Lessons from Zig: “Airport Rides”

Me & The Redhead

“The Redhead,” also known to Mr. Ziglar as “Sugar Baby,” Jean Ziglar.


I had the great opportunity and honor of assisting Zig Ziglar for several years. I often get asked how I got such a cool job, and looking back on it, I am still completely amazed by how things lined up for me to serve him and his family. (I will save the story for another blog because it needs its own attention. ) This honor allowed me to spend large amounts of time with Mr. Ziglar in the car.

Airport Rides.

Today I was reminded about a collection of those special car times together, the times Mr. Ziglar called “airport rides”.  An “airport ride” was when I would go to his house to pick him up for a flight. Since he had flown over a million miles in his life, this was a regular occurrence in our relationship. (The mere fact that I was driving to Zig Ziglar’s house and picking him up and driving him to his destinations never really settled in my mind. It was similar to how I felt in college playing football; I had butterflies every single time I stepped onto the field – and I had that same anticipation every time I was with “THE Zig Ziglar”. Never was there a moment that I was not aware of the magnitude of the time I was about to spend with this amazing man.)

Several things about these “airport rides” stand out with me today:

The first occurred before we entered the car. Mr. Ziglar lingered and lingered and lingered with his Lovely Red Headed Bride. He was the most prompt man on the planet and he saw promptness as a special quality and never liked being late. But bring his “Sugar Baby” into the mix…and all the wheels fell off. The world stopped for her. If you just walked by while he was in his “see you later mode,” you would think he was going to be gone for months on end. This behavior was not just limited to before he left for business trips; he wanted to be with her, even if she were just leaving the room to get a glass of water. His attention to her was beyond magical.

After I had to tear him away from her, we would drive toward the airport and he would ask several questions and catch up. He was always an interested and caring person and wanted to know how I was doing.

Next he made his airport calls. “Airport calls” were the phone calls that he made every single time he was scheduled to leave Dallas.   He would call each of his kids and express how much he loved them and was thankful for them. Sometimes he would reach them live and sometimes he would leave a voicemail. But, he made sure to call his whole family prior to and after every trip.

If there happened to be any time left for another call he would call his mentor. This great man, the modern day Father of motivation speaking, author of 30 books, who was around 78 years old at that time, would call HIS mentor! Hello…What?????? YES, he had a mentor, a brilliant man and business leader, Fred Smith. And get this. Mr. Smith was in his 90’s!

They would bounce ideas off of each other about future, vision and family. They shared laughs. Each one of them would listen. Each one would discuss the new book idea they had in their head. It was an ideation session like no other. They knew the things they wanted to accomplish could take five years to complete or even ten!! So, this man in his late 70’s, was talking to His mentor, who was in his 90’s, and as a listener to these wonderful men talking, my perspective of mentorship soon changed.

You never get too old for a mentor. Ideas never cease to come to you. Passion is always possible and love is the key.

Take Aways:

1. Are you making your “airport calls?” Your family (outside of God) is the most important thing to you and your life no matter how famous and successful you become. Some people think family can hold you back from accomplishing major life goals. Many people sacrifice their families to move up the ladder or achieve certain corporate goals. I witnessed, that at the end of the day in the life of a Mega Star, it was his family that made him Great. Do not confuse your priorities!

2. We never arrive at a place that we do not need a mentor or coach. No matter the number of New York Times best selling books you write, you still need a mentor! When you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Leave margin for growth and instruction in your life. Do not allow yourself to get caught up in your self-perceived greatness and push away the people that could help you accomplish and be more than you are today.

3. It is not by chance that my first writing is about key relationships and continued growth. Without the right relationships in your life you will not be able to sustain growth all the days of your life. Without a healthy home and family, we are attempting to run into the wind and uphill.

About this blog:

Thank you mom, wife, and children for reading my writing. It is a bit awkward to me to think anyone would want to read this but I am following the lead of my dear friend who I miss very much, Mr. Zig Ziglar, who taught me so much. Every time we were together he asked if I had started writing and would give me small tips on how to complete the writing project. So in Honor of you Mr. Ziglar, I’m starting and not sure where it will end but I will apply the lessons and insight you shared all those days! Anyone outside my family that stopped by to read, I am truly honored and appreciative.

If you would like to leave a question or comment please feel free. If I do not have the answer I will ask someone! 🙂

And a parting thought:

The idea of continued growth is that you will need to reinvent yourself many times in this life. If you do not continue to establish new relationships and learn new things, then your ability to reinvent yourself has diminished. If you are waiting for the world to catch up with you then you are going to be left waiting. Zig Ziglar stayed fresh even in his late seventies and eighties, having an impact on people right up until his passing at age 86 in 2012. What a life well lived. How about you?

For resources and insights from these great men you can visit their websites:

Zig & Jean Ziglar, Jay & Jill HellwigZig Ziglar- www.ziglar.com

Fred Smith

Fred Smith- www.breakfastwithfred.com

14 thoughts on “Lessons from Zig: “Airport Rides”

  1. Well done Jay, I have no doubt Mr. Ziglar is proud of you. I appreciate you and look forward to reading more…and maybe going for an “airport ride” someday soon 😉

  2. Thank you, Jay. I enjoyed every tidbit of insight. With joy, I will read each writing. I still listen to Biscuits, Fleas and Pump Handles. Please continue to pour out, Jay. A vessel is set, and it can be used or not, but the vessel that is chosen, is reached for, and used. The vessel is poured into, and then it pours out. You were set at a table for a season and now you are to share of the feast, Jay. You must.

  3. Great post Jay! Loved reading it! Heard Zig Ziglar speak once at a leadership conference at Missouri State Univ years ago. Your post reminded me a lot of my time working for John Ashcroft right out of EU! I made hundreds of airport runs with him to and from SGF to his farm. Loved everyone!

  4. Jay, this was a great reading. When you sit back and think about life, it’s always about how can I make more money or move up in the company. Somethings we forget about what’s important like family and friends. I’ve had a burning desire to be the best person,father,friend,brother and husband again. Never really thought of reaching out to find a mentor. But the reading have open my eyes on growth and learning new things.
    Thank you, your friend A.D.

  5. Jay, his influence has clearly helped shape you into the man of God you are. Proud of you. Count on me following !

  6. Jay, beautifully written and very inspiring!! thanks ! i will pray that you reach many ” hungry- for -daily- inspiration- folks “in your blog!! we all need encouragement, especially The Encouragers!!

  7. Jay, saw Jill’s post on FB (not a bit fan of FB but decided to look this a.m.). Glad I did. I think I am going to enjoy your blog. You and Jill have been inspirational to us. Keep it up and keep on writing.

  8. Jay,
    Great blog. Loved hearing the insights that you picked up on and have implemented from this great man named Zig Ziglar.
    Jay, I have only met you a few times, but will always remember how you would remember my name. Blessings to you and keep on writing.

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