Show #372: Roy Williams and the blessing of pain

Show #372: Roy Williams and the blessing of pain

In today’s show, one of the world’s greatest wells of business wisdom, Roy H. Williams, shares a theme I have been hearing a lot about lately: how those who come from hardship generally outshine those we would normally deem “more fortunate.” But after hearing his testimony, I think you’ll begin to question what truly is a better fortune -- trial or ease. But what if you have had it relatively easy? What do you do? Listen to the show to have your paradigm shifted and challenged.

There is one blog, newsletter, article I’m sent every week that I read without fail…every week. Roy H. Williams Monday Morning Memo. It’s an article. Many I save and refer back to.

If one of my kids wants an MBA in Marketing, Branding and Advertising, I’ll be thrilled. One, because that is a valiant pursuit. Two, because it will cost me nothing. They will gain much more by simply reading Roy’s weekly memos, which are free, than by spending any amount of money on a “formal” education. Roy gives a literal education.

Who is Roy H. Williams?

A lifelong student of humanity, Roy H. Williams has spent a quarter-century asking, “What makes people do the things they do?” And he’s been using the things he’s learned to stimulate miraculous growth for his small business clients for more than 25 years.

His books and Monday Morning Memos are a constant source of fascination and entertainment for his students and friends around the globe. His first book, The Wizard of Ads®, was voted Business Book of the Year in 1998. His second book, Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads, was named the Wall Street Journal’s number one Business Book in America in 1999 and became a New York Times bestseller. The third book in the trilogy, Magical Worlds of the Wizard of Ads, reached bestseller status again in late 2001. His fascinating fourth book, Accidental Magic, is a tightly condensed anthology of writing tips and insights, mixed with artistic examples provided by 106 of his amazing protégés. The Wizard’s first fiction book, Destinae, is a powerful allegory aimed directly at the heart of the reader.

With forty branch offices in the US, Canada, and Australia, Wizard of Ads®, Inc., is now serving the advertising and marketing needs of business owners around the globe. Then it says, “Our fees are tied to your growth. The only way for us to make more money is to increase the size of your business.”

Folks, this interview was flat-out intriguing, and fun.

Roy gives some incredible insight and is so quote-worthy. A gem I got was, “Traditional wisdom is often more tradition than wisdom.” He cites frustration with today’s business start-ups wanting to have everything figured out beforehand, trying to develop answers for questions that don’t exist yet, and the necessity to leap and trust that the net will appear. We get into multiple controversial areas, highlighted by his comment on God creating us as beings and giving us the power to say NO to Him. This is free will. He cites how immigrants are going to end up eating America’s lunch because of their hunger and work ethic, and how pain is a wonderful teacher. And to the lead topic, we even hear how he somewhat manufactured hardship for his two sons in their upbringing.

So…I now gift you with an incredible interview between me, Tom Ziglar, and Roy H. Williams.

Roy, I’m not aware you’ve ever met Tom Ziglar, either, though as I’ll testify to in a moment, and after this interview when I record the intro to this show, nobody who knows much of me, doesn’t know you. I’ve sent Tom many, many of your Monday Morning Memos, as you so often write on topics that are at the forefront of what we were dealing with in leading the Ziglar brand.


So, Roy, I just want to pay homage that you’ve had influence to Ziglar and Tom as he leads the legacy. There is my intro for both of you to each other.

Listen to the show.

Roy, I do the same thing with every interview. I type in your name and Zig Ziglar to see what I find. With you…here is the first thing I found, from a Monday Morning Memo titled, “Noah”:

“I keep motivational speakers, as a rule, in the same mental category as multilevel marketing, country music and NASCAR. There is something about all four of these that strikes me as painfully predictable.

“Perhaps it’s because I was raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
’Attention, K-Mart shoppers, we have a flashing blue light special…’

“Yes, that must be it.

“Zig Ziglar, Kyle Cease, and Noah St. John are notable exceptions to my negative impressions of the self-help category. Each of them seems consumed with a sense of wonder about what they have found. They are not masters of a craft, but enthusiastic explorers of a new world. Zig was a colorful country boy. I can relate to that.”

That statement of being “enthusiastic explorers of a new world” seems to be a primary theme of your vocation and life. What was the catalyst for you…for this interest and pathway and curiosity for your life?

Listen to the show

Roy, I want to ask for your grace -- I generally do a big intro before I bring you on -- and spare you the accolades…and time to share them, and just dive into the meat of the interview.

But, as I discovered what this interview was to focus on, I’m going to ask you to bear with me for a few minutes as I lead the audience, and inform you…of the focus. May I have your permission to introduce our direction for a moment?

Hear Roy’s response…listen to the show.

Thank you. I’ve been a student of yours for many, many years. I’ve gotten a master’s degree…maybe a doctorate…in marketing, branding and advertising, from your weekly Monday Morning Memos…that I never fail to read, every week. I’ve used them to lead thousands of others…giving you credit, of course.

I have, however, never talked to you. Never attended one of your events, though I’ve come close. I haven’t visited your Wizard Academy campus in Austin, Texas, even though it’s my wife’s birthplace and where her parents live -- the grandparents to my seven children -- and her sister and family live.

So today is my first offering of thanks, having you on The Ziglar Show where I can pay homage to you and promote you to a quick 30,000 listeners over the next four weeks and, ultimately, tens of thousands more.

Folks, you…tens of thousands…go now. Stop this podcast. Go, type “Monday morning memo” in your search engine and sign up for Roy’s weekly brilliance! Seriously. I ask you to do this first, for yourselves. Second, to help me repay Roy for what he has unknowingly invested in me. Go. Now. Seriously. We’ll wait…

If you want the absolute best counsel on marketing, advertising, branding, reading your audience, and much more…like inspiration and passion and faith and a worthy life…have I implored you ENOUGH to go sign up for the Monday Morning Memo?

Remember last week we had Seth Godin with us. You typed “seth” into a search engine and you found him. Well, type “Mondaymorningmemo” or “royhwilliams” and you’ll find our esteemed guest today.

But today, unless we end up there, I’m not focusing on the primary faces of your platform, Roy. I say “faces,” because I think what we are going to hit is a massive part of the foundation of your platform.

I was initially overwhelmed and daunted as to what focus to give this interview. As I reviewed writings and videos and more, I stumbled upon something. It led me to…

Today. Now. We’re going to talk about the massive advantage one has, can have…if you had a hard upbringing. A “disadvantaged childhood,” as you say. Or, at least, some significant hardship in your childhood. This doesn’t have to be abuse or neglect or abject poverty or dire tragedy. But some understanding and familiarity with…difficulty.

Conversely, if you had a relatively safe, secure, abundant and unremarkable childhood, you have a very realistic disadvantage. That doesn’t mean you can’t be an exception, at all.

And the point of this show is in many ways to speak more to the latter group, the majority who had it easier. Though we will absolutely speak to the former, those who had it hard.

I have a lot to say on this, but Roy, in the podcast, I’m now going to play an audio for the audience. It comes from Elise Ballard in an exclusive interview with you for the Epiphany Channel about the unusual epiphanies of realizing seemingly unfortunate happenings are actually very lucky breaks! It was recorded in October 2010.

Now Roy, do you recall the video and what you shared?

Listen to the show

Roy, this interview topic caught me right away, as it hit an essence that was foundational with Zig himself. The personal story. His autobiography is my favorite book, as it showcases the dramatically hard circumstances he came from…and rose from.

I recently watched part of an interview with Gary Vaynerchuk, from a “USC Entrepreneur Talk.” He shares some significant insight, you can search for it and find it on YouTube. It contains a dramatic amount of cursing, which I don’t understand, and I know he would completely care nothing of what I think. But just to forewarn you. In this interview he leads off sharing how he came from significant hardship. Born in Belarus, former Soviet Union, he came to America at age three and knows what it’s like to walk for miles to the store to buy toilet paper, come home and split it for efficiency. He says to the primarily privileged college crowd that paid him to speak, and I quote, “I sit here with enormous disrespect and enormous assumptions around all of you that you are just too soft to beat me. You’ve had it better, and that alone doesn’t allow you to beat me.”

Now, I don’t know that many of you out there, me included, have a goal of “beating anyone.” I didn’t resonate with that. I want you…to beat yourself. Your norm. And I…want to beat my norm. What little the culture expects of me. I want to beat the flow and mediocrity and what society wants me to accept as ok. I want to beat my weakness and achieve my calling and my best and, through that, serve others instead of being irrelevant to them, from my wife and kids and friends, to all those God has placed a burden and passion in me to raise up.

So, Roy, to some specifics you shared in the video. You said being born relatively disadvantaged gave you some gifts. Number one, “Resourcefulness.” Talk to us about this, what is it about resourcefulness that you value? I wonder if many in our affluent culture give much value to “resourcefulness.”

Listen to the show.

Next you say, “If you don’t make it happen, it’s not going to happen. There’s no one who is going to give it to you or hand it to you. Even if they want to, they can’t.”

OK, right there is more than a big can of worms. You just sprung a leak in the dyke of…much religion and doctrine and more, and unless you want to dive in there, I’m going to pass it by. I see testimony you are a man of faith and justly acknowledge God’s place in your life. I heard you quote once that you believe in a God and know you are not Him.

My interest here is…personal responsibility. That you are talking about not being soft. You’re talking about taking full responsibility for what is your life. Am I tracking?

Hear Roy Williams’s responses

So, Roy, next is an issue I posed to a very high-profile celebrity we interviewed…and either I asked it poorly, he didn’t like it, or…well, it just wasn’t answered.

Tom or Zig cited a statistic…that showcased most high-level CEOs and leaders came from childhoods involving poverty and/or a sibling that was disabled. Point being…there was hardship and life did not revolve around them.

Gary Vaynerchuk and you cited the wealth that hardship brought you. Zig did, too. My dad did…milking cows at five am at five years old, unsupported in his pursuit of cars and education, business…as he was expected to further the farm, a very loveless, stern, religious father that sent him away to boarding school.

So if this breeds strength and resilience and responsibility and so much value, what do we do with the normal lineage? Meaning…

Let’s talk parenting. I couldn’t find info on your kids, other than a daughter-in-law. So you must have kids. With them, did you hide your income, live in the projects, subject your kids to manufactured trial and tribulation? So they’d gain the same benefit you did? Or did you give them more than you had? How does this work? What do we do with that? My parents gave me far more than their parents gave them. I’m striving to give my kids more still. How does this not end up in raising marshmallows? Not people of strength and impact?

Hear Roy’s comments…listen to the show

You said, most people don’t learn really important stuff until their early 20s. Which I honestly feel is a very gracious statement, I’d have said even later.

To me, that is much of the opportunity with my kids. Focus on the important stuff! Last night I talked with my four youngest, ages 6 to 11, on customer service, which, as I talked, one of them said, “You mean like the fruits of the spirit?” Yes, my pride as a father hit the outermost reaches of the galaxy. We’ve brought people from all walks of life into our home, served intimately on a native American reservation, and more, in an effort to expose us all to…unsoftness.

We live in a different world than you did at 14. Where do you see the tide in regards to…learning the important stuff? Formal education, jobs, business, and more and more affluent culture. What trends do you see, Roy? Good and/or bad?

Listen to Roy’s responses on the show

I must admit I smiled at your video when you talked of being 14 and feeling you were 30. As a teen, I was enamored with being 30. And when I was 30, I thought much of 50, which I’m not yet, but am really, really looking forward to. I have some big goals for 50, but find myself now really interested in 80.

I don’t have a point in that, other than an interest in maybe a valuable fixation on more than just the now. Yet needing to be fully present, too. I haven’t figured this issue out, Roy. Where do you see health in being in the here and now, but with an eye on the future?

Listen to Roy Williams’s responses on the show

Next, you give great value to some main fruit that came from your “disadvantaged” childhood. “Disadvantaged” in exaggerated quotes there, as we’re obviously talking about the ADvantages. That fruit being, you weren’t frightened by things that frightened other people. And I quote, “I know how to be poor, being poor doesn’t scare me.”

“Going broke doesn’t scare me. I’ll make it back.”

“Being broke is a very temporary condition. Failure is a VERY temporary condition.”

You said, “When you are thinking that way (unafraid), you are less afraid to do the kind of things that bring success.”

I won’t ask you to define success and list all its attributes, but personally, when you spoke this, what were a few of the “things that bring success” that were foremost on your mind?

Listen to the show

You said, “You can make it back.” I see much more confidence, peace, and generosity from those who earned it than those who were given it.

Listen to the show

You cite Teddy Roosevelt, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

I appreciate that, but can’t say it’s my favorite quote. It leaves a lot unsaid. I have no problem asking you to expand on what Teddy offers. As you know, many people in many various circumstances don’t feel there is much to offer regarding what they have and where they are. Will you make tangible the further calling Teddy is speaking to here? Which, I assume, is…we have more to offer, more options, more opportunity, and more value to offer than we realize?

Hear Roy’s responses on the show

What are you working on now that you are excited about?

Listen to the show

Success comes on the heels of ambition and aspiration and perseverance and overcoming and wanting and believing in the result, more than wanting and believing in your own comfort and security.

So, if you want the status quo, you’re probably good. If you want more than the norm, more than mediocre, more than unmemorable…you’re going to need strength.

Do. You. Have It?