John is the creator of EnterpreneuronFire.com where he is the host of the top ranked, seven-day a week business podcast by the same name Entrepreneur on Fire.
On his podcast with over 500 episodes published & over 5.2 Million downloads to date, John interviews today’s most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs.
John Lee Dumas
James: All right, welcome back my friends to yet another edition of the Big Value Big Business Podcast. I am your host James Lynch. I am really big, big, big time super excited about my very special guest today his name is Mr. John Dumas. John comes to us from EnterpreneuronFire.com where he is the host of the top ranked seven-day a week business podcast by the same name Entrepreneur on Fire. On his podcast with over 500 episodes published, John interviews today’s most successful and inspiring entrepreneurs and he really shines a spotlight down on their entrepreneurial journey, highlighting their successes their failures and their lessons learned along the way.
Through a masterfully crafted questioning, John is able to extract the most amazing gold nuggets from some of the most successful entrepreneurs in the world exposing many of the key components that have led to their ultimate success. It is both an honor and a pleasure to speak today with the leader of Fire Nation from Entrepreneuronfire.com.
Let’s say hello to Mr. John Lee Dumas. Hello John.
John: James, I am prepared to ignite.
James: I would expect nothing less my friend you are on fire. I love it. I am psyched. I can’t believe I’m talking to you. I express that I’m fairly new in this space and for you to give me the time, I know you’re always giving back to the community and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you. Even on a Saturday, you’re here. Thank you very much.
James: Cool – And I also want to pay a little homage you sure have been a huge inspiration for me to start the BigValueBigBusiness.com Podcast. You have proven to me and so many other folks out there that we can effectively communicate our message to the world through the power of the podcast and I want to say thank you for everything you have done for all of us in the online marketing space here.
John: Well, James I’m honored because when I launched Entrepreneur on Fire it was because I was inspired by others and now the fact that I’m inspiring others like yourself who are going to have an amazing ripple effect in this world as well just makes me so happy.
James: Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thank you very much. So I’m really excited just to get down to business here and talk with you about how you’ve grown your platform to serve so many people in so many ways and in such a short amount of time. This is – how many podcast downloads you’re up to right now?
John: 4.8 million
James: Oh, my goodness in a year, year and a half of September, 2012.
John: 18 months. Yup.
James: Yeah. Wow. That’s 4.8 million. Wow. So I’m hoping you share with us how you provide so much what I’m about big value in your business in and with each and every piece of content that you produce. So does that sound like a plan, sir?
John: It sounds like a plan and I have to be honest as you asked that question I realized the last time I checked was about 15 days ago. I’m actually at 5.2 million.
James: Wait a minute. That many carry the one…. so you can have that many in just that few – wow.
John: Oh, maybe it was a month ago. Maybe it’s a month ago.
James: Incredible, incredible. Congratulations.
John: Yeah, which is bringing currently about 500,000 unique downloads every month.
James: Wow, wow. And the sponsors love that?
John: Yeah. And I love that my sponsors love that.
James: Good for you man. All right, awesome. So can we start? Let’s start at the beginning. It’s probably a good place to start. Get a little history about John Dumas. Basically where this wild ride began and a little about the journey that brought you here to where you are today.
John: Well, let’s do it. So James I went to college on a ROTC Scholarship which means that the army paid for my four years at Providence College but it wasn’t totally free because I did eight years as an officer post my collegiate experience. So in 2002, I graduated. I was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the US Army and for those of you history buffs, 2002 in May, we’re actually the first class to be commissioned post 9/11. So we knew it was going to be serious stuff. So the next four years of my life consisted of a lot of training, 13 month tour of duty in Iraq as a platoon leader of 16 men in four tanks in Fallujah, Ar Ramadi, and Habbaniyah, Iraq. So pretty intense experience for a 23, 24-year-old, but then at 26, I got out of the military. My active duty requirement was over and I entered the reserves. But that allowed me to try a bunch of different civilian opportunities.
So I went to law school, dropped out after semester because I hated it. I went to corporate finance and in Boston for John Hancock. I worked there for a couple of years. Financially very successful and made me very fulfilled but emotionally just didn’t have the passion for it so I knew I had to leave, it just wasn’t for me long term. It was a good short term gig but it just wasn’t for me, career wise. So I’ve gone to real estate, I tried commercial and residential and I actually had a lot of fun there because it’s a very entrepreneurial game especially during the biggest crash in potentially the US history of real estate and that was a really exciting time and scary time where I learned a lot as an entrepreneur. But it was during one of those times at 32 years old that I was driving to work, stuck in the traffic jam, running out of my favorite podcast, freaking out saying, “I can deal being in a car in traffic as long as I have my podcast.”
“But if I don’t and have to hear Miley Cyrus one more time, I really am going to just turn off this road and just go to sleep because this is just too painful.” So I had the epiphany moment at that time, why isn’t there a seven-day a week business podcast? The “aha” moment hit me. I decided that I was going to take action, be that person to create it. Entrepreneur on Fire was born that day. Now obviously James an incredible amount of hard work and effort went from that idea moment to the actual launching of Entrepreneur on Fire about four months later. But I’m not afraid of hard work, I’m not afraid of investing in myself so I put my head down, I put my nose to the grindstone and just like you, I made it happen and I published a podcast.
James: That is fantastic and what a phoenix rising story. I had those questions. I mean, you answered several of the questions I was going to ask.
James: It’s like at one point in time, did you – you got the idea that you really wanted to provide value through content and obviously that was the podcast, and why a podcast John? Why – were you thinking before, obviously, you’re on your commute, you’re going to a real estate job, you’re – sorry, you were in with John Hancock at that time and just going to this job and why – were you looking for an online business to get into? What was going through your head at that time?
John: The only thing that was going through my head James was to find something that I was passionate about, that I could pour my heart, my soul, my energy, my enthusiasm into because I just saw with every profession I had up to that point in my life, I was holding myself back from fully committing because it wasn’t something I really enjoyed and how can you throw yourself completely into something with total abandon that you aren’t completely passionate about. So that was my big search in life. I was out there looking for a passion. I was trying to find that passion and it wasn’t finding me, James.
So I kept trying different things. And then boom out of the left field, my passion hit me across the face, in the form of that aha moment, that light bulb that went off, I just said wow. Entrepreneur on Fire like people get what it means to be on fire. In sports, in the real – in the civilian world, in finance, wherever that may be, people get when I say “James, you are on fire.” Like you know what I’m talking about.
James: Yeah, baby.
John: And I wanted to bring entrepreneurs that were on fire and sharing their journey with listeners that would want to be hearing that inspiration and learning from it and it hit me all at once. I knew that an idea is just an idea. An idea is worth nothing, but I took such strong action from that point to bring it and make it a reality to launch the first seven-day a week podcast that interviews inspiring and successful entrepreneurs. And here we are at 500 plus episodes later. Here we sit in early 2014.
In 2013, Entrepreneur on Fire won best of iTunes 2013 and it was just a crazy ride. Now the business generates over six figures a month. And when I first started James that was the first question I got from friends, from family, from anybody who I told what I was doing. How are you going to monetize? That was a great question because I didn’t have the answer. I didn’t know. I knew that I just wanted to deliver high valuable content, James, high quality lessons and stories and information for free and I knew that that components will grow an audience and I knew that that audience, in turn would give me ways to monetize.
James: Yeah, yeah. And then – and so tell me why against all advice, why seven days? Why seven days a week, 24 – 365? Tell me about it.
John: And it was against all advice. And not just like that kind of bystander advice you should never listen to anyways, but it was against all advice from the top hotshots in the industry. Cliff Ravenscraft, Jaime Tardy, my mentor and my mastermind leader, both said, “John, you shouldn’t do a seven-day a week podcast. Nobody’s going to want to listen to that many podcasts. You’re going to get burnt out. You’re not going to be able to find enough guests for your show.” All of these things are being told to me by people who had very successful podcasts who had been there and done that and I want to make the very strong point James that both my mentor, Jaime, and my good friend and mastermind leader Cliff Ravenscraft, gave me unbelievable advice that I’ve applied to my business that have helped it out so much. But on that advice, I put my blinders on and I — you know what? I’m not just going to be another once a week podcast. I’m not going to swim in that red ocean. I want the blue ocean. I want to go where nobody has gone before. Let’s get a little star-strek music going on here.
John: Because I want to go where nobody has ventured before. I want to release that podcast. I know personally that me, John Lee Dumas, would listen to a seven-day a week podcast because I commute to work five hours a day. I mean, five days a week. I go to the gym four to five times a week and all of those times; I want to be listening to podcasts. So why would I not want to listen to one of great podcasts that comes out seven days a week that has a great flow, a great format and great guests? It was a no brainer to me, James. I knew there are other people out there in the world that would want that as well. I just had to find them and iTunes gives you an amazing platform to find them James. So I just put my podcast out there, on this amazing platform and now Entrepreneur on Fire beyond being downloaded over 500,000 on a monthly basis and growing, is downloaded in over 145 countries around the world.
James: Oh, my. That’s incredible, 145 countries. Wow. How does that make you feel John looking back 18 months?
John: It makes me feel very satisfied. It makes me feel very inspired because of the inspiration it has brought to others, the ripple effect. It makes me feel very proud of the amount of hard work that I’ve done because I’m not one of those Tim Ferriss’ that have or that’s ever going to write a book that’s called Four Hour Work Week. I mean, if I wrote a book it would be 74-Hour Work Week. Because I have an app called Rescue Time and it tracks how much time I work and I know because of that app that I’ve been putting in 70 plus hours every single week. Because there’s a lot of gosh darn hard work to create the amount of content that I create. Obviously, financially, I’m being rewarded for that now. I was not for the first six months, for the first eight months, there was a lot of red, there was a lot of doing things for free, and wondering if it ever was going to grown into something. But I kept the faith, I kept working hard and 13 months after launch, we had our first six-figure month.
James: That’s incredible. That’s incredible. Let’s just take – taking a step back. You talked to us about what gave you the idea, what gave you the inspiration. I often ask like aspiring entrepreneurs or wantetrepreneurs as you effectively – affectionately referred to them, sometimes they’ll think they’re good enough where they actually are, but they don’t think they’re good enough to teach others. They don’t think they really have something to offer and let alone to get paid for it. You’ve explained how you crossed that, that threshold. What would you give advice to folks that are listening now, especially the wantrepreneurs, the people that are struggling that are new, just getting out of the blocks? What kind of advice should you give them about the self-doubt, about the – to quote Steven Pressfield “the resistance that they’re hearing.”
John: I would say, “Listener, I love you. Like I resonate with you, like I’ve been there. I’ve had the doubt. I’ve had to face the resistance.” I really point to one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Seth Godin, who talks so eloquently about the Impostor Syndrome and the Impostor Syndrome is something that we all have, James. You have it, I have it, and President Obama has it. We wake up every single morning and we say, “Why?” Like why is anybody going to want to listen to my podcast? Why is anybody going to want to be interviewed on my show? Who is going to get anything out of something that I could possibly produce? Is this innate situation that all of us are born with? It’s survival instinct on some areas.
Don’t get out of the herd. Come back with us. Be safe. Be like everybody else. Blend in. Don’t stand out because that saber tooth tiger comes and attacks you, like it’s innate. It’s a survival instinct, that Impostor Syndrome of sticking out of being different, it scares us and it scares everybody. And so what I would say to the listener is embrace it, realize it’s going to be there, that fear is going to be there. There’s nothing to do about it. So just embrace the fear, know that’s part of the journey and know that the small percentages of people that can rise above that fear are the ones that are going to have abnormal success.
James: Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Thank you so much for that. Now listen – I mean, it’s obvious and your listeners know or my listeners are really finding out the positive upbeat dude you are. It was get out of my way. Dude, it can’t have been without any challenges. Tell me one of your biggest ones within the last, I don’t know, 18 months maybe during or when you’re putting things together. Tell me about one of the – just one of the biggest challenges that you were able to face and overcome.
John: I face some massive challenges on a weekly basis and we talked about all of those James very openly. On our monthly income reports, EOFire.com because just like we want everybody to be emulate the successes that we’re having in the entrepreneurial online podcasting world and that’s why we post all of our successes. We also post all of our failures and mistakes because those are numerous as well and we want you to avoid those mistakes and not waste time, energy, and effort on them either. So that’s really powerful and people can get a lot of information at EOFire.com/income. But the one that I really want to focus on today is something that I think will ring true for a lot of people that are just starting out, it’s what I referred to us my 100,000-dollar fear of failure loss – basically.
So what happen James is that my podcast was scheduled to launch August 15, 2012. I’d been working hard all summer. I had 40 interviews lined up. I was ready to go. Then I woke up August 15th, terrified. The Impostor Syndrome beat me and I’ve made up a bunch of BS and I convinced myself, I convinced my mentor, I convinced my masterminds that I was not ready to launch. And I convinced them and I convinced myself, too. And so I pushed it back just 15 days to September 1. Well the same thing happened on September 1. So I pushed it back just 15 days to September 15, well the same thing happened again, I pushed it back just 15 days to October 1. Luckily, by this time, my mentor caught on and he was like, “John, today is September 22, if you don’t launch your podcast today. I will fire you.”
John: And that kind of shook me into reality because I knew that my mentor was so important to my success at that point for a lot of reasons so I launched the podcast even though I was terrified to do it. And James, the reason why I was terrified to launch my podcast is because until I launched my podcast, I could never fail. Because until it actually went live, nobody could say that it wouldn’t work. Nobody could tell me “Ha ha. I told you so a seven-day a week podcast will never work. Ha ha. I told you so nobody wants to listen to a seven-day a week podcast.” Nobody could say that until I actually published it and it failed. So I knew as long as I waited to publish, there was always that possibility that people couldn’t come out and say “I told you so” because they didn’t quite know yet. They didn’t have evidence to back it up.
So I let that fear take over and I called it 100,000-dollar mistake James because our first six-figure month was in October of 2013. The only thing that my month of delaying did was push everything back that had done by one month. So my first six-figure month would have been in September of 2013 therefore that delay cost me $100,000. And what happened just one month, actually it was just two months after I launched. So I launched in September, October, November, in mid-November I was contacted by New Media Expo to speak at a conference, January 2 in Las Vegas. And if I had waited a much longer to launch, I would never have had time to get contacted to speak at that conference which took my podcast and my entire credibility to a whole new level. It allowed me to get Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and Gary Vaynerchuk on my podcast in rapid succession. So my near failure to launch was had almost devastating realities and it did cost me $100,000.
James: Hmm. And almost your reputation to the point where it is now.
James: if you had missed that New Media Expo, wow, wow. That’s incredible. You touched on the same; the Impostor Syndrome that’s President Obama, all the way down to me that we all suffer from and that was totally had you in its grasp.
James: Unbelievable, unbelievable. So you kind of indicated three months, six months. When was the point when you knew you’re on your way? I mean, there was no turning back; you’re on the right path. A quote like on Malcolm Gladwell, what was your tipping point or a point in time?
John: My tipping point was a six-month point and we actually do have a great article on this at EOFire.com/income which is called the First 365 days and as anybody is going through and reading that you will see that the first nine months, the three months prior to launch and the six months post launch were a lot of red, a lot of negative money. I was investing heavily in myself. Luckily, I had the savings account to do so. But it was a lot of money going out and not any money coming in. But then I did reach a tipping point at month six post launch. So in April of 2013 which is six months after I launched, I was started to be approached by sponsors and they said, “John, we see that you have a large audience. We see that you ranked high in iTunes. We want to be in front of your audience.” This is Audible. This is LegalZoom. This is Squarespace. This is 99Designs.
And I said, “Well, let’s talk numbers.” I wasn’t just going to bring sponsors on for just dollars because I knew I was going to dilute the podcast on some level as all sponsorships do. I mean, no matter how hard you try and I tried really hard to only have really targeted sponsors that would help Entrepreneur on Fire listeners that will really benefit Fire Nation, it is a distraction. It takes people away from your brand. It takes people away from the main focus of the interview. So I had my number and that number I had to be generating was $500 per episode and as I was only going to bring on two sponsors per episode. I knew that each sponsor had to be willing to pay me $250 before I started taking sponsors on. We ran the numbers, my downloads commended that dollar amount so I started taking sponsors in April of 2013 for really the first time on a consistent basis and that was my first five figure month.
James: Incredible -Incredible that’s wow. Tell me about present day. I just want to focus in on the inside the head of John Lee Dumas just for a second. Not to sound too cliché but you’re differentiating what you do — have a differentiating value preposition, how do you approach your day, your delivery and bringing that value? What’s inside your head, what’s your mantra?
John: So my mantra here at Entrepreneur On Fire really does go back to a quote that I love from Albert Einstein which is “Try not to become a man of success but try instead to become a man of value,” and from day one I really wanted to just be delivering value and look at value first for Fire Nations so in everything that we do here at Entrepreneur On Fire myself are content creator Kate Erickson who’s my girlfriend partner here.
Our two virtual assistants in the Philippines that works 40 hours a week for us each and really work incredibly hard. We’re all together of the same mind set of trying to deliver value to Fire Nation, that’s our mantra, that’s our focus day in and day out and is continued to steed us as well.
James: And you continued to over deliver on a very consistent basis, my friend absolutely. Everyone that’s ever heard you can attest to that and just a note for our listeners and I promise to do this more often there will be copious show notes with copious links, everything that we spoke of all and all the links of John and the articles that John has mentioned.
I love that Einstein quote. He has another one; I don’t have it in front of me. The other one is if you can’t explain simply what you do then you don’t know enough about it or something like that. I love some of Albert Einstein’s quotes but thank you so much for bringing the value, the word value equation into my Big Value, Big Business podcast because that’s what are all about here. It’s just…
John: Well James can the listeners find the show notes page?
James: They are going to find that bigvaluebigbusiness.com/episode16. That’s episode 16 or they can go to the search box and search John Lee and as you like to say, “You’ll be hanging out there man.” I’ve tried not to be — yes, carbon copy but I had a good teacher. Anyway, hey, Einstein one inspiration where does John get his inspiration on a day-to-day basis, do you — but we’ve already heard a little bit about masterminds and mentors.
Tell us the importance of that and where you’re kind of looking for your inspiration and motivation these days?
John: I get inspiration every single day, James from Fire Nation. Hundreds of emails come in on a day-to-day basis, you know, I have a great team here who does really a good job of filtering out the ones that aren’t just really relevant to me and really giving me the ones that are. And a lot of the emails that come in every single day or from people that are sharing stories of how they were inspired to do something that they never thought that they had the courage to do, success stories, you know, and of course the occasional constructive criticism comes in which I insisted my VAs pass on through to me because it’s valuable to take constructive criticisms for just what it is.
And I take that criticism and try to apply it to my business, to my podcast to improve as well. So I’m really inspired every day to improve Entrepreneur On Fire’s overall experience. I love getting inspired by people, you know, that are just emailing in so often with their experiences and their breakthrough and their uh -huh moments they love to share with me and I use a great tool called Vocaroo which allows me to quickly respond to them via an audio message which is so personal because even when I do responds via an email reply, a lot of times they assumed that one of my VAs potentially doing it.
They don’t know for sure so I just want them to, you know, I want the fact that if I am taking the time to actually respond I want them to know for sure that it really is me and this tool Vocaroo really gives me an amazing opportunity to do so very effectively and efficiently so I love that tool. I use it every single day and of course, you know, my membership mastermind Fire Nation Elite is built up of what I consider 100 of the top entrepreneurs that are out there that are just doing great things.
And these aren’t the top Entrepreneurs like Pat Flynn and Amy Porterfield. These are just people that listed on Entrepreneur On Fire. They consider themselves part of Fire Nation that one and out be part of Fire Nation Elites which again is this membership mastermind that we’ve, you know, we’ve capped and closed at 100 members and every day on that Facebook group, I’m engaging with them like 45 and then they’re flying out next week to be here in San Diego for our annual meet up. It’s going to be an amazing time.
James: That’s a perfect segue into — I want to ask you what you’re working on now Podcaster’s Paradise, Fire Nation Elite, the Fire Path I subscribe to the Fire Path, I love it. Tell us what…
John: So one thing I learned with the Podcaster’s Paradise is the power of a live webinar. This is an unbelievable opportunity to grow your email as build your brand, sell your product or service, create your product or service and then sell it on a webinar. I mean it’s an unbelievable opportunity that everybody needs to be taken advantage of no matter what industry you’re in.
So because of that and because Kate and I in the Entrepreneur On Fire team have literally perfected the live webinar system we are going to be releasing just a couple of weeks here Webinar On Fire which is going to be an amazing product to show people how to create, present and to convert your webinar.
And it’s just I can’t even say enough how amazing doing live webinars are again, to grow your email list, to sell your product or service live, 86% of the $440,000 we’ve done in sales for Podcaster’s Paradise have come on a live webinar.
People need the events, they need the assurance, they want the engagement. You have to give it to them as entrepreneur and it’s so easy to do and we show you how so Webinar On Fire is something we really excited about right now.
James: I can’t believe another product and it’s going to fit right in and I totally heard the success. I think I heard you talking to Ramit podcast and you were going on and he’s a marketing monster and he couldn’t believe your numbers. He was so impressed with those as everyone should be but yes, wow.
So why not create a product and show everyone else how to do it, awesome. The Fire Path, you’ve already talked about Fire Nation Elite now, that’s a closed application type of mastermind group?
John: It is. So we cap it at 100 members, James because we found that a 100 is a perfect number, it’s large enough where we can really powerfully impact our own businesses but it’s small enough so we can really develop some relationships with each other, you know, I’d say the numbers are kind of usually hover between 95 to 85 members and whenever it gets down to like 85, I open applications back up to bring in like another 10 or 15 people.
We never go above of a 100 but I do open applications back up so bring people in to kind of give that extra shot of energy of new people coming in so if anybody is interested is always closed but you can always sign up at FireNationElite.com for a future 15 minutes chat with me and that will, you know, we’ll sit down 15 minutes.
We’ll talk about Fire Nation Elite and if it happens to be an opening and we both think that you’re the right fit for it then we’ll open the doors.
James: Great. So it’s basically a waiting list. I was going to ask you how so you kind of register for waiting list and when you see the door cracking open you start interviewing?
James: Awesome. Awesome. All right. As we were wind down tell us where we can find John Dumas?
John: EOFire.com, is where all the magic happens.
James: And it does happen. Big magic, big value, big magic.
John: Speaking of magic my Fire Nation Elite hangout next week, I’ve hired them a magician.
John: I’m pretty excited about that
James: Maybe you can just clip that particular part of making available to some of those non-members, at least the magician part.
James: John Dumas, thank you so much for your time today. You are a gentleman and an inspiration to us all. We look forward to each and every episode of EOFire to come and I hope you and I can talk again in the very, very near future, sir.
John: James, I will catch you on the flipside.
James: You definitely will, my friend. Have a great weekend.
James: Take care. Bye-bye.