Dave Ramsey: How a sellers’ spirit and right to fail brought the finance guru to the top

‘The Pursuit with John Rich’ welcomes financial guru Dave Ramsey

American finance personality Dave Ramsey discusses his Tennessee upbringing with John Rich.

Personal finance expert Dave Ramsey, best known for his popular radio spot and motivational guidance, was once a Nashville kid with good energy and an entrepreneurial spirit who learned to try and fail and then try again.

Ramsey told "The Pursuit with John Rich" how he first learned about business and entrepreneurship by getting behind a lawnmower at the age of 12. His sellers’ soul turned into vending custom leather keepsakes out of his locker in middle school, where he was almost thrown out under the accusation of dealing drugs.

As Ramsey’s parents instilled in him – reward doesn’t come without hard work. Or as his philosophy goes, "Get up, leave the cave, kill something and drag it home. Nobody’s going to do it for you."

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"Sometimes in the pursuit of it, there are moments where it’s fun and sometimes it’s not fun," he said. "It’s part of the equation… There’s just no substitute for activity and hard work."

But just because the hard work is being put in doesn’t always mean the outcome will be what’s expected.

"You can work hard and still fail," he said. "I’ve done that myself. But this formula of activity is the only possible path to your best possible life."

In 1978, the year Ramsey turned 18, he passed his real estate license to sell his first home in Antioch, Tennessee, only one week later. The young agent continued to work in real estate throughout his four years of college to then begin investing in real estate as a new graduate and a newlywed. 

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By the time Ramsey was 27, buying and selling real estate landed him at a nearly $4 million net worth. But he had "done it stupid."

"I borrowed money on everything," he said. "I was the opposite of who I am now. What I did was I built a house of cards. It was Jenga… And that began two and a half years of hell where we lost everything."

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Ramsey credited finding a relationship with God to getting back on his feet after being advised at a sales conference that getting to know God and learning how to treat people right would lead to long-term success.

"So I came home and told my wife we’re going to church and she said, ‘who are you and what have you done to my husband?’" he laughed. "Because I was a hell-raising, beer-drinking character and she knew that."

"The Ramsey Show" took to radio waves on one Nashville station in 1992 and has expanded today to reach 18 million combined weekly listeners. Ramsey Solutions financial consulting now employs thousands of people and offers endless tools for money management. 

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Ramsey revealed that the three attributes to becoming an active member of the Ramsey team are being hungry, humble and smart. He described humility in business as turning the spotlight on someone else in the presence of success.

Throughout the Nashville kid’s venture to the top, Ramsey expressed that the American right to pursue happiness is "everything."

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"It gives me the right to get up and try and fail because there’s no dignity in success if you haven’t got your knees and your hands skinned from falling," he said. "That right to pursue – it’s an essential freedom for human dignity."

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