Connecting with Bill Sobel

What does Seth Godin — who writes the most popular marketing blog in the world — have in common with Dave Ramsey — financial author, radio host, TV personality and motivational speaker? They're two of the three co-hosts of Business Gets Personal, an event this week in New York City.

On Thursday, Ramsey, Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of Wine Library TV — a daily video blog about wine — will host Business Gets Personal at Lincoln Center in Manhattan. It will offer keynotes, panels and networking opportunities. The subtitle of the event: People, Passion and Perspiration.

Budget, Beat Debt and Get Ahead

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In 1992, Ramsey founded The Lampo Group to provide financial counseling to businesses and individuals who wants to better understand the principles of money management. More than 20 years later, the company has grown from a card table in his living room to more than 400 team members.

He runs a multi-million dollar company with a nationally recognized brand, but he defines success by the number of lives he said he changed through his message of hope.

Along the way, he also wrote five New York Times best-selling books. Ramsey recently made time to sit down with us to talk about his life, his lessons and making business personal.

Sobel: You say you successfully built a $4 million dollar real estate portfolio by age 26, only to lose it all within four years. It’s quite a story. Can you share it with us?

Ramsey: To make a long story short, we did "have it all” at that point. But all of our success was held up by short-term loans that, when one bank got sold to another bank, were called up all at once. We lost everything. But we eventually figured out a plan to pull ourselves out of the hole, and that plan ultimately became the grounds for opening up our financial counseling business. Then that small operation turned into a company that now has multiple business units all created for helping people in all areas of life.

Sobel: I’ve had a chance to look over your book “EntreLeadership.” I was curious about the title, as well as your program for raising new leaders, essentially a class you started this is a playbook on the way you do business. Can you share the inspiration?

Ramsey:The term EntreLeader comes from a combination of the words “Entrepreneur” and “Leadership” because we believe that to successfully run a business, you must be able to possess the character traits that go along with both of those terms. EntreLeadership is literally a playbook of how we run and operate our business. Over the more than 20 years we’ve been running our company, we have made mistakes, learned a lot and grown like crazy.

EntreLeadership was created to be able to help others run a business and have a great time doing it.

Sobel: One of the chapters in EntreLeadership that I found most interesting was “Spineless Leader.” Specifically, “A leader who won’t or can’t make decisions is never going to succeed and certainly will never become a full-fledged EntreLeader ... leadership is not for the weak and the timid. It requires tremendous backbone, and tremendous strength." Can you talk a bit about that?

Ramsey:There are a lot of things that keep people from becoming the leader they can be. Either they let fear distract them or they allow criticism to crowd their thoughts. Neither of these help business owners make decisions that must be made.

Sobel: One of the articles you recently posted on the EntreLeaders site is “4 Ways to Protect Your Company's Good Name.” In it, you say one of your greatest assets is your reputation. It’s the best way to gain new customers and keep your regulars coming back. How do you protect your good name and what if a complaint or concern is legitimate? Can you share your thoughts?

Ramsey: The best way to protect your business is by hiring people who understand your mission. When you have a group of passionate, fired up people that are on the same team, that passion will come out in the way that they treat customers. Mistakes can happen, though, and when they do, it’s best to extend a little grace to your team, recognize the mistake and fix it immediately.

Sobel: Tell me more about Business Gets Personal, the event you are hosting with Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk.

Ramsey:Business Gets Personal is going to be such a cool day! Seth, Gary and myself are going to be sharing business wisdom that we’ve all learned first-hand. They are some of the most gifted marketers in the business, and we’re looking forward to sharing that stage with them. I’m going to be talking about how to care for people, both on your team and the customers you serve.

Sobel: Our readers are looking for new ways of doing business, and your strategies go straight to the heart. Any final thoughts to share?

Ramsey:I always go back to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s a simple principle but applies so well to running a business. When you practice the Golden Rule, your team will feel appreciated and your customers will be taken care of, too.