Zig's Tape Drive

My drive to our campus is nine miles. Around mile six is a huge bridge that goes over the Wando River, connecting Mount Pleasant to Daniel Island, which is in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. At the peak of the bridge you can see the Charleston harbor on one side and the Francis Marion Forest on the other. It’s a beautiful sight and offers a moment of reflection for anyone who will embrace it.

Coming in to work one morning, I had just crossed the peak of the bridge and was on my way down the other side. Daniel Island was in front of me, my exit right at the bottom of the bridge. I noticed a growing stand of pine trees that were planted about 15 years ago when they began to develop the island. I remember when those trees were about two feet tall. Now they stand almost 20 feet high—a marker of time, much like the lines drawn on the door frame representing the kids’ heights each passing year. As I coasted down the bridge I remember Zig Ziglar on my podcast saying something to the affect of:

“I would not trade my tape drive for $50,000. No how, no way.”


Zig started his career selling pots and pans in rural South Carolina. He went on to become one of the top-selling authors and speakers in business. I was fortunate enough to attend one of his live presentations in the early 1990s. He reminded me of football coach Vince Lombardi because of his ability to crystallize a concept in a short, memorable phrase. One of my favorites is, “You might need a checkup from the neck up.” Funny, memorable and often true when reminding us to adjust our thinking.

So why was the tape drive that important to Zig? And how can we all benefit from what he was teaching? His point was that he wanted and needed to constantly pour positive, inspirational messages and learning into his head. He understood that the brain is always on, always taking in ideas, concepts, emotions and views. For him to achieve the life he wanted, he needed to constantly provide his mind a healthy flow of positive thoughts. The way to do that in the 90s was listening to cassette tapes.

We can benefit by filling our modern version of the tape drive—our phones, podcasts, Netflix queues, YouTube and streaming services—with positive content. The start of the New Year is a great time to reset our thinking. Find some great TED talks, some podcasts, even some vintage Zig Ziglar talks, and let it fill you up. Zig used to point out that we fill up our gas tank in our car, but forget to fill up our fuel in our mind. Here’s to starting the year off on a full tank!

Here’s some positive content to start “filling your tank”:

Zig Ziglar - Attitude Makes All The Difference

Ziglar Show podcasts

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action – TED.com

Peter Fuda "From 'Burning Platform' to 'Burning Ambition' (Leadership Transformation)"

Brain Tracy "7 Keys to a Positive Personality"