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5 Life Lessons Dave Ramsey Taught Me

Bill Hampton, former Ramsey protégé turned strategist, shares his keys to a successful life


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Paul Spella

While driving a U-Haul from Atlanta to Nashville in the mid-1990s, Bill Hampton, then 24, heard a relatively unknown Dave Ramsey speaking on a local radio station about money. For the first time in his life, Hampton says, he understood what someone was trying to tell him about money management. After parking the truck at his new apartment following the hours-long drive, Hampton rushed to call the radio station to talk to Ramsey while he was still on the air. He was able to reach Ramsey, and that moment changed his life. ​​

As he explained recently in the Chiseled podcast, Hampton took Ramsey’s Financial Peace University class, implemented the lessons and began teaching the program. He traded his concert promotion and music management business for a role in Ramsey’s company. For 13 years, Hampton helped Ramsey Solutions soar, taking it from a $2 million business to a $70 million empire with 500 stations broadcasting Ramsey each week to 4.5 million listeners. Eventually, Hampton found he was no longer content. He sought a new path, driven “to help people get unstuck and truly realize their greatest potential.” Hampton, now 52, shared his story of success, faith and service over Zoom with AARP Experience Counts. Here are his five life lessons.

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1. Take a different path

“One day Dave said, ‘I’d love for you to come over and lead the radio division of my company.’ I said, ‘Dave, I love you. I love what you teach. It has changed my life, but I don’t know how the signal gets from the studio to the car. I have no clue how radio works.’ He said something to me that I’ve never forgotten. He said, ‘That’s exactly why I want you, because if you were a career radio guy, you wouldn’t believe we could accomplish what I’m getting ready to tell you I want to accomplish.’ He was right. If I had been a career radio guy, I would have told him all the reasons why what he wanted to do couldn't be done. He had a different approach. He didn’t want to step in the existing mold. Something in me said, Take a risk, step out and follow your heart on this one. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.”

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2. Follow your passion

“After about 13 years … I lost my passion for what we were doing. I still love the organization and love Dave, but I felt like it was time to move on. I knew that it was time to take another risk. So I got a one-room office in my little hometown of Franklin, Tennessee. I would drive to that office and think about what my next chapter was going to be, [and] I would pass a young couple on the side of the road selling peaches out of the back of a pickup truck. I stopped and talked to the couple one day. I told them I wanted to invest in their business. I took over their company and spent the next 13 weeks with them selling peaches. The year I approached them, they sold $26,000 in peaches. That next year, applying everything I learned with Dave — how to tell a story, how to be authentic, how to make the buying process easy for people — we sold almost $700,000 in peaches.”

3. Serve first

“When I started with Dave Ramsey, I would call radio stations and I would tell them how great Dave was, how great our show was … and why they should put us on their radio station. Nobody was listening to me. [I realized] that they don’t care about how great we are. What they care about is: Can I solve their problems? I needed to learn what problems they had. Once I learned what I needed to promote, I wasn’t promoting Dave. I was promoting the problem that we solved for them; that’s when we really took off.”

4. Go all in on everything in your life

“I love the quote ‘Wherever you are, be all there.’ So when you’re at work, be all in on work, but when you leave it, be all in on family. Dave would walk through our offices at about 6 p.m., and he would kick people out and say, ‘I’m not going to leave a legacy of a great company but broken families. Go home.’ Most people have been sucked into this [belief]: ‘I have to get it done today.’ But it’ll be there tomorrow.”

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5. Seek guidance

“My faith is a huge part of my life. Every day, I ask the Lord to guide me. I ask God for opportunities. I want my creator, who knows exactly what’s going to fire me up, to guide me. It’s so important for people to be able to tap into that foundation — whatever that is for them — to guide them on what their next steps are.”

​To learn more about Bill’s mission to help others live their purpose, check out HamptonStrategies.com.​

​Share your experience: Have you ever taken advice from Dave Ramsey? How did it work out? Let us know in the comments below.​

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