The Mission Matters: Walt Yates ’98 Enjoys Fulfilling Career with Financial Radio Host Dave Ramsey
by Stacey Majkrzak
This article appeared originally in the Fall/Winter issue of Frontiers Magazine.
Anyone who has ever listened to the radio is familiar with financial guru Dave Ramsey. His testimonials, guests and practical advice have helped people overcome financial stress since 1992, when he started his company Ramsey Solutions. Today, the company has over 600 team members – and SMC alum Walt Yates ’98 plays a significant role in the business.
Yates is the executive director of the business-to-business (B2B) division at Ramsey Solutions. He serves four of the nine businesses within the greater company and directs a team of marketing leaders who use digital marketing to create sales leads and close direct sales.
Yates decided to attend SMC after being invited to be the editor of the yearbook. “I had been considering Clemson, Carolina and Presbyterian College,” says Yates. “But SMC had a different culture that made me feel comfortable the moment I came on campus.”
Although he went to college with a goal in mind, Yates still fell into the typical first-year antics familiar to so many new college students. He recalls the “freshman talk” a couple of his professors had with him about squandering his potential.
“The staff and faculty that had the biggest impact on my success today are those that were willing to have the hard conversations with me,” Yates says. “Dean Karen Morrow and Dr. Katherine Cann had one-on-one conversations with me about how my ‘good enough’ wasn’t good enough. Without having those uncomfortable yet honest conversations, I probably wouldn’t have earned my associate degree or my bachelor’s.”
Yates (far right) with cross country teammates (left to right) Tracy James, Jeff Schrage and Adam Hare – all members of the Class of 1998.
Yates’ most memorable moments at SMC include playing Mario Cart on Nintendo 64 in the first-floor resident advisor’s room in Hammond Hall.
“It wasn’t just the gaming I remember,” says Yates. “I became great friends with four other guys, and we’d spend time having deep conversations about God, money, girls and our futures as we played those video games. When I think of my fondest times at SMC, I remember those nights.”
After graduating with his associate degree in business administration from SMC in 1998, Yates attended Lander University to gain his bachelor of arts in English. Following college, Yates worked his way up the professional ladder, holding director and CMO positions throughout the Midwest and Southeast states until landing a position with Ramsey Solutions.
Yates believes he would not have advanced so quickly in his career if it weren’t for the emphasis on leadership at SMC.
“SMC gave me tons of opportunity to exercise my leadership muscle on campus,” Yates says. “From holding leadership roles in student government to serving on the president’s council, there were so many ways for me to be a leader.”
In addition to providing learning and leadership opportunities, Yates says SMC exposed him to a new and diverse world that he had not experienced prior to college. He was able to recognize that several very core human emotions are universal to all people, but outside those emotions, people are very complex and unique individuals with their own needs.
“I learned to see people as individuals at SMC and not as a collective group,” says Yates. “This was extremely important for me to know and understand as I began marketing a brand to an international market.”
Ramsey Solutions provides a variety of products and services to people looking to reach certain financial goals. The program is biblically based and described as a “commonsense education and empowerment that gives hope to everyone in every walk of life.”
Yates says over 12,000 people applied for just 100 job openings last year, and he applauds the high-caliber team he has the privilege of working with every day.
“It is very satisfying to know I’m improving the future of millions of families by helping them curb debt and gain control of their personal finances,” says Yates. “Better yet is when they have succeeded and decide to share their wealth with others.”
Yates says he enjoys his work – and that includes the people he works with at Ramsey Solutions. He says his boss has created a great culture where people genuinely care about one another.
“SMC gave me tons of opportunity to exercise my leadership muscle on campus.”Walt Yates
“Working with Dave Ramsey is amazing,” Yates said. “He is the most authentic and approachable CEO I have ever worked with, yet he is still able to inspire each of us to reach further and drive harder than we ever have.”
As Yates’ team at Ramsey Solutions strives to be the best at what they do, they all keep in mind the mission that he says is very similar to that he saw from the faculty and administration at SMC.
“We know that the work we do matters to those who need help,” said Yates. “Everything we do is very missional, and that mission is to bring hope to people.”