21 Leadership Lessons from the Dave Ramsey Board

Every Monday 600+ Ramsey Solutions team members gather for our weekly all staff meeting. The meeting usually runs about 90 minutes. The aim is to ensure that all team members have insight into the wide variety of initiatives the company has undertaken and to see where we’re winning and where improvement needs to be made.

Ramsey Solutions has been named one of the “Best Placed to Work in Nashville” 10 times running. We’re hiring like mad, but with intention. With all the new team members joining us, the Ramsey Solutions board understands the importance of reinforcing our company culture. One way we do this is by hosting 15 minute, panel-style interviews with the board. These sessions are usually very conversational and fun to observe and contain answers to questions submitted by the team. Our company hierarchy is very relational (as opposed to positional) and these panels help show that our board is just a bunch of regular ol’ humans much like ourselves.

There are some great leadership concepts I’ve learned during my tenure here that I was reminded of in this presentation. I’ll be interested in your comments below.


Leadership Panel Members: Herb Jenkins, Pete Young, Jen Seivertsen, Lara Johnson, Suzanne Simms and Brian Williams

Authors Note: These are all paraphrased statements from the Ramsey Solutions staff meeting November 6, 2017. Words are my own, but intent is theirs.

  1. Humility is demonstrated when you can identify where team members are struggling. Turn on your ears, listen up and understand that credibility is gained by how you treat your team, regardless of your role.
  2. New leaders… Question everything but keep it open-handed. Some things we do are purposeful but others are sacred cows that should be shot (or slowly poisoned).
  3. Intentionality surrounding communication is key. Buy-in and candor with leadership are paramount to your success.
  4. The sheer level of talent across teams can be intimidating. Don’t be insecure that you’re not contributing to some self-perceived level.
  5. Don’t forget who it is that we are here to serve.
  6. Don’t be surprised when leadership is slower moving than you’d like. Their perspective may well be “This is how we’ve done it and it’s worked. Why change?” It’s your job to understand that history and then consider whether those assumptions can/should be challenged.
  7. Understand what your leaders want to accomplish and how your role contributes. Your ability to pull in that same direction is how you will build you own credibility.
  8. Be self aware. Ask those around you to help identify areas where you might need more awareness. Know that there will always be blind spots, so be comfortable in your own skin and own who you are. Build influence through confidence in yourself and your ideas.
  9. Influence is a natural byproduct of trust. Trust is built from patience and going thru conflict together.
  10. Kill your Key Responsibility Areas (KRA’s). Own your key responsibilities and be the guy or gal that is known to execute well. Over serve your leaders. Wayne Gretzky says “Skate to where the puck is going”. Use your skillset to help your leader see the future from a perspective that they might not have insight into.
  11. Leaders talk. A lot. About you.
  12. Communication; do it well and do it often. Know who to include, why and when you’re trying to drive an initiative forward. Be direct. Be clear. Be concise. Pay attention to how your communication is perceived.
  13. Help your leaders obtain and process the information they need to make good decisions. Don’t assume they have the same insight as you.
  14. An “us versus them” mentality should be a warning flag. Internal infighting means we’re not collaborating well. Work to break down cross-team barriers to ensure we’re all pulling in same direction.
  15. Understand why we do certain historical processes. Gain knowledge and wisdom from existing leaders.
  16. Our core values actually mean something. They’re not just on the walls, they’re on the walls for a reason.
  17. Grooves are comfortable. Leverage new perspectives but be a champion for our culture. Learn new things but passionately protect the tenets that make us great.
  18. Learn how to make fun of yourself. Take your work seriously but make fun of yourself at least once a day.
  19. New leaders should know the war stories. You may not have been present, but they are our landmarks. Knowing where we’ve been helps us to shape the future.
  20. Work from passion not from fear.
  21. Find a mentor. Get guidance. Be challenged by someone.

WordPress Visual Editor Not Expanding With Zurb Foundation 5 CSS Styles

I just hunted down a very annoying bug in my Manifest Foundation WordPress starter theme that was preventing the visual editor (TinyMCE) from expanding vertically when the default CSS styles from the Zurb Foundation framework are included as an editor stylesheet.

Basically, the height of the visual editor is supposed to be determined based on how much content you’ve actually written in that area. This prevents you from having to scroll both the editing area and the page independently from one another. As you add content the height automatically expands, keeping your editing toolbar visible at the top of the page. Overall it’s a very nice feature, albeit one that many of our clients don’t always grasp intuitively (but that’s another post).

The bug I mentioned was preventing the editor from expanding vertically. Oddly enough the height of the editor would increase by one pixel every time that the user clicked the editor, or navigated using the arrow buttons on their keyboard.

After ruling out that this was a core error or at all related to any of the plugins I was running, I was then able to disable the editor stylesheet and see that the editor functioned as intended. The offending rule is located in the /scss/foundation/components/_global.scss partial of the Zurb Foundation framework.

As part of it’s styling reset, it ensures that both the <html> and the <body> elements are set to 100% height. On the front-end of a theme this ensures that the off-canvas, mobile menu will work as intended. However, the visual editor in WordPress uses an embedded iFrame that also includes these elements. Just place the following rule at the end of your editor stylesheet and you’ll come up aces.

html, body {

An example of my full editor-style.scss file follows:

@charset "UTF-8";
@import "config/settings";
@import "../bower_components/foundation/scss/foundation/components/type";
@import "../bower_components/foundation/scss/foundation/components/clearing";
@import "../bower_components/foundation/scss/foundation/components/tables";
@import "../bower_components/foundation/scss/foundation/components/thumbs";
@import 'site/wp';

html, body {

How Facebook Profits from Fake Likes

I discovered this great video on the Digg.com email newsletter this morning. It’s a great explanation of why paying to promote your Facebook Fan Page is not necessarily the best marketing strategy. It reinforces what I’ve always told clients, “Build your following on information and content that your followers want and need”. It’s another way of saying “To thine own self be true.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this video and also learn if you have a different perspective on this.

Simple Filters Make Using Custom Post Types Easier

I’m always looking for good ways to make the WordPress UI as intuitive as possible for Manifest Creative clients. You’d be amazed at how many folks get frustrated trying to remember “What field does what?”. There’s naturally a bit of disconnect between filling out information in the admin and how it’s displayed on the front-end to visitors.

A great example of this disconnect between the admin and front-end is one of our non-profit clients. We use a custom post to display a list of sponsors for the organization. Each post type includes several meta fields for details and is displayed on the front-end alongside the sponsor’s logo. In this use case it makes perfect sense that WordPress’ featured image feature would be used for the sponsor’s logo. But, because “featured image” is not immediately equated with a logo, it’s a prime candidate for customization.

By simply changing the text from “Set featured image” to “Choose sponsor logo” we can eliminate any question of where the admin user should set that particular item. As they say, it’s the little things!

When I create a new custom post type, there are 3 areas that I consider mandatory to customize:

  1. The “Enter Title Here” text shown for the post headline
  2. The “Featured Image” meta box title
  3. The link that says “Add featured image” or “Remove featured image”.

All of this code usually goes into the individual PHP file I use to create the custom post type, but you could just as easily include it in your theme’s functions.php file.

* Filter the default title
* @param string $post_title The current 'Enter title here' text
* @return string The modified default text
add_filter('enter_title_here', 'post_type_default_title');
function post_type_default_title($title) {
	global $post_type;
	if ( $post_type == 'mcrm_contacts' ) {
		$title = 'Company Name';
	return $title;

* Filter the Featured Image Metabox
add_action('do_meta_boxes', 'post_type_featured_image_box');
function post_type_featured_image_box()
    remove_meta_box( 'postimagediv', 'mcrm_contacts', 'side' );
    add_meta_box('postimagediv', __('Company Logo'), 'post_thumbnail_meta_box', 'mcrm_contacts', 'side', 'default');

* Filter the Featured Image link
* @param string $content The original link for featured image
* @return string The modified string
add_filter('admin_post_thumbnail_html', 'post_type_featured_image_link');
function post_type_featured_image_link( $content ) {
	global $post_type;
  if ($post_type == 'mcrm_contacts') {
    $content = str_replace(__('featured image'), __('logo'), $content);
  return $content;

Awesome tools built on WordPress

I’ll continue to update this post as I find other “best-of-breed” or useful apps that I find for working with WordPress.

Today I found two cool tools that I thought were worth mentioning…

Screenshot of the Pea.rs website
The Pears theme lets you create your own repository of design patterns.

The first is an awesome WordPress theme by the folk over at SimpleBits (yep, Dan Cedarholm is the co-founder of Dribbble). It’s called Pears and allows you to create a custom library of your own HTML and CSS snippets for future use. Run it on your localhost machine (or online) and you’ll have your own repository of design patterns you can apply to any project. One word: Suhweet!

Screenshot of the wpremote.com website
WP Remote lets you bulk-manage your WordPress sites.

The other item worth mentioning is WP Remote. It’s basically a service that lets you manage multiple WordPress installations. Upgrade the core files, plugins, etc. all from within a single control panel.

I have nearly 100 WordPress websites that I’ve developed, and needless to say, keeping them all up to date can be a pain in the hind-end. I’ve toyed with the idea of putting them all into a multi-site installation, but that seems like overkill (not to mention a lot of retrofitting). I think I’ll give this service a try and see how it works out. Oh, did I mention that it’s free?!?

Who is Philip Downer?

Well by now it should be obvious that I’m a website developer. 🙂 Here’s the in-depth, not quite a resume look.

About Me

I’ve been developing websites in various capacities for 16 years. I founded Manifest Creative (a sole proprietorship) in 2005. My areas of strength are:

  • WordPress
  • HTML5/CSS3
  • jQuery/JavaScript
  • Authorize.net integration

I’m also a well-rounded graphic designer. I have the unique ability to be able to both design and program, which helps me to understand both areas of website development. I’m familiar with several different marketing platforms and often leverage them for customers:

  • Campaign Monitor
  • Facebook brand pages (and API)
  • Twitter (and API)
  • Google Maps

I use Git and GitHub for version control and to contribute open source projects back to the community.

I frequently use BaseCamp for project management and bug-tracking. I use Skype for visual conferences.

Pricing & Availability

I bill my services hourly. I usually prefer to get full specs on a project and provide a flat-fee estimate based on what I believe the site will take. I book projects on a first-come, first-served basis with a 50% deposit holding your place on the production calendar. For small projects, with established customers, I’ll usually just dive in. I’m usually booked out about 2 weeks before able to accept new assignments.


There are a number of websites on ManifestBozeman.com in the portfolio section. Several of my most recent projects haven’t made it up yet, so I’m linking to them here. 🙂

Social Media

I’m active on several social media channels as well: