When Things Go Badly

Dad says that when things go badly we have a choice: we can either respond or react.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to live our philosophy (respond) or just have a meltdown  (react), with hundreds of paying customers on a  live webinar.  The short story is we had several major technical issues at the beginning of the webinar that prevented our customers from hearing what we were saying.  After about 15 frustrating minutes we got it figured out and the quality improved, but it still did not meet our standards.

Following is a real time customer interaction I had with Tim Miller.  I didn’t know Tim before yesterday, but Tim represents our “ideal” prospect. He is a sales manager and he had his whole sales team on the call.  This compounds the issue: not only does Ziglar look bad, but we make Tim look bad in front of his people.  OUCH!

As you read the interaction below (I hope you feel my pain!) you may be wondering why I am sharing it with you.  Well, we are not perfect.  We have issues just like everyone else.  But we have learned that how you handle the issues and treat people in the process really does determine how well you do in business and in life.

Check out Tim’s first email to me.

From: Tim Miller
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 10:57 AM
To: Tom Ziglar
Subject: webinar


After gathering our entire sales staff to listen to and view the webinar to be presented by Bryan Flanagan, we were greeted with a continuous series of “technical difficulties” throughout the entire program.  We couldn’t hear anyone to start the program, then finally we were able to do that (quite late, I might add).  Then the slides to match the speaker were a hodge-podge of ineptitude – sometimes they would come up, sometimes not at all, they wouldn’t follow the speaker, etc. – it was very pathetic.  Despite it being suggested that we “write this down,” it was very difficult to do since the slides either didn’t change at all or flipped back and forth to slides that weren’t even part of what was being presented at that moment.

This was not at all the performance I’ve come to expect from the Zig Ziglar Corporation.  The sales training content was good and applicable, but was almost negated by the fact that the extremely poor presentation was so distracting.

The first webinar of which we took part in January was well done.  However, if this is the type of performance that will continue with these, it is a waste of our $7 and time.  From what we were able to read via the Live Chat feature, we weren’t the only ones experiencing these difficulties.


Tim Miller, Sales Manager

My response to Tim

From: Tom Ziglar
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 11:58 AM
To: Tim Miller
Subject: RE: webinar
Tim, we know and you are right.  Just sent this info out.  I apologize,

Our Pain is Your Gain – Because of the technical difficulties at the start of today’s webinar we are refunding everyone their full amount and we will be sending everyone the MP3 download and the transcript for free.

One of Dad’s best quotes is “Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well.”  I never liked that quote, but it is true.  Unfortunately, we have had some serious growing pains with our webinar platforms (today is our third one since we started) and we are just as frustrated as you.  I apologize for this and ask you for your understanding.

Learning how to Embrace this new Struggle,

Tom Ziglar
Proud Son of Zig Ziglar (even on a tough day!)

Tim’s Response back to me

From: Tim Miller
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:30 PM
To: Tom Ziglar
Subject: RE: webinar


I appreciate the response and do also understand that things will go awry at times.  My question about the “worth doing poorly” part is in my experience I’ve found that a presentation done poorly will often eliminate the opportunity of doing the next one.

Our president is a big fan of your father, and he’s shared many of Zig’s insights with me.  I’ve found the wisdom, encouragement, and practical solutions to life in general to be quite interesting and helpful.

Thank you for approaching this issue in the manner that you did.

Best wishes,


My response back to Tim

From: Tom Ziglar
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 1:35 PM
To: Tim Miller
Subject: RE: webinar
Yes, that’s why I don’t like the quote that much!  If you are going to do poorly, its better to do it in private!

Would it be ok if I use your emails in a blog?  We are hustling to make lemonade and perfect our current platform before Feb 19th when our next paid event is scheduled.  Pretty intense around here, as you can imagine.

Tim’s response back to me

From: Tim Miller
Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2009 12:51 PM
To: Tom Ziglar
Subject: RE: webinar

No problem on the blog – if it helps you out in any way.  I’m all for helping each other if we can.  Life is too short to do otherwise!  My only request would be that you take out the contact info.

I should say, as a high-end custom cabinet manufacturer, we know all about how issues and problems can develop, despite the best laid, detailed plans.  So I sympathize with the “pretty intense” through which you’re working right now. 🙂  To borrow a worn out cliché, “been there, done that.”

Have a great day!


So there you have it!  We have gotten dozens of emails back thanking us for how we handled a tough situation.  I am confident the vast majority of our customers will give us another shot because our customers are the best in the world.

Next time you find yourself in a tough situation like this, focus on being transparent and doing what is right.  After all, isn’t that how you would want to be treated?

If you have had a similar experience that you had to deal with, would you mind sharing it with us?  Just leave a comment below.

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5 Comments on “When Things Go Badly”

  1. Josh Hinds Says:

    Tom, one of the things I always like to communicate to folks is that we can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we react to what happens to us. The way you all reacted in response to this situation was golden!

    Reading the example above confirmed for me that years ago when I read the first book I ever did by your father — and subsequently began to adopt much of the wisdom he’s shared in his writing & training programs I made a great decision.

    Thank you for allowing us all to learn through your experiences, and those of everyone at Ziglar Training

    All the best, Josh 🙂

  2. “Personal Accountability” can make or break any company or personal relationship. You done good Tom. But then, what else would one expect from a Ziglar? Rock on Bro!


  3. chaddixon Says:

    I enjoy reading your blog (and listening to the free podcast you put out). It is refreshing to hear someone of such success talk candidly about thier mistakes and the process used in dealing with them.

  4. Sanjay Says:


    Good job man! Like father like son. Someone told me once if the roots of tree are good, the fruits will also be good. You are the fruits of a great man Zig.

    All the best,

  5. Amy Snow Says:

    Great set of exchanges – thanks for posting them. I really makes me wish I would have gone for some honest heart-to-heart discussions after a failed project (vs. the standard “Hollywood no” where your manager just calls you and tells you the producer has gone in a different direction, and you have no closure (direct contact is discouraged).

    My question is the outcome – did you win the client back? Emotionally you did re-established rapport, which is an important part of living an honorable life. But did Tim choose to use your services again? Just curious.

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