339 The Evolution of Entrepreneur On Fire – John Lee Dumas

What you will hear in our discussion with John Lee Dumas:

  • The Backbone of a Successful Online Biz
  • How to Know What is Profitable
  • How to Launch a Profitable Product
  • Tips on Growing a Successful Online Biz

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More about our featured guest John Lee Dumas

More about our featured guest

Full Transcript

[00:00] Joel: As promised, our guest today is the guy, when it comes to creating, growing, and monetizing a podcast. He runs one of the top podcast in all of iTunes, he's been mentioned in Success magazine along with the variety of other publications, and he has delivered the message of podcasting to audiences from all over the globe, from the Philippines, to backyard America. He's taken a seven day a week podcast and his business model and he has turned it into a six figure a month location independent business. Of course, I am talking about the Entrepreneur On Fire himself, the one and only John Lee Dumas. John Lee Dumas good to have you back my friend.

[00:48] John Lee Dumas: Joel it is always a pleasure to talk to you, my friends and let me just say it, I'm prepared to ignite.

[00:54] Joel: Well, good I feel, I was wondering about that, I was counting on you to bring your A-Game today.

[01:00] John Lee Dumas: Duh.


[01:02] Joel: You know what, John, one friend to another here, I've gotta thank you and Kate and Dean Patino and just the whole Fire Nation, because we recently, about a month ago celebrated our one year anniversary of the Relaunch show and I've got, gosh, I've got so many people to thank but you and Kate were right there at the very beginning, when I was kinda scratching my head, trying to figure out. Okay, I've got the mechanical stuff, kind of figured out but I really need to learn how to ignite this bad boy. I launched eight shows, eight, before I actually was able to knock it out of the park with this one and you and Kate were the lighter fluid, that we were able to throw on this thing, and last time I checked I think we're at about 750,000 plays, something like that.

[02:01] John Lee Dumas: Wow.

[02:01] Joel: A big number for me.

[02:02] John Lee Dumas: Massive, for anybody.

[02:04] Joel: Yeah, thanks.

[02:05] John Lee Dumas: Yeah, well let me tell you, persistence and perseverance are two of your massive touch stones, and Joel that's something that a lot of people can't point to and therefore they can't point to success, so you definitely have a lot of people to thank and I definitely received that, so thank you. But you need to look in the mirror, you and Pei because it's a lot of hard work and you guys have put in the hours.

[02:26] Joel: You know what, I appreciate you saying it John and that's exactly what I say to some of the podcasters that are in the Relaunch Elite program. Thank you Joel, thank you Pei for the training and encouragement and all that, like you John I try to be as gracious and in receiving as possible, but just this morning I turned around and say “You know what,” I was talking to one of my elites, said “You know what, it was all you, you're the one that did it”. So, thank you again and gosh, let's just have some fun, what do you say?

[03:00] John Lee Dumas: Yeah, I'm excited.

[03:00] Joel: Indeed. Normally on this show, we ask our guests to zero in on the Relaunch has been the most transformational for them, then we just kinda unfold the story, from there. And we've had you on earlier shows and we've heard your story, we heard about your prior military experience and how you are in the real estate game and how you got that idea of creating a seven day a week entrepreneurial story, so we probably won't go through that story again. But I thought since most of our audience the lion's share anyways are podcasters, authors, content creators, what I thought would actually be more relevant is to talk about not just the explosive growth of Entrepreneur On Fire, we can definitely talk about that, but also the openness that you and Kate and the team had to be, to new opportunities and being flexible, during your growth period because while you had that plan in place three years ago, well obviously you've experienced some things that necessitated, some quick decisions and some, I would assume, some realignment of many, many things. So, how do we need to get in to this kind of re-shaping or some tweaking that you've had to have done, or am I off base here, has it just been a straightforward shot for you?

[04:30] John Lee Dumas: Evolving is the word that I think every entrepreneur just has to embrace and has to make their own, because Entrepreneur On Fire is not fundamentally a different podcast than when we launched over a 1,000 episodes ago now but how we run it, how we engage with the audience, how we create products services in communities. That's all evolved from zero to where we are now, every one of those is its own launch, and is its own Relaunch because it's us finding the way, and it's one thing that I really like to focus on when people are looking about building their audiences and really making this a viable business, is you need to ask the question “What do you struggling with to your audience?” And then listen because your audience is gonna be the one that tells you their struggles, their obstacles, their pain points and then you, the person that asked the question and listened to them, can create the solution for them. And I know that's what you're doing with Relaunch Elite and that's what I do Fire Nation Elite and with Podcasters' Paradise. I ask the question, I listen and then I provide that solution, and by asking that question that allows me to evolve, to continue to realize different opportunities that by me not having an open line of communication, I would never even know existed.

[05:50] John Lee Dumas: So, it's critical to have that communication to do things that just don't scale sometimes. And a lot of people cringe from that, they say “Well, John you have a podcast that you just record once and it gets listened to over a million times a month, you have like that big of an audience.” I do, but the reality is, is that it's the individual relationships that I forge, by having those one on one conversations, by responding to emails and tweets and Facebook messages. That's the backbone of Fire Nation. And that is something I can never forget.

[06:23] Joel: Talk a little bit more, if you would please, about not being able to scale everything because I remember just yesterday, it was either yesterday or the day before someone says, “Yeah but you can't scale that.” And I remember what you, I've heard you say many times and I quote you loudly and proudly, I say, “You know what? My buddy John always says, You can't scale everything.” So, can you expand more on being able to know what you can scale or at least have an idea of what you can scale and what you actually need to get in the trenches and do.

[07:00] John Lee Dumas: So, everybody has a little magical aura around the words “start-ups,” in Internet start-ups, and we hear Silicon Valley, we're just like, “Oh my God, this is such a magical place” and it is in a lot of levels. And a lot of people in Silicon Valley, that's their focus. They are just looking to scale at massive levels, but something that we have to realize and this is the founder of Y Combinator, Brad Feld. He is a guy that's like Mr. Start-up incubator himself. He's the guy that quotes and who I often refer to and I quote is, “Do things that don't scale,” because that's how the momentum starts. That's how the path is uncovered. And for me, that was having one on one Skype conversations for free with people in Fire Nation that I had to learn from and, Joel, you know this by joining Fire Nation Elite. I mean I have one on one conversations with every single person before we offer them a spot within our community. And that doesn't scale, me having these one on one conversations with a majority of the people who won't end up them being a fit for our limited and capped and close community.

[08:08] John Lee Dumas: So, for me I look at it as, this is how I learn. This is how I evolve individually by doing things that don't scale by having the conversations. I can't just keep hitting replay on the same exact thing and not having a two line of communication and only having a one line that's not gonna allow me to grow as an entrepreneur. It's the conversations that I've had that allowed me to create Podcasters' Paradise and Entrepreneur On Fire and everything else that we've done that's been successful. And it's allowed me to really realize the failures of things that we've done a lot faster because I have the conversations instead of being kind of like “a gopher in a hole” not realizing, “Hey this isn't working.” I'm in the mix, I'm talking to the people and I'm realizing, “Hey, this isn't working.” And I realize it quick so that we can fail and move on and move forward. And that's a critical aspect.

[09:01] Joel: Was that a challenge for you to reach out and to ask people? Or did that come… Was that a natural tendency for you or did you have to… Was that an acquired skill?

[09:11] John Lee Dumas: It was acquired, it wasn't natural because, again, we love just being able to do our work and to hone our craft and to do what we love. We all want… We all like wanna be an example to be like that guitar player who can just play amazing guitar. He just wants to play and he just wants people… He just wants to personally love what he does. And that's how I am as a podcaster in a lot of ways but the reality is is that we have to put our work out there and then we have to ask and just demand for feedback, otherwise we're never going to improve or get better or evolve. So it's something that I had to acquire because what you're basically asking for is constructive criticism. And no matter how much you accept and really look for it, it always hurts a little bit. And it's always gonna hurt a little bit.

[09:56] John Lee Dumas: Those one star and two star reviews, or that person that's just like, “You know it just, it doesn't really click with me for this reason.” You embrace that and you love that feedback 'cause that's the only way that you improve but it still hurts a little bit. And as humans we wanna protect ourselves from that. So a lot of us don't get out of our shells and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, but being vulnerable is the only way you're going to evolve.

[10:21] Joel: Absolutely. I couldn't agree with you any more and that's when you're able to be of better service to the people that you're send here to serve is when you're vulnerable and when you find out what people really need. And Pei and I continue to be surprised at some of the things that people see in us or some of the value that they're getting from us on our group coaching calls, things of that nature. Things that we don't even plan to deliver. This has happened to you I know countless times.

[10:50] John Lee Dumas: Oh yeah.

[10:51] Joel: When you're on stage. Can you think of a particular instance when someone has maybe talked to you after a keynote or after a session and they said something that they got it from you or something that you said that… And they got something completely not what you had planned on, but it just, it added value to their life anyways?

[11:15] John Lee Dumas: One thing that I always focus on in pretty much all of my teachings and all of my talks and webinars is the massive importance of really knowing at a deep level who your one perfect listener is, and who I refer to as the “avatar.” And so I had somebody come up to me afterwards and then this is after one of my talks, it's actually, for Infusionsoft's conference, ICON 15 out in Phoenix, Arizona. And to be honest that was a massive event, there was over 3,000 people there. I had over 800 people live at my talk which was the biggest talk I've ever done live. And it was an amazing event because a lot of people hadn't really even heard of podcasting so they were hearing about it for the first time.

[12:00] John Lee Dumas: And they were hearing my belief systems for the first time too and I had somebody come up to me afterwards and say, “John. I've been doing this for five years and every morning I wake up and I feel like I'm just slamming my head against the wall because I'm taking the weight of the world and I'm putting the weight of the world on me and I'm making every decision and I'm agonizing over every single decision, and I'm wondering if I should go left or right at my forks in the road and it seems like I always choose the wrong one and I'm blaming myself and then after hearing you talk right now; it's just like this huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders because I realized, number one, there is a reason why I'm choosing the wrong path every single time because I'm not the person who should be choosing in the first place because I'm not my perfect clients. My perfect client is this person and I know this person and if I can just put my mental self in that person at every fork in the road, it becomes so simple 'cause I know what that person would want, so why have I been spending the last five years trying to make decisions that I shouldn't even be making?”.

[13:02] John Lee Dumas: And this person just, they looked relieved and they looked five years younger and they looked like for the first time they didn't have this anxiety just weighing them down, and it was just like this light in their eyes and they were just so excited to kind of apply this new philosophy. And getting actually an email follow up a couple of months later from that very person saying how that wasn't just an aha moment that didn't stick but it was actually working in their business, to me, just really showed a lot of the power of learning from other people which I have done every single episode of Entrepreneur On Fire, over a 1000 now, but then turning around and teaching my learnings to other people, and that's what we do as podcast hosts when we have the opportunity, and it was really a valuable experience.

[13:51] Joel: That's one thing that I learned from you and I remember very, very well. One of the things that you said was, “Let your avatar make your business decisions for you,” or you said something along the lines of that. And early on when I was going through the Podcasters' Paradise tutorials and training, I wrote… That really resonated with me, and what you were saying is, “Don't make the business decisions yourself, let your avatar or whomever your ideal listener is… Ask yourself what would he wanna do? Or what would she decide to do? And make your decision based on not what you think but who your ideal listener or you avatar ideal client, what they would do and how they would respond,” and that to me was gold, John.

[14:46] John Lee Dumas: Thanks, that's something that took me way too long to understand myself and it was a mistake that I made and was wondering why I was banging my head against the wall but… Interviewing successful entrepreneurs and listening and being mentored and being apprenticed, I learned these things the hard way and I just love sharing stuff that I've learned that's helped unclog some of my boiling points that I've just not been able to figure out and it's really helped me in so many different ways.

[15:15] Joel: Indeed. Talk a little bit about failures, because we've all had them and I think some startup entrepreneurs or some entrepreneurs that are new in the game, they don't really understand that it's a failing forward process that… I remember having our mutual friend, Nick Unsworth on this show and he talked about his 11 business failures before he was able to figure out how this worked and how he could take life on fire and make that work for him. So, can you talk about some of the things that just kind of didn't work out for you and then what gave you that “I'm gonna try one more time,” resolve?

[16:04] John Lee Dumas: I think people need to have actually a mindset shift when it comes to failure because I personally get nervous when I haven't failed in a little while. Like if a week or two goes by and I haven't actually failed at something fairly significant, I'm like, “Man, I am just sitting here in my comfort zone and that is not good. That's not healthy for my business,” because all the magic happens outside of your comfort zone. And it's, I get it, it's comfortable in the comfort zone, you're being clothed and fed and it's nice and cozy, there's a fire burning, but that is not where mistakes happen. Mistakes happen outside of the comfort zone and mistakes and failures for me is what brings me closer to that magical point, that magical moment. So, I'm always celebrating my failures and just saying, “Man this is actually a great learning example, this is a great experience that I can now take, learn from, and iterate until I actually turn this into another massive success, whatever that might end up being”. So my first biggest failure with Entrepreneur On Fire was launch. That's why I love the name of your show, Relaunch, because man, my show almost never launched in the first place because I had had Cliff Ravenscraft, Jaime Tardy, telling me, “John a seven day a week podcast is not going to succeed. Period.”

[17:21] John Lee Dumas: “You're gonna get burnt out, your listeners are gonna get burnt out, you're not gonna find enough gas”, so I had all these doubts and nagging insecurities going into my launch, and I knew that, “Hey, until I launch I can't actually fail because nobody's gonna really know if a daily show will work or not. People are gonna have their theories but they won't know. So I'm not a failure if I don't launch.” And that was kind of comforting to me, that was my comfort zone. I couldn't succeed but I also couldn't fail and I was more concerned about not failing than succeeding and that caused me five weeks of delay and I was just pushing things back for no good reason. And I also refer to this as my $100,000 mistake, because a year to the day after we launched our podcast, we had our first $100,000 month and the only thing that five weeks of initial delay did me back in 2012 was delay everything of Entrepreneur On Fire by five weeks and that pushed everything back.

[18:22] John Lee Dumas: So that $100,000 month would have come a full month earlier, and I can never get that back. So that was my biggest early failure. And as we publish our income reports every single month, we are always sharing other failures that we're having and mistakes that I'm making within successes too, because within every success there's a string of failures. One that I talked about pretty honestly was we had a massively successful Podcasters' Paradise push recently where we brought in 287 people over the course of four days at $335,000. Massive success on so many levels, but I made so many mistakes at the same time within that four-day launch that if and when I do that again, that I'll have learned from. And I talk openly about those within our income reports while acknowledging the success, but at the same time highlighting the failures.

[19:14] Joel: I really appreciate you sharing that, John. There are going to be mistakes. There's going to be failures if you will, but if you're thinking about creating and launching your podcast or getting your book out there or developing your program and getting it out there, the suggestion here, if you haven't already got it loud and clear, is to just do it anyways and then to tweak, to get feedback, and to make changes and adjustments as you go through the process and just know that you're building something better. I mentioned at the beginning of the show, ReLaunch is my ninth show. Ninth show! I mean, it took me a while. I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but you know what, with some expert tutelage by John and Kate, and many other people, we were able to make this happen. But it didn't come without many false starts and then also surrounding myself with people that knew me, that liked me and that trusted us and that also trusted our judgment and our ability. On the ReLaunch show, during most interviews, I talk about the three success vitals that you have to have for any relaunch to be successful, the personal and professional and that is you've got to have your relaunch resources.

[20:45] Joel: You've got to surround yourself with the best books, the best podcasts, and the best video training that will take you to another level. You also have to participate in your success or rather your relaunch rituals. So it's things that you do day in and day out come hell or high water no matter what that will set you up for success. And then, you have to have your relaunch relationships and those are those people that will surround you and link arms with you and will also let you stand on their shoulders so that you can see farther. People like what you and Kate have been for me, like Jamie and Cliff and other people who are for you. Those are just the three vitals. And I know you've heard or you've done over a thousand shows and that means you've talked with that many experts just about, so you've probably heard those three things mentioned, resources, routines and relationships many, many times over. They might have used different words and different language to frame those up, but I hear those over and over again.

[21:51] Joel: So, I appreciate you sharing. Coming in for our landing here, talk about the business opportunities available in podcasting because this is a great time to create and launch your podcast. My gosh! I mean, of all people, President Barack Obama, like him or not is on the podcasting bandwagon. I saw him on the cover of iTunes last time I was on there. So, he is now doing or at least did a podcast as a guest. So yeah, just talk about it for a minute or two. I'm going to respect your time and we will call it a show, John.

[22:32] John Lee Dumas: Yeah, Obama went to Marc Maron's garage to record a podcast episode, that just speaks volumes in so many different ways. Because the reality is this, podcasting is an unbelievable medium for you as a podcast host, as a content creator to build an intimate and targeted and passionate audience. And it's so exciting because the listeners of podcast they are able to choose what they want to listen to, where they want to listen to it, and how they want to listen to it, and that is what's really ushering out the days of radio and ushering out the days of life because people don't want live because live means they're on somebody else's schedule. And especially for gray content that's evergreen like the content of your show and my show, people wanna be able to consume it where, when and how they want to. So, we are creating targeted, focused, on demand content. And this is the on demand world that we live in and that's why podcasting is rising to the top because it is on demand. When I wanna go for a walk and press play in a podcast, I choose to do so as a consumer, and it's an amazing consumer experience and that's what we're here for.

[23:48] John Lee Dumas: So within podcasting, I'm just seeing so much opportunity for a host to find a topic that they're number one, passionate about; and number two, have skills and value to bring. That they can combine that passion and expertise into that zone of genius, and niche it down. Joel, your podcast failed partly because you weren't able to find a distinguishing factor enough to resonate with enough people. You didn't get that UVD down pat, that unique value distinguisher. For me, when I started, it was a seven day a week show, nobody else was doing it. That was the uniqueness that I was bringing to the game. You've now found that uniqueness, therefore your success, coming quickly up to a million listens in your show.

[24:39] John Lee Dumas: So there's something that we really need to focus on as podcasters, getting into the game, is that, “What is that thing that I am just willing to stand for and dominate that nobody else is willing to because I have gotten down that far niched where I'm able to get this momentum? ‘Cause I'm only the person in the game or I'm just gonna be able to be the best at this game right here.” That's where you build your audience. That's where I built Fire Nation, back in 2012, with those crazy podcast listeners who were listening and wanted more content, and I was more content. And now there's people coming out that are creating podcasts for the “divorced male, new bachelor, living by himself, who's looking to get in shape,” That's a very specific niche and somebody's creating a successful podcast around that because every single person who's in that situation, there's no other show for them. That's the only show that they're gonna listen to, and he's going to build a powerful audience in that way.

[25:36] John Lee Dumas: So as a producer, find that niche that you're passionate about, that you have value in, that you're willing to dominate. And as a listener, keep listening and keep finding that great content that's improving your life, that is in that niche that you're excited about that's bringing you forward every single day. So it's a win-win for everybody involved and that's what I love about podcasting, is that every single person, from the person that presses play to the person that's behind the mic, it's a win. And that's really exciting and that's why I love this medium.

[26:09] Joel: Absolutely. Very well said. John Lee Dumas is our guest today, Entrepreneur On Fire is his show. 1000 plus episodes into it. Of course all the social media links and all of the go-to places will be included in the broadcast show notes that accompany this episode, including links to one of the best podcasting training courses around. I took it. Pei and I both went through his training about a year, a year and a half ago, and that has helped us immensely with the success of the ReLaunch Show.

[26:48] Joel: John, always, you're welcome back here on ReLaunch. Look forward to seeing you at the Podcast Movement here in about a month in Fort Worth. Have a wonderful, wonderful rest of your day. We'll see you.

[26:58] John Lee Dumas: Thanks, Joel.

[27:00] Joel: Bye.

Connect with John on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and his website.

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Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

1 Comment

  1. John Lee Dumas on July 15, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Really enjoyed being a guest on your show! Thanks for the great opportunity!!

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