On Business Dave Says Leaders are Made

Dave Ramsey
Posted: May 03, 2012 12:01 AM

Dear Dave,

Do you feel that some people are born leaders, or do you have to read and study to become one?


Dear Michael,

I don’t believe anyone is born a leader. I’ve watched all three of my kids being born, and not once did the doctor say, “Congratulations, Dave! You have a little eight-pound, six-ounce leader!” No, I believe people make choices.

I’ve been studying leadership ever since I opened my company about 20 years ago. I was really awful when I first started. I made so many bad, dumb mistakes! But I’m a world-class leader now. I’ve learned how to do this stuff, and its taken thousands and thousands of hours of reading and studying and lots of experiences—both good and bad—to get to this point. It’s also meant having to realize that I don’t know everything and taking time to examine my mistakes and learn from them.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a fabulous book called Outliers. In it, he studied people who are unusually successful. In the process, he discovered that while some people may have a natural predisposition toward some areas, the key was they took the gifts they had and then practiced and studied for thousands of hours to turn their gifts into world-class talents. In other words, these people made choices, and their “talents” were really acquired skills.

This stuff doesn’t just occur. You’re not a born leader any more than you’re a born football player, actor or musician. You may start with a gift, but you have to make a choice to work your tail off if you want to develop that gift to its fullest potential!


Dear Dave,

How do you get a product to market?


Dear Jim,

Well, it depends completely on what the product is you’re talking about. Basically, you first need to determine what your target market is, and decide if there are potential buyers.

Once this is established, I would meet with some of the people or businesses that make up your target market. This is called a focus group. Find out where they would be most likely to buy your product or service, what type of advertising would attract their attention, and what distribution method would work best.

Your focus group can tell you a lot about the best ways to position your business!


Dear Dave,

I run a small, family catering business. We make everything from scratch, and we specialize in corporate events. Our problem is that the cost of eggs, butter and flour has more than doubled recently, and some of our best customers are having trouble with the increased price. How can I make them understand that we’re not just padding our own pockets?


Dear Grace,

It takes money to keep the sweet rolls sweet, doesn’t it?

If I were you, I’d show them your invoices and let them see for themselves what you paid for eggs and other ingredients a few months ago, and what it costs now. The key is to give them a “why” along with a “what.” Both you and your competitors are being affected by the increase in prices, Grace. Some of the bigger companies may be able to eat the increase for a little while longer, but they’re using the same stuff you are, and eventually it’s going to come home to roost for everybody.

In situations like these a price increase is almost always handed down to the consumer.


* Dave Ramsey is America’s most trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5,000,000 listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at daveramsey.com.