Carol Gardner
Author and Creator of Zelda Wisdom, Inc.
At the age of 52, Carol Gardner was facing a divorce that left her with a huge debt, no job, no income, and depressed. A friend gave Carol some advice: “Get a therapist, or a dog.” Gardner chose the latter and bought a four-month-old English bulldog she named Zelda. Both were underdogs who needed a big dose of unconditional love.

Another friend who knew of Gardner’s financial plight told her about an annual Christmas card contest a local pet store was sponsoring. The winner would receive forty pounds of free dog food every month for a year. Carol used her background as a creative director in advertising to combine the visual humor of Zelda along with Carol’s verbal wit and wisdom. Carol borrowed a Santa hat from a neighbor, filled the bathtub with bubble bath and lowered Zelda into the tub. With the hat on her head and a beard made from the bubbles, Zelda was the perfect Santa imposter. Carol snapped the photo and sent it off to the store with the one-liner: “For Christmas I got a dog for my husband . . . good trade, huh?” Six weeks later Zelda and Carol won the contest. She remembers asking Zelda if she’d be willing to share the dog chow!

Carol then sent the prize-winning image out as holiday cards to her friends. The overwhelming response sparked the creation of Zelda Wisdom.

Gardner started her company with 24 greeting cards in the middle of her living room. Within 6 months, over one million cards had been sold. Today Zelda Wisdom, Inc. is an international business with licensees around the world. The list of licensees is impressive: Hallmark, Russ Berrie, Andrews McMeel Publishing, Macmillan Publishing, Running Press/Perseus Books, American Greetings/Cardstore, Westland Giftware, Antioch Publishing, Micro Thin, The Paper Magic Group, Cookies by Cartier and more.

Zelda Wisdom products have been translated into many languages. According to The New York Times, Zelda Wisdom, Inc. annually generates over $50 million in sales. In 2006, Zelda cards were the #1 mass selling card line for Hallmark and now more than 600 different Zelda greeting cards are available through Eleven Zelda books have been published, including a new series of children’s books.

Zelda, whose measurements are 32-32-32, allows us to laugh at ourselves and to recognize that things could be worse. “At the core of Zelda Wisdom is humor and healing,” says Gardner. “She always makes me laugh. Zelda and I started out as underdogs, but we are proof that you don’t have to be thin, rich, young or wrinkle-free to be successful. More importantly, you don’t have to be perfect.

From Underdog to Top Dog...Strategies for Survival and Success

Learn how to turn underdog challenges into top dog successes. Find out the #1 secret to making your dreams come true. Be energized, entertained and more optimistic to face life’s challenges.

Achieving Resilience for Your Business During Challenging Times

In business it’s a dog eat dog world. Learn how to turn your company’s disadvantages into advantages and create a “Top Dog” work environment. Wit and wisdom make this presentation both entertaining and enlightening.

Putting Balance Back in Your Life. Secrets for Survival and Success

Discover the positive approaches that will bring happiness and fun into your lives. Learn how to laugh at yourself and profit from the humor you create.

  • Zelda is one haute dog who knows how to dish out tough but tender advice. There was Dear Abby, now there’s Dear Zelda. In this, her eighth book, Zelda allows us to laugh at ourselves and realized that in life’s up s and downs , we are never alone. ear Zelda is the perfect gift book for you or for friends who need a little laughter to help them through pressing problems. Dispensing her canine advice on such topics as love, friendship, aging, parenting, nuptial nightmares, success, and more … this is something for everyone.

  • Zelda Rules on Love is Zelda’s third book and features the adore-a-bull bulldog in a new collection of photographs combined with her humorous take on the world of love. "To be loved . . . be love-a-bull." "If love fails, go shopping. . . . You can always return what you don't want." In a chapter entitled Memor-a-bull Friends and Lovers, Zelda teams up with her best friend, Baby, to portray all the favorites, including Adam and Eve, Zelda and Louise, Anthony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet and many more. All in all, Zelda knows where it's at when it comes to love.

  • Settle down with Zelda's Tips from the Tub for a nice long bubble bath to escape the pressures of everyday life. As you relax and unwind, you can absorb the wisdom of Zelda, chuckle, reflect, chuckle some more, and resolve issues. This “soggy doggy” dishes out some sage advice, such as, “Letting the cat out of the bag is always easier than putting it back in.” Zelda is a new breed of supermodel. Her measurements are 32-32-32. Her wisdom allows us to laugh at ourselves when we take life too seriously. With witty sayings like, “Thongs on my feet beat a thong on my wseat,” it’s no wonder her popularity just keeps growing. Zelda's Tips from the Tub is all about taking time out (albeit not much) and coming away with a new and refreshed attitude. So sit back, relax, put your feet up, and enjoy—just don't drink the bathwater!

I just wanted to take a moment to convey our heartfelt thanks for your assistance with the Women In Action and Women In Action Foundation Spring Luncheon and Fund Raiser. The event was the best attended in organization history, and proceeds from the auction were an all time high. Carol Gardner's presentation was fantastic. She spoke from the heart, and the audience clearly found her both compelling and entertaining. We can't thank you, and Carol, enough for your support of our efforts. Please feel free to, use my name as a reference. I hope that we have the opportunity to work together again in the future on another event.

Julie A. Olson
Women In Action Foundation

Dear Carol,
No one could have done better. You were "spot on." All I have heard are rave reviews and when will she come back. I'm sure your company had a spike in revenue the next day.

What impressed me most was your graciousness and genuineness. You are the kind of person I would like to call friend. Thanks again for your words and your spirit.

Ed Helton Cunningham Center for Leadership Development
Columbus State University

We had the most amazing event with Carol Gardner, the creator of Zelda Inc, and Zelda Wisdom. We had 268 attendees at our event, and the speakers presentation just blew us all away. I would love to see Carol Gardner become an advisor for Key 4 Women for, and potentially a future speaker for other districts. I was incredibly lucky to spend time with Carol and refine our needs from her presentation and she absolutely blew me away. Her insights on women owned business, branding, and business growth are simply just amazing. The entire time we spoke I just kept thinking that we must have her on our advisory board, and use her again since our fellow districts would just love her as a speaker. Hands down, I'd 100% recommend this company!

Key Bank of Oregon

Thank you, Carol Gardner for coming to San Antonio Community Hospital and giving such a wonderful presentation. All the remarks from our attendees were so positive. To say that your presentation was well received is an enormous understatement! I have never seen a speaker get so many "5's" on their rating. I would highly recommend you to anyone searching for a fabulous keynote speaker. Your humor and life experiences were something that everyone in the audience could relate to. We loved having you for our keynote our our First Annual Women's Symposium.

Cheryl Vargo Manager, Community Outreach
San Antonio Community Hospital, CA

Carol was amazing! Anyone that she came into contact with during the time that she was here was inspired. She was delightful at the board dinner and made a big fan out of all of us…Her Keynote was so successful that many were moved to tears . . . We are all asking ourselves what we are going to be doing for the next twelve years. Can we possible achieve what Zelda achieved in her lifetime? I have received to date upwards of 50 congratulatory emails on the event, many saying that Carol was the best keynote they have ever heard!

Jeryl Mitsch President/Owner
Affiliations: Crew | Nawbo

Your talk was fantastic and folks were raving about it all day! Kudos, kudos, kudos! And thank you for spending so much time with the folks at the Pentunia's booth. Thank you so much for being such a special part of our 25th Anniversary!

Betsy Hays Speaker Coordinator/PR Co-Chair
Central California Women's Conference Fresno, CA