Josh Axe is a Doctor of Natural Medicine and Certified Nutrition Specialist. He is the Author of The Real Food Diet Cookbook, a Physician for Olympic-level athletes, and creator of the BurstFIT interval training program. He also founded DrAxe.com, one of the top 10 largest natural health websites in the world, which has some great info on healing foods, herbal remedies and healthy recipes.
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Worst Entrepreneur Moment
- We’ve heard it before, and we’ll hear it again, Fire Nation: until we PROVE the concept of our product/service/community, it doesn’t exist.
Entrepreneur AH-HA Moment
- Weapons of mass distraction will get you NOwhere FAST. FOCUS on the one inch wide and one mile deep!
What has you FIRED up?
- Eat Dirt! Dr’s Josh’s upcoming book launch.
Small Business Resource
- SEMrush: A powerful and versatile competitive intelligence suite for online marketing, from SEO and PPC to social media and video advertising research.
Best Business Book
- Real Food Diet Cookbook by Dr. Josh Axe
- Today Matters by John C. Maxwell
- Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger
- Grain Brain by David Perlmutter
John Lee Dumas: Josh is a doctor of natural medicine and certified nutrition specialist. He is the author of The Real Food Diet Cookbook, a physician for Olympic-level athletes, and creator of the Burstfit Interval Training program. He’s also founded www.DrAxe.com, one of the top 10 largest natural health websites in the world, which has some great info on healing foods, herbal remedies, and healthy recipes. Josh, take a minute. Fill in some gaps in that intro, and give us a little glimpse into your personal life.
Dr. Josh Axe: Sure. I think you covered some of the bigger things. For me, being a natural health practitioner, I think a lot of the people who get in the health profession – sort of my backstory of what got me being an entrepreneur was a health crisis in my own family.
I had a mom who, growing up, was always into fitness. My dad was a semi-pro water skier. Growing up, my mom was my gym teacher at school, a swim instructor, really active. At 40 years old, she was diagnosed with cancer, which was just shocking for us. She went through the traditional medical system. She went through chemotherapy, had surgery, got very ill, and praise God, she was brought through that, and has been cancer free and healthy.
For the next 10 years after she went through that, she got sicker than ever. For 10 years, she just had a horrible quality of life. Seeing that at a young age, I remember saying to myself at 14 years old, “I never want to see anyone have to go through cancer again.” That’s what really led me into becoming a natural physician.
The second time she was actually diagnosed with cancer, I was in school, but I had been exposed to the benefits of natural medicine. We took care of her all naturally. She started juicing vegetables, drinking bone broth. We radically changed her diet. The second time, she overcame cancer all naturally.
That’s a big part of why I’m here today, why I have the message out there. I tell my patients today still, John, that I take care of them like they’re my own family. Really, I went from having a clinic and being an entrepreneur in that way to now being an online entrepreneur, and reaching people through a number of different ways.
I know there are millions of people out there suffering. They need help with their health, and I can reach more people than ever through the power of the internet, and a lot of these other things. That’s kind of where I’m at.
John Lee Dumas: You are speaking to the right audience. Fire Nation knows that for me, 2015 and beyond have become the focus on fitness, on health, and nutrition because unless I can really serve my body and be doing what I need to do, then I’m not going to be able to serve my audience to the best capabilities. Fire Nation, I know you’re focused on the same things, which is killer, which is great.
Josh, I’m glad you’ve moved into the online platform because you’re going to be able to now have a bigger footprint. You’re going to be able to have a bigger impression with the world because of the reach of the online platforms that are available to us.
Speaking of that, Fire Nation, we are entrepreneurs, small business owners. We are people who have taken our leap or who are about to take the leap. We all know it takes a viable business to keep serving this world. When you have a message like yours, Josh, you’re obligated to generate revenue so you can continue to serve the world in a bigger and better way. What are the current ways you today generate revenue?
Dr. Josh Axe: I really have two main ways. It’s through products and programs. Our products include – I’ve started a certified organic nutrition company, so I sell supplements, things from collagen powder to fish oil to magnesium. I have a supplement company. I also have a couple of books. I have a cookbook. I have a fitness DVD. Those are our products.
I also have programs. I’ve get several. I’ve got one called Healing Leaky Gut, another one called Metabolism Makeover, another one about essential oils, and even a health coaching program I sell where I teach people how to become nutritionists and health coaches, and they get a certification. We have programs, and products.
One of the things we’ve even done with our programs is reverse engineer those to where the people get in the program, but we also have products and supplements they take as they go through the program itself.
John Lee Dumas: I love it. Fire Nation, you can see where Josh started, with things he’s passionate about, things that he has skills in, combining it together for that zone of genius. That’s where the gold lies.
Josh, you’ve had your ups and downs. Just because you’ve had your head together about health, fitness, and nutrition for a long time, it doesn’t mean you haven’t struggled, both in business and in life. Here at EOFire, we always start with the worst entrepreneurial moment you’ve experienced to date. Josh, take a minute. Take us down to that ground level, to that moment in time when that worst entrepreneurial moment descended upon you, and tell that story.
Dr. Josh Axe: Sure. I have a couple thoughts here because I feel like I’ve been an entrepreneur twice. My first time around opening a clinic, I got about two years in. I was working about 70 or 80 hours a week, and everything relied upon me. Just going into my clinic got to be overwhelming because I had a huge clinic. In fact, we had over 1,000 patient visits a week within a year of practice. We had good marketing. Lives were being transformed, but it was all on me.
I got to the point where I got stressed. I got overwhelmed. I just got exhausted. My own health started suffering. I started suffering with digestive issues because I was just so overwhelmed with all the stress, pressure, and work hours of keeping this massive clinic going. That was probably my worst entrepreneurial moment. Yeah, I had built a successful clinic, but I had no life. I couldn’t leave for more than four days because the entire thing revolved around me. Then I really started to learn principles of delegation, and bringing other physicians to help out in the clinic.
The next one I would say I sold my clinic to an associate. He took it over. He’s a guy I trusted a lot and has had a lot of success today. Then I got in and started running my health website.
We had launched our first successful program. I had followed the model of someone named Brendon Burchard who had a very good funnel system. We sort of modeled the way he launched his program. We thought, “This is great.” We had a lot of success.
We then launched our second program and put a lot of money into it. We thought, “We’re just going to do the exact same thing. We’re not going to test anything. I think this is going to be something people will like.” We went and launched the program, and total bomb. We lost tens of thousands of dollars. We fell flat on our face, and got into a financial situation. I was a little bit worried.
We crawled out of that. That really taught me one thing. We need to test. For me to just assume that my audience was going to love this area of health, and they didn’t, it taught me a valuable lesson to test everything if you can. At least do your due diligence and see if this is something your audience is going to be interested in.
John Lee Dumas: Due diligence, those are two D words that are so critical, Fire Nation. We have to do the due diligence. I actually love when people launch products before they’ve actually even created them, meaning you’re full transparent about it, and you say, “Listen, Fire Nation, you told me that you want this. I will create it if you put your money where your mouth is, if you vote with your wallet, if you say you are willing to put a deposit down.”
Until people vote with their wallet, Fire Nation, it’s not real. Everybody will tell you, “Yes, that sounds great. That is great,” but then when it comes time, it’s not for them for any number of reasons, and you’re just left holding the bag.
I love launching products and saying, “Early bird registration. Be one of the founding fathers and mothers. Be here now, and this is what you can do.” It has been really successful because I’m proving, before I even start putting work into it, that this will launch in 45 days, but until I get enough of a commitment from my audience, I’m not even going to put a minute of work into it until that concept is proven. Being transparent about it is critical every step of the way.
Josh, that’s my big takeaway. What do you want to make sure Fire Nation gets from your story?
Dr. Josh Axe: I completely agree with you, John. Here’s what I don’t want people to do. I don’t want people to do what most people do, which is never get started. I think that’s the biggest mistake they can make, but I totally agree.
What we do now is we do testing. We might run Facebook ads, or do something light to see if there’s interest, or even put out a survey on Facebook. “Is this something you’re interested in?” Or to the email list saying, “Would you buy this?” or, as you’re saying, have them go ahead and buy it, and then we create it. I really think that’s the best thing to take from that.
I learned from it. Sometimes it’s good to have those failures because we won’t do it again.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, never getting started is 99.9 percent of entrepreneurs’ issues. If you put that thing out there and say, “I’m going to create this if I get a commitment from you,” and then you get that commitment financially, guess what. Now you’re on a counting-down timeline. You’ll get it done. You will start. You will finish. That is a reality. Put that out there. Make it happen.
Josh, I do want to shift because you have a lot of stories. The next one that I really want to dive into is an aha moment, an epiphany, a lightbulb that you’ve had at some point in your journey. Josh, take us there to that moment in time that you’ve had a lightbulb moment that you would consider Fire Nation to find very valuable, and tell us that story.
Dr. Josh Axe: Once I transitioned out of my practice, I started building and growing my online following, but I also had five other businesses I was doing. I had that, but I was still in my clinic part time. I kind of left my clinic, but I still went in one to two days a week. Then also I was doing another business venture, and I was doing my website, so I kind of had three businesses going, but there were other things I was doing. I had several things I was juggling.
I took to lunch a guy named Bill Hampton. He was the right-hand man for Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey is here in Nashville, and mentored me in radio and some other things. Bill was his lead marketer, and a big part of Dave’s success.
I took Bill to lunch and said, “Hey, Bill, I feel like I’m not getting anywhere. I feel like I’m on a treadmill.” He’s like, “Josh, share with me what you’re doing, what your long-term visioning goal is.” I said, “My goal is to have the number-one health website in the world and also to start the number-one organic supplement company in the world, and for those to work together.”
He said, “Okay. You want to start supplements. You want to have the number-one natural health website. What are you doing now?” I said, “I’m in my clinic one to two days a week, and I’m helping write articles for my website, and doing some editing. Then I’m doing this other organic food business over here.” He said, “That’s your problem. If you look at the most successful people, they focus on one thing. You’re focusing on three things.”
For me, that was an aha moment because I really looked at how I was spending my time, and the amount of time I was spending. The thing I was truly most passionate about in life, that was really stemming from – I talked about my mom earlier and how sick she was. I mean, really reaching millions. I had to focus on just building my online platform, and focusing on my website, www.DrAxe.com, that had to be my singular focus.
I actually didn’t act on it immediately. It took me about a year. A year later, I was kind of revisiting his advice, and I was at a crossroads. I said, “You know what? I’m going to take a risk here.” I really wasn’t in a place financially where for some people it would have made sense to focus full time. I was kind of taking a leap of faith.
I said, “I believe I’m going to have success here.” I prayed about it. I felt good about it. I said, “I’m going to focus on one thing. I’m going to drop these two areas of income completely, and I don’t even know how I’m going to pay paychecks next month,” but I just went for it. It was the best thing I ever did. I think a lot of people get in the position where they come into that crossroads, and they just keep putting it off because there’s a risk somewhere.
If you’re ever going to move forward, sometimes you’ve got to take that risk. At least, that’s what I’ve found. For me right now, focusing on – that’s what I do right now. For the past three years, I have focused on one thing. We have seen, I would say, about a 30X growth in the past three years because I focused on one thing rather than multiple things.
John Lee Dumas: Weapons of mass distraction are everywhere, Fire Nation. That bright shiny object syndrome pops up every single day. There’s always something new. If we let ourselves get distracted, we always will be.
Josh, I just love that because so many of my listeners come to me and say, “John, why am I struggling?” I look at their business, and they’re going 1 mile wide and 1 inch deep in all these different areas, and they wonder why they’re not making an impression anywhere.
I’m saying, “It’s because you’re going 1 inch deep. You need to go 1 inch wide and 1 mile deep. That is where you’ll make your impression. That is where you’re going to dominate a niche. That’s where you’re going to make a name for yourself getting a passionate audience, a raving fan base. That’s where you start.” Guess what. You can expand out later. After Dr. Josh did what he did, now he’s expanding out into other areas, and doing great things, but he had to get that initial momentum. Josh, that’s my biggest takeaway. What do you want to make sure, in just one sentence, that Fire Nation gets from your aha moment.
Dr. Josh Axe: Write down your biggest passion right now and your biggest opportunities. Really, it comes to what you said earlier. Where is your passion? What is that one thing you would accomplish and be successful at, and go for it?
John Lee Dumas: Josh, what is the biggest weakness you have as an entrepreneur?
Dr. Josh Axe: Not necessarily finishing things, or kind of forgetting what’s going on. I tend to be a big visionary, and have focus on one thing. Because I do that now, sometimes I kind of forget about other things.
I like to get projects started, and sometimes I have a hard time finishing them. That’s why I’ve actually hired people who are finishers all around me. I get things started, get the projects going, cast the vision, and then they help me follow through with it. Without a doubt, if I didn’t have my team around me, finishing things would be a big problem.
John Lee Dumas: What is your biggest strength?
Dr. Josh Axe: I would say casting a vision. For my team and my audience, I really cast two visions for people. One, if people stay stuck in the current medical system today on loads and loads of medications, not taking care of their health, there’s pain, there’s suffering, there’s lack of success.
I can tell you I take care of here in Nashville a lot of successful businesspeople, a lot of pastors. I had one pastor come into my clinic. His name is John as well. I said, “Pastor John, why do you come in here?” He said, “Because I want to be preaching when I’m 95 still.”
For me, I really think it’s really being able to cast that vision. Imagine what your life is going to be like with extraordinary health. You’re 80 years old. You’re playing with your grandkids. You’re doing cartwheels. You feel great. You’re going to be more successful that way.
I think I’m really able to cast a long-term vision for my company of us being the number-one natural health website in the world, the number-one organic brand sold in Whole Foods and vitamin shops all over the world. I see it. My team sees it. My audience sees it. We’ve really formed what we call the Axe Army all around. It’s not just my vision now. It’s the vision of my entire team, in fact.
Kind of going off of this, we have eight core values. One of those values is run to win the race. Everyone on my team has a scorecard or what we call a finish line that they need to hit every single week, or every quarter that we have for people. Our entire motto is we run to win the race. They see that vision. They see that finish line. Myself and our entire team, and even people who go through my programs, we give them a vision but also a finish line to really race toward.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, I want you to join the Axe Army. If Fire Nation and the Axe Army combines, guess what. We will win the race of life. That’s the most important thing.
Josh, let’s talk about the one thing that has you most fired up today.
Dr. Josh Axe: One thing I’m really excited about right now is a book launch I actually have coming up here this March. I wrote a book titled Eat Dirt. I signed a book deal with Harper Collins. I’m really excited about that because that really tells my story of my mom, the exact formula, and what she did to overcome and beat cancer.
Really the book is designed about helping people heal the root cause of all disease, which starts in the gut. People struggling with adrenal fatigue, or autoimmune disease, or lack of energy, food sensitivities, a number of other illnesses. The book walks them through exactly what they need to do to get their health back.
I am really pumped and excited about this book. It’s my first published book. The thing I’m most excited about is that – the reason I’m most excited is I really believe and know it is going to transform lives. Again, that’s something I’m really pumped up about.
I’m pumped up about the book. I’m also pumped up about our marketing launch. We have got a – I’m actually doing a summit called The Heal Your Gut Summit, which will lead right into the book launch, which is March 29, which will lead right into my program, which is Healing Leaky Gut, which will lead right into I’m doing a PBS special on TV starting in June. We kind of have it all planned out. I’m pretty excited about the book launch.
John Lee Dumas: Wow. Fire Nation, I’m excited because Josh is going to keep dropping value bombs in the lightning round, but first, let’s thank our sponsors.
Josh, are you prepared for the lightning round?
Dr. Josh Axe: I’m ready. Let’s go.
John Lee Dumas: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Dr. Josh Axe: I would say the biggest thing was fear of income. Really taking that step, and worrying about finances, and am I going to be able to pay for this? I had success in the clinic, but doing things online, until you have money coming in – just to give you a little background – I know my answers probably aren’t supposed to be this long, but over five years, I had my website. I was running that while I was in my clinic. I probably last $500,000.00 over five to seven years running my website.
Not until I said, “I’m going to focus on this full time,” did I start seeing income, and really generating a significant amount of income. Just to say, you could understand why I was a little bit afraid because I had already sunk so much money into it.
John Lee Dumas: Yeah. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Dr. Josh Axe: I had a mentor once say that you become like the people you surround yourself with, specifically the five people. When I got that advice, I became very proactive about seeking out – and not just waiting. I think people hear that and think, “That sounds good.” I was very intentional about writing down people I didn’t even know yet, John.
In fact, one of my best friends is named Jordan Rubin. He wrote a book called The Maker’s Diet and founded a company called Garden of Life. I was being very proactive with pursuing hanging out with Jordan. Now we’re best friend and do business together and a lot of things.
I wrote down the five people I knew I needed to get around, both mentors and peers. I kind of had two subsets. The best piece of advice was get those people out of your life that are negative leeches. Start surrounding yourself with world changers.
The other thing would be modeling. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look at what other successful people have done. Don’t copy them, but model them. Follow those same footprints and footsteps to see success much faster.
John Lee Dumas: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Dr. Josh Axe: I’m kind of an obsessive goal setter and visionary. I create a vision board. In fact, my assistant just came over to the house. I had printed out all these Google images, and she got them laminated. I have a big – I might as well have a cork wall at this point. This cork board is huge. I write down my goals for every year. I write down my strategy to get there every year. Then I put up pictures.
I’ll tell you something I think is amazing, John. The way I do my vision board is I typically sit down, and sort of meditate, and pray. I say, “God, just show me what the best is you have for me.” I start envisioning what do I want my life to look like? What does God want my life to look like?
I start seeing what an ideal world would look like in terms of business success, in terms of relationship with my spouse, in terms of my recreational life. I might see myself rock climbing somewhere, going to visit somewhere in Europe. I see myself walking to Whole Foods, and see my supplements lining the shelves. I see certain numbers in my bank account.
I see those things. I then go to the internet. I go to Google Images. I print those out, those pictures that represent my goals and my vision in life. I also write down not just the goals very specifically in a timeline, but also the exact strategy to get there. If I want to become the number-one natural health website, I know I need to put out 21 pieces of content a week to do that. Here are the action steps I need to take. Again, doing vision casting along with goal setting and creating a vision board, I think is a big reason.
One last thing about that, my wife and I just bought a lot down in Florida for a house we’re going to be building, a vacation home with my in-laws. I had put a picture on my vision board two and a half years ago that I had printed randomly off the internet for this area in Florida we like. It’s called Seaside down in Santa Rosa Beach in the panhandle of Florida.
I printed off a picture of a house, and there was a lot by it. I’d never thought about it since then. I’ve looked at the pictures for years. We just bought a lot, and I got home and saw that this very same picture on my vision board of this house, we bought the lot next door to it. I had no idea. This had been on my vision board for two and a half years. We bought the lot next door, and we’re building a house.
Vision boarding for me, there have been so many things that I’ve seen that have come to fruition. I believe what you see and what you envision for yourself is really important.
John Lee Dumas: Wow. Share an internet resource like Evernotes with Fire Nation.
Dr. Josh Axe: One of the things I use a lot is called SEMrush. I’m really big into keyword searches, so SEO, search engine optimization. I really use SEMrush a lot. I study it. I can see what my competitors are ranking for. I can see what we’re ranking for. Maybe we need to write some outside articles, get some external links to drive that Google juice back to an article. I use SEMrush all the time.
John Lee Dumas: If you could recommend one book for our listeners to join The Real Food Diet Cookbook and Eat Dirt on our bookshelves, what would that book be and why?
Dr. Josh Axe: I would say one of my favorite books that I go through a lot – at least the book I would say maybe has impacted my life in a huge way is a book by John Maxwell called Today Matters. He’s got other great books, such as 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. I believe that leadership is key, and this book really goes through. Basically, this has become my life mantra. He was mentored by a man named John Wooden who was a UCLA basketball coach. He said, “Make every day a masterpiece.”
What we started doing on our website with my content team is we say to make every piece of content a masterpiece. I say to make every day a masterpiece. This book is about how to make every day a masterpiece. Again, I would say Today Matters by John Maxwell.
John Lee Dumas: What about a health food focused book?
Dr. Josh Axe: I would say Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger is a great book. I would also say Grain Brain. Grain Brain is by a friend of mine, David Perlmutter. It really gets into some great dietary advice. Grain Brain is one of my favorites.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, I know you love audio, so I teamed up with Audible. If you haven’t already, you can get an amazing book for free at www.EOFireBook.com.
Josh, let’s end on fire with a parting piece of guidance, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Dr. Josh Axe: You can visit my health website. It’s www.DrAxe.com. Right now I actually have a free ebook we’re giving away. It’s called Super Food, Super You, along with a free cookbook. If you go onto my website, you can actually get that for free. It’s a $25.00 value, but we’re giving it for free right now. Again, my website is www.DrAxe.com.
John Lee Dumas: Parting piece of guidance.
Dr. Josh Axe: I would say focus on that one thing. In life, you don’t want to be working at something that you’re not passionate about. I think passion is the place you have to start. I would take some time, and do what I talked about with visioning. Cast a vision. Make a vision board. Pursue your life passions. With that, I know you’ll have success.
John Lee Dumas: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with, and you have been hanging out with Dr. A and JLD today, so keep up the heat. Head over to www.EOFire.com. Just type “Josh” in the search bar. His show notes page will pop up with everything we’ve been talking about today. Of course, that free ebook awaits you at www.DrAxe.com.
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