For the longest time, I didn’t really “get” why people loved Dave Ramsey. I knew that Dave had a pretty serious following (due to some interesting comments and emails), but I didn’t understand the passion, even when I was reading and reviewing The Total Money Makeover. I found the book to be quite enthusiastic, but a bit simplistic.
Last night, I was doing some writing when I fired up a Dave Ramsey podcast. It’s a continuation of a habit of mine; if I read a book that intrigued me in any way, I try to find a podcast of the author so I can hear their voice … after that, it’s easy to hear them in my mind when I read more of their writings. I tuned in at that moment mostly because I was just looking for something financial in nature to fill my ears while I worked on a new series of posts (to appear next month … be patient!), but for some reason I kept pausing to listen to Ramsey.
After the hour was over, I followed up on a hunch I had and fired up a podcast by Christian evangelist Joel Osteen. I read his book Your Best Life Now at the recommendation of a friend and, much like my desire to listen to Ramsey, I eventually wanted to actually hear the speaking style of the author.
It turned out that Dave Ramsey and Joel Osteen have a lot in common and it finally occurred to me why Dave is so successful. It boils down to three main points:
He has passion, or at least gives the impression of passion. Regardless of how he treats his listeners, he comes off as being quite passionate about what he’s saying. Of course, anyone who is successful in public speaking needs to be able to at least sound passionate most of the time, but Dave is particularly good at giving off that vibe.
He taps into the innermost desires of people. Rather than sticking with the financial issues, Dave immediately tries to tap into people’s emotional cores to figure out what they really want. He goes right for emotional nerves and you can often hear the pure rawness in the emotions of his callers.
He makes achieving that desire seem painfully easy. Remember how I complained that Dave seemed overly simplistic? Once he’s dug to the center of a caller’s emotional core, he makes solving the caller’s pains incredibly easy. “Just pay cash for everything.” “Live like no one else so you can live like no one else.” These are bromides that seem really, really simple – and if you buy in wholeheartedly, they work.
Joel Osteen and Dave Ramsey have a lot in common because they’re both evangelists. Though Joel evangelizes the Gospel while Dave evangelizes sound financial planning, they’re both incredibly successful at it because they’re both gifted at digging into what people want and making the path to getting there seem easy.
So, is it a good thing? My general feeling is this: anything that gets people on a sound financial and emotional path is a good thing. I might disagree with Dave’s philosophies, but I can state that his plan will work and that it is very simple to follow. If that’s what it takes to break through, then it’s probably worthwhile to listen to Dave Ramsey.