I am always careful with calling myself a motivational speaker when people ask me what I do for a living, because this term has gained a certain connotation over the last few decades. When people think of motivational speakers they often conjure up an image of a guy with a headset microphone drenched in sweat with his shirt sleeves rolled up, as he runs around the stage spouting platitudes like “be the best you you can be.” Since this is not what I do, nor is it something I want to be associated with, I usually call myself a professional speaker or, my favorite, a professional storyteller. This negative image of motivational speakers has not always been the case however, and today for Scott Drotar Literary Review Day I am going to be reviewing a book written by one of the pioneers of motivational speaking, Zig Ziglar. As a businessman turned self-help guru, he helped thousands of people through his motivational speaking and books. Today I discuss his first book that changed so many lives, “See You at the Top.”
Ziglar’s masterpiece on self-improvement may have been written over 35 years ago, but it is still considered one of the best self-help books on the market. This book’s timeless, universal appeal is obvious considering the fact that it has been translated into over a dozen languages, has been printed more than 50 times, and has sold almost 2 million copies. The book’s title, “See You at the Top,” is both a declaration that you will succeed and “reach the top” by applying the information in his book, as well as a clever way of breaking down this self-improvement method. Ziglar uses the analogy of climbing a staircase to represent the path to success. He identifies six different steps (get it? Stairs…steps…) that you have to ascend in order to make it to the top, achieve your goals, and recognize your full potential. These steps include things like setting goals, strengthening your relationships with others, and creating a healthy self-image. By mastering each of these six steps to success and applying them to your own situation you can make incredible positive changes in your life.
Part of what has made this book a classic in the self-improvement genre is the accessible, conversational writing style Ziglar uses to present the information. As you are reading it is almost as if you are listening to the advice of a close friend as opposed to reading a self-help book. He uses examples and anecdotes that really stick with you after reading them, and they are extremely helpful as you are trying to remember what you read and apply it during your day. He also is not afraid to talk about his own life and how the methods he is presenting have helped him achieve his goals. While a lot of writers do this and come across as egotistical or self aggrandizing, Ziglar does this in a way that is both humble and sincere, which only adds to the worth of the information he is sharing. Even though he does use his share of little quips and one-liners throughout, they do not take away from the lesson being discussed. Plus, since he was one of the first people to use platitudes like this, it seems like less of a cliche. So although I could have done without the catch phrases, it is not a major issue. The only other aspect of this handbook on success that may be problematic for some is his frequent references to his faith and Christianity. While I did not have a problem with this, it could be a deterrent to readers with different beliefs.
Despite the fact that he spawned a horde of platitude spouting copycats, Zig Ziglar is without a doubt one of the founding fathers of motivational speaking. The reason he was able to help so many people realize their full potential is readily apparent after you read just a single chapter of his first book, “See You at the Top.” The information that this book provides is something that everyone can benefit from. I have no doubts that it will still be considered one of the best self-improvement titles on the market in another 35 years thanks to its universally applicable advice. That is why this classic gets a 5 out of 5 on the Roll Models Review Scale.