Did Dave Ramsey Foresee The Growth and Scope of Ramsey Solutions?
“Absolutely not. What I did know as an entrepreneur was that many people were hurting on the particular subjects we were addressing. So I knew the market need was huge. But I was naive about what it would take to tap that market. I didn’t know how much work would be involved, how many people would be needed, and how much money would be needed to make it happen.
The dollars that have flown through this place over the years blow my mind. The number of people that are on our team blows my mind. I saw the market but didn’t know what the journey would look like.”
The Truth Ramsey Solutions Shares
“We knew fairly quickly on the radio that the need was there and that we did have the answer. We have the Biblical answer to your financial question, which will be correct because it’s true.
And so we knew God’s truth intersects someone’s life, and it causes not just this idea of an academic understanding but it causes a spiritual transformation. So we started seeing the early signs of all of that very quickly.
Of course, Sharon and I had seen it because we started applying those Biblical truths to our lives. We started seeing it from the radio, then scale, and the number of books. Then we went into an auditorium, and we’re like, ‘Ooh, there’s a lot of people in here.’ There were 35 people at the first event, but it was only a short time before there were thousands. How quickly it blew up was pretty wild, but it had nothing to do with us. The need was there, and we had the antidote.”
When Did Daniel Ramsey Want to Become a Part of Ramsey Solutions?
“I always knew what he did because I always got to be involved. My dad did a good job inviting my sisters and me into different parts of it. And honestly, sometimes that was because he was so busy, he wanted to see us and he needed us to show up where he was. I hear the stories of his hard work, and I don’t remember him being absent. I don’t remember him being gone or away or traveling and yet I hear the stories of what it took.
And I know that it was true, but that wasn’t my experience. That was probably because he was so present at home or when we were with him doing stuff. But I got the opportunity to travel to many of those early-day events. There I got to be part of it. I got invited to sell books at the table in the back. And it just created a love for what we do and the mission. And it was always so interesting, too, on regular weeknights when dad would come home from work. He was consistently always home at 5:45.
One thing I remember valuing was the frank conversation he would have with my mom and us about the business, their day, his struggles, and his excitement, whatever it may have been. Of course, the business didn’t take over family time, but he talked about it enough that we knew what it was. We saw his passion, and obviously, that’s attractive to see that level of passion and energy and the mission behind it and that we got to be drawn into it.”
How Younglife Played a Part in Daniel Ramsey’s Relationship With Jesus
“Young Life is how I started my relationship with Jesus. I grew up in a great Christian home, attended church, and saw my parents model their faith well. I was one of those classic church kids who knew all the right answers but didn’t intimately know Jesus.
Shortly after I graduated from high school, through relationships and mentors I had, one was a Young Life leader. He stepped into my life at an incredible time and led me to the Lord in many ways. In college, I felt like I could give back and pour into people through the ministry of Young Life. I loved being a part of that. I grew so much out of it in my faith and all the different things it takes to love awkward high school kids. Because I was still really awkward myself, I was able to embrace it well.
I saw the passion and the mission of Young Life, an evangelical ministry that helps reach kids who would never go to church. It’s basically a youth group for those kids. They trick them right into coming in many ways. And I saw what we do at Ramsey as just an incredible parallel. An opportunity for evangelism, an opportunity to lead people to the Lord by meeting them where they are in their life, in their pain. Whether that be their finances, mental health, relationships, whatever that is.”
Was Daniel Ramsey Ever Opposed to Working For Ramsey?
“What’s funny is there were several years where I said, ‘absolutely not. I don’t want to be part of the family business.’ Looking back, two things held me back. First, it was pride, me wanting to be my own man and make a name for myself. I didn’t want to be in the shadow of my father. He is an incredible man and has done great things, so he cast a big shadow, and I was intimidated by that. The second thing was fear.
I was afraid of being unable to fill shoes and living up to expectations, whether from him or myself or anyone around me. My dad expected me to be who God created me to be and nothing more. He wanted me to come work here. He was excited about that, but I know he would’ve loved and been excited for me, regardless of what I had done.”
How Dave Ramsey Poured Into Daniel Over Time
“There’s a dance between your personal relationship and fulfilling your professional relationship. We’ve had to be hyper-intentional about that. Daniel never reported to me when he came on board until about nine or ten months ago. He’s always reported to someone else and, in some cases, several layers of leadership below me.
And so one of the things I had to make sure I did was not interfere in that chain of command. The whole purpose was to give Daniel some distance and protection from me. But also to allow him to find his footing and prove himself without having been artificially lifted. His first leader, Brian Mayfield, in radio, was tough. Radio’s a tough business; he picked out a tough job: selling ads. So I said, ‘Let’s start having breakfast when you come to work here.
But not for business. It’s just personal. We can talk about business if you want to, but I will be your dad. If you’re having a tough day and your boss is a hard butt, I’ll give you advice and encouragement.’ We meet every Tuesday morning unless somebody’s sick or out of town, and nothing’s off-limits. We sit there and talk. In the last year, we spent more of that on business because a lot is going on with the transition into this new role. Before that, it was checking on his son, Eli.”
When Dave Ramsey Realized Daniel Could Run Ramsey Solutions
“Daniel has always been the most entrepreneurial and business-minded of the three kids. So when he came on board, I immediately thought it’d be nice someday, but we had a long way to go. Over time we started thinking about what would have to be true for this to happen. In terms of nepotism, you get one of two things.
You get the coach’s kid, who is super tough on you, or it’s too easy. So we put together a team of people that worked with us over the last six or seven years. A group of guys around the two of us as we walked on, trying to find the reasonable thing to do. If we were going to cheat, it would be on the coach’s kid’s side. I always told the kids even when they were selling books at 13 years old at the back of the room, they have to work twice as hard and be twice as good just to be respected.
People in the elevator will think they have it easy; they’ll think you got a hot knife through butter. And so you must be extra excellent to get up to par with the rest of the team looking at you and the outside world looking at you. So taking each step we took into leadership and different things where you learned and gathered different skills was extra hard.”
How Daniel Ramsey Felt About The Idea of Taking Over Ramsey Solutions
“As I think back, that whole idea was pretty overwhelming. I think deep down in my spirit; it was front of mind. It was something that we would talk about occasionally. When I first started, we said, ‘Hey, let’s not talk about it because that conversation puts a weight on me that I don’t need.’ I already had enough people making comments about it. I got many comments about me doing the radio one day. That’s how people see my dad and his role. But I always laugh at that because that’s not at all what I’m interested in.
I want to be behind the scenes in the business. I can’t think of a particular day, but man, there were some seasons for sure that I didn’t enjoy. But God had a plan and was equipping me and strengthening me through some of those seasons. One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was how to be a good follower. I tend to want to take the reins in any situation, and I’ve been humbled.
I’ve lost and screwed up a lot of things. I’ve made many decisions that were dumb and created bad results. As I’ve had the opportunity to work on many teams over the years, I often joke with them that they’re fixing many of the things I screwed up.”
Keys to a Successful Family Business Transition
“They have to be called, it has to fit, and they have to want to do it. The second thing is that you must separate the family relationship from the working one, and everyone has to demand excellence from each other.
When we’re here, I’m the CEO, Rachel’s a personality, and Daniel is the president, and I treat him in a meeting, private or public like I would treat one of our other top leaders. He shows me the same respect, and I treat him with dignity and challenge their ideas.
We sometimes argue, fuss, and fight. Around here, the leaders all have the same footing to argue about something and push back and all that kind of thing. But I never use my dad voice; I use my CEO voice. Sometimes that’s a loud one too, but it’s a different tone.”
How The Ramseys Keep Personal and Professional Life Separate
“We started talking about it 15 years ago and are better at it now than we were. The idea is that we won’t sit at the table and talk about Ramsey all day long. Their spouses don’t work here. Instead, we talk about grandkids, vacations, Christmas gifts, or something else when we’re all together. If someone wants to talk business, you have to ask permission at a family gathering.
But then, when I’m at the office, I command the same excellence from Rachel as I do George Kamel, Ken Coleman, or Dr. John Deloney as a personality. How you act in the green room while doing media hits is the same for all personalities. Rachel’s got the same expectation on her as the others and the same pay scale.”
Intentional Relationship Boundaries For Dave and Daniel Ramsey
“We started studying succession plans when it works, when it doesn’t, and the weak spots a long time ago. We started studying that and getting good advice from people who had done it well or people who had messed up.
Henry Cloud taught us that we have to switch hats. If something happens at Ramsey, and this is the first time we’ve all been together since then, people want to discuss it. We ask everybody else if that is okay. Five minutes later, time out, switch hats back. You have to compartmentalize yourself because otherwise, you lose a piece of yourself, or you conflict with it.
A good, strong salesperson doesn’t do eye rolls; that’s a teenager’s reaction to a dad. You don’t get to do that with your boss at work. Learning from others about the roles and the demand for excellence, dignity, and intentionality around those things has been paramount. And then you have to have a track; it must go somewhere.”
The Biggest Lesson Dave Ramsey Learned From Daniel
“In this transition, I would not have had the patience that Daniel’s had. As we’ve worked through all his different positions, he’s had patience with God because God had a plan. If you map out what he’s gone through to get to this, there’s no way we would’ve mapped that out.
We were hands-off enough and said, ‘Okay, God, show us what to do. Show us when he’s ready because we’re not putting him there until he is ready. It’s not fair to him, me, or our customers.’ He’s more than ready. His patience with God and belief that everybody had his best interest at heart were mature beyond anything I would’ve had in the same decade that he did that.”
The Biggest Lesson Daniel Ramsey Learned From Dave
“Looking back on this last season, God’s hand is so evident. My faith has grown so much by looking back and seeing what God’s done and how God has kept me humble and patient. There were many times when I didn’t want more responsibility, but the business necessitated it; A change needed to be made, and I was the right guy for the job. As the years went on, I thank God I was leaning on Him more and embracing the moment more than what was next in those seasons. Overall, I’m just thankful for the Lord and the faith that He built through seeing Him at work.”
About Dave Ramsey
America’s trusted voice on money and business, Dave Ramsey is a personal money-management expert and extremely popular national radio personality. His four New York Times best-selling books –Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership – have sold more than 7 million copies combined. EntreLeadership, his latest best-seller, released in September 2011 and debuted at number one.
In 1992, Ramsey founded The Lampo Group, Inc. to provide financial counseling, through various means, to anyone who wants to better understand the principles of proper money management. Twenty years later, the company has grown from a card table in his living room to more than 350 team members and has been voted one of the Best Places to Work in Nashville six times. He runs a multi-million dollar company with a nationally recognized brand, but he defines success by the number of lives changed through his message of hope.
Ramsey offers that life-changing message as host of a nationally syndicated radio program, “The Dave Ramsey Show,” which is heard by 6 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations throughout the United States. More than 2 million families have attended FPU classes at their workplace, church, military base, local nonprofit organization, community group or Spanish speaking organization.
About Daniel Ramsey
Daniel Ramsey is the Executive Vice President of Ramsey Solutions’ Business and Leadership Spoke. He’s passionate about expanding Ramsey Solutions’ ability to help more people by finding new ways to meet their needs and creating products that meet those needs. As a Ramsey Family Member and a member of the Operating Board, Daniel has greatly impacted many areas of the company with his leadership since he joined the team in 2014.
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