“Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

Zig Ziglar died Wednesday at age 86, a deep-throated motivational speaker whose clever way with words inspired millions to stop looking for shortcuts to success — and instead earn it the old-fashioned way by rolling up their sleeves and getting to work.

He was born Hilary Hinton Ziglar in Coffee County, Alabama. He was the tenth of twelve children. His family moved to Yazoo City, Mississippi, and later to New York City. He worked as a salesman in a succession of companies. In 1968 he became a vice president and training director for the Automotive Performance company. In his autobiography, Ziglar described a challenging childhood that taught him to connect with people. He began speaking in public as a salesman in the 1950s, although his professional speaking career did not start until the 1970s.

On this remarkable day, we at HEED thought of spreading this letter sent by Donald Benenson to Zig Ziglar in order to stress on the exquisiteness of the sales profession, as noted in one of his books.

Salesmen are big problems to their bosses, customers and wives, to credit managers, hotels, and sometimes to each other. Individually and collectively they are cussed and discussed in sales meetings, conventions, behind closed doors, in bathrooms, bar rooms, and under one’s breath from many angles, and with much fervor.

They make more noise and more mistakes, create more cheer, correct more errors, adjust more differences, spread more gossip, explain more discrepancies, hear more grievances, pacify more belligerence, and waste more time under pressure, all without losing their temper, than any class we know—including ministers. They live in hotels, cabs and tents on trains, buses, and park benches, eat all kinds of food, drink all kinds of liquids—good and bad—sleep before, during and after business with no more schedule than the weather bureau, and with no sympathy from the office.

Yet salesmen are a power in society and in the public economy. In many ways they are tribute unto themselves. They draw and spend more money with less effort, and less return, than any other group in business. They come at the most inopportune time, under the slightest pretext, stay longer under more opposition, ask more personal questions, make more comments, put up with more inconveniences and take more for granted under greater resistance than any group or body, including the U.S. Army. They introduce more new goods, dispose of more old goods, load or move more freight cars, unload more ships, build more factories, start more new business- es, and write more debits and credits in our ledgers than all the other people in America. With all their faults, they keep wheels of commerce turning, and the currents of human emotions running. More cannot be said of any man. So be careful whom you call a salesman, lest you flatter him.