Do you ever dream of enjoying financial freedom and fulfillment but is overwhelmed with fear and doubts? Fear no more as the author of The Common Path To Uncommon Success, John Lee Dumas, shares with Dr. Diane Hamilton the 17 crucial steps that will wheel you to the path of success. John has interviewed over 3,000 successful entrepreneurs and has mastered what it takes to unlock one’s full potential and gear up for a successful future ahead. With years of experience, John knows exactly what it feels to start from the beginning and slowly make his way through the mountain of doubts to now enjoying the fruits of his labor. You can also make your way to the path to uncommon success. Tune in to this episode and begin the journey of discovering your passion and remember that there is a simple, clear, and common path to success.
I’m so glad you joined us because we have John Lee Dumas here. You know him. He has been such a successful podcaster, speaker and author. This is the second time he has been on the show. I am having fun because he’s got a new book out. I thought it would be fun to have the second part of the show be his original podcast with me on my radio show years ago. Stay tuned after I interview him to read about an older interview to know more about him. The first part will be more about the book and this is going to be a great show.
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17 Steps That Will Take You To The Path To Uncommon Success With John Lee Dumas
I am here with John Lee Dumas. He has interviewed more than 2,000 people. The last time I checked his EOFire Podcast, Entrepreneurs On Fire, is one of the biggest ones out there. He has an award-winning show where he interviews some of the topmost inspiring entrepreneurs who are truly on fire. I’m so excited to have him here because he has a new book and I’m interested in this, The Common Path to Uncommon Success. Welcome.
Dr. Diane, I am fired up to be here. It has been far too long since our last amazing conversation years ago. It’s great hearing your voice.
It is fun to have you on the show. You have quite the show going, to begin with, and now all your books and everything that you are working on. We have covered so many interesting things last time. I want to focus on this new book because everybody is looking for the path to success and you are talking about uncommon success. I want to get into that but since some people may not have read the last episode and haven’t followed what both of us are working on, maybe you can give a backstory of how you got to this level.Stop being a weak imitation of what people are doing. Find what is not being served in the marketplace. Click To Tweet
Back in 2012, I identified a void in the world, in my opinion, at least. I felt that there needed to be a daily podcast interviewing entrepreneurs and one didn’t exist. I was frankly shocked by the fact that this type of show didn’t exist because I thought that it was needed to be in the world. I said, “Why not be that change that I want to see in the world,” to quote Gandhi. I launched the first daily podcast interviewing entrepreneurs. Over the past decade, I have now interviewed over 3,000 of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs On Fire has become one of the biggest and most highly awarded business podcasts in the world with over 100 million listens and over 1.1 million listens every single month.
I decided to say, “Why don’t I take the knowledge that I have learned over the past decade, over the thousands and thousands of hours of conversations that I have had with the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Boil it down into what ended up being the seventeen core foundational principles that every single entrepreneur shares.” When I boil those principles down and there are seventeen of them in total, I said, “It’s time to turn these seventeen into a roadmap. I’m going to call this roadmap, The Common Path to Uncommon Success.” The book came out on March 23rd, 2021. It immediately started flying off the shelves with over 20,000 sales of the book on day one. It has been a fantastic success.
What year did you say you started?
My show has been for a few years and I have interviewed 1,300 people. You did it every day, five days a week. That’s a hurdle.
It was for two weeks and I said, “That’s not enough.” For the next six years, I did seven days a week.
I didn’t realize you did it for seven days. Do you always have them live?
It’s never live. I do eight interviews three times per month and that’s each day. Eight interviews a day, three days per month and I always stay two months ahead of schedule.
I do something similar. I do them mostly in a day or two and I like to stay way ahead of schedule. After about 3 or 4 hours of having people back-to-back, I start to get a little slap-happy. My brain gets tired. Don’t you get exhausted doing eight?
I hear what you were saying and I like to use the analogy of, what happened the first time you ever ran a mile? You were tired after a mile. What happened if you trained for a marathon? When you train for a marathon, running 5 miles, 10 miles became okay. When the marathon came, you were running 26 miles, which you never could have done on day one. Through the correct training, now you are running an entire marathon. For me, it has been that same thing where I have essentially trained myself over the years that has now been over decades to build up that stamina to do the type of interviews that I need to do in the quantity to keep up this pace.
It does get easier in that respect. One of the things that were helpful to me was when I started to have the show transcribed because, for reasons like your book, you can take a lot of things and go, “Let’s reuse some of this information and see what we can find in common.” You said you found these seventeen commonalities. I’m curious what those are because of the people I have interviewed. I interview many different ￼people, not only entrepreneurs but successful individuals. I do see a lot of commonalities. One of the reasons I wrote my book about curiosity because successful people were highly curious. I want to get into these seventeen steps if that’s where you want to start. I know you want to discuss the lies we have heard from experts. Where do you want to start?
Let’s start with the seventeen steps. The seventeen-step roadmap that I created, in chronological order, is step by step. It’s from Step 1 to 17. Why don’t you, Dr. Diane, throw out which step you want to start with? We can go in any direction here.
It’s interesting to me because some of the things that you write about are not being prepared. I want to talk about preparation and some of these overlaps. Do you think that people sometimes don’t have good goals? What’s the biggest mistake that people are making based on these seventeen steps?
Identify Your Big Idea
Honestly, the biggest mistake is step one. That’s being frank and honest, which is why I start with step one because that’s why most people fail, struggle and never truly become successful as entrepreneurs and as business owners because they never even took the time to identify their big idea. They never took the time to do it. This is sad but this is true. Most people are going to die without ever having identified their big idea.
They are going to die having spent their whole life living somebody else’s dreams, creating somebody else’s fantasies. They are never going to take the time to sit down and say, “What is my big idea? What is my zone of fire? What are my passions, excitements and enthusiasm? What value expertise and skills can I add to the world?” They are never going to ask themselves these questions. That’s why I started Step 1, Chapter 1 and I Gift People Their Zone of Fire. It’s a structured exercise they can go through to where, for the first time in their life, they will have identified their big idea and it will blow people’s mind.
I love that because you are starting with curiosity and you are asking questions. I was looking at your ideas and different things for these seventeen steps. Let’s say you get this big idea. How does that differ from discovering your niche? How do you determine that your big idea fits well? Maybe it’s already oversaturated in some areas, how do you cover that?
That’s why there are seventeen steps. If it was just discovering your big idea, then that’s where I would stop the book because I don’t want to give people extra work. I want people to win by following seventeen steps. You are correct, Dr. Diane. Their big idea that the individuals discover will be saturated. It will be already an incredibly competitive market because your big idea is fantastic. I hate to break it to you but other people have had your fantastic ideas before, which is A) good because that’s proof of concepts, but B) why is it time for you to move on to step number two? Discover your niche.
Discover Your Niche
Within your big idea, what is the niche that is not being filled? What is a void in the marketplace? What is a problem that is not being addressed or solved within your big idea? That tiny little niche is where you start. That’s where you become the best solution to a real problem within your big idea. You get to achieve the most elusive thing in the world, which is momentum and traction, which nobody gets to. If they were lucky enough to come up with their big idea, they dive into that big idea and they fail because they get destroyed by the competition. That’s why you need to move into Step 2, Discover Your Niche.
I worked as a doctoral chair helping people go through their dissertation process. What we had them do is they decide what they want to write about, they research it and they look for gaps in the research. What isn’t being covered? That’s what you are doing here. People may have all done this but what didn’t they do? That’s an important part.
What’s that song from Beauty and the Beast? “Tale as old as time.” It is never true. Everyone wants to be broad and vague. They want to regurgitate, repeat, rinse and say, “Dr. Diane is being successful doing this. I’m going to copy her.” Nobody wants a pale and weak imitation of Dr. Diane. People either want Dr. Diane or they don’t. Stop being a pale, weak imitation of other people because that is what most people are doing. It’s time to stop.
You need to find what is not being served in the marketplace, a void that needs to be filled. Stop being the tenth best solution to a real problem because nobody wants the tenth best or the second-best solution to a problem. You will be ignored as the second-best solution to a real problem. Dr. Diane, who won the silver medal in the 2016 Olympics in the 100-meter race?
When you are not first, no one remembers.
Usain Bolt’s won the gold medal and people know the name Usain Bolt. That’s the game you need to play.
That’s important. I’m fascinated by your next chapter of creating your avatar. I want you to explain what you mean by that.
Create Your Avatar
Your avatar is your perfect customer, clients, listener of your podcast and consumer of your content. The perfect person that’s going to buy your course, join your masterminds, pay for your coaching, fill in the blank. Whatever it is that you are doing in this world, it is the single perfect person. People love to walk around with no North star. They are stumbling around in the dark being like, “I have to decide on my business. I will make that decision.” You should not be making that decision. Your avatar decides every fork in the road who your perfect customer client, listener and consumer of your content is. Chapter 3, Step 3 is Creating Your Avatar and again, most people don’t even do Step 1. The people who get to Step 3 are far and few in between, but it is such a critical step for the first time in your life to have a North star. It’s unbelievable.
I teach a lot of entrepreneurship courses. I’m teaching one at a technology school. One of the things we talked about is some people cut out people. They draw them and put them around them when they are creating their marketing and their different things to visualize to whom they were selling. That’s such a critical aspect of getting it clear. Some people need to do it almost to that level and that’s important. You touched on another subject that is important when you are a speaker or an author and doing this stuff that you and I do, choosing your platform. In this case, you use the platform in a different realm. Are you saying the following in that chapter or are you saying something else?
Can you see that question one more time?
Platform in the writing sense and speaking sense is who is your following? If you are going to pitch a book to a publisher, they want to know what your platform is. How many people follow you? It can mean other things. Chapter 4 in your book is Choose Your Platform. What is your intention with choosing your platform?
Choose Your Platform
You need to decide which horse you are going to race. Have you ever seen a jockey be like, “I’m going to race four horses now and I’m going to win?” Of course not, he’s going to lose because you can only ride one horse at a time. It’s the same thing when you are starting your entrepreneurial journey. When you are starting your common path on common success, you could choose a platform and go all in. Is that podcasting, blogging, YouTube, any social media platform? Is that something completely different like a Clubhouse? It could be anything.
It doesn’t matter what your platform is. What matters is you choosing your platform and you go all in and you are focused on following that one course until success remains on that platform alone. How do you choose your platform? I took you through Step 3, Creating Your Avatar, your perfect customer client. You go to your avatar and you say, “Where do you consume content?” They will answer you because you created this person and that’s the platform you choose. It’s almost that simple.
Are you pretty much focused on LinkedIn or other social media sites? What’s your main focus?
I have been here for years now. I have a massive audience and a media empire with Entrepreneurs On Fire so I have added a lot of platforms over the years. Anybody can do that as well, as it makes sense. I have taken platforms off over the years as they stopped making sense for various reasons. The only platform that I chose, day one, was podcasting. That was it. That was my focus. I did nothing else except do seven days a week podcast and I dominated and crushed that platform. That’s why I have won now at a seven-figure level for eight years in a row.
Where do you showcase it the most on social media sites?
On the social media sites, where am I on the most personally?
Instagram for social media but I don’t focus on it.
That’s interesting. What do you post on Instagram to get followers?If you're scared of looking foolish, be understanding of the fact you are going to be living just above broke for the rest of your life. Click To Tweet
The next of the steps are important. I work as a board advisor for a startup that’s all about mentorship so I love the next one. Find your mentor.
Find Your Mentor
Your mentor is somebody who is currently where you want to be in about a year’s time. If you can find somebody who is where you want to be in about a year, their knowledge is relevant because they were recently where you are. They have successfully achieved what you want to achieve over the next year. When I looked for a mentor and hired Jamie Masters of Eventual Millionaire, she had been podcasting for about fourteen months. It was perfect because all her knowledge was relevant and she knew the roadmap I needed to follow to get to a successful business podcast host because she was a successful business podcast host. That’s the right way to find a mentor.
There are a lot of mentorships that go on in some of these masterminds too. You mentioned joining or creating a mastermind. How does that go to the next step?
Create Your Own Mastermind
Everybody does masterminds wrong and you will do a mastermind wrong unless you get this book and follow the steps that I show you within it. Joining a mastermind or creating your mastermind is critical because you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with and most people are spending time with Don Doolittles and Debbie Downers. You wonder why your life is average to below average. Don’t because it’s the people you hang out with. You need to change your five and a mastermind the only way to do that.
That’s a hot area. A lot of people are either going to them and they were starting them. They were doing it wrong and they need some help with that so I love that. Number seven was Design Your Content Production Plan. What do you mean by that?
Design Your Content Production Plan
Let me be honest with you. There are 71,000 words in The Common Path to Uncommon Success. The average chapter is 3,500 words. This step, Chapter 7, was 13,500 words. It is the size of most business books. It is a behemoth but it had to be because every single person doesn’t just have a bad content production plan, they have a terrible content production plan. It’s terrible. You have a terrible content production plan and it is destroying and sabotaging your business period.
I speak from experience. I used to have a terrible content production plan. Do I have one currently? No. Mine is fantastic but it took me a decade to get to where I’m at now. It took me hiring, who is now my fiancé, Kate Erickson to develop an amazing content production plan and now it’s fantastic. Yours is terrible. Mine is fantastic but Chapter 7, Step 7, will turn your terrible content production plan into at least a good one and over time into a great one because, for the first time in your life, you know what a content production plan looks like.
This is all critical. To have a content production plan without any content doesn’t do any good so the next step is to create content.
Let’s create content because people are all ready to go. They are ready to push the fire button and they stop. They were like, “I’m not perfect yet. This isn’t perfect yet.” People love to say, “I’m a perfectionist. Since I’m a perfectionist, I’m going to wait until things are perfect.” By the way, I have heard those words before so I’m in this camp. Anybody who’s ever uttered those words before needs to substitute the word perfectionism with coward because that’s the truth.
You are not a perfectionist. You are a coward. Call a spade a spade. You are a coward. I was a coward. I was an absolute coward pretending to be a perfectionist because it’s a humblebrag, “I’m a perfectionist.” No. You are a coward. Start using the word coward instead of perfectionism and you will create content because you will realize there’s no such thing as perfection. Stop being a coward and create content.
Sometimes they are lazy.
Lazy is another way of pretending that you are going to lazy because you are a coward.
The next one is similar. I see this as the people who plan the plan but then never get anything done but planning so they wouldn’t get to the next step of launching. It’s interesting. Do you see that’s the coward thing that they don’t launch because they are a coward?
That is the number one focus. If there’s one thing that all human beings have in common is we don’t want to look bad. We don’t want to be embarrassed. We don’t want other people to point at us and laugh at us because 100,000 years ago when the tribe pointed and laughed at you, you were ostracized and you died. We have developed a strong desire to not be laughed at, to not be made fun of, that’s why you see it in investments. People love to invest when everyone else is investing because there’s that momentum thing. At least if I’m dumb with this investment, everybody else is dumb as well.
You never see people go on a limb and risk at all as the only person doing it. That’s the same thing when it comes to launching. People are scared and terrified of looking foolish. If you are scared of looking foolish then be understanding of the fact you are going to be living above broke for the rest of your life and that’s a fact. 40% to 60% of Americans can’t write an unexpected check for $400. That’s how most Americans live life. If you want to be one of those people that could not write an unexpected $400 check, keep being a coward, scared, being afraid of looking foolish and doing your thing in your comfort zone.
Sometimes you’ve got to hear this and go, “Don’t be so tough on me.” If you don’t, then you will. You will stay in that position so that’s important. As you go through these steps, the next thing you say is to pinpoint your avatar’s biggest struggle. We are back to our customers and what they need.
Engage With Your Avatars
It’s because you have launched at this point. That’s what Step 9 is, I Forced You to Launch. Now that you have launched, you have customers, clients and an audience because that’s what happens when you launch, shocking as it is. You need to engage with those avatars, with those actual human beings that are your audience and ask them four questions. “How did you find out about me? What do you like about my content? What don’t you like about my content? What is your biggest struggle now?” If you do that, you learn incredible information and knowledge about your audience and it allows you to move forward into Step 11.
Prove The Concept And Craft The Solution
Prove the Concepts and Craft a Solution. In Step 11, Chapter 11, you now prove the concept because people will tell you what their struggles are but let’s prove that they will vote with their wallets. Is it a painful enough struggle for them to take out their hard-earned money and give it to you for the solution? Prove the concept first. Once you have, craft the solution.
I love the next one because a lot of people struggle with this. Your Step 12 is Build Your Funnel. Can you explain that to our audience what that means?
Fill Your Funnel
Funnel is a journey that your customer, your avatar, your evangelist goes through from the first time they are ever connected with you all the way through to making a sale. A lot of people think it’s like,
“Hello. My name is John. Buy my stuff.” That never works. It’s, “Hello. My name is John. Here are some free values. Here are some consistent values. Here are some building of know, like and trust of me.” As I continue to do that over time, now I can start to introduce some things that maybe do cost money. Some things that maybe will be a financial give from your customer, client or avatar because you have now been delivering them free and consistent value over time building know, like and trust over time and that’s where the funnel comes in because the funnel takes place over time.
A lot of people have a hard time identifying that. That’s a helpful chapter. I like the next chapter because you write about diversifying your revenue streams. A lot of people tend to put all their eggs in one basket and that can be a problem. Tell me a little bit about that.
Diversifying Your Revenue Streams
Once you started this journey and you have had to focus on one platform, on one situation, product, service and assuring revenue, that’s awesome but things can change. They can be outside of your control. You can still be doing the thing now you were doing a year ago and it might not be working for things outside of your control. Knowing that life happens, life evolves and things outside of your control happen, look what happened in the world over the past years with COVID, so many businesses completely went from hero to zero overnight because of that.
If you don’t have diversified revenue streams to protect yourself against situations like that, you are vulnerable. Over time, which is why it’s not immediately but that’s why it’s Step 13, you need to be diversifying your revenue streams. We have nine revenue streams in our business. We had a couple that slowed down and dried up because of the pandemic but we had 6 or 7 that continued to thrive for us and some of them even grew for various reasons, which allowed us to continue to have a strong 2020 and 2021.
You also say, “To increase your traffic,” which sounds easy but that’s hard.
Increase Your Traffic
It is hard to increase your traffic. There are ways you can focus on increasing your traffic. We go into detail into every single different platform on the best ways to increase your traffic depending on which industry, niche, focus, platform you are in.
There are so much that you could get into there. You also say, “Implement systems and build a team.” That’s also complicated. I imagine you have to go into some good detail there as well.
Implement Systems And Build A Team
This is Step 15. This should not be something you are doing Step 1, 2 or 10. This is down the line once you have already created offers, courses, funnels and different diversified revenue streams. Now you can say, “It’s time to focus out on our systems into building an actual team,” so you can leverage and scale what it is that you are doing.
That’s when you get into being able to create critical affiliate partnerships.
Create Affiliate Partnerships
They are critical because you should not be providing a solution to everything. You should have your lane that you are living amazing solutions to. One of your diversified income streams, by the way, should be affiliate partnerships. This is matching back into, where you can now say, “I’m going to go and I’m going to find great partners, products and services, that solve my audience’s problems that I don’t want to solve.” You can earn legitimate recurring revenue by doing that.
You keep the money you make.
Keep The Money You Make
Many entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs that do not live in Puerto Rico and have to pay 40% to 50% of their revenue into taxes, can’t become truly wealthy that way. You cannot truly build wealth in that manner. I have tried for years. I was making multiple millions of dollars in California and you can’t build true wealth when you have everything involved. When you take out what you are paying for your team, ads, infrastructure, other costs. You’ve got a 50% tax bill at the end of the year. It’s impossible so you’ve got to learn how to keep the money you make.
I bring in an amazing genius for this chapter, Ramit Sethi, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. He drops value bombs when it comes to keeping the money that you make. Most entrepreneurs would break down and cry if you could flash them what their hourly rate was every year at the end of the year. They worked so hard and they kept so little money. They would have been better off working at an Amazon warehouse making $15 an hour.
It is frightening. You went through seventeen steps now. There’s an eighteenth chapter, The Well of Knowledge. That’s not an extra step?
That is, what it sounds like, The Well of Knowledge. Whenever you are feeling your motivation or inspiration dip, go to The Well of Knowledge and dip your ladle into that well and read 2 or 3 passages and your motivation will be restored.
You’ve got some amazing names on here. I was looking at some of the people who have reviewed it. Gary Vee, Seth Godin, Dorie Clark. She’s on Thinkers50 with me. She’s so nice and she has been on my show. I have seen so many of these people who have said wonderful things. I alluded to it at the beginning. I want to go back to it because you say people have been lied to by the experts. I want to know what you mean by that.Who’s good at doing something for the first time? Click To Tweet
By the fact that they want you to think that the path to success is complicated, hidden or secret, it’s none of those things. It’s a common path. All 3,000 of the entrepreneurs that I have interviewed for over a decade have gone on a very simple, clear, common path. It’s not easy. It’s hard. What’s also hard is being broke, living paycheck to paycheck, waking up in the morning and knowing you are not going to do what you want to do that day. You are not going to work on the projects that inspire you. You are not living up to your potential. That’s hard, too. Building your dream business is hard. Being broke is hard. Why don’t you choose your hard?
This is important and I’m excited to learn more about some of the people you have interviewed. I know you have had some of the same people I have had on my show. Every time I interview somebody, I learn something. Every interview gives you something. You take that to the next level and all this is helpful. I’m putting this link into the courses I teach because I am always helping them with their business plans. This is a critical thing to include in entrepreneurship courses and some of the other ones I teach. This was great. I want to make sure we covered everything that you wanted everybody to know.
We went through those pretty quickly. There are so much content and everything that you do has always been inspiring to me. I have always loved having you on the show. I hope everybody checks out your book. As you mentioned, it’s a number one bestseller fast. It got out there and it’s already smoking. How can people find your book? It’s on Amazon. Is there some other thing you would like to share about how people can find you or find your book?
The only thing I would like to share is for people to learn more at UncommonSuccessBook.com. They can read the first chapter for free and read those endorsements from Gary Vee, Dorie Clark, Seth Godin. Also, see a video for myself with more details about the book and overall have a great time.
This was so much fun. I’m so glad you were able to make it on the show and congratulations. I hope the book does amazingly well and I know it will.
Thank you so much. It means a lot.
You are welcome.
Dr. Diane, I am fired up to be here and yes, things have exploded since 2015. As you mentioned, it’s over 1,800 episodes, but I also get over 1.3 million listens every single month. EOFire, my business, is a daily show where I interview successful entrepreneurs and we generate multimillions of dollars a year in revenue so it’s also pretty lucrative.
I saw that you post your numbers of income. I thought that it was interesting that you do that. What made you go that route?
For me, back in 2012, when I was looking at becoming an entrepreneur because, up to that point, I had been off the US Army for eight years. I tried corporate finance and commercial real estate. I was like, “Can you make money online? Is that possible?” Throughout my searches and inquiries, I came across this guy, Pat Flynn, The Smart Passive Income. In 2008, he published his income reports on a month-to-month basis. Here’s the guy living in San Diego with a family. He seemed like a cool and nice guy. I was like, “This is inspiring to me that here’s a guy who’s sharing these numbers and he’s doing well but he’s doing it the way by providing value.” I said to myself at that moment, “If I ever get to the point where I’m making money as an online entrepreneur, I want to be that beacon of light as well.”
A year later, I hit that place where I was making money because it did not come overnight. When it started to come, I was like, “Now’s the time for me to fulfill that pledge that I made to myself.” I launched my monthly income report. Every month, we publish detailed income reports of every dollar we make so the people can see how we make our money, ways that they might be able to replicate our success. We also publish our expenses and all of our mistakes so that people can avoid the things that we do wrong, which we do a lot of things wrong because we are always trying new things. I was experimenting. I was pushing that envelope. It has been a journey that I have been able to share with my audience the good, bad, fun, ugly and it has been one of those experiences that I wouldn’t give up for anything.
Give us an idea of the types of forms of income you have for a podcast. How do you monetize it?
There are a lot of ways you can monetize a podcast. I have thirteen active revenue streams that are fairly diverse. If you are looking at an economy that has the ups and the downs that go through various cycles, you don’t want to be relying on one income stream that could dry out at any moment. You want to protect yourself with that diverse income. Some examples of ways that I monetize and you can monetize your podcast is number one, sponsorship. We have sponsors for every single show. I can advertise on the radio. The good part about being a podcast host is if someone wants to sponsor my show, they pay me. Not the radio stations. That’s a good thing.
Number two, I do a lot of one-on-one mentoring. I don’t do a lot anymore, but when I first launched the first few years, I did some one-on-one mentoring to help other people either watch their podcasts or help with their business. I was being mentored and learning from the world’s best entrepreneur so I was able to take that knowledge and pass it along. Another way is by creating a mastermind and by having people that want more access to you or other elite listeners of yours.
We launched Fire Nation Elite back in 2013 where we had 100 people who are paying $200 a month to be a part of that community to help, support and guide each other. Another way is products and services. I get to now ask my audience, “As my listeners, what are you struggling with?” It’s listening to them and providing the solution in the form of a product, service or community, which we now created many of those things. I have physical journals that have created and sold. They are virtual products. We have all of these different opportunities.
Now that I have such a large audience, I have people that have great products or services of their own that they have created and said, “John, this would be perfect for your audience. If you promote this, you will share in the revenue of that.” That’s called joint venture or affiliate revenue. We make money through that as well. That’s the tip of the iceberg. The exciting thing about once you enter the world of entrepreneurship, it continues to open up new opportunities every step of the way.
I meet a lot of podcasters. This show is both, the show and AM/FM. I have done a lot of the things you are talking about. I have talked to people about how they are doing it for their particular podcast and a lot of people find it difficult at the beginning when they don’t have a lot of listeners, especially if they go put their show up on iTunes. I don’t know if you can get the data from iTunes but I have been told, you cannot. Do you know if that’s the case?
I do know if that is the case. You get unbelievable data from your media host. There are different media hosts out there. The one that I have utilized is called Libsyn, which is short for Liberated syndication. I pay them a monthly fee. For the typical podcast, it’s $15 to $20 per month. They host all of your audio and you can go into that audio host and see the exact statistics, how many downloads, where the downloads are coming from, the location, the device, etc. Since the dawn of iTunes, they specifically have not released data of the podcast listens.
Interestingly enough, that is changing. They are coming out with data that they are going to be sharing with your podcast. We don’t quite know what that’s going to look like but it is going to happen. Honestly, it’s not a big deal. I don’t know why anybody thinks it’s going to be that big of a deal because we have that data all the time. iTunes is one of the directories that I’m in. I’m in Google Play, ￼Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio, and all of these directories. I know all of my stats because my one media host, Libsyn, provides them all.
That’s an interesting media host. They do have the best statistics information. I haven’t used them, to be honest with you but I did sign up for it for a while to look at it. They have some great data. I’m going to have to take a look at that one again. It’s all interesting to me to see how people utilize their podcasts. A lot of people use them to enhance their speaking business, promote their books or whatever the reasons are behind it.
I was looking at your whole story of what you did and why you’ve got into it about how you did it all, what you thought was the right thing working with John Hancock or whatever you said. You had a good background of what you had done as far as going to the right college and being in the Army and everything but you didn’t feel fulfilled. Did you immediately feel fulfilled when you did this? Did this immediately feel right to you?
It was a journey. For me, nothing comes quickly or easily that’s worth anything in life so I struggled mightily as a podcast host for starters. I had no experience as a broadcaster or as a radio host on the internet or as an entrepreneur. It was all new to me so I struggled. Frankly, I was not good for a significant amount of time and I didn’t expect to be good. Who’s good at doing something for the first time? This was the first time I was doing this thing so I knew there’s going to be a learning curve. I knew there were going to be struggles, obstacles, challenges and all of that came to a reality.
It didn’t flip a switch to be like, “I’m so fulfilled, satisfied and happy in life. Look at the money coming in.” It’s the opposite, “This is hard. This is tough.” I do like having these conversations. Hopefully, I’m getting better. I am learning a lot. I’m not making any money but let’s sit this out and see how it goes because the alternative is going back to a job that I hate. I kept my nose to the grindstone and kept it happening. I continued to persist to put out content and that tipping point happened. It wasn’t like a light switch. It was a slow little snowball starting to get momentum going down that hill. Once I did hit that bigger tipping point that does happen down the road, I started seeing that snowball picking up speed and spiraling. It’s not out of control. It’s in control in a surprisingly fast way.
I’m curious about how you’ve got your first initial sponsors. How did you pick them? How did you go about that?
That’s an interesting story. I wasn’t making any money. I was six months in. I was 180 episodes in and I’m not making any money for my podcast. I was being consistent. I was the only daily podcast that was out there. I was having some good growth, not great growth but my numbers are going up slowly and steadily. On a Friday afternoon, I’ve got a phone call from a guy and he said, “John, I founded this company.” He’s essentially a broker for podcast hosts. He’s like, “Can I find you, sponsors? Your show is great and there are some great opportunities. I have some great connections. Would you let me bring new sponsors for your podcast?” I said, “That sounds like a great idea. Let’s do it.”
By that Monday, he had sold my entire next months’ worth of inventory. He had sold us the following month for me, which was 30 days but also was 60 sponsorship spots. I have two sponsors for every episode so he sold all 60 spots in a weekend. He came back and said, “You will be getting a check for $12,000 in a couple of weeks.” I went from not making any money to my podcast, all of sudden, I’m running a five–figure-a-month business. You and I are talking now. My podcast, sponsorship revenue alone, makes over $65,000 per month.Doubt and fear are going to be around whenever you do something new. Click To Tweet
That’s unbelievable. What happened to that guy? Is he still doing this for you? Who was that? Are you sharing that name?
It continues to be a great story. At the time, he had a couple of clients, they were doing comedy podcasts. I was his first client in the business podcast world. It was an experiment that worked out well for him and myself too. That company called the Midroll ended up growing into an eight-figure company pretty quickly and it was bought by the media company called Scripps. They now own the Midroll and the Midroll now employs 80 people and they have over 400 different companies they represent. They represent hundreds and hundreds of podcast sponsors too. It’s turned into quite a business.
You can see that would be a big market for that.
By the way, he retired.
It’s because of you, he got to. That’s a great story. It’s interesting, you do get these weird calls for people that want this or that. Sometimes it’s difficult to prove what their ROI is going to be on a show like that. Did you have any doubts?
I have a lot of doubt. The reality is this. For me, I know the doubt and fear is all going to be around whenever you do something more because you are a human being. Human beings were bred and it’s innate to fear, to doubt and to question. That’s why we are so alive. We can’t say, “I wish that I was never fearful and doubtful.” If we weren’t, 10,000 years ago, our species would never have made it to where it is now and we would have somehow gone extinct. It’s because we were cautious and careful when we doubt it and we are fearful of going out in the cave at night when the Saber–tooth tiger was prowling around. We made it and that doesn’t go away overnight. That’s part of our DNA.
For me, I recognize that and a lot of that probably helped by being an op in the US Army and seeing what it was like to be in war and how people react to that and realizing that, “This is scary but the alternative is scary too.” The alternative of not doing this and being unhappy, unfulfilled and always wondering what if. Also, always having regrets about not going forward. That’s scary too. Let’s choose the lesser of two evils here.
You do quite a bit compared to a lot of podcasters. I interview at least six people a week but you are doing seven shows every day. You are doing one a day. How many people do you have on each show?
I used to have multiple people on the show. Every now and then, I would interview cofounders maybe once or twice a month. I found out pretty quickly that for my show and my format, it doesn’t work that well. It doesn’t get to the essence of what I want for the interview because for my interview, I always try to get personal and deep so I like to do it quickly. Having two people on the show isn’t conducive for that so I no longer do anything else but one-on-one interviews on my show.
Seven days a week is a lot. Your show is an hour?
No. They are only about twenty minutes long.
￼I imagine that at the beginning this took quite a bit of your day because you had no help. At what point, did you finally branch out and get people to help you? I saw your site and you have cute Jimmy videos and things. You have done some amazing marketing on your site. I was impressed by it. When did you get help for all that?
As soon as I started making money, I started reinvesting back into the business. That was me reinvesting back into the business. With $12,000, I can hire people. I can have them do the stuff that A) I’m not good at, B) I don’t want to and C) that can help me grow and expand my business even when I’m sleeping. My team now is bigger. We have eight people that work essentially full-time and are doing their thing. They know their roles. They know what they are doing. It’s a well-oiled machine that did not become well-oiled overnight but with a lot of trials, error and hard work.
Do you work out of your home? Do you have a studio? I’m curious how you do it.
As I’m talking to you, I am in my office, which is 12 feet from my bedroom.
That’s not too different from my setup so I understand that. I have always worked virtually. I was a pharmaceutical rep forever and other virtual jobs in terms of being an online professor. This is a great job if you are self-motivated. Did you ever feel you were getting behind and was piling up? Did you always feel you could stay on top of it? It’s a pretty intense amount of work if you do it all yourself at the beginning.
Living and working out of the same place is not for everybody but it’s definitely for me. I hate commuting. I hate having to even think about going into an office and taking the time to do what it takes to do all those things. For me, I’m the perfect person to live and work out of my home. I’m the perfect person to do that. There are a lot of people that are alive doing that as well and there are a lot of people that suffer doing that because they need that interaction. They need that water cooler talk, that drive to work to decompress or they can’t be home because they will spend all day watching TV or going on YouTube to watch cat videos and doing their thing. You have to get to know yourself, know what your strengths are and make it happen.
There are great companies like WeWork and Breather who’s a sponsor of Entrepreneurs On Fire. Breather is a company that has a lot of great workspaces for individual solopreneurs. You can get an office for reasonable dollar amounts in a place like Downtown New York City, San Francisco, Toronto, fill in the blank and you can have that place that you want to go to for people that need that and want that. I can see that being conducive to other people’s environments.
Some people need that. For me, it’s so nice to be able to work at home but then again, I never stopped working when I’m home because I’m a workaholic. Do you have the same problem? It’s always there.
No. I’m good at turning things off. On Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 5:00 PM, I usually have a meeting with my virtual trainer. I live in Puerto Rico so I had a gym that was built out of my house. I go to my gym and I jump on Zoom. We do a 30-minute video workout at 5:00 PM Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That’s the end of my day. By 5:45, I’m done with a workout. I have showered and I’m done. I’m moving on to the evening, whatever that might be relaxing and doing, X, Y or Z that doesn’t involve work.
I’m good at shutting things off and that’s why I have been here for a few years now working with Entrepreneurs On Fire, doing the day in the show, not burning out, not being tired of what I do and I’m still enjoying it. It’s creating systems and automation. I would want to continue to live the life that I desire, which has a lot of lifestyles and financial freedom. I have turned down opportunities that would have made me multiple million dollars a year. Frankly, for me, it would have been a no-go because I would have had to move or change my lifestyle and do this to do that. I know that the revenue that I make sustains the lifestyle that I want and I’m happy there. If I do say yes to the opportunity down the road it’s because I have weighed it properly and I know that to be a good fit for me.
You have probably learned a lot too from all the people you have talked to. You had some pretty amazing people on your show. Jack Canfield, Barbara Corcoran, Tim Ferriss, I have seen your list. Are there any interviews that stand out in your mind that blew you away that were surprising or learned something unbelievable from? Any guests that change your focus?
The obvious one was Tony Robbins. It was cool for me to have a one-on-one conversation with Tony and have them address me and tell me, “My son and I were talking about you the other day.” I’m like, “What? Tony was talking about me the other day with his son in a random conversation. That’s so cool.” Somebody else that I enjoyed interviewing was Sally Hogshead. She reigns as one of the top female speakers in the world and she has had such great energy and vibe. Her body of work is amazing. It’s all about how the world sees you and I was fascinated by that and the test that she offers through that. Those are two people that jumped out to me as cool cornerstone interviews that I have done.
Those were two great ones. They are both parts of the Genius Network. I get to meet both of them. I am interested in Sally’s work because I study emotional intelligence and personality assessments. She has an interesting company. Tony Robbins is bigger than life in more than one way. It’s fascinating when you get to interview people that you have always thought of when you were younger or whatever it is. I’m a lot older than you are and some of these people have been around for decades. I finally get to talk to them and think, “Wow.” It’s a great job. I love doing what I do so I could see how people are drawn to this. Do you think that there are too many podcasts and too many people talking? When is there too much of this out there?
It’s too much when people are being vague and they were being too broad of a topic. That can get saturated pretty quick. I don’t think there’s ever too much of something. If you are able to willing to go in to get specific, get focused and dive down into the core of a topic. Don’t talk about outdoor sports, fishing or trout fishing. Talk about trout fishing in Northwest Canada during the fall. That’s what you need to start your passion, curiosity and business. You can broaden out from there once you get some initial momentum and you have learned your butt from your elbows a little bit. That can be a way that you get going but you can’t start talking about outdoor sports and all these other places that have been donning it for years. It’s REI stuff.
People try to start too broad thinking they need to be inclusive of everybody. They are scared wrongfully so of starting to narrow because they think they are not going to have a big enough audience. The only way you are going to get an audience is if you narrow your niche down and your focus down until it hurts. You start one person at a time building that audience. You get to a point where you get your message, get your entire delivery, your funnels, everything set up. You can try to broaden out and make this thing bigger or go the right way.
How did you start to grow at the beginning? Did you have a big LinkedIn connection database? How was it the first year for you?
I stumbled pretty luckily onto a brilliant marketing plan. The idea and the marketing plan were brilliant, but I created them by mistake because I didn’t know what I was doing. When you look back on hindsight, you can see why it’s genius. I’m interviewing the world’s most successful entrepreneurs seven days a week. I’m having them tell their stories, their journeys, their worst moments, their best moments, and their ups and downs. These people have audiences. They have followers. They are influencers. Every single day for the last 1,740 plus days, I have woken up and my first email is for the guest’s interview live.
I said, “Tim, Barbara, Chris, Joe Polish, you interviewed live on Entrepreneurs On Fire you lost the mic. I would be honored if you share your journey with your audience. Here are all the links to do so.” They went viral that way. Back in the day when Hotmail made that little thank you by Hotmail link at the bottom of your email. People were like, “What’s Hotmail?” They grew by 500 million users in no time because of that type of virality and that was needed Entrepreneurs On Fires’ growth over 15 million listens to over 1.5 million listens every single month.
The timing has a lot to do with some of the success that some people have had because you never know what the next medium that’s going to be the popular thing. I don’t know If you do it all through the phone or have you done any of the Facebook Live or used Zoom? Are you doing anything different than audio?
I started to do a little bit of everything and testing to see what works. Luck and timing play such a huge role for me. I was so lucky to launch a podcast in 2012 before people had figured out that this is going to be such an amazing medium. My timing and luck were amazing. All the things played a factor so I try to continue to leverage that by Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Snapchat. I try and do different things and say, “How can I continue to get my voice, my message, my mission out in front of the world in front of other people?”
To me, that has been an exciting journey. It has been a struggle. It has been the ups and the downs. I have tried a lot of things that haven’t worked. A lot of people think that Entrepreneurs On Fire is so big and I’m so successful in certain areas but unsuccessful in every area, which is far from the truth. I always watch things that fail and that’s why I love my income before it’s because I get to share how it made so much money, but also how I have lost much money. Also, how I have had so much success but how about that so much failure and that never ends. It’s a cycle. It’s this game and I’m glad the game is this way.
If it’s 1, 1, 1 it would stop being fun. Believe me, I know everybody wants that first big win that’s huge. The first time I had $1 million in my bank, I was like, “That’s huge.” After it was $5 million in my bank and I’m like, “This is huge.” If that never ended it just one of the times your fund will die with it. For entrepreneurs, we are in this for the game. Once you have gotten to that one point, you feel like, “Financially-wise and business-wise, I’m good,” and then you want to continue to play that game. I never hate losing. Losing to me is figuring out, “How can I come back and win next time?”
You have been quite a winner in this market and you have been so successful. I’m sure a lot of people want to know how they could listen to your podcast, how they could reach you and find out more about you. Can you share your site and your information with everybody?
All the magic for us happens at EOFire.com. We try to give as much free content away as possible. In fact, on that site, I have a free course on how to create your podcast, your webinar, your funnel that converts a free course on how to accomplish your goals. If any of those sound appealing, head over there and grab those courses for completely free and enjoy the ride.
Thank you so much, John Lee Dumas. You are so nice to be on the show. I’m sure everybody learned a lot. I hope everybody checks out your site.
I enjoy talking, Dr. Diane. I will catch you on the flip side.
I would like to thank John Lee Dumas for being my guest. We get so many great guests. If you have missed any past episodes, please go to DrDianeHamilton.com. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope you join us for the next episode of Take The Lead Radio.
- John Lee Dumas
- Second Time – Past Episode with John Lee Dumas
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- Book – Cracking the Curiosity Code
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- Eventual Millionaire
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- The Smart Passive Income
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- iTunes – EOFire Podcast
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- Tony Robbins - EOFire Podcast Past Episode
- Sally Hogshead - EOFire Podcast Past Episode
- Genius Network
About John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas is the host of Entrepreneurs on Fire, an award-winning podcast where he interviews inspiring Entrepreneurs who are truly ON FIRE. With over 2000 episodes, 1 million + listens a month, and seven-figures of annual revenue, JLD is just getting started.
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