Bio: John Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of EntrepreneurOnFire, a Podcast interviewing todays most inspiring and successful Entrepreneurs 7-days a week. EntrepreneurOnFire was awarded ‘Best of iTunes 2013 and generates over $250,000 a month in revenue. John and Kate have founded 3 amazing communities: Podcasters’ Paradise, Webinar On Fire, and Fire Nation Elite. With over 950,000 downloads a month, EntrepreneurOnFire has inspired Fire Nation to take control of their life and make the Entrepreneurial leap. Are you prepared to IGNITE?
Zephan: Welcome to the Year of Purpose podcast. I’m Zephan Blaxberg and today I’m joined by John Lee Dumas, who is the founder and host of the Entrepreneur on Fire podcast, an award winning podcast revealing the journey of today’s most inspiring entrepreneurs seven days a week. Entrepreneur on Fire generates over two hundred fifty thousand dollars a month in revenue and offers a free fifteen day course on podcasting at freepodcastingcourse.com. With over one million unique listens a month, Entrepreneur on Fire has inspired Fire Nation to take control of their life and take that entrepreneurial leap. So today, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to John. How are you doing today?
John: I’m doing phenomenal. Thanks for the intro, and I am prepared to ignite.
Zephan: Awesome, let’s do it. So, let’s start with this: What is an Entrepreneur on Fire, and why is it so important that you live a life with an energy like that?
John: So an Entrepreneur on Fire, to me, is somebody that is really life a life that they chose. That they’re a captain of. They’re—they’re steering their own ship, so to speak. And this Entrepreneur on Fire has to be very open and willing to talk about their past failures. I really focus on the stories for my guests that I have on Entrepreneur on Fire, cause I want my listeners to know that failure’s part of the game. Failure’s there every step of the way, and that’s okay—as long as you’re learning from those failures. So we always talk about the lessons learned. And then, be open to talk about that Aha! moment that you had. That great idea, that lightning bolt that came through, and then kind of walk us through the steps you took after having that great idea to turning it into a success. And then we’re gonna talk about something that you’re really fired up about right now. Like that’s what we’ll get to. And then, of course, we get to the lightning rounds where these guests, the Entrepreneurs on Fire, are gonna ask really specific question—they’re gonna answer really specific questions about different aspects of their life, to really, again, kind of unlock the mystery that a lot of people have about entrepreneurship.
Zephan: So, you yourself—not necessarily experiencing failure, but maybe more disappointment, because I know that you had been working a job, you’d been working in the corporate world for some time. What ultimately motivated you? Where was you Aha! moment when you decided to start this podcast?
John: Well I definitely experienced failure. On a number of different levels and in a number of different industries. And it was very disappointing because I knew the failure was coming because I wasn’t inspired, because I wasn’t passionate about anything that I was doing. And at first, I thought that was okay. I thought that was just life. Like you didn’t get—you weren’t inspired by what you did, like hello it’s work. But then, fortunately, I started listening to people like Dan Kennedy, like Brian Tracy, like Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn, you know these entrepreneurs of old—and still occurrence—that are just dispensing great information about… Life doesn’t have to be that way. It doesn’t have to be that way.
So I started listening to their audiobooks, to their audio courses, reading the right books, and that lead me to podcasts. So I started listening to podcasts very avidly, and that lead me to my Aha! moment, because I loved listening to the interviews with successful entrepreneurs. To me, that was so inspiring, to hear their story. But there’s only a couple shows that were doing it and they were doing it like once a week. Or twice a month. And I was like “Hello! There are people like myself that are driving to work every day! Driving home every day! At the gym three to five times a week, looking to consume this type of content during those different actions. Where’s the seven day a week podcasts?” So I searched for it, it didn’t exist. To steal a quote from Gandhi, I decided to be that change that I wanted to see in the world. And here I am, nine hundred plus episodes later, with those amazing statistics that you shared, and just continuing to rock and roll and have a blast doing it.
Zephan: You have been doing an absolute amazing job. I’ve actually be kind of following stuff from the start, and it’s really great because you are someone who I looked up to and always thought, you know “Maybe at some point, some day, I could at least reach that point to be able to start building an audience to start learning more and growing myself.” So thank you for, you know, your honesty, your openness in telling and sharing your story and how you’ve gotten here so far. I’m super excited for what the future has to hold for you. How would you say that your past experience—because I know that you have some experience in the military and with those other jobs—how would you say that plays a role in you being an entrepreneur today? What have you kind of drawn from those past experiences that have gotten you to dedicate yourself for the long haul, because this is a very hard and very long journey?
John: It’s a very long, it’s a very hard journey. I like to equate it to a marathon, not a sprint. You know, that’s what we’re on right now. We are on a marathon and that’s good. Because there’s a quote that I love that’s by Earl Nightingale, which is “Success and happiness is a gradual realization of a worthy ideal.” You know, having this goal that’s here and then reaching it, like that’s good, but that’s not gonna be sustained happiness, because now—like, “okay, what’s next?” So having this gradual realization of a worthy ideal over this marathon of life, that’s what excites me.
And going back to my military days… I mean, I definitely attribute a lot of my discipline, a lot of my focus, like a lot of my hard work ethic to that, because I saw the results of all of those things. Like when I knew—I took my platoon over back in 2003, that in six months, we were gonna deploy to war. Like an actual war environment. As a combat military guy, I was a tanker. So I was in charge of four tanks and sixteen men. We had twelve months of work to do in six months. And I had to learn about discipline and focus and about hard work, and guess what, we got it done. So I learned that things can be accomplished when you do those things in the right order, with the right mentality. Then I applied that to the world of entrepreneurship, and that’s really why I have had such a rocket ship to success, because—you know, frankly, there’s a lot of amazing entrepreneurs out there, but something people get into entrepreneurship because they think that’s—you know, they want to be their own boss, but then they’re not willing to be their own boss, which is regulate themselves to do the work, as Steven Pressfield would say. And that’s what I was able to do from day one because of my military background.
Zephan: So being able to make sure that you hold yourself accountable, that you do you due diligence I getting your own work done, obvious persistence really does pay off when it comes to this. What would you say is the difference between someone running a million dollar business verses your average person who might be listening to this podcast right now? What is preventing them from being able to achieve greatness of that magnitude?
John: Uhm, scale and leverage. They don’t have it and the people that are running seven figure businesses do have it. And that’s what the amazing thing about podcasting is. And the correct pronunciation is Zeph-on?
Zephan: Zeph-an, yeah.
John: Zephan. Zephan, this is why you’re doing what you’re doing now. And I’m doing what I do with Entrepreneur on Fire because…this medium gives us the ability to reach a massive audience on a really scalable scale. And that’s exciting. Like my podcast, Entrepreneur on Fire, just last month had million unique listens, which is insane. We’ve got over fifteen million listens since we launched back in September 2012, in over a hundred and forty-five countries. I mean, that scale, that leverage is huge. So, like if you’re listening right now and you haven’t achieved the type of success that you want, think about ways to amplify that by adding a podcast into the mix, by adding other things into the mix that can do that on a really cool and leveragable scale and level.
And that’s what I’m really excited about and that’s why I’ve been working really hard in 2015 to create completely free but awesome courses at to just that. We have a completely free course for podcasters. Like if you’re looking to start a podcast, freepodcastcourse.com is your one-stop show to learn how to create, grow, and monetize a podcast for free. If you’re looking to do webinars, which are an amazing tool for so many reasons I get into in depth, you can go to a free ten-day course that I’ve created at thewebinarcourse.com. I mean, these are completely free courses that I’ve created that are for anybody because I see the power of what these mediums can do, and I just want more people to have access to the knowledge to unlock the secrets and use them to their advantage.
Zephan: So we can’t really use that excuse anymore of “I don’t know how to” because it’s out the now.
John: It’s out there for sure.
Zephan: Awesome, well I will make sure that those links get posted up on our website at www.yearofpurpose.com and as well with our YouTube videos and our iTunes podcasts, we always have show notes with those links. You posted something on Instagram the other day that I saw. You found your 2014 goals that you had written back at the beginning of 2014, and you had set forth a plan for yourself to make two and a half million dollars for all of 2014. What fears did you have going into that year—and maybe even this year, now that we’re kind of at the beginning of 2015? What are some of your biggest obstacles or fears, just as a business owner?
John: Uhm, a lot. And they stay prevalent. And that’s kind of one thing that I like to focus on when I’m talking to different people that are listening to my podcasts or I’m on different shows like that, is…those are never gonna go away. Like, don’t think you’re gonna get to a place where you wake up and you’re like “Oh, it’s an amazing day and I don’t have any fear!” Like, that’s part of the game. And it was really interesting to look at that piece of paper that I posted on Instagram which is just handwritten on my notebook, where I was just scribbling down right here in the bay in San Diego my goals for 2015—sorry, 2014, and it was like…I was brought back to a place of scarcity and doubt when I was writing it. I was like “there’s no way I’m ever gonna generate this kind of money, but I might as well shoot for the moon, because if I miss I’ll land amongst the stars.” You know, that really cool but corny quote. That’s kind of what I was thinking when I wrote that stuff down. I was like “There’s no way that’s gonna happen.”
And I can tell you, it didn’t happen how I thought it was going to. I thought we were going to make over a million dollars in a course that I didn’t even launch in 2014. I thought we were gonna make twenty-five thousand dollars a month with Podcaster’s Paradise. We made three hundred thousand dollars in just last month, in Podcaster’s Paradise. Like, it—so some things we much bigger than I expected, and other things were much smaller or non-existent. But the key thing is I wrote down those goals and I put it out there in the universe, and some of them worked out, some of them didn’t, but the key thing is that—looking back on that—it was really fascinating to see how close I was, where I had two-point-five million as a revenue goal, and we got two-point-seven-five million. So we exceeded it. And it was interesting to see how close I was to that. And I kind of wonder what would have happened if I’d written down a million dollars?
John: Because, that would’ve been doubling my revenue from 2013, which would’ve been a great goal. But for some audacious reason—and I think I even used the word obnoxious in that Instagram post, you know, I put two-point-five million, and—you know, it’s made me really kind of want to go back and scratch out my goals for 2015 and get obnoxious again!
Zephan: And just like double it.
John: Yeah, let’s just double it.
Zephan: Well, it’s really limiting. I think that—to give you a quick story, I produced a feature film when I was in college. Hundred and eighteen page script, ninety-six minutes long when it was done. My senior year, in twelve months’ time, we shot, we edited, we color corrected, we did all the sound design, premiered it in a movie theater. Sold out, two hundred and fifty people. We had everyone tell us that we weren’t gonna do it. I mean, we had to get someone to sign off on it, and we were at our last person to sign off when I was in college. And I think that if we hadn’t set that lofty goal—we actually said we were gonna go to Sundance. We never did go to Sundance, but if we never set that goal, I don’t think we ever would’ve been able to produce a ninety-six minute long feature film in twelve months’ time, with a thousand dollar budget. It just doesn’t happen. So I totally get setting that lofty goal for yourself, because I think that it pushed you just to be better and better and better, and it doesn’t limit you anymore.
John: Have you ever shared that video with your audience?
Zephan: I—I think I’ll have to now.
John: You’ll have to link it up in the show notes! I want to watch it.
Zephan: I’ll have to share it with them. Thanks for letting me now about—I don’t think anyone’s seen it probably for five years. So that’ll be cool to bring out of the closet.
John: I wish I had one of those to share with Fire Nation.
Zephan: So where do you see the future of podcasting going? And just being online? You know we’ve, as business owners, we run into things like Facebook engagement and people are always changing the Google algorithms, and how iTunes does stuff—and are you worried about the future of just having a business that runs online?
John: Yeah. I mean, the thing is, we live in such a virtual world that is so scalable and so leveragable as long as we just get really caught up. And that’s focus of “What kind I do virtually? What can I tweet? What can post on Instagram?” and that’s great in a lot of ways. Because that really allows you to reach a lot of people, I mean…you know, Zephan, you saw—by the way, I had my lovely Kate bring this over. I skyped it so we can actually hold it up so people can see what you were talking about the Instagram post right here, for people that are watching on video. This is the actual paper that we were talking about—you were able to see that. Because of the power of the internet. Because I didn’t just take it and text it to a couple of my friends, but no, I put it out there in the universe and it’s had a lot of engagement now because of that.
On Facebook, it’s actually insane the amount of people that are commenting on it. It’s really cool. But at the same time, we’re people. You know, that’s why I love that right now we’re doing video. Because I don’t do this often because for—video brings with it some struggles, like, downgraded bandwidth and audio quality and this and that and a lot of people don’t have goo set ups, like I have goo lighting, you have good lighting, so we’re doing it right. I can’t count on all my guests to do that and they’d have like grainy and dark and—so there’s a lot of things that go into why I do audio, but I love this video because it’s almost like we’re here in the same room. We’re having a conversation face to face and that’s what we as humans crave. So don’t be afraid of going the physical route either. And going that one on one, or that one to many, but in a real environment like an in person mastermind or a conference. That’s really powerful too.
And that’s actually why one thing that’s coming up for me—and this is long term, this is not gonna happen anytime soon—but I’m in the process of creating a physical book. And that book isn’t like a book like that you see is a business book, but it’s actually called The Freedom Journal, and it’s actually a journal book. The tagline is “A hundred days to your destiny.” And that’s the goal of it. It’s gonna take somebody a hundred days to write down goals, to write down affirmations, to write down things that they’ve accomplished and that they’re proud of and give them sprints and all this stuff to get them in a hundred days to their goal. But it’s gonna be a beautifully embossed book that’s gonna be awesome to hold, awesome to look at, proud to show to other people. With, you know the little strap—I think I have this thing right here actually—the strap to close the book, you know like this right here where you can just close the book. But then it’s also gonna have a beautiful little bookmark as well to kind of hold your place in the book. You know, something that’s really just an amazing physical item that people can hold and that’s real to them. And I love that idea.
So I think a combination of both is the best way to approach the future, and never to forget that there will always be a physical side to what we do.
Zephan: I’m super excited to see that come out.
John: Oh, thanks!
Zephan: I definitely want to be one of the first people in line to grab a copy, so—
John: I like that!
Zephan: I will be following you and as soon as that’s available, I’m gonna be grabbing one.
John: I’m actually gonna go to China and take tours of different potential manufacturing plants. I’m gonna have a video crew with me, so it’ll be like a whole thing. It’ll be fun.
Zephan: That’s awesome.
Zephan: So, we talked about some really cool sides of entrepreneurship. Let me ask you about this: Entrepreneurship is about a lot of struggle, right. Like it’s not just all flowers and daisies when it comes to building these businesses. What are some of the things you think might surprise people that they don’t expect about entrepreneurship? Because a lot of people see just what we post on social media, but often times they don’t get to see us being vulnerable or just talking about the sides of entrepreneurship that no one really sees.
John: You hear a lot of people say “I want to be an entrepreneur” or “When I become an entrepreneur, it’s gonna be amazing because I’m not gonna have to answer to anybody. I’m gonna be working for myself and calling all the shots and answering to no one!” and…the reality, my friends, is you will always be answering to somebody. Because I answer now to the millions of Fire Nation listeners that are out there. That—those are my bosses. Fire Nation is my boss. I list—I know that, and I embrace that. I listen to them. I ask them questions. I jump on phone calls with them. I respond to their emails.
I sent an email out about a week ago that was pretty controversial in some ways. Where I was talking about, like “How much money is too much money to make?” you know, when I made ninety-three thousand dollars in one day. And you know, some of people were kind of questioning that. And I was asking that question honestly, and I got three hundred and thirty email responses back from that one email, which was massive. And, you know, just to see that—but I took the time and responded to each and one of those emails that came back from that email that I send out to my newsletter list. And then two days later, I sent kind of like a follow up to that about something very similar in the progression of all of this, and I got like two hundred and fifty emails back and I answered every one of those. And people are like “John, that’s not very scalable!”
That’s like—these are my bosses, these are who I work for, and this is who allows me to kind of live on top of the Pacific ocean here in San Diego and make four hundred thousand dollars last month like I did. I don’t forget that. I don’t forget that fact that it’s, you know, the Zephans of the world that buy the Freedom Journal that allow me to do what I do. So that’s one of the biggest misperceptions.
Zephan: So, our customers are becoming the heart and soul of what we do. Which I think is really amazing because it opens you up to be a much more trusted person, someone who isn’t hiding behind a curtain. You really are just as genuine as you seem in social media, and you’re the same in real life. So it’s really cool to find out that there’s no façade there by any means.
John: No more Wizard of Oz!
Zephan: Yeah. No hidden tricks up our sleeves. So, lets round this all off—I know you gotta run in a sec—but what do you do, and what do you think that everyone else should start doing to stay motivated and keep that fire burning? Because a lot of the times, it can get put out and we want to keep that up and running.
John: Totally. So, a great quote by Jim Rohn is “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with” and that’s just a reality. So look around you and figure out who those five people are right now. And then identify the people that are not adding value to your goal, to your mission, and—don’t kick them out of your life, but kick them out of your top five, for sure. And bring in people who are in your—who you do want in that top five, who are gonna bring value in that top five. That is incredibly valuable for any entrepreneur to really focus on that to improve their top five.
And by doing that also, like a really structured goal would be to find and join or create and host a mastermind. I’m in a very powerful mastermind with just two other people—I think they should be small, cause you need legitimate floor time—and what I mean by that is, once every three weeks, I’m on the hot seat. Every week, we meet for an hour. This morning actually, I was on the hot seat for an hour with my mastermind talking about the freedom journal and the production of it and the ideas within it, and its incredible valuable. And these are people—Greg Hickman of Mobile Marketing Engine, and Rick Mulready of rickmulready.com, he’s like a Facebook ad guy—who have different skills in different areas, you know, and I’m more of like the media-preneur. So we all bring value to it, but that’s incredible important. Is to find that mastermind, and really lean on that mastermind for information, for influence, and for guidance and support.
Zephan: Thank you for that advice. I actually just joined a mastermind recently myself, so I know that it is probably—
John: How many people are in it?
Zephan: Uh, just two other people.
John: You know, there’s gonna be a desire to make it larger, and I think four people can work, but anything bigger than that, you’re really selling yourself short, just because you’re not getting enough of that focus time on you and your business. I’m part of bigger masterminds too that meet like once a month. I’m in an in-person mastermind here in San Diego with Pat Flynn and a number of other great entrepreneurs, but we meet for like six hours once a month in person. And that’s powerful, but I get fifteen minutes or twenty minutes during that six hours, you know, as opposed to once every three weeks an hour on me. So definitely food for thought. There’s nothing wrong with being part of bigger masterminds, but you want that one core, like yours is right now with three people.
Zephan: Awesome. Well, John, thank you so much for spending some time with me today. Real quick again, what was the two website links that you mentioned earlier?
John: Uh, cool, so for podcasting, it’s freepodcastcourse.com. Webinars, thewebinarcourse.com. But the cool thing is too that all the magic happens at eofire.com, which is where we have links to all these courses that are completely free. And just to make things even more confusing, I do have a gift for your listeners, Zephan, which is my book Podcast Launch, the number one ranked book on Amazon on podcasting, but free, for your listeners at eofire.com/gift. So if they go to that slash-gift, no email opt in required, absolutely nothing. It’s just a gift from me to your listeners, and it’s a great book.
Zephan: Awesome. Thanks for being here, John. Everyone, John Lee Dumas—Entrepreneur on Fire. And we will see you next time.