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Success isn’t just about the numbers in your bank account. For today’s guest, his passion and the value he brought to the world cemented his success beyond the financial aspect. John Lee Dumas is a lifestyle guru who hosts the award- winning Entrepreneurs On Fire podcast. With an empire built around his podcast with over 2000 podcast episodes of sitting down and chatting with the top entrepreneurs, John has long surpassed what it usually means to be successful. Now, he’s focusing on his significance in changing the world for the better. Tune in to learn about the hard work and the process behind his success and the questions you should be asking to define your success.
John Lee Dumas On His Passion To Change The World – With A Glimpse Into Creating One Of The Top Podcasts
In this episode, my dear friend and colleague John Lee Dumas, a lifestyle guru who hosts the Entrepreneurs On Fire Podcast, shares his life and passion to change the world, giving us an inside glimpse of what it took to create one of the top podcasts in the world.
Welcome to my show and I want to get right to what everybody wants to know. I want you to take us back to a brief description of you growing up when you finally caught the vision that you were crazy enough to believe you could change the world.
Dan, thanks for having me. It is always a pleasure to be conversing and chatting with you. It was amazing to host you at my home here in Puerto Rico, break bread together. We’re going to continue to impact this world in amazing ways and I cannot wait to do that. For me, I can be honest. I’m a small-town boy from the state of Maine. My parents had a very simple saying growing up. It was be humble, be happy.
I was always associating being happy with being humble. I’ve tried to carry that forward with me as I grew up and went to college on an Army ROTC scholarship. After having spent four years as a cadet in the college ranks, I spent eight years as an officer in the US Army. I don’t say this to many people, but you’re one of the few individuals I’ve met who wasn’t in my platoon that I would ruck up and go to war with.
Remember, we brainstormed about going downrange again. I’m going to put that together as soon as we can.
Success is great to achieve but once you’ve achieved it, you have to learn how to move from success to significance because that’s what’s going to keep you going.
My four years as an active-duty officer and four years in the reserves, it went by pretty fast. I did a thirteen-month tour of duty in Iraq as an Armor Platoon Leader, which meant that I was in charge of 4 tanks and 16 men. It was a pretty interesting and very intense experience, to say the least. That was when the spark was born, that I was going to make the most of my life if I was able to get out of Iraq alive. Fortunately, I was able to do so. I love honoring their memory, but my 4 of the 16 men of my platoon did make the ultimate sacrifice and could not. It was a commitment to each one of them of not living a life of quiet desperation that I see so many people lead but instead to live the life that was the max that I was capable of doing.
It didn’t equate to success, though, Dan. It wasn’t like, “I made that pledge. Now I’m going to crush it in life.” No, I still struggled. I went to law school thinking that was the path for me. I dropped that after one semester. I tried corporate finance and quit after one year. I tried commercial real estate in San Diego and it was a miserable experience. It was six years I struggled, post-military, trying to find what that next step was for me. Fortunately, one thing I never stopped doing was educating myself. I was consuming great inspiring content and some of that content was in the form of podcasts. I fell in love with the medium. I understood the value of that free, on-demand, targeted content. I said to myself, “What’s missing in this space?” It’s the key question that I asked myself.
What I found was no podcast was releasing a daily show with an interview and life story of a successful entrepreneur. I wanted that as a listener of podcasts, but it didn’t exist. I started to take a little page out of Gandhi’s book and be the change that you want to see in the world. Back In 2012, I launched the first-ever daily podcast interviewing the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. As you and I are talking, Dan, that was 2,643 episodes ago. I’ve been cranking them out ever since. It’s allowed me to build that lifestyle and financial freedom. Myself, Kate and our little goldendoodle pup named Gus, live down here and paradise in Puerto Rico. We love it and life is good. I get to occasionally host amazing people like Dan at my home.
Let me ask you a question. You’ve perfected networking at the highest levels. You’ve figured out how to influence the affluent. When you first started your podcast in the mindset of the six degrees of separation, how did you go about connecting with guests who were successful when you did not have the name recognition? This is so beneficial for all of us reading to be a power player. It means that you focus on the things that have never changed. The first word that comes to mind is the passion for connecting, educating yourself, learning from everyone you possibly can. How did you go after the A-listers, make that connection and get them to believe that you could help them get their message to the world?
When I launched the podcast, my podcast was nothing. My name meant nothing. Nobody had heard the name John Lee Dumas and the podcast Entrepreneurs On Fire. How could they? It hadn’t existed yet. I knew that it was going to be a numbers game for me at first. It was going to be me putting in the work, putting in the reps and getting people on my show one step at a time.
A strategy that I took that worked incredibly well as I went to Google. I googled entrepreneur conferences 2012. All these conferences popped up. Did I go and attend those conferences? No, but what did I do? I went to the website of those conferences. I clicked on the word speakers at all of these conferences, and I saw a list of the speakers at these conferences right in front of me. These were individuals that were going ahead, flying cross country, spending a few nights at a hotel room to speak for 45 minutes at a conference where they probably weren’t getting paid or not getting paid that much at all to maybe speak in front of 45, 100 or maybe if they were lucky, 250 people.
They were willing to do that. If I was able to convince them and say, “I love the fact that you spoke at X conference on this topic. I would love for you to speak on that very topic that you’re an expert on, that you already have the knowledge to speak about eloquently on my podcast, but here’s the difference. You have to jump on Skype or on Zoom. For 25 minutes, you can be in your bathroom. You can have a cup of coffee. You don’t even have to take a shower or do your hair because there’s an audio-only interview and I’m just going to talk to you about what you’re an expert in, about your story and knowledge. It was a great proposition.”
Not everybody said yes by a long shot, but I got it up to about a 60% yes rate. For every ten people I messaged, six people said yes. I was able to slowly build my resume on that. Every single time somebody said yes and I would interview them, as I was signing off of them, Dan, at the end of that episode, I would thank them for coming, the recording was over and we were having our little final chit chat. I would say, “By the way, Dan, a quick question. Do you know anybody that would make a good fit for the show because you rocked it? I would love to have more people like you on my show.”
I’m giving them the opportunity to potentially be a little bit of a hero because now they’re able to go to their friends and say, “I was on the show. It’s going to give you some exposure. It’s going to take 25 minutes of your time from the comfort of your home.” I was able to get people on my show at a high quantity that way. The network quantity is huge because I was doing a seven-day-a-week show and a lot of people told me it couldn’t be done because I couldn’t find enough guests and I was able to find enough guests that way.
You did specifically ask about getting the A-listers. The key thing is I did not go after the A-listers at first. I built my base, put in my reps, interviewed 30, 40, 50 people. I published those episodes. I got okay at podcasting because they did the work, put in the reps and did it. I was patient, strategic, kept my eyes on those A-listers and I waited. When Tim Ferriss was launching his book 4-Hour Chef, Seth Godin was launching his book, The Icarus Deception, and Gary Vaynerchuck was launching his book, Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, they went into promotion mode.
I reached out to them and said, “I know you’re getting on a lot of different radio shows, talk shows or other podcasts to promote your book. My audience will be a perfect fit. Can I have you on for 25 minutes to talk to my audience about your area of expertise and we’ll promote your book?” I was able to because I was strategic. They went and they looked. They said, “This guy has 40 episodes done. He’s got 200 ratings and reviews. He’s ranked pretty high in the iTunes store. Let’s do it.” Once you get one A-lister, you’re pre-qualified because now the other A-listers are like, “If Tim Ferriss said yes, he’s probably pre-qualified. I’m going to say yes as well just based off of that.” Once you have that one big domino drop, the others fall. I hope that answers your question, Dan.
As I’ve always tried to point out that anybody can win or lose on any given day, but those who consistently perform at the highest level have clearly identified their passion. One of the hardest things for us to do is communicate over the telephone or over the airwaves without any visual. I can hear you smile. Your passion is extraordinary. To me, passion is when your why is bigger than your why not so you continuously prepare.
“Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.” – Albert Einstein.
Reflect on some of your guests and what is 1 or 2 of the most significant ideas, nuggets of wisdom that you’ve learned that help us entrepreneurs prepare that you live by. That’s one of the coolest things getting to know you, my friend, is that you don’t just practice what you preach. You preach only what you practice. This is a lifestyle that you’re helping us understand. Help us understand that word preparation if you can. Somebody you had as a guest touched, taught, and helped you prepare for life, not just to become an entrepreneur, and who was that person?
There’s an individual and you’re using the word significant sparked this memory. It was an interview with this guest, whose name is Aaron Young. He’s an incredible human being. I had him on my show. We’re going through his story and he was talking about how he had achieved success at a certain age, which was pretty young. He still felt hollow, he knew that he had achieved success but felt hollow and he couldn’t figure out why. That’s where your word significant comes in because he realized that even though he was successful, he wasn’t doing anything in his life that was providing significance to this world.
From that, he came up with a phrase that he’s now well known for, which is from success to significance. It was a timely episode for me because I was at that stage where I was about three years into my podcast. I had turned Entrepreneurs On Fire into a multimillion-dollar a year empire. It was growing from that stage and I had achieved quite a bit of success. I had honestly achieved more success than I even expected in my wildest dreams for a lot of reasons, a lot of them being lucky and working hard. Luck is where effort means opportunity and everything are coming together. At the same time, I was like, “Why isn’t the success feeling I wanted to feel.” In his words, you need to move from being successful to being significant to the core of you.
I shifted my entire mindset of what that looked like on that day. From that point forward, I’ve always looked towards being significant. Success is great to achieve, but once you’ve achieved it, you’ve got to learn how to move from success to significance because that’s what’s going to keep you going. That’s going to keep you feeling like you’re doing the thing that you were meant to do because I could have retired years ago. I’m living down here in Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean. It’s an unbelievable tax haven. You only pay 4% total tax on all of your revenue. It’s an absolute oasis for anybody who’s looking to build their net worth, financial freedom, location freedom and overall lifestyle freedom that’s so important to a lot of people, but if you’re doing it for that reason, that success is going to feel hollow.
Moving towards what it meant for me to add significance to this world was the key, which kept me going. Otherwise, I may have stopped doing what I was doing and lost that North Star, which keeps me getting up every day, fired up to chat with people like you, Dan. To serve my audience, Fire Nation, to grow my podcast to an even bigger level, go deep, and be incredibly generous with philanthropic causes that I love and commit to. That is bringing significance into my world.
My last book is called the Art of Significance. Aaron Young’s a dear friend. He’s been in my home and I’ve helped him with his keynote speech. We talk a lot about that. How ironic he’d bring up his name. I need to call him. You need to call him and tell him I’m the best guy you’ve ever met. Let’s continue because you’re so fascinating to me. You could have retired now after we get off the air, but you still continuously pursue this passion.
One of the things that I’ve learned that you learned in the military is that I’ve learned through observing. Those of you who have committed to service before, is it under pressure? You don’t rise to the occasion. We fall to the level of our training. Therefore, I want to ask you as we get to about the 50-yard line of this interview. Remember, my definition of successful is people get what they think they want and those of us who were striving to live lives of significance want what we get, so we don’t die with our music still with us. What is keeping you driven? What are you still passionate about changing the world and making a difference every single day, day in and day out?
It’s the ripple effect. I see it in the emails that I get and the social media messages that I received so consistently is that my podcast, having somebody like yourself, Aaron, fill in the blank for a successful entrepreneur or an inspiring entrepreneur that I’ve had on as a guest has shared something. Maybe it was a word, sentence, or entire concept and way of thinking that changed the reader’s life direction. They’ve gone off and created something amazing.
That alone is great, but what comes next is what I call the ripple effect. Dan Clark said something on Entrepreneurs On Fire that inspired a reader of mine to go and do that amazing thing. That reader got an email from somebody who they’ve inspired by what they’ve done in this world. They would never have done without those words from Dan Clark on Entrepreneurs On Fire. That second degree, third degree, or even sometimes six degrees of separation of that ripple effect. That keeps me up and fired.
I love those stories and seeing the exact situations that are transpiring and taking place all over the world while I’m sleeping, while you and I are talking right now, Dan, on your show, somebody is reading Episode 431 of Entrepreneurs On Fire that I did in 2013. That episode is connecting with them at such a powerful level that it will change their lives. That’s happening exponentially. The more content that I put out, it continues to add to that ripple effect that inspires me above everything else.
I’ve been teaching public speaking at the university level and MBA level for several years. I was teaching in my alma mater, the University of Utah and one of my students, Lauren McCleskey, was murdered. I wrote a little tribute to her that went viral. She was such an extraordinary student-athlete, a superstar track star. It’s so crazy that you would use the word ripple effect because I quoted Terry Pratchett in that tribute. His words were so phenomenal because what he said is, “No one ever dies until the ripples they have put in motion have stopped.”
Too many people during this COVID-19 pivot are so confused, decimated and devastated. What you’re saying is that the best way to handle something like that is to serve others, make a difference and not die before you’re dead. Many people die at 25 and then they’re buried at 63, as we say. What you’re suggesting here is nobody should die before they’re dead. That’s why we have so many people walking the halls of life who are dead and they don’t even know it yet. When you lose your dreams, you die.
Take a hard and honest look at your life and really ask yourself, “How am I being a person of value?”
As we wind down our time together, I want to put you on the hot seat. Randy Pausch, the famous professor, coined the phrase, “The Last Lecture.” If you had one last podcast and it was you, that’s what’s so cool about me getting a chance to interview you. You interviewed me but somebody needs to get you and your wisdom out on the airwaves of the world. That’s why I’m so grateful that you joined me. Here’s your chance, brother. Take a couple of minutes, 2, 3, 5 minutes right now, as we conclude. If you had one last podcast and you were the guest, after all the experiences and the amazing golden nuggets of wisdom you’ve garnered from all of these amazing guests, what’s your message, brother?
It’s the message that inspired Entrepreneurs On Fire. As I mentioned at the beginning of our chat here, Dan, I was a little aimless after the military, law school dropout, and corporate finance flop. I was aimless. I was wandering around and trying to figure out what that next step was. I always consumed content, read the right books, and listened to the right audiobooks, podcasts, and YouTube shows. I was at least trying to get that spark to have something revealed to me because I knew it was out there and sure enough, it was.
Those words came from Albert Einstein. These were the words that changed everything for me, “Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.” Those words have such an impact on me because it became so obvious at that moment in time that I was doing the exact opposite of what Albert Einstein was trying to share for people to do, that I was trying to become a person of success. I was chasing success, fame, fortune, money or whatever I thought success was at the time, but I was doing nothing of value in the world. I wasn’t providing any value. It became so obvious to me that I wasn’t doing anything of value. Why would anybody want to live that way? What would it look like if I became a person of value?
That question sent me on a quest that ended up with the idea and the concept of launching a daily podcast, interviewing successful entrepreneurs, that was going to be free, valuable and consistent. Those are the three tenants of it, free, valuable, consistent. I was going to be a person of value every single day going forward because of that podcast. I was going to see where the chips may fall and it did not turn into an overnight success. It was thirteen months before I had my first financial breakthrough, so it was a grind. That’s 390 episodes I produced before I found my financial footing with Entrepreneurs on Fire and it came because I decided to be a person of value.
That would be my parting piece of guidance for everybody reading these words is to take a hard and honest look at your life and ask yourself like, number one, “Am I being a person of value? If so, how am I being a person of value? What am I doing every single day that is providing real solutions to actual struggles in this world?” Many people are providing what they think is valuable information to people out there, but at the end of the day, unless you’re providing real honest solutions to actual problems, you’re not being that true person of value.
Think to yourself, “Am I being that person that John and Dan have become for all these years now?” If the answer is yes, keep doing it. If the answer is no, it’s okay. Just figure out a way to implement becoming a person of value and start putting in the work and the reps every single day and be that person of value.
I’ve said so many times in speeches over the years that most people hate their jobs. They only look forward to Friday instead of Monday. They think they’re paid by the hour when in reality, we’re all paid for the value we bring to that hour. You illuminated that powerful word with a couple of minutes left, precious time. My guest is the amazing John Lee Dumas. Let me put you on the spot at an even higher, more vulnerable way you can come up with one word or one sentence. You have an amazing relationship with your beloved, Kate. Let’s talk about value in different categories. Think quickly, your heart, your gut answer. How do you add value to your relationship with your significant other with amazing Kate?
I listen. That would be the word. I truly listen to her wants, needs, hopes, dreams and desires. Many people don’t listen to their significant others and it’s a shame. They go through life and they talk to each other. They have conversations, but they don’t truly listen. That is a key to the several years that we’ve had a very successful relationship.
I’ve had the privilege and honor of being a guest in your home and we’ve broken bread. How do you add value as a neighbor? You are so well-respected and the time that we spent together, you introduced me to your realtor and your friends. How do you add value to your neighbors?
I ask a question to my neighbors that sometimes takes them off guard because it’s a pretty intense question, especially when I tell them I’m very serious in my curiosity about what their answer is. That question that I have for them is, “What is your biggest struggle in life right now?” I’m not going to say that as soon as they say what their biggest struggle is, like I provide them this amazing solution because that’s not realistic, but it’s unbelievable what that knowledge can bring when you.
At the very least, know what your neighbor’s biggest struggle in life is, maybe a day, a week, a month or a year down the road, something comes up. You’re going to remember that comment that they made and you might be able to provide an incredible solution as a result. Having that knowledge is incredibly important. I make sure that to those that surrounded me, I had that knowledge.
Our guest, John Lee Dumas, his amazing Fire Nation Newsletter is also available. It will help you find your passion and prepare you to ignite your future of financial and lifestyle freedom. I appreciate you for being on the show. You illuminate Terry Pratchett’s famous words, “No one is dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away.”
It’s been an honor to have you in my program. I love to conclude by illuminating power players, my title, but you’ve given us one more definition of what a power player is. It’s someone who creates and continually perpetuates value, gives value in every situation to every single person personally and professionally. As I would say, John Lee Dumas, what you teach the world is for all of us to leave saying, “I like me best when I’m with you. I want to see you again,” Remember, when you finally decide to be a power player like John Lee Dumas, your power play begins in you. As he said, “Finding your value and making sure you are invaluable.” Until next time, quantify your takeaway and go make a power play. Thanks, John Lee. I appreciate you, my dear friend.
- John Lee Dumas
- Entrepreneurs On Fire Podcast
- 4-Hour Chef
- The Icarus Deception
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook
- Episode 431 – Past Episode – Entrepreneurs on Fire
About John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas (JLD) is the host of Entrepreneurs on Fire, an award-winning podcast where he interviews the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Past guests include Tony Robbins, Barbara Corcoran, Gary Vaynerchuk, and thousands more.