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We Must Embrace Dave Ramsey as an Expert
By Rodney Ballance, Jr.

Did you know that Dave Ramsey is actually the third highest rated talk radio host in America? He has a listening audience of over 2 million people. His message is well received in the Christian community, and churches pay him millions of dollars every year to share his financial ignorance to the masses.

No matter what we think of this guy’s advice, people love him! For years I tried going head to head with him in churches and through radio and television, telling people how wrong he is. I even went toe to toe with other members of the academic community who fall victim to the one size fits all message. Colleges and churches are so focused on this guy’s message of being debt free they can’t see the reality beyond it.

Here is the reason for the title of this article, and why we must embrace Dave Ramsey, if we are to ever get our message of true financial literacy out to the people who need it. What I’ve noticed, when dealing with Ramsey’s loyal followers, is that they are oblivious to any true financial understanding. They simply hear the “debt free” message, and feel that is the brass ring.

Since so many people are buried in debt these days, and have no real education on how they got there, or how to get out they grasp at anything that sounds practical. This is where I have actually given Ramsey high marks in my books and in speeches. He does a good job with helping people in low income jobs and the uneducated cut their expenses, and live within their means.

Even though we all know that debt can be the greatest wealth generator (i.e. Using other people’s money) we must also keep in mind that this is the type of information, when placed in the wrong hands could be harmful. If we give someone with no self-discipline the idea of how to use debt for good, they could use it the same way politicians do. They could see it as an open ended credit card, and eventually realize financially devastating results.

Accurate financial information is like fire. It can be used to create a comfortable environment for us, or it can be used to burn down the house. If used improperly or without proper guidance from an expert introducing some people to concepts like “Financial Leadership” could be worse than not knowing at all.

Now you’re asking, why should we embrace Dave Ramsey as an expert, and on what authority? I’m glad you asked. I’ve learned that if we approach one of his cult like followers with a message of how wrong he is about financial topics, we are hit with a brick wall and basically shut down from further dialogue.

If, on the other hand, we agree with these people and acknowledge the great work Ramsey has done in the field of financial education, we are accepted as a supporter. These people now find common ground with you. Now you can slowly begin to introduce new thoughts to them beyond the basic debt free message.

Think about it, are you more likely to listen to someone with whom you have common ground and agree with on a certain topic, or shut them off and not listen to them at all? That’s what I’m talking about here. We all recognize that Ramsey has no clue about anything beyond telling people to sell everything and live on rice and beans until they save enough money to do what he wants them to do.

When we think about it though, don’t we want people to have access to some money when they come to us? Don’t we want people to visit our offices because they realize there might be more to life than just being debt free? Don’t we want to be viewed as a trusted source for financial fact, and not dismissed as an angry insurance agent with an axe to grind?

You’ve all read my articles on this subject before. You know I can’t stand the uninformed and ridiculous message regurgitated by this arrogant radio guy. What we must agree on though, if we truly want people to move beyond that “buy term and invest the rest” mentality, is that we care enough about those people to try to understand them.

If we emotionally connect with the people where they are in their life, we can help guide them to where they eventually want to go. If we try to tell them how wrong they are to follow someone they love, we will only drive them further away, and never get a chance to help them have that ah ha moment for themselves.

If you want more information on this subject or about IFLA, an organization dedicated to helping you accomplish all your business goals just visit our website You can also give me a call toll free 888-779-8972. I’m here to help you beat the bad information, but in a way people are most likely to appreciate and want to follow.


“Acting on a good idea is better than just having a good idea.”
Robert Half

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Part 2

Do you have projects that fail?

Of course I do. My work is one project after another. I tried to visit Sir Arthur C. Clark in Sri Lanka for an interview. I was in the great man’s office but he was unable to get a flight to his home in time for our meeting. I had a similar experience with the great management guru Peter F. Drucker. Once I was scheduled to interview comedian Jerry Lewis but he was too ill to meet with me at the scheduled time. What a gentleman! He paid my hotel bill. Rod Steiger, the academy award winning actor, promised me repeatedly that we would do a book on his life, career, and thoughts about acting, but we both stayed busy and never started that project. Of course there were many other occasions when, for one reason or another, I failed to complete projects. Success, like boxing, dictates that we remain flexible and adjust accordingly so that our wins outnumber our defeats.

What mistakes do you see agents and planners make when they use your guide to promote themselves?

They get a big positive media exposure and they are very proud and pleased. They merchandise and exploit this skillfully. They bask in the recognition, enjoy the attention that results, and feel so satisfied that they wait too long before executing their next image-building project. They should have at least two projects a month, every month. They should not wait four or six months before making their next image-enhancing effort.

Can agents and planners be sufficiently creative – to build their own images?

Yes, but they depend on me too much for usable ideas. They stick with the five hundred-plus ideas in my course and tend to ignore the unique and original opportunities right before them. I’m not there so I am not aware of these. They should recognize publicity opportunities and take advantage of them. Only they know best why they are unique, special, and even precious. They must communicate this.

Suppose their dog wins a championship, or a small aircraft crashes in their backyard and they rescue the pilot. Whatever! They can have great media exposure opportunities right in their face yet never see them. The president of a piano company, now bankrupt, once told me, “We never had one big publicity opportunity to promote - not in the entire history of our company.” On the wall behind the company president was a picture of Abraham Lincoln playing one of that company’s pianos. Of course this guy inherited his position from his father.

What do you think when you meet an agent or planner for the first time?

After I listen to most agents or planners I am envious of them because I know they can earn tons of money and help lots of folks.

What do you think is the greatest hope for future advisors?

Our youth will never accept the prevailing models in Wall Street, medicine, old folk’s homes, banking, and so-on. Existing corruption and exploitation runs rampant and obvious in the USA today. Agents and planners are unfairly blamed for the self-serving on Wall Street. More-and-more planners and agents will help citizens better protect themselves and help bring transparency and accountability to our economic process.

“You can cut a greater figure. But only if you start?”
Forrest Wallace Cato

Most likely you have interviewed and known more of the world’s great sales super-stars than any other person in history. What do the greatest sales achievers of this era all have in common?

My dream job was to visit one world sales leader a month and learn all I could from that person. I became friends with most of them and we began life-long relationships. I strove to earn their trust and win a spot in their hearts. I learned what they liked to eat, their hobbies, how they relaxed, what they read, what books were in their library, and if they often shined their own shoes (They do!). I traveled with them. Our families went to restaurants, movies, and concerts together.

I paid attention and learned much. I always remembered that I was in the presence of one of the world’s most successful sales super achievers. A few people I visited were fakes, not true sales masters at all, but guys who wanted to position themselves as sales stars to get speaking gigs, sell their financial software, get a job at an association, or get training sessions. The fakes were more interested in other objectives than in selling insurance or related investments.

Each of the greatest sales stars always looked immaculate with neatly styled hair, shined shoes, perfect fitting suits, carefully coordinated jewelry, shirt and tie. Gradually I noticed that each was sophisticated and cultured. Each was interested in some aspect(s) of history. Each was well-read. Always they wore knee-length socks. Each was active and skilled in self-promotion and maintained their desired image All were well-rounded. Their success at selling enabled them to live fulfilling, engaging, and successful lives.

Every one of them had their favorite writers. All were interested in good health habits. (Mehdi Fakharzadeh has more good health tips than anyone on this planet.) They had their favorite music. (You should see Lew Nason’s varied music collection.) Each had a sense of fashion and style. Each had interesting personal collections, enjoyed people, and sincerely cared about others. All of them had many personal friends. They loved their families and clients. When I went with them on sales calls I could tell that new prospects knew they were respected, and established clients knew they were valued, appreciated, and cared about. There was affection there. The highest ranking sales champions are not just sales people.

None of the great sales talents were limited to sales knowledge only. They were all outstanding conversationalist and wonderful to talk with. They were relaxed. They put you at ease. Each had a countenance that was comforting plus unassuming. They enjoyed their work. Each also enjoyed active and well-rounded lives, even in retirement. You would equally have enjoyed a backyard barbecue or touring the British Museum with any of them. You would be delighted if one of the sales super achievers sat next to you on an airline. They would enjoy being with you. They would sense your worth and value you. They would ask for your thoughts, opinions, and ideas. They were always seeking new ideas on how to sell more, better, or with improved efficiency. They always looked for new ideas on how to promote their image. They considered one (image) necessary for the other (sales).

They also all had a gift for making others feel valuable and appreciated. Possibly I should have mentioned this quality first.

Do the old sales rules still apply?

If you mean rules like “plan your work and work your plan,” or “isolate the objection and cover it,” then I believe they are timeless and still effective. But, with the computer age plus new tools and new products for harder economic times come many new rules and new sales techniques of the sort taught by the Insurance Pro Shop®.

What mistakes do you make?

I make the same mistakes that I fuss at my beloved agents and planners for making. These include but are not limited to:

  • Resting on past laurels.

  • Not recognizing a photo opportunity.

  • Forgetting to wear shined shoes.

  • Making quick and incorrect assumptions.

  • Not being sufficiently persistent.

It is these little mistakes that cost us so highly.

What recent changes are noticeable in celebrity image communications?

We used to ‘push’ facts at targets and they could filter that or not. Now we ‘pull.’ Everyone has an iPhone or a Smartphone. Now targets can filter all content and ‘pull’ what is relevant for them. We’ve gone from sending news releases and hoping some media will use them -- to knowing where our targets are pulling their info from and being there. It’s more about what targets want, than what I want or hope my targets want. Today websites are interactive to deliver more details. You do not want un-relevant sites ahead of you in Google results. Relevancy is your key.

Can anyone and everyone become famous in their market area?

No. Some professionals do not ‘see’ the connection between ‘fame’ and ‘super selling.’ They lack the specific intelligence, the courage to try, or the will to act. Competency is needed to execute and manage an image building program and if they don’t understand this then they are not going to do this. Their competition will do this and ‘clean their clock’ in the same market place.


Forrest Wallace Cato arranges for insurance agents and financial planner (like you) to serve on the boards of corporations, foundations, charities, and other organizations. He is former Editor-In-Chief of Trusts & Estates: The Journal of Wealth Management and Financial Planning magazine. He is International Editor of Advisor magazine in China. His column is carried in The White House Connection. Cato is a senior fellow in Financial Planning Media Advocacy at the Al-Habtoor School of Business in Dubai (United Arab Emirate).

Cato is an award-winning author, editor, op-ed writer, critic, essayist, speaker, biographer, speech writer, and financial sales researcher. Cato wrote the Introduction to the classic book How To Sell Your Way Through Life by Napoleon Hill. This is one of the best-selling books in history. Hill wrote the all-time best-selling motivational volume, Think And Grow Rich. In total, Hill has sold 161-million books world-wide.

Howard Penn Hudson, Publisher of Public Relations Quarterly reported to PR professionals, “Cato is the ultimate media insider for financial advisors. Steven Spielberg gave Wally an “Indiana Jones” hat.” Cato works for agents and planners, helping them create, establish, and maintain their desired images as the leaders in their market areas.

Cato is credentialed as a recognized member of the national media, authorized to use the press facilities for covering the U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate, and White House in Washington, D.C. He has interviewed five Presidents of the United States.

Forrest Wallace Cato - Pubisist To The Financial Services Industry

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Put Referrals on Your Agenda
By Sandy Schussel

Paul, an advisor in the Midwest, expressed frustration with his efforts to grow his practice through referrals.

“I ask them about people they know who could use my help,” he told us, “but it feels awkward, and then my clients get all awkward and put me off.”

“Who gets awkward first?” I asked him.

“Well, I guess I do,” was his response, “but it’s because I know that they’re going to be uncomfortable.”

“Did it occur to you that maybe they get uncomfortable because you’re awkward, and your discomfort actually triggers theirs?” I asked.

“I never considered that,” he admitted.

I then went through the steps Paul could use to take the discomfort out of the act of asking for referrals:

  • Start your client meeting with an agenda. Include a discussion about friends, associates, and family members as the last agenda item. Don’t surprise clients with a sudden request to talk about this important subject at the end of an appointment. If they are going to be uncomfortable with this agenda item, let them tell you right at the beginning and spend a few minutes discussing why this discussion would make them uncomfortable.

  • What you say could sound something like this: The last thing I’d like to talk about this evening is some of the people you care about most who probably should be sitting down with me to do this. I only have a couple of openings in my schedule, and I’d much rather be working with someone you want me to see than someone whose name I took off a list somewhere. We’ll talk about some of the people you come up with, and, if we think it makes sense, we’ll figure out the most comfortable way to arrange an introduction...

  • Always ask about the value you’ve given them - either on that particular appointment or in your professional relationship with them over time. Ask them what they got out of your meeting, what they learned, and what they get out the relationship with you. After they respond to your general question in this regard, ask them to tell you something specific that they found particularly helpful. Then utter the magic question, “What else?” Keep getting feedback until they can’t think of anything else and then direct them to the ideas that you wanted them to find helpful and ask if they did. Did you find our discussion about protecting your family helpful? Was there one specific idea that you found particularly useful? What else? What else? How about when I explained...

  • Now, you can ask them about people they know who could be helped in the same way. Remind them that this was one of your agenda items and ask who came to mind. Mary, I’m glad you found the work we did here today so helpful. The last thing I promised you we’d do this evening is to discuss some of the people you care about, who might benefit from doing the same thing, and decide whether it would make sense to arrange an introduction and how we would go about that. Who is the first person who came to mind?

“Speak with confidence,” I told the group. If you don’t feel confident, act as if you do. Paul admitted that part of his problem was that he had not practiced being firm, clear and self-assured when he brought the subject of referrals up.

If you want to attract more clients, put talking about people your clients care about on your appointment agenda.


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“The common denominator of success --- the secret of success of every man who has ever been successful --- lies in the fact that he formed the habit of doing things that failures don't like to do.”
Albert Gray

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"Lew, I recently purchased your Advanced Fact-Finding Video... I have been on two interviews
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and questioning process to find out what their needs/concerns were before they were asked to buy
anything. In both cases the customer actually told me what they were going to buy... By the way,
I am going to recommend that you contact Allstate's Financial Specialist Manger, so you can help
them with their sales efforts. They have spent a ton of money on similar programs, but in my
humble opinion, what you offer is much better. Feel free to drop my name.
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