Where can you get chocolate-covered strawberries, a double side-hug and a big dose of Solomon’s wisdom all under one roof? If you are at all familiar with E-Mealz, you know that we are all about all things Dave Ramsey. I had to spend a day in Nashville last week for an NBC affiliate interview with one of our (soon to be famous) members, Kimberly Thomas (check our FB this Friday!) Her husband, Chris, just happens to be the Marketing Director for the Lampo Group, which means that we work closely together. Chris has been a champion for E-Mealz from “way back” and even saw the natural synergy potential for E-Mealz with Jon Acuff before Jon ever found cowboy boots at the thrift store for his move to Tennessee. So after the interview, we headed over to the Dave Ramsey Show to see how hard Chris was working at the office.
The first thing you notice when you arrive at the Lampo Group and the Dave Ramsey Show is the beautiful, four story office building. That is because he had to find a space that can accommodate Dave’s 300 employees. That’s right! 300! Then the next thing you encounter is the view into his studio from where he broadcasts his live show every weekday. It is one thing to know that a talk show is airing on your radio station when you can call in live. But it is a terrifying thought that day after day, there are untold opportunities for the show to flub in some way. But that tension is just part of the fire that you feel when you listen to Dave answer with thoughtful and lovingly sarcastic replies to every level of question and concern related to finances and debt you can imagine.
Dave’s live show was being broadcast over speakers into the lobby, and as soon as we walked through the front door, it seemed by the tone in his voice he was frustrated with a caller. When I could see his face through the glass studio barrier to the lobby, I KNEW he was. He was practically pleading with a caller to let him help her family break free from the bondage and brokenness they were experiencing, but she seemed to never connect with the truth and grace he was offering. He reminds me of King Solomon, because he takes the time to listen and discern the underlying issue or real question, because his advice is sound, and because he does it all from a generous spirit. At this point, he doesn’t HAVE to do anything other than “live like no one else.” He could just kick back and reap the rewards from the “gazelle intensity” he applied to building the Lampo Group into the successful enterprise it is today.
Instead, Dave Ramsey keeps preaching his message to the endless streams of struggling Americans. His “Baby Steps” are such a huge practical help to so many people toward financial freedom, and the art on display around the building illustrates the glee with which people shred their credit cards and assemble the pieces into collages for his entertainment. We love that E-Mealz is a perfect fit into any level of Dave’s program, and helps so many of his listeners toward their financial and family goals along the way. And we love that Dave gets E-Mealz… even though he doesn’t cook!
But on to the higher things found at the Dave Ramsey headquarters… cookies! Across the lobby from his studio you smell the aroma of freshly baked yummy-ness and grinding coffee beans. Dave has the most gracious hostess, Martha, managing guests and showering hospitality on all who enter. She makes everyone feel welcomed, special and immediately at home with her sweet smile. We were greeted with gigantic, sweet, fresh strawberries dipped in chocolate! What a rare treat to enjoy on a cold, snowy day!
During our “three hour tour” I enjoyed another rare treat. I scored a DOUBLE side-hug from Jon Acuff! (You may remember the kissing threat.) The only way to explain how funny and surreal the side-hug would be: 1) to tell you that Jon is a little like a Christian Howie Mandell— ie. possessing very defined personal space, 2) to ask you to imagine cut-outs of yourself stacked around your office, or 3) show you a picture — see below. I can’t resist the side-hugging or the numbering when it comes to Jon. And it may get worse because he is going to start something “wicked” (as he says) crazy in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned. The fun is just starting!