EntreLeadership: Performance Series Review (3 day event)

Early this year, I had the privilege of attending Dave Ramsey’s EntreLeadership Performance Series in Nashville, Tennessee. I’ve followed Dave’s financial advice for a while (our family is now debt free except for the house) and recently read the EntreLeadership book which lead me to look for more training from Dave’s team.

They also offer a 1 day and 6 day event. One day seemed to short and the Master Series was on the same week as a family vacation — so the 3 day Performance Series was a good compromise for my needs.

To be completely honest, I was a little apprehensive that it was being taught by Chris Locurto and not Dave Ramsey. That apprehension was quickly resolved on the first day of the event. Chris was excellent (as was the rest of the team and event). If this is a concern, let not your heart be troubled, Chris is an incredible teacher.

If you want to hear from Chris before the event, check out http://chrislocurto.com/ or listen to the EntreLeadership podcast, which he hosts.

The other objection was the cost — the 1 day even is very affordable but the 3 day and 6 day events are a little more expensive due to the more exclusive nature and limited size of the events. I’ve always been a little tight with money, I don’t travel a lot with business and don’t go to a lot of conferences or training unless I think they are really worth it. EntreLeadership was easily worth 3 times what I paid.

Want proof? Last year was our best sales year in 12 years. We just passed last years sales numbers and we’ve still got almost 4 months to go. Much of this is due to ideas I learned at EntreLeadership.

Entrepreneurship runs in my blood. My grandfather owned a restaurant, my uncle owns an insurance business and I started my first business at the age of 8 (selling drinks and snacks from my red wagon at the ball park). I started my current business, Design Extensions, over 13 years ago while still in high school. I’m better than I’ve ever been at running a business, but I have a LOT more to learn. I always want to grow, learn, and improve — EntreLeadership looked like a great fit for my goals.

Here’s the executive summary: If you’re an entrepreneur, a business owner with a team, or a team member wanting to be a leader or grow in your company, this event is a must attend.  Just go!

Originally I had planned to stay with my father outside of Nashville since the event is near there, but opted to stay at the group hotel at the last minute. That was a good call and highly recommended.

Upon arriving at the hotel the first evening, there was a very professional EntreLeadership setup in the lobby with attractive lanyards and a very classy gift basket for all attendees. The gift basket was filled with all types of local treats like RC Cola, a Moon Pie and more — good memories for a southern boy like me. I was feeling at home already.

That evening, they had a social gathering with finger foods, drinks and much of Dave’s team was there for introductions. His team was always very open, available, and easy to talk with. The majority of the teaching team from the week was at this evening event at the hotel including Chris Locurto. I was impressed and it only got better from there.

Each day was packed from dawn to dusk. Their team was ready in the morning and buses were loaded for a short ride from the hotel to the Dave Ramsey conference center (behind their main headquarters.) The facility was very clean, comfortable and professional. They started by providing a very high quality workbook and other materials at our seats including name cards. The lessons began and I was blown away by the content. I’ve read a lot of business books, I’ve been in business a long time, and I couldn’t write fast enough to consume all of the great ideas being shared.

Each day ended with a more casual event including dinner and tours of the local area. Everything was so well planned it showed that Dave’s team leaves no stone unturned.

I remember thinking one night, after an action packed day, “it would be really impressive if they had something waiting in the room as a note or gift focused on tomorrow”. I walked back into my hotel room and there was a book (Question Behind the Question) and a note about the plans for the next day — these guys are that good. Not a huge deal, but shows that they have prepared for every detail.

The number of things that I learned are more than I could write here. Some of the key takeaways for me were the personality profiles and understanding how that affects team members and clients, ideas for hiring, and ideas for profit sharing.

There was plenty of time for one on one interaction with Dave’s team to ask more questions and get specific about problems or ideas without our business. These guys actually walk the walk — they care about people — they want to help others — and it shows.

If you’re in business, thinking about going into business, or a leader at a business — go to EntreLeadership. I’d highly encourage the 3-day Performance Series that I attended in Nashville but the Master Series sounds like an even better idea. They have one coming up soon on Orlando. I already had a family vacation planned for that week or I would be there. I’ll definitely be attending the Master Series in the near future.

If you haven’t already, start off by reading the EntreLeadership book and listening to the excellent Podcast.

The Death of Debt

Debt is a monkey (or boulder) on the back of many American families and our country as a whole. Money is one of the top reasons couples fight and ultimately divorce. I don’t know about you, but I want to kill anything that could be a top reason to create division in my marriage. For that reason, and many others, we decided to fight debt to the death in our family.

If we really want to be free, as a country and as individual families, we’ve got to kill the debt.

The Bible says it best:

“…the borrower is the slave of the lender.” – Proverbs 22:7b

How true is that?

Almost 3 years ago, my wife and I decided to make getting out of debt a top priority. At the time, I had some student loans, we had racked up credit card debt, had a mortgage with a high interest rate, two car loans, and little to nothing in savings. I was making more money than I had ever made, but we were still headed in the wrong direction. The debt and spending were out of control. For the future of our family, something had to change.

We talked about it and agreed we needed to start walking the walk. It’s hard to point the finger at the Federal government’s budget when I was barely balancing my own at the time. I knew what to do, I just wasn’t doing it.

To help catapult us in the right direction, we took a Crown Financial class at a local church but ultimately ended up following Dave Ramsey’s Seven Baby Steps and a combination of other techniques & tools.

We took steps to drop spending wherever it was possible, especially recurring expenses like Satellite TV and eating out. We used the free (and great) mint.com to track our spending. We setup an initial emergency fund by making savings AUTOMATIC.

Setting up an automatic transfer each week out of your checking account and into the savings account (even a small amount) can ad up huge overtime. Don’t let your self decide if you want to put that money in savings that week, make it automatic. This was a huge thing I learned from the Automatic Millionaire.

We’re still working our way through Dave’s steps, but as of this month, we’ve paid off all debt with the exception of the mortgage (which we also got refinanced to a lower rate). We’re now working on growing savings a little more before investing more heavily in our retirement plan.

The freedom from marching away from debt is an incredible one. It takes time, sometimes a lot of it, but if you have a plan and stick to it, it will change your life.

Or goal, Lord willing, is to have our mortgage paid off before the kids graduate from high school.

Start with step 1, save a little weekly to get at least $1000 in an emergency fund. Then start the debt snowball, along with a detailed budget, and you’ll be surprised how fast it all starts to fade away.

You can do it!