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  • Writer's pictureMichael Kennedy

On Living a Better Life

Updated: Jan 18

Three mentors and clues they left behind

Q: What is a blessing?

A: Approval, Encouragement, Grace

Imagine if you could sit with a council of advisers from any period of time to guide you on living a better life... Who would you choose, and why?

Richard Goodwin, Zig Ziglar, and Glenn W. Turner came into my life when I most needed their help. Each of these men had the rare gift of being able to reach into your mind, shake the insecurities out, and make you not only believe more in yourself, but in the value of serving others.

If I could, I'd invite these three men back to my council of advisors on living a better life. I encourage you to pull up a seat and discover some of the clues they left on the table.

Richard Goodwin

It was in the early 1980’s when I first met Richard Goodwin, (pictured above), Professor of Marketing at Broward College, in Fort Lauderdale, FL. His teaching style and passion got me hooked immediately. Students were engaged in every topic he covered, leaning forward at their desks. I was no exception. I was the guy sitting in the front row, center seat, taking rigorous notes, (yeah, I was that guy). I didn’t just walk out of his classroom, I shot out like a human cannonball, ready to take on the world.

Our friendship grew from the classroom to the tennis courts. And before I knew it, I was involved in food & clothing distributions for the needy, performing volunteer work with cancer patients, and doing other social service activities along with fellow students all led by Richard Goodwin.

Most students are taught that if you study hard and regurgitate facts you’ll get ahead in school, and ultimately in life. Richard approached education from a different angle. He taught us that success is fueled by service to others, motivated by spontaneity and pure intentions. By getting us involved in volunteer work, we developed more compassion, greater enthusiasm, and unselfish alertness. We were driven by service, not by a paycheck.

I was with Richard the night before he died. He was at the Memorial Cancer Institute in Hollywood, FL. We covered a lot of stuff in room 505, from personal to spiritual as he drifted in and out of coherence from the morphine. Richard’s last words before I left his side are galvanized in my mind: “Love is God. God is love. Love people. Love them more and more intensely. Transform the love into service. Transform the service into worship. That's the highest spiritual discipline.”

Richard Goodwin passed away in 1998, at the age of 55.

Zig Ziglar

Richard Goodwin introduced me to Zig Ziglar in the early 80's. He was, and still is, the greatest motivators and sales trainers I've ever known. I attended his seminars, bought his tapes and read his books. Zig didn't just say what we needed to hear, he said it in a way we enjoyed hearing it. He made me feel better about myself and inspired me to be a better person.

With Zig and his wife, Jean Ziglar, “The Red Head,” in Macon, GA

One day in May of 2007, at a hotel in Macon, GA, I was conducting a sales training session of my own. During a break, I heard a familiar voice... it was none other than Zig Ziglar having breakfast with his family in a nearby room.

"Mr. Ziglar, is that you?" I asked.

"Well it was this morning when I woke up!" he beamed back at me.

My hero stood up and shook my hand. As fate would have it, Zig Ziglar was conducting a "Get Motivated" seminar in the same hotel the following day.

He graciously visited our small room full of sales managers and received a standing ovation. They couldn't believe Zig was there either.

"The world needs more encouragement." ~ with Zig Ziglar in Plano, TX

Zig had so much good stuff to share, so many stories of people, sports teams and companies overcoming the odds. And his message on and off stage was always consistent.

Something he frequently said was, "You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough other people get... what they want."

This was a philosophy Zig lived and one he shared with people around the world through his books, seminars and training materials.

Everything Zig Ziglar said and did was in the spirit of encouragement. “There are seldom, if ever, any hopeless situations, but there are many people who lose hope in the face of some situations.”

“When we leave,” Zig said in an interview late in his life, “we want to be sure to leave all of the messages that we can.”

In November, 2012, Zig Ziglar passed away at the age of 86.

Glenn W. Turner

GWT doing the jig in a jet he was considering buying (from a LIFE magazine article, May 28, 1971, issue)

My mother was at a business event in Orlando, FL when she called me on the phone and said, “I have someone here who wants to say hi to you.” She was in a van heading to the airport with the keynote speaker, Glenn W. Turner (GWT). And in an instant, I was talking to a man who inspired me on tapes and CDs as a kid and college student.

Back Story

Labeled by The New York Times as “equal parts The P. T. Barnum, Horatio Alger, snake oil salesman and evangelist.” Featured in an 11-page spread in LIFE magazine as a "super-huckster who built an empire on a bold slogan: Dare to be Great!" GWT was a controversial man who pioneered much of what we take for granted today with multi-level marketing.

GWT was also known as the “harelipped sharecropper's son.” He had an enormously positive impact on a lot of people, including me, lifting spirits across the country with his Challenge to America.

That call back in 2005 led to a visit to his home in Lake Mary, FL (see photo below). My visits and phone calls became more frequent during the next two decades, and the connection grew more meaningful. GWT had a lot to say, and there were Midas nuggets scattered in every conversation.

One day he shared advice he got from a nurse when he was a boy. She said to him, “Glenn, you need to get that harelip out of your head and put it back on your lip where it belongs.”

I didn't understand at first.

Not only did GWT overcome his speech impediment and the bullying that followed, but he made history with the same voice that drew embarrassment and shame when he was a kid. He gave credit to his childhood nurse for that important breakthrough.

The lesson is timeless. "We all have excuses of one kind or another," GWT said, “But you have to hang-up your hang-ups, most of which are in your mind interrupting your own potential. Someone, somewhere, has accomplished just as much or more than you with less resources, less excuses and less whining.”

GWT's “Dare to be Great” message of hope and possibility continues to motivate and inspire me today.

Glenn W. Turner passed away in 2020, at the age of 85.

When Blessings Arrive

You never know how or when a blessing arrives. It can cross your path as a friend or mentor, pounce on you like a cat, whisper to you through the trees, find you in a poem or in some other form of connection. For that matter, maybe it's here, in this sample of timeless wisdom left behind like messages in a blog. Blessings are elusive. You've got to be receptive to them and not let them slip away.

Richard Goodwin, Zig Ziglar and Glenn W. Turner, in their own unique ways, left us with valuable messages. They demonstrated you can do nothing more necessary for someone else than revealing to them their potential. They taught by their example that we cannot love enough, serve enough, or encourage enough.


I’m Michael Kennedy, Olympic Valley, CA resident, married to Nicola Kennedy. I’m a premium ghostwriter and photographer. I just want to say thanks for your attention - I appreciate it in such a noisy world. If you enjoyed it, please share with others.

It means a lot to me and it helps others see the story.

If you're interested in owning any photos in this post, or in my gallery: click here, call or text me at 530.608.9150. Let me know what size you want, and I'll send a quote. My email: 

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