The Freelancers' Show 108 - John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire

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Chuck Wood interviews John Lee Dumas of Entrepreneur On Fire and Podcasters' Paradise.

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CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 108 of the Freelancers’ Show. This week is a little bit different; I interviewed John Lee Dumas from EntrepreneurOnFire, and he had kind of a limited time frame, so I kinda jumped around a bit and tried to get as much information as I could for you guys, and I really hope you enjoy the interview. I really learned a lot; I think you can, too. If you're interested in entrepreneurship, you can go pick up his show at eofire.com. He also has a podcasting group called Podcasters’ Paradise, and you can find that at podcastersparadise.com. I'm going to go ahead and blast the interview in here, and when it’s over, it’s over, but I really hope that this helps inspire you to take your business to the next level, and we’ll catch you all next week. JOHN: Charles, how are you doing today? CHUCK: I'm great! How are you, John? Yeah, I've been listening to your show, good stuff. JOHN: Thanks, man! I appreciate that. CHUCK: So, what I know about you is EntrepreneurOnFire, which is – you’ve been doing it for, what? Two years? JOHN: Yeah, just a little under, about 20 months. CHUCK: And then you’ve also started the Podcasting Paradise, which is another community out there for podcasters. JOHN: Yup, we have 800+ members that are looking to create, grow and monetize their podcast. CHUCK: That’s amazing. And then Fire Nation as well, which is another community centered around the show. JOHN: Yes. CHUCK: So I'm a little curious; I've heard a little bit of your story but can you kind of summarize how you got started? JOHN: Yes. So my story’s pretty unique, pretty common. I mean, a little mixture of both. I was a person, Chuck, that just loved consuming podcasts. I was in the industry of real estate so I was always in my car, always driving around, hating radio because you can only hear Miley Cyrus so many times. Talk Radio was brutal, I mean, there's six minutes of content for 12 minutes of commercials, and you couldn’t control the content. Who knew what they were going to talk about on any given Sunday? So fortunately, I stumbled upon podcasts and for two years, Chuck, I was in love. I mean, it was a match made in heaven. I would listen to the shows that I wanted to, when I wanted to, and it was free – I loved all of that combination. And then one day, I'm driving to work, I'm stuck in traffic, and I ran out of podcasts. Because you know, mutual friends of ours like Cliff Ravenscraft does a great podcast once a week, Pat Flynn was doing a podcast once every two weeks – I was going through all of their podcasts that they have done over the years in just months. And I'm like, “Where’s that podcast that interviews inspiring and successful entrepreneurs and shares their journey seven days a week?” I wanna wake up every morning, Chuck, and know that there's a fresh podcast waiting for me, and that didn’t exist. And I thought about that, and you know what? That's a niche that needs to be filled. There must be other people out there like me who had this same problem of running out of content that they love. That’s the day that entrepreneur on fire was born, Chuck, and here we sit about 20 months, 570 interviews later – still going strong. CHUCK: That’s amazing. And I think it’s important for freelancers to kind of understand that they can do similar things in order to build an audience, and from that, get a customer base. I mean, I don’t think it’s that different marketing-wise to get people to pay you for services, as opposed to get people to pay you for a community or for sponsorship or anything else. JOHN: Totally correct. CHUCK: So, I know that we’re kind of on a condensed time frame, so I'm really just going to cut to the chase on a lot of this stuff. Entrepreneurs and freelancers have a lot in common. In fact, I consider freelancing to be kind of a sub-category of entrepreneurship. What are the things that you find that entrepreneurs or freelancers probably struggle with in building that community that they can then go to and build their business on? JOHN: The number one thing, Chuck, that I'm seeing all entrepreneurs all and freelancers are struggling with is something that I struggled with dearly. In fact, I call it my $100,000 mistake, which we can talk about later, but that’s the Impostor Syndrome. That’s what Seth Godin talks so eloquently about in so many of his blog posts. You know, that innate fear of failure. Those voices inside are saying, “Who’s going to wanna listen to my podcast? Who’s going to want to read my blog posts? Who’s going to wanna watch my video? Who’s going to wanna buy my design work, my logo, my banner – whatever that might be?” We all have the impostor syndrome, Chuck. Again, it’s innate; we’re born with it; we’re never going to get rid of it; it’s why we've survived all of these years is that it keeps us on our toes, doubting, fearful, and striving to overcome that. It is those people, Chuck, that can overcome that, that realize, “I do have a voice. I do have a written word. I do have design skills that are worth something, some kind of monetary value, and that should be shared with the world.” That small percentage that can embrace that Impostor Syndrome and rise above – those are the ones that I'm seeing that are successful. I mean Charles, I know when you first went to launch your podcast, you were scared. You had fear of what the reaction would be. I went through the exact same thing; in fact, mine was paralyzing. So much so that when I woke up on August 15th, the day that I was supposed to launch, with 40 interviews in the bag, with a website ready to rock and roll – everything was ready – I panicked. I was paralyzed, and I contacted my mentor. I contacted my Mastermind. You know, you and I are on the same podcast Mastermind, Chuck, and I said, “Guys, listen to all these great BS excuses as to why I can’t launch my podcast today.” And you know what? Everybody, including myself, bought that story. I pushed it back 15 days; I pushed it back 15 more; I pushed it back another 15. Finally, in the middle of that third pushback, my mentor Jaime Tardy, the eventual millionaire, said, “John, you are full of crap. If you don’t launch your podcast today, September 22nd, I'm firing you.” So, Chuck, I launched my podcast on that day, because even though I was terrified of launching, I was more terrified of losing my mentor. I launched the podcast; everything went great form the launch, as I was hoping. My fears proved unfounded. Two months later, I was asked to speak at New Media Expo 2013 on podcasting, which never would have happened if I didn’t launch, and because of that I got Seth Godin, Barbara Corcoran, Gary Vaynerchuck, Tim Ferriss in rapid succession on my show. Fast forward 13 months, we had a $100,000 month, which is why I call it my $100,000 mistake. Because all, Chuck, that that delay of five weeks did, all that did was push back all of the success that I've had by five weeks – nothing more. So that Impostor Syndrome is crippling. CHUCK: Yeah, it really is. One other aspect I see with this, especially with freelancers, is when they're going for the sell. “Who’s going to pay me to do this? Who would pay this outrageous amount of money per hour, or per project, or per week, to do this?” It’s the same thing – they just undervalue what they have to offer. How do you help people get past that? What is it that helps people get over that Impostor Syndrome? I mean, do they just have to do it? They have to suck it up? Or are there other things that they could do? JOHN: That’s exactly what I tell them, Chuck. I say, “Listen, there's no getting over it. So stop trying to get over it, because you never are. Instead, embrace it. Know that it’s part of your being; it’s part of all human beings, so embrace the Impostor Syndrome. While others are fighting it and trying to beat it, just embrace it. Realize it’s part of the journey, and then rise about it and continue to work through that.” I wake up every morning scared about something. Are people going to just keep joining Podcasters’ Paradise this month? Is anybody going to show up in my live webinar today? Is anybody going to like this speech that I'm giving next month at this conference? Those things are always going to be there, but that's fuel for entrepreneur and freelancers’ fire, Chuck, so use it. CHUCK: Now, in building this community, I'm wondering how much time do you spend on that and what do you spend it on? JOHN: I spend about 70 hours a week working on EntrepreneurOnFire, which is Fire Nation – that is the community. It’s a pretty accurate timestamp, because I use this great app called Rescue Time, which tracks all of my online work. It really breaks it down by websites, how much time I'm spending on a Adobe Audition, at the back end of WordPress, on Facebook, which, for me, has actually worked, because that’s where my communities are located at. So I really use Rescue Time in a really powerful way to really track that and just see where I'm spending my time and how I spending my time. But again, I'm averaging a solid 70 hours a week. CHUCK: Wow. Do you worry that you're going to get burned out? JOHN: You know, burn out’s one of those things I see happen to people who aren’t inspired by what they do, who aren’t in their flow. I wake up every morning really excited or that day and what it’s going to hold. I woke up this morning with eight interviews lined up on other people’s shows, one of which is yours, Chuck, who I'm talking to today. And guess what? I'm excited for every single one of them. CHUCK: That’s awesome. How do you stay so inspired by what you're doing? JOHN: Because it is! It kinda goes back to that flow. This is what I love to do, is inspire others and see the results of that inspiration. The emails, the social media, the handwritten letters that I receive on a weekly basis show me that that message that we’re putting out – you know, that message that EntrepreneurOnFire is sharing wih the world – is not only being heard, but is being put into action and real lives are being changed and real ripple effects are happening. My podcast has inspired hundreds of other podcasts to start. Again, in Podcasters’ Paradise alone, we have over 800 members, and many of those people would never have launched a podcast without listening to EnterpreneurOnFire, without being part of the Podcasters’ Paradise community, but now they are. And Chuck, totally separate from me now, they're inspiring other people who have never, and probably will never hear of EnterpreneurOnFire, and that ripple effect to me is incredible. CHUCK: Do you have a story or an example of some way that EnterpreneurOnFire has changed somebody’s life? JOHN: I do. This is actually about the third week after I launched EnterpreneurOnFire – when I was a bad host. Inexperienced, robotic, uncomfortable behind the microphone – all of which most people let stop them from ever starting, but again, it’s a progression that we need to go through. So I was putting out the show; I was excited that it was out, but I was also realizing that, “You know what? Is this really impacting anybody? Because I'm bringing on some great guests and they're sharing some great stories, but man, I feel like I am just not adding anything to this podcast.” And I get this email from a guy and he said, “John, I'm in Morocco. It’s a very desolate town that I currently live in. I bike 10 miles, one way, once a week, to download the last seven episodes of EnterpreneurOnFire at the closest town that has internet access which is 10 miles away. And then I bike back. And then I open my laptop up and my family and my friends come over and we gather around the laptop, and we listened to EnterpreneurOnFire. And John, I'm not emailing you today as somebody that’s thankful and part of Fire Nation; I'm emailing you today as a father, thanking you for opening up my kids’ eyes to other possibilities that are out there in this world.” And to me, Chuck, that changed everything. That made me realize that, wow, even though I'm not currently adding value, I'm providing a platform where others can provide value on EnterpreneurOnFire and inspire other people. And to picture these kids absorbing this great information that, the keyword, is for free, because this family couldn’t afford to buy an audio book, to buy a course, or to do whatever. But they could afford free, and so that was an amazing way for me to inspire others that maybe couldn’t otherwise never have been inspired. CHUCK: That is pretty awesome. I don’t know, I mean, in my field, I don’t know that I'm necessarily making that kind of difference in that way. I mean, most of what I do is aimed toward programmers, and it makes a difference for them, but entrepreneurship kid of has a wider appeal. I guess it also, to that point, since it’s not as narrowly niched down as some of the things that I'm doing, it’s hard to have people actually find it and find exactly what they want to get out of it. JOHN: Can I ask you a question, Chuck? CHUCK: Yeah. JOHN: Do you think you’ve ever inspired a programmer to do some work? CHUCK: Oh absolutely. I know I have, I've talked to several people that –. JOHN: You think that programmer maybe has creative something amazing that’s truly changed somebody’s life? CHUCK: Probably. JOHN: Exactly. And so it doesn’t need to go directly from point A to point B and that’s how the ripple effect that I talked about, that your podcast, by inspiring one person who maybe is a programmer, who would have been well-off either way, but he was inspired by what he heard on your show to create something powerful that now is having a hugely impactful life for people all over the world. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. I'm a little curious – you mentioned that you worked 70 hours a week on this stuff. How do you manage your time? How do you manage your time and make sure that you're getting everything done? JOHN: It’s a challenge; it’s a daily challenge, actually. I use a great app called WorkFlowy, which is my to-do app that’s based in a cloud that allows me to keep a priority list of actions that take today, actions that take this week, and actions to get done this month. Those are my major three, and that’s where I really focus. But that’s, again, I wake up every morning, I look at my calendar, I look at my WorkFlowy and I say, “How can I best bring EnterpreneurOnFire forward today?” And on Mondays, that’s doing eight interviews with inspiring and successful entrepreneurs. On Saturdays, that’s doing eight interviews on other people’s shows to reach audiences I might else have not have reached. Every other day of the week, it’s creating products and services like Podcasters’ Paradise, like WebinarOnFire, which is how you can create, present and convert your webinar that really inspires me to keep driving forward. CHUCK: That’s an interesting thing – when I talk to freelancers, it seems like people are either getting started and so they're asking a bunch of questions about how do I set my rate, how do I find clients, things like that, and it seems like the other half are talking about something more along the lines of what you're talking about where it’s, well I'd like to offset some of my income that’s tied so tightly to my time by building products and things like that. How do you figure out what those products are that you should be building? JOHN: One word that changes everything in every entrepreneur’s life – listen. I've built my audience, Chuck, my audience is Fire Nation, and now what do I do? I listen to them. When they email me, their pain points, their struggles, their obstacles, their challenges – I listen; I categorize; I tag them; I look for themes. When enough commonality starts coming up, then I look and how can I create a product or a service that really heals that pain point, that serves that need, and then I create it. That’s how Podcasters’ Paradise was created. That’s how WebinarOnFire was created – by listening to my audience, and then creating a product for them. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. What kind of gathering place do you have for Fire Nation? It seems like it’s not just people listen to the podcast, and then we’ll send you an email – you have a forum for something like that, don’t you? JOHN: With EnterpreneurOnFire, I really strive on every single episode that we release, which are 365 a year, to drive people back to our headquarters, our home base, which is EnterpreneurOnFire.com – or the short version is eofire.com. That’s what we really drive people back to, Chuck. That’s our main home base. From my membership Mastermind, Fire Nation elite, which is 100-person Mastermind that we have had it going on now for over 10 months of just incredible entrepreneurs who are all in it to win it, to support each other, to really give each other that motivation, that drive to succeed. That, I do have a private Facebook group for, and a forum on a website – and both of those have proven to be very valuable tools. CHUCK: How do you get people to come back to your website? JOHN: Every single episode with EnterpreneurOnFire, when one of my guests shares an amazing resource, a book, a tip, tool, or tactic, their website, their information – I say, “Hey, Fire Nation. Remember, everything you're hearing on this show today – all of those resources, all of those tools, the book, the contact information – you can find at eofire.com/chuckwood. Go check it out; it’s there for you on the show notes page. I love [inaudible].” CHUCK: That’s awesome! So you don’t tell them to go to episode 135-whatever-whatever, you just simplify it for them and –. JOHN: Yup. It’s eofire.com/guestname. CHUCK: That’s awesome. I'm definitely going to have to steal that. JOHN: Yeah, sure. CHUCK: I'm a little curious – what lessons have you learned from having so many guests on your show? I mean, you’ve talked to 500-something entrepreneurs. Is there a common theme, or are there common lessons that you pick up from having interviewed so many people? JOHN: On EnterpreneurOnFire, my first two major talking topics is number one, describe and share with Fire Nation your biggest failure and what lesson did you learn? And the talking point in the topic number two is, describe one of your favorite aha! moments, a light bulb that went off at some point in your journey and tell us the steps you took to turn that moment and turn it into success. For both, this amazing theme has developed, Charles. And of course, not every single person is saying the exact, same answer and everybody has a different story completely, but when it comes to lessons learned, and the steps that they took to turn it into a success –when it comes to those two main points – time and time again, people are failing when they don’t follow their gut, when they don’t follow their intuition, that innate sense of what they should be doing. And then on the flip side, they succeed. They have their best ideas and successes when they do follow that intuition, so if there's anything that your listeners can take away from EnterpreneurOnFire, what I've learned as the host of this over 570 shows, is follow your intuition. If you're starting to go on a path or a partnership, or whatever it might be, and it doesn’t feel right, then find a way to get out of that, because it’s not right. Believe me, if your intuition is telling you to bail, it’s time to bail. And on the flip side, if your intuition is telling you to do something, you need to do it. Like, that’s something you need to do. A quick story on that point: Chuck, we’re both on the same podcast Mastermind together with Cliff Ravenscraft and my mentor is Jaime Tardy, and those two individuals have had a profound, positive impact on the success and the growth of EnterpreneurOnFire. But both of them warned me, “John, I think what you're doing is great; you're on a great path, we love your enthusiasm, but don’t do a seven-day week a show. Nobody’s going to wanna listen to a seven-day a week show. You're going to get burnt out,” and you know what, Chuck? They had my best intentions in mind when they gave that advice. But my intuition was telling me that there was an audience out there for a seven-day a week show that I was going to be inspired, and I was going to find a great and efficient way to create that seven-day a week show, so I put my blinders on, and I drove forward, knowing that I was going to take all the great advice they were giving me and apply it, but I was going to ignore that piece of advice because I was following my intuition, I was following my gut on that. And here we are, Chuck, 570 interviews later, we were awarded Best of iTunes 2013; we’re generating over $100,000 a month, so EnterpreneurOnFire has been proven as a concept, but it was a long road. A; Mm-hm. How long did it take before it was actually supporting you, or supporting itself, anyway? JOHN: Six and a half months. The first six months were pretty much in the red. We do all of our income reports at eofire.com/income where we share all of our wins, all of our losses, how we made our money, how we lost our money, and it was all red for the first four or five months. I mean, it was all investing, it was all money going out and just not a lot of money coming back in. but in about the sixth month point, we really turned that corner. We had our first five-figure month at month seven, and since then it’s been a pretty slow and steady growth. Until about the 12th month post-launch, where we went from $50,000 in one month to $100,000 from September to October, since then we have been over $100,000 since October 2013. CHUCK: Well, what changed in that month? JOHN: I launched my first product – Podcasters’ Paradise. CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. This is all really, really interesting and I’d love to spend another hour talking to you, but I know that you're busy. One thing we do on our show, and it’s a little bit similar to something you do on your show, is we have our picks. And what they are, they're just things that we like, things that make our lives better, and I'm guessing that you probably have some resources that you can recommend to our listeners that would help them kinda take their business or their entrepreneurial venture to the next level. Do you have some things that you can pick or recommend for us? JOHN: First and foremost, your time is everything, Chuck. And for entrepreneurs, we need to value our time at an incredible level. A great example is this interview with you and I right now. I mean, I get over 10 requests to be on people shows on a weekly basis, and if I kinda left the door open, which is just like, “Okay, I can come on and we’ll chat as long as you wanna chat,” that could quickly take up pretty much all of my time. So instead, I had to make the tough decision, because I love these conversations; I could keep chatting all day about this stuff, but I said, “You know what, I just need to make a decision – they have to be 25 minutes each so I can serve more people, so I can serve a larger audience in a very impactful and efficient way.” You’ve gone through this system, Chuck, and you’ve seen how effective it is. Instead of you and me going back four or five times, trying to lock down a time that works for both of us, and imagine doing that times 10 for these 10 requests that I'm getting per week; and then multiply that by another eight, because I'm booking eight entrepreneurs for my show a week – that would be an absolute nightmare and I probably would break down pretty quickly. Instead, I just sent you one link, Chuck, and I said, “Hey I’d love to be on your show. Unfortunately, due to high demand, these are the only times I have available. I would love for you to book me if any of them work.” And you found a time that works for you, you got booked, you got sent my Skype ID, my email, my bio – anything that you might need, and then here we are talking today, the day that you booked, and we’re having a great conversation. And the tool that I use for that is called ScheduleOnce – and ScheduleOnce has been a game changer for me in so many different ways. I have six different links that I can send people for six different things: Me being interviewed on other shows, me interviewing people for EnterpreneurOnFire, my four mentees – you name it. Anything that I'm booking has its own, specific link, so people like yourself, Chuck, only have the option to book me on Saturdays, between x time and y time, but there's no other option for you, and it makes my life, my scheduling so powerful. CHUCK: You know, that’s something that I have really struggled with, and I have to admit that over the last week, I've kinda been heading down the burnout road, and that sounds like something I could really incorporate into my business so that, “Hey, I've got a product that I want you to build,” and so when I'm scheduling a time, I could just send that over and then it happens within the block of time I've set aside for that. Or somebody wants coaching, and so I can send them over to that and they can book a time within the time I've set aside for that. And it makes a lot of sense; I really, really like it. JOHN: Well, tell us this: how did you find scheduling me for your show using y system? CHUCK: I have a dirty secret with that. My virtual assistant actually did that for me. JOHN: Well then you are utilizing your time wisely! CHUCK: Oh yeah. And I've actually been reading – this might be a pick for me, I guess – I've been reading Chris Ducker’s book, Virtual Freedom, and I know that you had him on your show talking about it. When he talked about the three list of freedom, it just kinda blew my mind, but I'm actually looking at expanding my virtual team to include a few more people that can kind of do some of these other things for me. But I love the idea of having these systems out there like ScheduleOnce that I can just point somebody to and just make it happen. And so then I have my virtual assistant that I've had for the last year or so, and she can continue to do the things that she’s really good at, and then the things that I just don’t want to take up her time with, or feel like somebody at $6 an hour can do as opposed to her rate, I can just say, “Hey, go and spend five minutes to do this thing” you know? JOHN: It’s a great way to look at things. ScheduleOnce is a great way to really leverage that and in fact, ScheduleOnce just flashed and told me that my next interview is in two minutes. I mean, how efficient is that? CHUCK: Yup, that’s awesome. So really quickly, I also just wanna point out a couple of things that I like about your show, just to kinda say thank you but also some things that I've learned. The one thing is the one thing that none of your guests seem to remember, and they always bring it up and that's FOCUS, and that’s the Follow One Course Until Success. JOHN: Yay! You nailed it! CHUCK: That alone has made a huge difference, just in the way I look at things. And as I was kinda fighting the burnout this week, I sat down and I said, “Okay, which one course am I going to follow?” I've got two or three projects that are out there, and so if one gets stopped, I can pick up another one, but I just love the idea. And then the other thing is, again, I mean, for me, and I've considered doing a similar format with programmers, and that is that in order to get the breadth of experience that people want to know about the way other people do things, just doing it every day and talking to so many people – I'm really inspired by that and have been tempted several times to actually start my own programming series. JOHN: Love it, Chuck! Well, this has been a blast today, man! CHUCK: Yeah, totally. Thank you for coming, we’ll definitely get this up next week. I’ll shoot you an email, let me know when it’s up, and thanks again for coming. JOHN: I can’t wait to share this with Fire Nation, Chuck, you're the man, keep on rockin! CHUCK: You too! [Would you like to join a conversation with the Freelancers’ Show panelists and their guests? Wanna support the show? We have a form that allows you to join the conversation and support the show at the same time. 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