Monday, May 30, 2011

Nothing Beats Discovering An Old Book From 1986

Imagine stepping into a time capsule, where you can go back and touch the thoughts of another era.  The year is 1986 and you’re reading a book by a best-selling author about developing excellence in yourself and others.  I got to briefly enter a time warp the other day when I picked up a copy of Zig Zaglar’s Top Performance at the most famous used book store in the country, Strand, where they brag of having over 12 miles of books if they were to be stacked together.

I only paid $1 for the hardcover book that originally cost $15.95 a quarter-century ago.  The cover was ripped and tattered.  Normally I’d want to buy a new book in pristine condition but I loved the used look of it and I loved the price.

I wasn’t searching for something to read, for in my job as a marketer and publicist for the nation’s largest book promoter, I am inundated with books.  But this book called out to me.  It wanted a home, the way a pet up for adoption commands your attention.

There was something about this book that made me pick it out of the vast trove of old books.  Its yellowed pages, softened by time and use, reminded me the book had a previous owner, maybe more than one.  It had been read and its principles acted upon.  This book may have made the difference, even a small one, in at least one other person’s life.  And now, indirectly, it was being passed on to me.

It reminded me back to the days when I’d visit my grandparents (on my mom’s side) in Brooklyn, circa late 1970’s and early 80’s.  I would see bookcases of old books and rummage through them.  I felt a little more connected to them by knowing the books they read.   They embodied a certain scent and had a particular feel.  The books had texture and substance.

There is something quaint about the book. It comes from a pre-Internet era and pre-9/11 time.  Life was different in 1986, perhaps hectic and complex for its time, but not the same as 2011.  Information had more value then, simply because there was less of it.

The author photo, in black and white, looked outdated even then.  Ah, the charm of a book jacket!

Part of the book’s appeal to me is simply that it was published in 1986, a year that was the best of my youth. My favorite team won the World Series that year and college was fun.  It was a time of excess, those go-go 80’s.  It was also a quieter, more innocent time than today.

So what did Zig Ziglar have to say back then about leadership, success, and management? I found these nuggets most helpful and still relevant:

·         “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough people get what they want!”

·         “Regardless of your past, tomorrow is a clean slate.”

·         “The choices you make today will determine what you will have, be, and do in the tomorrows of your life.”

·         “Our weaknesses are often extensions of our strengths.”

·         “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care…about them.”

·         “You cannot consistently perform in a manner which is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”

·         “Look for good in others.  Catch them doing something right.”

·         “Seize the opportunity to share a sincere compliment.  Praise in public: censure in private.”

The era of everything being done, sold, communicated, and saved online is well upon us and we’ll find a way to reflect upon today 25 years from now as some type of golden time. But for now, my bar is set at 1986 and I am loving every word of Zig’s book as if he wrote it today.

***Brian Feinblum can be reached at

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