Building A Business On Transparency with John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas is the host of EOFire, an award winning podcast where he interviews today's most successful entrepreneurs 7-days a week. John has grown EOFire into a multi-million dollar a year business with over 1500 interviews and 1.5 million monthly listens.
You believe in transparency, and your listener base loves that about the EOFire podcast. But most entrepreneurs are afraid of being transparent with their customers, investors, etc. Why do you think there is this fear?
I think they have something to hide. For me, I wanted to grow a business built on transparency and authenticity and have my audience learn from my successes and failures. I wanted them to see that there are ways to making money and ways to lose money. Why not open that playbook up and help others along this journey?
People who keep things close to the chest and keep books close, frankly they probably have something to hide, and people have the choice and right to live a life as private as they want to live. But for me, I decided I wanted to be an online brand authority and to do that, I have to show the wins and the losses in the life of being an entrepreneur.
Were you scared of posting your balance sheet for the first time publicly?
Never. I just wanted people to see that this is tough being an entrepreneur. I made $26,000 the first year of EOFire working 70–80 hour weeks. That’s not glamorous or fun, it’s tough. But then I made $400,000 the second year and seven figures the third and every year since so there can be a payoff to working hard and running your own business. Just need a little luck also.
How do you celebrate the things that you do have in your life?
Everyday. It’s why I journal, that’s why I celebrate every morning by opening up with something I am grateful for. I do things I enjoy things not just doing things that I have to do to keep the business going like working out, doing fun interviews like this with interesting people. It’s part of what I love doing and of the business that I love and have grown.
What are some of your favorite interviews from the life of the show and what have you learned from them?
I’ve learned from every single one of the 1700 interviews I have done now. That’s why I love what I do because I think Mentorship is incredibly important and I have had 1700 one on one mentors. I think that is a cool and exciting opportunity to being a podcast host. I go into each interview with an open mind, a desire to learn something, and an open heart. What will come will be value for me if I am open to that value coming my way. That’s the one thing I strive for is to come with an open mind and heart.
Some interviews that have been fun for me were with Tony Robbins, Barbara Cocoran, Daymond John, and Brian Tracy people for years I have admired from afar and now I have these cool incident one on one conversations that are fun.
Do you find from your listener base that more people want to start their own business or do you feel the fear of taking the leap is still prevalent? Are you hoping to push more people to achieve their dream of the entrepreneur route?
I think there is a lot of fear of taking that leap, but I also think there is a lot of excitement. The goal of EOFire is not to encourage people to take the leap rather share openly and honestly the journeys of successful entrepreneurs so people can make the decision armed with the knowledge. I don’t necessarily like when people don’t open their books or share their failures because how can you learn? How can you know what you’re doing works if you’re not willing to share with the public?
If you’re not willing to do that, I don’t know if I could spend my time and effort working and learning things that you are saying is the path to success. I want the story and the background, and frankly, there is going to be a lot of people who listen to EOFire that hear the stories of entrepreneurs and say “hey, this isn’t for me.” In my mind, I think that’s good; you might be better off being a number two or number seven or staying at your job because it’s more for you. We need people to do all the things, and not everybody should be an entrepreneur. That’s great, and we need to be open to learning and be educated to make the best decision for us.
When you first started podcasting, did you think that taking this leap wasn’t going to work? If you did feel that, how did you overcome that doubt?
I like that Seth Godin quote “This might not work.”
That’s how I approached EOFire, and there was the flipside to it that this might work, so I approached the podcast with both mentalities and said this is something that needs to be an exciting journey. At the very least, I’ll learn a lot and be able to talk to some very cool people and be armed for my next opportunity. It just so happened that a lot of factors came into play; luck, timing, a lot of hard work and it turned into the success that is today.
Everything I do though comes with that mentality that this might not work and that’s not the mentality of a Debbie Downer or a Donnie Doolittle, it’s just the reality that it might not work but it’s not the end of the world. The exciting thing is that it might work and might be cool so having that mentality is an important one for entrepreneurs to have is the mindset of the marathon, not the sprint. If you’re not going to burn out, you’re not going to get devastated at every setback that we have as entrepreneurs.
What’s the future look like for EOFire? Are you optimistic or are you foreseeing hurdles regarding growing and scaling? Is there something that you wanted to do outside of the daily episodes?
I am optimistic but at the same time, living in a world of reality, everything in life has a cycle. Meerkat had a cycle, and unfortunately for a lot of people, it was a short cycle. Vine had a short cycle. Myspace had a cycle. Friendster had a cycle. Some other cycles like Facebook, Instagram are going to have a cycle. Podcasting is going to have a cycle and has been great so far, but like everything in life, it is on a cycle. I am very open and optimistic about the future of podcasting, but at the same time, I’m diversifying like launching physical products and journals, traditional books, and creating courses. I’m doing all these things to weather the storm if it ever comes.
I like that quote that Tony Robbins uses in his new book Unshakeable which is “Winter is coming, it’s always coming, but it’s just a matter of when.”
Instead of wearing your winter coat in the middle of summer, you just have it there and know you will need someday. When you need it, you know it will be warm enough.
What would you say your life taught you yesterday?
That’s an interesting question because I had quite a fascinating day yesterday. I went to go pick up my mother, sister and niece from the airport and on the way, I got a message from my CPA that for no reason, had forgotten to tell my wife Kate and I that he needed us to come to San Juan to sign some paperwork. Then, I had to drive back in a torrential downpour while I’m white knuckling the steering wheel going seven miles an hour on a forty-five-mile trip. Then, my mother somehow slammed her head on a railing within the first twenty minutes of being in Puerto Rico and cutting her head open needing staples, so I got to experience for the first time Puerto Rican hospitals which were a debacle in itself.
With all that had happened through the day, in the end, we all ended up having a very enjoyable dinner with Kate’s parents visiting along with my family. It just hit me that no matter how crazy the day was, sometimes you can come together at the end of the day and just be grateful. My mom who had just gotten four staples in her head said to me “Hey, this is a great dinner.”
For all your successes, what piece of advice would you give to those looking to better deal with adversity?
Adversity is always going to happen so always have a bias toward action. When adversity happens, I see a lot of people that don’t deal with it well, and they freeze like a deer in the headlights. That’s a big mistake because that makes you more of a target so always have that bias toward action and see what happens. Learn from the mistakes and apply them to your future.