John Lee Dumas is known for his “daily chats with Entrepreneurs On Fire” as the founder and host of EOFire, a podcast and brand that generates $250,000 a month in revenue and boasts over 1 million unique listens a month.
But Dumas, one of today’s most successful online entrepreneurs, wasn’t always this “hot.” It took him a few tries before he could get his fire to light.
Dumas graduated from Providence College in the first post-9/11 class of commissioned United States Army Officers. After a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq, he served for seven more years in the States—three active, four in the reserves. And when he was discharged in 2006, he thought, OK my life’s ahead of me, what’s my next challenge?
He chose law school, a choice more for his family than for himself. It didn’t stick. He quit after one semester. Then, with the pressure of disappointing his family weighing heavy, he escaped to India hoping to find himself, to let it all settle down. When he came back, he tried corporate finance. He quit 18 months later. Corporate America wasn’t for him. Next up? A tech startup.
Nothing was matching up to what he was looking for. He was still on the hunt for his calling, his passion. That’s when he moved to San Diego and started working in real estate—and that’s when he started using the entrepreneurial side of his brain.
And it’s also when he started driving. A lot. On his daily commutes, he started rabidly consuming mainstream podcasts. “It was when I started dabbling in the smaller shows that I realized something big,” he writes on his website. “There are so many great podcasts out there, but none offer daily content. With these once a week shows, I was zipping through years of content in mere days, and I knew if I was experiencing this problem, others were, too.”
So he took a cue from Gandhi—to be that change that he wanted to see in the world.
And change the world he did.
Is there something big you want to do? Maybe you’re an aspiring entrepreneur? Or even an aspiring podcaster? Here’s what you can learn from John Lee Dumas to ignite your success:
1. Practice daily discipline.
Not everyone can commit to producing an episode a day. But it’s that kind of commitment and consistency that set Dumas apart and brought sponsors calling within the first six months.
How does one get more disciplined? Practice. (Also, military training doesn’t hurt.)
For example, Dumas gets eight hours of sleep every night. And when he wakes up in the morning, there is a “non-negotiable” 35-minute power walk with hand weights, followed up by downing a liter of mineral water.
Beyond daily routines, Dumas plans out his week using a block method so he can create in batches. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays are catch-up days. Tuesdays include eight hours of conducting back-to-back podcast interviews. Wednesdays are set aside for being interviewed on other shows, which, at the time of our interview, were booked solid for the next three months.
2. Invest in yourself.
In the beginning, though Dumas loved consuming podcasts, he only knew how to press the play button. So his first step to massive success was investing in himself by investing in a mentor.
“I looked out there to the podcasters that were currently at [the place] I wanted to be, and that’s so critical,” he says. “A mentor needs to be successful at what you are wanting to do.”
Dumas had saved over 18 months of what he called financial runway. “I had really had successful careers financially up to that point.” So he pushed the fast-forward button. Instead of focusing on creating an income, this runway allowed him to focus on the most important factor of his podcast: content.
“I was being very diligent and very frugal. I was even willing to move back home if I had to, that is how committed I was,” he says. “For me, I wanted just to focus on growing my audience by delivering free, valuable and consistent content.”
3. Practice boldness.
Dumas lives by the quote, “Fortune favors the bold.”
So it makes sense that he makes bold moves on the reg. When he was the new guy in the podcast world, went up to people he admired, asking them to be on his show. And fortune favored his boldness—because the people he asked? They said yes. He had names like Pat Flynn and Michael Hyatt and Cliff Ravenscraft in the pipeline, before EOFire even existed. And he went on to go after giants like Tim Ferris and Seth Godin in record time.
How did he have the nerve to do it? Because he knew he would deliver.
“You need to trust in yourself that you know you’re going to put in the time, effort and energy to really make it worthwhile,” he says.
4. Listen to your audience.
EOFire was not the first podcast on entrepreneurship, but just because something’s been done doesn’t mean you can’t do it better. And that’s what Dumas did. He saw a need, an opening, for daily episodes, and he also knew that his first product launches were going to be successful.
The key to Dumas’ confidence and massive monthly income, he explains, was in establishing a “starving” audience, one that desperately wanted what he was offering. But how did he know what they wanted and needed most? He asked for feedback repeatedly, even hosting free 15-minute calls with anyone who wanted to chat.
Example? “Before I spent one minute—and this is huge—before I spent one minute sitting down and crafting [Fire Nation Elite], I needed to know that there was an audience who would take out their wallets and pay for it.”
So he held a webinar explaining what would be in the paid community and offered an early bird discount. He explained that if not enough people opted in, he wouldn’t even create the product. His goal was $5,000, and 35 people signed up at $200. By the time he opened doors to the general public, the product had already made $7,000.
5. Listen to your heart.
Dumas’ mentors repeatedly told him a daily podcast would be too much work. They told him he was insane. They told him to stick to a weekly podcast.
“You need, as an entrepreneur, to really take the great feedback and the great advice from those who have come before you, from those who are mentoring you,” he says. “But at the same time, you need to listen to your gut, to your intuition.”
Although he applied a lot of their advice to his business, he knew what he was meant to do—and it wasn’t a weekly podcast.
“I listened to my heart, and I think that’s so important for people to realize—you’re going to have something in your gut that’s telling you to do something, and hopefully it’s something that is unique. Make sure you follow that.”