The Dark Side Of Helping People

This post is part of a new series called “Shock the Status Quo.”

A couple of weeks ago I finished up leading Financial Peace University for the third time.

As I was saying goodbye to everyone, one class member, I could tell, was waiting on everyone else to leave.

Part of my awesome Air Force team.

Part of my awesome Air Force team.

As soon as the last person left, I looked at her, and she burst into tears.

She stood there, struggling to find words and wiping away tears on her face. After a few seconds, she said, “This has been life changing.”

That moment is why MaryBeth and I lead this class and always will.

The mission

One of the great joys in my life is teaching and coaching people.

Seeing someone take something I’ve taught them and go change their life is simply amazing and warming.

Be it coaching a small business entrepreneur on marketing, teaching one of my outstanding Airmen something, or helping people learn to handle money well, anytime I’m teaching, I’m happy.

But there’s a great irony in being someone who’s personal mission statement is “to advance others through personal-growth education.”

That irony would be me, and I suspect you may be able to relate.

Isn’t it ironic? (Thanks, Alanis.)

Other than being flawed, I don’t know where this comes from. That “this” is frustration and talking negatively about the very people I’m trying to help.

Perhaps you’ve done it, too.

In the same moment you go from being high on life about showing someone something powerful to complaining about why they aren’t acting on it.

There’s no other way to put it. It’s ego run amok. It’s arrogant. And it undercuts our ability to help people.

A couple cuts up a credit card in Financial Peace University. Awesome moment.

A couple cuts up a credit card in Financial Peace University. Awesome moment.

And if this is you, I encourage you to join me to shock this from our status quo.

The focus

Complaining about someone in need not acting on advice is nothing more than selfishness, and a waste of time.

In my experience, it erodes our ability to help because it causes us to view people as weak or inferior or incapable. Not exactly what people in need want so-called helpers to view them as.

The truth of the matter is we, the helpers, are the weak ones when we lose sight of what we’re trying to do and who we’re trying to help.

At the end of the day, I guess we get frustrated, at least partially, because we’re confident that what we’re sharing will help, and we want people to act.

So, therefore, its well-intentioned, right? It’s all good then, right?

Wrong.

Let’s shock negative speak from the status quo and get on with the business of helping and advancing lives.

Question: Have you experienced negative speak undercutting helping a person or situation? Share below.

How I Nearly Didn’t Get Married

This post is part of a new series called “Shock the Status Quo.”

When MaryBeth and I recently moved into a new place, we were unpacking the kitchen and it hit us. There’s no microwave!

Our knee-jerk response was, “Well, we’re going to have to buy one.”

Because we’ve used a microwave for so long, we couldn’t, in that moment, conceive of not having one. I mean how would we heat water or syrup or tortillas or anything?

A month has passed and we never bought a microwave.

‘I’ll always have a car payment’

It’s funny how we get caught up in one way of doing things and we can’t see alternatives.

Before my wife and I were married, I was terrible with money. I lived check to check and didn’t save anything. And I said things like, “I’ll always have a car payment.”

And that was logical to me then because I was living with a $425 monthly payment on a BMW I had no business buying, and I couldn’t see a way out. I couldn’t see an alternative.

Get mad!

But then one day I got mad. I got mad because I knew I was making good money but had nothing to show for it. And I was tired of the stress.

There I was standing in MaryBeth’s kitchen one day all fired up and upset, and she loved every second of it.

Why?

Hope.

You see before I finally got mad enough to change my situation and act on it, she knew she could never marry me.

MaryBeth was one of “those people.” She was a “Dave Ramsey” follower. Gasp!

And she wasn’t just a follower, she worked for him at the time, had paid off close to $60,000 in debt, and she wasn’t about to get herself married to someone like me….then.

I went on to pay off 18 months of car payments in 5 months time, and I never looked back.

And if I hadn’t shocked the status quo, my life would be drastically different, and this picture would not exist.

Wedding picture

Or this one.

MB and Josiah

Or this one.

Christmas 2012

Shock your financial status quo. Change your life.

Question: How has changing the way you handle money improved your life? Share below!

A Broke Illusionist. That Was Me.

When I became debt free, life changed, and I felt free for the first time since I was teenager.

That was, of course, when I started making money and subsequently spending it like crazy.  Although I was raised to spend less than I made, I was undisciplined and did the exact opposite.

The older I got, the more money I made, and the more money I spent.  When I was 18, it was clothing and going out.

By the time I was in my mid-twenties, it was a BMW.

Like most people, I kept growing into my salary.  And the only thing that separated me from someone living in poverty was one pay check.

You see, with one pay check you can pay your bills and put just enough on credit to delay payment of other stuff by a few weeks.  You can have a nice apartment, a luxury automobile and nice clothing as long as that pay check keeps coming.

You can create the illusion of success and prosperity, living check to check.

But savings?  Can’t do it.  Investing for retirement?  Nope.  Building an emergency fund?  Not a chance.

And as soon as a crisis hits or that check stops coming, your position in life immediately changes.  The risk you’ve lived with every day catches up with you.

When the padding separating you from risk is as thick as a tissue, it doesn’t take long for it to be in your face and into your wallet.

This was me, and I was only getting worse.  Because I kept making more money, my mistakes simply got bigger and more grand. I was on the verge of experiencing some serious financial pain.

Thankfully, I avoided it because God intervened and gave me my wife.  Today, we are debt free and we’re teaching others how to get out of debt, stay out of debt and build wealth.

I pray to God I never go back to way I used to be.  Broke.  Stressed out.  Living on the edge.  An illusion maker.

Sitting in our apartment complex garage right now is that BMW.  Every time I see it, I’m reminded of what once was.

Question:  Do you have a get-out-of-debt story? Share it here.

One Season Ends, Another Begins

On Monday night Alabama beat LSU to win the college football national championship, finishing the season with a 12-1 record. Years of sacrifice, effort, failure and success culminated in sweet victory for the Crimson Tide.  It was a night those players will never forget. It was night dreams came true.

During the game, MaryBeth, myself, and 5 others sat around the TV.  We talked.  Laughed.  Told stories.  It was a night to be remembered for sure.

For the majority of Alabama seniors though, it was the night they played their last football game.

Of course a few players will go on to play professionally.  A few may go on to coach.  But for most, Monday night was it.  Forever. But what a way to go out with thousands of your fans crowded around TVs and in stadium seats cheering for you to succeed.  To win.

Meanwhile

Soon after taking my seat on the bus to work yesterday at 7:05 a.m., I took my phone out of my jacket pocket.  I selected the internet app and went to espn.com.

“…21-0…”  “Alabama wins…”  That was when I learned the outcome of the game.  I hadn’t even seen a play the night before.

Monday night MaryBeth and I were in fact with 5 people.  We were surrounding a TV.  We even rooted and cheered.  But the game ensuing at the same time wasn’t even a thought.

While the Crimson Tide were on their way to a championship, we were kicking off Financial Peace University, a 13-week course that teaches people how to beat debt and build wealth.  We were with 5 people who were beginning their own 13-week season on their way to changing their position in life for the better.

Monday night was the beginning of what will hopefully be a championship life for our new friends.  And there’s nowhere else I would’ve rather been.

I hope you’ll cheer them on.

Insulate Yourself From Life Crises. Be Weird.

Before I was even old enough to get a learner’s permit, my dad let me drive his truck on part of the acreage we lived on.

For me, it was just pure fun.  For my parents though, it was all about helping me learn to operate a powerful machine long before I ever tried to with other drivers on the road.

It’s interesting how we spend an enormous amount of time doing things like learning to operate an automobile safely and having a home well-inspected before we enter a mortgage.  We’re intentional about things like this because we’re trying to decrease risk and insulate ourselves from crises.

So why don’t we practice this with our finances?  Why aren’t we as intentional about our marriages?  Why don’t we go to these lengths with our lives?  All things that carry much greater risk if they go wrong.

Normal is broke.  Most marriages end in divorce.  People work too much in jobs they hate, covet other people’s lives, and lack purpose.

As pastor Craig Groeschel says, normal isn’t working.  It’s time get weird.

Part of being weird in today’s increasingly secular, fast-paced society is to strengthen your relationship with God.  If you’ve never known God, find him.  Say a prayer.  Read a few Bible verses.  He’s been waiting on you so finding him won’t be difficult.

If you do know God, work on strengthening your relationship with him.  Let him in more.  Pray more often.  Take your anger, fear, joys and concerns to him with regularity not just on Sunday morning.  Give more of yourself to him.

Next, start taking steps to insulate yourself from crises.

Get Your Money Right

If you’re struggling with debt, which millions of people are, get help.  As a huge Dave Ramsey fan, I recommend enrolling in Financial Peace University.  Classes are starting all over the U.S. right now.  If you commit yourself to the 13-week course, you won’t just learn how to beat debt and build wealth, you will change your life and your family tree…forever.  This is a promise.

If for whatever reason you can’t do the course right now, but want help, contact me at joel@bluebridgecomm.com.  I’m not joking. MaryBeth and I are debt free because we learned how not to be, got out debt and are building wealth for the future.  And, get this.

We do everything we want in life like go out to eat at really nice places, travel overseas, shop and most importantly, give.  Financial discipline provides freedom, not the other the way around.

Work On Your Marriage

Marriage takes work.  We’ve all heard it.  Why then aren’t more of us doing it?  Guys, if you’d rather not be lumped into the 65% of men who commit adultery, work on your marriage.  Work less at work and more at home. Ladies, if you want to avoid being in the 55% of women who commit adultery, do the same.

Attend a marriage seminar every year.  Read a marriage book together and dedicate time every week to discuss the material. Schedule a weekly, or at a minimum, monthly date night.  Do not break the date!  And when you’re on the date, do not check your email, Facebook or Twitter feed.  I had to learn the hard way on this one.  Let my stupidity benefit you.

Treat your marriage like a job.  Be intentional about it.  It won’t grow itself just because it’s a gift from God.

Goal Set

Goal setting is not just for work.  It’s how we happen to life rather than life happening to us.  Goals are action steps toward living a full, rewarding life.  If you’re new to my blog, read this post on how to set goals.  There are right and wrong ways to do this.

While I could go on and on about how to be weird with more parts of your life, I chose money, marriage  and goal setting for a reason.  We’re all incredibly vulnerable in these areas because the minute we don’t respect them, we lose.

Money is an inanimate object. It does nothing, but remarkably we can make it do some of the most amazingly stupid things.  I swear we’re all magicians at times.  There’s a reason stress from money fights is the leading cause of divorce in the U.S.  But it doesn’t have to be.

Marriage is a sacred covenant given to us from God.  Choosing the football game over quality time with your spouse is not a tactic for honoring it.  Working 12 to 14-hour days every week followed by dinner in front of the TV every night is not how you get closer to your spouse.  Before too long, you both will have grown apart because one or neither of you did the work to stay close.

Putting life on cruise control, accepting the status quo and living completely unbalanced is a recipe for burnout, depression or at a minimum unhappiness.  Figure out why God put you here, and activate that purpose with well-defined goals.

So much of the time crises in these areas are totally self-inflicted.  We unknowingly work toward them until it’s too late.  Instead, let’s learn from millions of others’ mistakes and misfortune and take the necessary steps to help insulate ourselves from pain and suffering.  Let’s make 2012 the year we get weird.

Question:  How are you living a weird life?

Craig Groeschel is the founding and senior pastor of LifeChurch.tv. Meeting in multiple locations around the United States, and globally at Church Online, LifeChurch.tv is known for the innovative use of technology to spread the Gospel.  His book, Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working, can be purchased on Amazon.com.

Doing PR for Dave Ramsey

Okay, fine.  I have a man crush on Dave Ramsey, and yes my wife is cool with it. She actually worked closely with him for six years, but I’m not bitter.

If you’ve not heard of Dave, he’s a major radio personality with 4.5 million listeners weekly, the creator of Financial Peace University, and the author of three New York Times best-selling books, Financial Peace Revisited, More Than Enough and The Total Money Makeover, which have sold more than 6 million copies combined.  He’s also about to launch a new book, EntreLeadership.

Beth Tallent

If he was Ron Burgundy and someone didn’t know him, he’d say, “I’m kind of a big deal.”  Well, actually, Dave would never say that, but the truth is he is a big deal to me and millions of people who are or have been in debt or others who simply want to manage their money better. Proudly, thanks to Dave’s inspiration and teachings, my wife and I are debt free and on the road to financial peace. And it’s a beautiful thing.

I’ve often wondered what’s it like to do PR for Dave.  To me, he, his team and their mission are incredibly newsworthy, especially today when “debt” is such a major topic of conversation in the U.S.  That said, how do they decide what PR opportunities to take?  What’s challenging about being Dave’s PR lead? As the company has grown and Dave’s celebrity has exploded, how has the job changed?

Well, I got answers to all of these questions and more recently when I corresponded with Dave’s VP of PR, Beth Tallent.  Turns out, Beth’s answers serve as great insight and counsel to anyone who does PR for a CEO or well-known personality.

1. As the VP of PR for a very newsworthy personality and brand, how do you decide what PR opportunities to take and not take?

We’re in the business of helping people. So when we look at a media opportunity Dave has to be able to give a tip or present facts that the consumer can apply to their life and make it better.

2. What’s the best part about being Dave Ramsey’s PR lead? Most challenging part?

I love knowing that what I’m doing makes a positive difference in people’s lives. The most challenging part is convincing the media that their audience is interested in personal finance and business.

3. I understand social media is not managed by the PR department, unlike many companies. How was that decided upon?

At the time that the company jumped into social media the PR team didn’t have the resources to take it on. We work closely with the social media team. With all that’s going on in the company it’s nice to be able to focus on traditional and online media and know that the social side is in good hands.

4. What’s the primary PR thrust right now?

Dave’s latest book, EntreLeadership, launches in September so we are preparing for a book tour. We have also added additional speakers so we are actively building their brands in the media.

5. What’s your advice to others on providing advice and counsel to CEOs?

Be honest and direct. It’s not helping anyone if you withhold information. Your CEO hired you for your expertise so give it. If you work in an environment where your CEO consistently doesn’t listen or doesn’t value your advice you might want to look for another position. Dave and I don’t always agree, but I know he’s listening and he values my input.

6. As the company has grown and diversified, how has your job changed?

In the early days I was the PR team and did all the pitching and booking. The PR team has grown along with the company so now I spend more time leading a great team than I do working directly with media.

7. What’s your single greatest success in your job to date?

We’ve worked with a lot of great media like “60 Minutes” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” but I think our greatest success is staying in the media consistently. Staying a relevant part of the current media conversation is much harder than handling the occasional campaign.