on all cylinders. This is by far the best time of my life.

I did an appearance this morning on Fox 6's 'Real Milwaukee' to plug the big cancer benefit tomorrow night.

I did an appearance this morning on Fox 6’s ‘Real Milwaukee’ to plug the big cancer benefit tomorrow night.

Steve 'The Homer' True survived a horrific car crash on his birthday November 13th. He's looking and feeling great, and is on his way to a full recovery. Listen to him on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee both on his afternoon show 'Homer and Thunder' or doing play by play for Marquette basketball.

Steve ‘The Homer’ True survived a horrific car crash on his birthday November 13th. He’s looking and feeling great, and is on his way to a full recovery. Listen to him on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee both on his afternoon show ‘Homer and Thunder’ or doing play by play for Marquette basketball.

It's always a kick to see your name up in lights - even if it's at a bowling center in Merrill, WI. It was a great audience, and everyone had fun - including me.

It’s always a kick to see your name up in lights – even if it’s at a bowling center in Merrill, WI. It was a great audience, and everyone had fun – including me.

Bye Bye Books

August 8, 2013

Wednesday August 7th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   I unloaded two more big boxes of books today, but it didn’t put a dent in the master pile. I did get a few requests from yesterday, and did my best to oblige. Sally Edwards requested Anthony Robbins and Zig Ziglar, and since she lives not far from me I delivered them to her front door.

   Bill Gorgo and I got together to prepare for fall comedy classes, and he helped himself to some joke books I’ve never used but hauled all over the country through my many moves. I mistakenly thought I’d have a use for them, but never did. They were dead weight, and I’m glad they are out of my life. If I should happen to need them, I’m sure Bill will let me use them whenever I want.

   This kind of mindset is probably more common than I realize. My grandfather, father and uncle were all borderline hoarders, and wouldn’t get rid of anything if their life depended on it. They’d save rusty tools, boards with nails in them and all kinds of other things that never had any use.

   Their wives used to nag each of them to clean out their backlog of junk, but none of them ever did. Then they died, and left their families the horrific task of getting rid of it all. I’ve seen it take place three times in my personal family experience, and I want to make sure I don’t follow suit.

   I thought I was above that by saving books, but I really wasn’t. I do read often – probably a lot more than average – but I still have a far bigger supply than I will ever need in this life or several others. Even if I read a book a month, that’s sixty books in five years. I’ve got at least a thousand or more, not counting magazines and articles I’ve clipped over the years. Nobody needs all that.

   There’s more than I’ll ever read on the internet alone not to mention the world class library just two blocks from where I live. If I feel a reading need, there’s an easy fix seconds away. I’ll allow myself to save a reasonable number of personal favorites, but the rest will return to circulation.

   Hopefully, I’ll be able to give a lot more away. I’d be fine if someone else got some use out of all this rather than have it sit there and do nothing. I had my opportunity, but could only get to so much. Holding on any longer is not productive for anyone. Away it all goes, the faster the better.

   Today I tried my luck with Half Price Books – knowing I wasn’t going to get rich. Wow, was I right. A seller is always at their mercy, and all I got was an offbeat offer of $35. I couldn’t figure out how they arrived at that number and I suppose I could ‘negotiate’, but that’s never something I enjoy. My grandpa would have loved it and tried to squeeze every last nickel, but that’s not me.

   I took the money and my empty bins, and walked to my car feeling relieved. I’m going to keep shrinking my possessions until it hurts – and then I’m going to shrink them some more. Anything I’m getting rid of is replaceable if I really wanted it again, but for now I’d rather be free of mind.

   I keep recalling how Gandhi used to allow himself only a handful of possessions – one of them being his eye glasses so he could read. I don’t know if I’ll make it that far, but I’d bet it wouldn’t kill me if I did. Most people I know could get by with a lot less, and this feels like the right thing to do at this time. Yesterday unloading one box stung ever so slightly. Today, it felt really good.

   It has to be good for everyone to shuffle the cards in one’s own deck on occasion. If we’re not growing, we’re dying. I feel a growth surge coming on, and my creative juices are still bubbling as well. The less I have to worry about material objects, the more I can spend on creative ideas.

Everything Must Go!

August 7, 2013

Tuesday August 6th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   It’s prime time for a possession purge in my life. I feel a backup of clutter weighing me down, and chopping as much dead weight as I can will free me up to move forward. I try to live as lean as possible – or at least I thought I did – but too many piles of junk still manage to accumulate.

   Books have always been my downfall, and that’s the pile that needs to be trimmed most. I have way more than I’ll ever read, and at this point they are just weighing me down. I do read as much as I can, but often it’s online or other sources. These books will be best served in someone else’s possession, as even if I’d start tomorrow and read twelve hours a day I’d never finish them all.

   Almost all of them are nonfiction. I have a ton of self help and how to books, along with health related, biographies and business. I’d love to get to every one of them, but that’s just not realistic and never was. What guy doesn’t want to sleep with every centerfold? That won’t happen either.

   I also have a butt load of audio programs – most of them on cassette. Nightingale Conant is the company that puts them out and most if not all are excellent. I found the majority at thrift stores or rummage sales at minimal cost, but I know for a fact the retail price for a long time was $60.

   I checked on Ebay, and they’re being offered at around $12.99 each for the “buy it now” price. That doesn’t mean they’re getting it, and I’ve got at least 100 titles from Anthony Robbins to Zig Ziglar and everyone in between. I’ve got a few CD sets, but the majority of them are cassettes as that was the technology at the time they were made. The content is still good, but who wants it?

  I’ve listened to quite a few of them, and luckily I happen to have had cassette players in my last few cars but there’s no way I would ever hear them all even if I drove to the North Pole and back six times in a row. Most of them I haven’t gotten to, and they’ve been gathering dust for years.

   If I really wanted to hear them I would have by now, and the same goes for the books. I got to as many as I could, but the future looks bleak for the rest of them. I just don’t have as much time as I’d like, and it would make me feel much better if I’d cut ties with all of it and cleanse my life.

   I took a big box of books to the Salvation Army today, and that felt great. Many of them I read, but a few I hadn’t. It stung a little to put them in the box, but I realized if I hadn’t gotten to them by now I probably never would. I don’t want to be the equivalent of a cat lady for books. I’m not a hoarder, and if I really want that book in the future I can check the shelf at the Salvation Army.

   That’s where a lot of this stuff came from anyway. It gave me something to do on the road, and it didn’t cost much. A couple of bucks here and there weren’t missed, but it sure would be nice to have all of it back and start over. Too late now, as the choices were made. Time to choose again.

   Making time to list the titles and then listing them on Ebay isn’t what I see myself doing in the next little while. I’ve got other projects that need attention, so I think the best option is to clear it out any way I can. If I have to give most of it away, so be it. It’s time to cut losses and move on.

   If you happen to enjoy reading or listening to what I’ve described, feel free to contact me and it will be my pleasure to hook you up with some outstanding material. You could pay me money if you want, but far better payment would be to make use of it yourself then pass it to someone who might also enjoy it and help make the planet a better place. That’s what I’m trying to do myself.

The Funniest Man In America

April 2, 2013

Saturday March 30th, 2013 – Atlanta, GA

   Sometimes words with big meanings get thrown around carelessly, and that ruins the power of those particular words. Two that come to mind immediately are “genius” and “legend”. There are only a scant few who truly qualify as one of those, and far less that qualify as both. Today I got a chance to spend time with someone who is both, and I will be better for it for the rest of my life.

To me, a legend is a person or thing that comes along that completely changes whatever might be the perceived standard. Better yet, if there’s no perceived standard there is one set and kept up by said legend and it becomes used as the measuring stick for everything that comes along after.

Examples I think of immediately are McDonald’s, Michael Jordan and Zig Ziglar. They’ve all established their brand, and been able to maintain it even when competition has come from a lot of sources. They’re still looked upon as the leader in their field, and everyone else chases them.

In standup comedy, there aren’t many who have been able to change the game. Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld have traditionally been recognized as the top two acts of the comedy club era, but a name that never comes up and should is James Gregory aka “The Funniest Man In America.”

James is from Atlanta, and has been performing sold out shows to adoring fans for thirty years. That alone is impressive, but what makes him legendary is the way he markets himself and stays on top of the mountain in a business where backstabbing and throat cutting are par for the course.

I’ve always been a huge fan of James from afar, as I’ve known of him for decades. His name is familiar with anyone who works the road as a comedian, if for no other reason that he’s handled his business so much better than everyone else. He understands the game better than anyone else, but he also executes his plan to perfection. He has a system like McDonald’s does, and it works.

James’ manager is Lenny Sisselman, someone I’ve known for many years. He used to manage the Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville, and I always liked him personally and respected his rock solid integrity. Lenny is as honest and trustworthy as they come, and that’s rare in this business.

I’ve always told Lenny how much I admire James, and always wanted to meet him personally. I got my chance a few years ago when we were both on a comedy TV show taping for Comcast that happened to be shot at Zanies in Nashville. All the comedians went out for dinner after the show, and I got to sit at James’ table as he held court telling great stories that made us all laugh.

James has a larger than life charisma, onstage and off. He’s a true character, and one can’t help but be mesmerized by his magnetic personality. He reminds me of how wrestler Dusty Rhodes is able to grab an audience during interviews. There’s a southern rhythm that hypnotizes listeners.

Dusty is known as a microphone master, and it’s no surprise he and James are personal friends. James loves pro wrestling, and that’s another reason I’m a fan. He understands the way wrestlers create personas to establish their rapport with their audience, and that’s exactly what he’s done.

I happened to be attending the Laughing Skull Festival in Atlanta this week and I received an email from Lenny saying James would like to invite me to visit him at his house while I was in Atlanta “if I had some time.” If I had some time? Let’s cancel the festival and I’ll just hang out with James for a while. That alone would have made my trip worthwhile. Of course I had time.

   We talked on the phone, and James said he was an early riser and I should plan on coming over as soon as I got up. Fine with me. I was a bit nervous in the car because I didn’t want to look like a total goober. Even though we’d met once, we’re not that close. I didn’t want to offend the man.

I arrived at his house, and I immediately knew why James has achieved legendary status. It’s a kind of place a person drives past in stunned awe and asks “I wonder who lives THERE?” It’s an awesome sight, as is the six car garage attached to it. I knew I was in for an amazing experience.   

   James welcomed me like I was an old friend, and led me to his living room to sit down. If ever the Atlanta Falcons need a place to practice in a pinch, there would be plenty of room inside this house. It was immaculately kept, and I was afraid to touch anything but James was a great host.

He made me feel right at home, and then proceeded to tell me some stories of how he started in the business and about his family. He’s incredibly humble, and more than once he apologized for ‘talking about himself’ when in fact that’s exactly why I was there. I wanted to hear all about his life and what he did to be able to stay on top of the game for as long as he has. This was a treat.

He told me about how he’s been working since he was 12 years old, and how his amazing work ethic he learned in sales has transferred over into comedy. He was the first comedian that offered merchandise after his shows – and that includes Leno and Seinfeld. James had cassettes and hats and t-shirts for sale after shows when he was still a feature act, and it’s done him more than well.

Marketing has always fascinated me, and I listened intently as James explained how he worked his way up from being an opening act sleeping on a couch to one of the biggest comedy club acts that ever stepped on a stage in the modern era. He didn’t start until he was in his 30s, and most of the rest of us start in our late teens or early twenties. James made up for lost time and then some.

What I got for my effort was basically a one day one on one seminar from one of the friendliest comics I’ve ever met. I really feel like we hit it off, and I couldn’t get enough of his stories of the way he built his business and career. He’s known as a ‘southern act’, but he really isn’t. Yes he’s from Georgia, but he doesn’t do any typical North/South stuff or anything like that. He’s careful not to go in that direction, and his act is hilarious and clean. That’s why he’s able to sell tickets.

James also has a fantastic hook. He’s billed as “The funniest man in America”, something he’d had written about him by a newspaper reporter years ago. His website is, and you can judge for yourself. What a treat it was to spend the day with someone I’ve been such a fan of for so long, only to find out he’s a truly nice person to go along with his legendary status he’s earned in the business. I can’t wait to start implementing the things I’ve learned this week.

Zig Was Big

November 29, 2012

Wednesday November 28th, 2012 – Fox Lake, IL

   Zig Ziglar passed away today – or at least his physical body did. His body of work has touched millions over several decades, and he will live on through that. If there ever was a life well spent, his was right up there with just about anyone in my opinion. He made the most of his time here.

I have enormous respect for Zig Ziglar for several reasons. He was a pioneer and a legend, and neither of those is easy to pull off. He built himself up from obscurity, and stayed there. It took a long time to accomplish, but it was worth the effort. He’ll go down as one of the all time greats.

Although I wasn’t necessarily a rabid fan of much of his recorded stuff, the fact he cranked out so much of it should not go unappreciated. He was very consistent, and his work ethic was at the top of the spectrum. I know how difficult it is to create ONE audio or video program. He put out product after product after product, and wrote books too. That doesn’t count his speaking career.

Zig Ziglar became his own brand, and I’m sure he was paid handsomely for it. He was the top name in motivational speaking for years, but never rested on his laurels. Jay Leno was known as the top name in standup comedy during the boom years, and he had a stellar work ethic as well.

Coincidence? Hardly. A hearty work ethic is a must for any entertainer, and that’s exactly what Zig was. Nobody can truly motivate anyone else, and I’m sure Zig knew that. But he presented a message in an entertaining way, and those who wanted to be motivated latched on and heard it.

I have his book ‘See You At The Top’, and I really like it. His audio programs weren’t on my list of favorites, but that’s no disrespect. His style and delivery were a bit syrupy for my personal taste, but that takes nothing away from what he accomplished. He achieved a level of greatness.

To me, motivational speakers have to be listenable for long periods of time. That’s not easy to do, and it becomes a matter of personal preference just like music. I can’t stand Pink Floyd, but I know millions of others love them. Are they right? Am I wrong? Personal preference is just that.

As far as speakers go, people like Tony Robbins and Wayne Dyer I could listen to all day. Earl Nightingale is another. Stephen Covey, Deepak Chopra and Zig Ziglar I can’t. That doesn’t take anything away from the greatness of any of those people, and I still respect every one of them.

My friend Steve ‘The Homer’ True is a sports talk host on ESPN 540 in Milwaukee. His father is Dr. Herb True, a very big name in the speaking field. Homer has always been a huge supporter of my comedy, and frequently comes to see me perform when I am working the Milwaukee area.

Homer asked his dad to call me years ago and give me some encouragement, and I never forgot it. A ten minute phone call made a huge impact, and that’s what Zig Ziglar’s work did for a wide variety of people from all walks of life and will continue to do for years to come. That’s what we all should aspire to, and many of us who do still don’t come close to achieving it. Zig Ziglar took it to the highest level, and for that he deserves major kudos. He sure gets it from me. Zig was big.