5 Things I Learned About Dave Ramsey (and a BIG announcement)
If you had been following me for a while, then you know that I’ve been taking time off from podcasting since last year. That decision was based on the belief that my warnings weren’t reaching people even though they needed to be heard more than ever. Although I needed to focus on my family and a full-time job, completely stepping out of the financial commentary game wasn’t the answer for me. So I turned back to an early influencer of my life and my interest in personal finance, looking for inspiration.
Anyone who's ever spent two minutes researching the personal finance space is certainly familiar with one name—Dave Ramsey. With the third most listened to radio show in the country and a Google/YouTube presence that any aspiring financial pundit would envy, Dave has cemented his place as America’s voice of common financial sense.
I discovered Dave during the 2008 financial crisis when he had a show on the Fox Business network. His folksy way of answering money questions, along with his rants on stupid decisions, instantly got me hooked. My newly married wife and I soon read his book, The Total Money Makeover, and we were debt-free about a year later.
In the years that followed, I had a mixed attitude towards Dave. He built a tremendous company that now employs nearly 1,000 people in Franklin, Tennessee, and he has probably helped more people with money problems than any man in history. But I’d often ask myself questions like, “Why doesn’t he ever mention the Fed? What does he have against gold? How come he never brings up phony interest rates?”
These were questions that plagued me for years. After ending my podcast, Kennedy Financial, I took some time to figure out how Dave has become incredibly successful. I was so compelled to learn about his success; I recently completed his Financial Coach Master Training. Here are the top 5 things I learned about Dave Ramsey and his team:
#1-Dave is an optimist. I think one of the reasons you will never hear Dave discuss the Fed (or any macroeconomic issues for that matter) is because ordinary people can’t control those things. His total focus is on what people CAN control, which is their behavior and spending habits. He admits that there are forces out there working against us, but he refuses to accept the notion that people are powerless to fix their personal situations.
#2- Dave’s plan isn’t a microwave but rather a crockpot. You may remember that I’m a huge Bitcoin bull (and I’ve enjoyed the massive gains since last year), but even I wouldn’t let my Mom speculate in such a volatile market with her hard-earned retirement money. Dave’s plan focuses on what works for the most people, most of the time, so it’s not surprising that he doesn’t endorse a brand new asset class with only a 12-year track record. With millions of faithful listeners tuning in to his radio show, he is responsible for teaching people how to build wealth slowly over time.
#3-Dave keeps things simple on purpose. He’s trying to reach people who are stressed out from debt and money problems, so they’re not going to follow a 37-page plan that looks like a finance professor wrote it. These folks need something they can stick to retire with dignity eventually. Sure, 40-years later, they may discover they could have “done better” in the markets, but that doesn’t factor in the possibility that a complicated plan may have caused them to do nothing at all.
#4-Dave is surrounded by talented people. Many people are familiar with his Financial Peace University (FPU), and you may have attended the class through your church. But he’s not the only capable person on the Ramsey Show. In fact, he’s strategically adding personalities who complement his 30-year message. If you have listened to his show recently, then you’ve heard folks like Ken Coleman discuss careers, Dr. John Delony and Christy Wright cover relationships, and Anthony O’Neal advise on student loans. Dave is wise enough to pass the torch so his legacy will live on.
#5-Dave is a marketing genius yet humble. When I would hear people do their “Debt-Free Scream” on his radio show, I just thought it was a nice tradition. But I now realize that this is one of the most brilliant tactics he has employed to grow his business. When listeners hear someone paid off a huge debt with a normal income, it gives them hope that they can do it too. These testimonials have probably caused millions more to sign up for an FPU class. Despite his massive success, Dave surrounds himself with brilliant thought leaders like Donald Miller, Henry Cloud, and John Maxwell. Even though Dave has earned tremendous success, he still has the humility to accept criticism from people who may know more.
So what’s the big announcement? While I was taking Dave’s course, I decided that I’m going to start podcasting again, but it’s going to be different this time. I won’t host guests, and I’ll rarely mention gold, Bitcoin, capitalism, and Austrian economics (but I still believe in those things). My new podcast will be called The Phil Kennedy Show. The show is going to focus on real solutions that help normal people win with money. I’ll take calls, offer coaching tips and inject hope during the uncertain times ahead. Stay tuned!