Blake Thompson (’93) is the Chief Executive Producer at Ramsey Media Solutions. In this role, Thompson oversees audio and video production of “The Dave Ramsey Show,” “The Rachel Cruze Show,” “The Chris Hogan Show,” “The Ken Coleman Show,” “Entreleadership Podcast” and “Business Boutique with Christy Wright.” Thompson also serves on The Ramsey Solutions Executive Committee and Operating Board.
Since 1901, Trevecca has helped to shape leaders like Thompson. We recently asked him a few questions about his approach to leadership, the books and podcasts that inform his leadership style and more.
Tell us the story of how you joined Dave Ramsey’s team.
I started with Dave Ramsey back in 1996 when it was just Dave and a local Nashville radio show. When Dave called Trevecca looking for a producer to help take his local radio show nationwide, it was a good thing I had kept in communication with Trevecca and Dr. Lena Hegi Welch after graduating because she thought of me. I was willing to leave a job that was paying me way more, in order to do work that I love and be able to help people at the same time. It was one of the best decisions and investments I've ever made in my life. I started on the ground floor and was quickly "thrown in the fire," having to learn with Dave how to do radio well and grow it. Then, I just continued to grind daily for years. Twenty-three years later, we have more than 900 team members, and I oversee all of our production and serve on the Operating Board. It wasn't easy out of the gate, and it wasn't an overnight success. It was hard work and doing it over and over and over for years, in order to end up in the position I am in today. I have new team members all the time who ask what it takes to move up in the company. I tell them the same thing each time: Just come in and do a great job at what you were hired to do. Show up on time, don't leave early each day watching the clock, care about people you work with and just "kill it” at what you do. Those people are the ones who have grown the most in leadership and position at our company.
What are you consuming—books, podcasts, articles—that inform your leadership style? What are you doing now to equip you to lead?
Books like Patrick Lencioni's The Ideal Team Player and The Advantage and Simon Sinek's Leaders Eat Last have been major influences in my leadership style. I have my team reading How To Lead When You're Not In Charge: Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority by Clay Scroggins right now. If you have a team you lead, I highly recommend that one. The “Entreleadership Podcast” is perfect for business leaders wanting to hear from other leaders and for personal growth. I have found the best way to lead, outside of tools, is to constantly put yourself in the situation to do so. I have weekly one-on-one meetings with my key leaders, and I also have leadership book studies with them that include journaling on what we're all learning from the book and making sure we're on some kind of rhythm of getting together to discuss what we're learning.
How do you encourage those you lead to stay focused on Ramsey Solution’s core values or mission?
You have to constantly [remind your team about the values.] We have our core values [displayed] on our walls in our building. You can't get off the elevator on any of the six floors without seeing them. You can't go up a flight of stairs without seeing them. Each week in our company's staff meeting, we end by teaching one of them. It's key to constantly talk about your mission and core values if you truly want your team to get it and live it.
How do you think your Trevecca education helped prepare you for leadership roles?
Trevecca gave me the opportunity to be hands-on when it came to learning my field in broadcasting. Being able to use the equipment at WNAZ at the time was very valuable (Thanks, David Deese!), plus having wonderful mass communication teachers and mentors like Dr. Lena Hegi Welch was key to opening doors for my future career. Service clubs like Circle K gave me the opportunity to lead a group of like-minded guys and gave me the valuable lesson of serving others, which is key to leadership.
What advice would you give someone going into a position of leadership for the first time?
Put your team first. The best leaders lead by serving their team. Sincerely listen to them and their needs to help them do their jobs better. That doesn't mean you have to always agree, but make sure [your team members] feel like they can share—whether that’s through a weekly report tool that asks things like "What was your weekly HIGH?" and "What was your weekly LOW?" or through one-on-one meetings with your key leaders. You'll also find out things in [your team members’] personal life that they're struggling or dealing with.