John Lee Dumas: Alright, Fire Nation. I’ve got something a little different for us today. I was interviewed by Rebecca Livermore, who has the podcast, the Professional Content Creation podcast, which actually doesn’t air till January. She’s currently building her platform, but she wanted to interview me as one of her first interviews. I asked if I could share it with my audience and she said, “Absolutely!” So here we go!
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Rebecca Livermore: Welcome, everyone! I’m Rebecca Livermore from ProfessionalContentCreation.com and I’m thrilled to have you join me today. Today, I’m super excited to welcome John Dumas to the show. Before we get started, let me tell you a little bit about John. John Dumas is an avid entrepreneur and has a daily podcast on his website, EntrepreneurOnFire.com. I first met John when he wanted to interview one of my clients, and at that time, I began listening to his podcast. John’s podcast is unique in that it is the only five day a week audio podcast that interviews today’s most exciting entrepreneurs. John, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule today to be on the show.
John Lee Dumas: Rebecca, this is truly my pleasure. I mean, I’m normally the interviewer, so it’s just great to be on the other side of the mic and be the interviewee for once.
Rebecca Livermore: Well, I know that you have learned a ton as a result of all of the interviews that you’ve done. And so I am super excited to be able to talk to you because I’m just beginning my journey as someone who is interviewing people – and in fact, you’re my third one. So I’m just taking baby steps into it myself.
John Lee Dumas: Well, I’m honored, Rebecca.
Rebecca Livermore: Yes. Well, due to your focus on and your success with audio podcast, I’m going to focus this interview on podcasting. There are tons of different types of content out there. What made you choose to focus on audio podcast?
John Lee Dumas: Well, I knew that I wanted to really produce a large quantity of podcasts, and video has its issues where there is a lot more that goes into it as far as the production of it and having to have the interviewee in the other end and be able to have that really good connection and video quality, and I just knew that most people are going to be consuming my content, driving in their car on the way to work, exercising, going for their jog or walking their dog. So I just knew that audio was the way that I wanted to take EntrepreneurOnFire.
Rebecca Livermore: Okay. That sounds great! I think we all have maybe a preferred type of content ourselves as well to consume. Do you find yourself listening to a lot of audio podcasts yourself?
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely! I work out every single day. It’s pretty cold here in Maine so I’m no longer taking those long runs, but I have a couple DVDs that I watch as far as Insanity or P90X. While I’m working out to those, I have my headphones on and I’m listening to podcasts every single time.
Rebecca Livermore: Oh, that’s awesome. Well, when I introduced you, I mentioned that your podcast is different in that it’s every day, Monday through Friday. What made you decide to do a podcast every day of the week instead of like some people who podcast, they only do maybe one a week, one every other week, or maybe even just once in a blue moon, sporadically? What made you decide to do one every day?
John Lee Dumas: That’s a great question, and it’s a simple answer for me because it’s the exact niche that I wanted to fill. I was that person that was driving to work every single day, listening to podcasts or going on runs every single day, consuming all of this content. And while there were podcasts that were out there that I truly loved, but were only producing one podcast a week, one podcast every two weeks, I was going through just years of their content in a couple short months, and so I was like, “Man, there’s definitely a market out there for people like me that commute to work every day, that exercise every day, that walk their dog, that consume a lot of content that would just love to have a fresh podcast waiting for them every single day when they wake up, because that’s what I want. So I set out to create it, and that was where EntrepreneurOnFire was born.
Rebecca Livermore: Well, that makes a lot of sense because recognizing a need that you were not seeing anyone else fill, and you decided to fill that need. So that’s a great way to go about it. The question I have for you is has it been difficult to keep up with that schedule to publish one every single day, and do you ever regret making such a huge commitment?
John Lee Dumas: I don’t regret it whatsoever. I’ll answer that part of your question first, Rebecca, because I truly feel like that is why EntrepreneurOnFire has had such a massive success, is because I’m sticking to that schedule, I’m being extremely consistent and the listeners of EntrepreneurOnFire know they can count on a new episode being released every single day, and that of course helps my download numbers with iTunes, which is the reason why I was the number one ranked business podcast in iTunes New & Noteworthy for eight straight weeks, which is the longest you can be in the New & Noteworthy section. Now, I’m in the Top 20 of the What’s Hot section for iTunes already.
Rebecca Livermore: Wow!
John Lee Dumas: As a podcast that just launched in September, that is quite a feat, and I really owe it all to being consistent with a large number of podcasts. I really am going to keep that up because that’s one thing that I want to keep doing, is stay true to that consistency. Just being a military guy, Rebecca, I’m really able to set a disciplined schedule. I do eight interviews every single Monday. It’s a lot of work on Mondays, believe me, but it really gives me the rest of the week to do what else needs to be done to keep EntrepreneurOnFire running. It’s my fulltime job, it’s my fulltime passion.
Rebecca Livermore: I can imagine that takes a ton of time. Just give me really quickly a little rundown of what your week looks like. You mentioned that on Monday, you record all day. What does the rest of the week look like?
John Lee Dumas: It’s a pretty busy week. I am 100% into EntrepreneurOnFire. It consumes all of my time. It truly does. So I do eight interviews every single Monday. I spend most of Tuesdays editing those interviews, adding the intro, adding the outro, uploading it to my media host so they’re ready to go. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays is all about marketing. I have three fulltime virtual assistants. Each one of them are from the Philippines and they work a full 40 hour week schedule for me. So I’m supervising them. One just does solely the transcripts for each podcast, which is a fulltime job, believe me. One runs the social media platform. And then the other one does all my admin and design work. So I’m supervising all of them. I’m doing great interviews like this. I was just on Voice of America yesterday, which is a nationally syndicated radio show. So I’m doing my share of interviews as well and being featured in a lot of different blog posts and really just focusing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on the marketing aspects of EntrepreneurOnFire.
Rebecca Livermore: Wow! Well, that’s really exciting and inspiring to me because I tend to be motivated and work hard, but then I come across people like you and I go, “Okay. Maybe I could work a little harder than I already am.”
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Rebecca Livermore: So I appreciate that. One thing that really struck me, John, when I started listening to your podcast was the number of big name people you had on the show right from the very beginning. I’m just wondering how you managed to do that when at that time, your podcast did not yet have a proven track record.
John Lee Dumas: Basically, I really started building this platform back in June. That was when the idea was hashed. I started putting the wheels into motion at that time. So it was really over the entire summer of 2012 that I was reaching out to people with this very passionate email. Basically, it was a plea to jump onboard and to join me in what I was doing. My main message and my main success was you need to start small, and I just reached out to some of the not so huge bloggers that were in the world and really just said, “Hey, this is what I’m looking to do,” and then some other entrepreneurs in different industries that weren’t necessarily huge, but were doing great things in Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine that were just starting out. I said, “This is what I’m doing. This is where I want to start.” And then once I started getting those initial names in, I was able to then use that as a building block, and then reach out to people maybe a level or two levels above them and say, “Hey, I have so and so and so and so that have already interviewed at EntrepreneurOnFire and I’m looking to continue to do this and have 40 before I actually launch this September. Will you be part of my Power 20 of September, my first 20 to be launched?” By really building from the bottom and just continuing to use that momentum and go forward, it’s allowed me to get to the point where I am now where I’ve landed interviews with people like Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuck, Barbara Corcoran of the Shark Tank, Suze Orman, people that really are at the top level. Once I’ve locked in those names, which I have, really, the sky is the limit.
Rebecca Livermore: So with somebody, let’s say they’re just starting their blog or they’re just starting a podcast and they want to interview people, is that how you would recommend that they go about it? That they just start with the circle of people that they know? What would be the best advice that you would give to somebody who basically has no connections and is just starting off?
John Lee Dumas: Well, let’s take you as an example, Rebecca. I mean, I’m not a huge deal at all. However, I have connections to a lot of people who I’ve interviewed. Because of my interviews, so you reaching out to me and interviewing me was a great first step for you because now you have me as an interviewee and as a resource to say, “Hey, now I’ve interviewed John Dumas. So now if you go to Pat Flynn and you go to David Risley and you go to Amy Porterfield, who obviously is a slam dunk for you, having worked closely with her, but people like that and say, “Hey, I’ve just done an interview with John Lee Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire and he recommended I reach out to you.” So it’s really just a building block. Reach out to your inner circle and then really use that to build forward.
Rebecca Livermore: Yes. I know that’s absolutely true because when you first reached out to Amy Porterfield, that email actually landed to me. I took a look at it and I remember at that time, I didn’t know you, but if I recall correctly, you mentioned some other interviews you had lined up, and they were people whose names I recognized and I was like, “Hmm, this sounds interesting. I don’t know who John is, but he’s obviously doing something right and connected with the right people.” So your email asking Amy for an interview made it past me, and a lot of them that come in don’t make it past me.
John Lee Dumas: You’re the gatekeeper, right [Laughs].
Rebecca Livermore: I am. Yes, absolutely! It very much – like there can be guilt by association, but there also can be credibility by association.
John Lee Dumas: It’s all about the social proof, Rebecca, because that’s exactly what the situation is, is that I was able to reach out to Amy through you and say, “Listen, I’ve done interviews with Pat Flynn, with Derek Halpern.” People who she’s legitimately friends with because they’ve been in conferences together and spoke together. Because of that, I was able to get through you, the gatekeeper, and it landed on Amy’s desk. She was able to look at it and say, “Okay. This is probably worth 20, 30 minutes of my time.”
Rebecca Livermore: Yes. Exactly. That’s exactly how it works. So that’s great advice, is to use whatever connections that you have and then build from there. So at the time of this interview, how many podcast episodes have you produced?
John Lee Dumas: So I have officially produced – as of yesterday, I just interviewed David Siteman Garland from Rise To The Top, which was a great interview because again, he’s an interviewer. He has his own podcast at Rise To The Number and he’s had it for a number of years. So it was fun being the interviewer for him and having him be the interviewee. So that was number 110.
Rebecca Livermore: Wow!
John Lee Dumas: I’ve actually aired 55. As of tomorrow, Andrew Warner with Mixergy goes live. That will be number 55, and those will all have been live. But obviously, I’m ahead of the game because especially with the holidays coming up, I know that a lot of people will be spending time with family so I wanted to have a lot in the bank. With a daily show, having five produced a week, I wanted to have a good buffer.
Rebecca Livermore: So then your buffer is what? Roughly 8 or 10 weeks that you worked in advance?
John Lee Dumas: I think my buffer is a little bigger now than it will be consistently just because of the holidays, but come this January when we’re facing a new year, I’ll probably keep that buffer to about one month.
Rebecca Livermore: I think that’s a great idea because that way, when life throws you a curveball, and you never know when something might happen that just takes a lot of your time or there’s illness or things like that.
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Look at Hurricane Sandy. I mean, people that were prepared for that that were virtual workers were able to make it through it, but other people got hammered because they just weren’t prepared.
Rebecca Livermore: Exactly. That makes me feel a little better too because I’m actually recording this, as you know, the end of November, and you’ll be probably about my fourth or fifth podcast episode, and I’m not launching until the first week of January. So I’m kind of taking that same approach of working a little bit in advance and I know that will give me a lot of peace of mind for sure.
John Lee Dumas: That’s a smart move. I totally agree with that and that’s exactly what I did. I started building my platform in June and I spent three months just really working at it and building that buffer, and then launching September 20th.
Rebecca Livermore: Right. Good idea. So that makes me feel good that I’m kind of following in the footsteps of one of those people who has managed to keep going consistently for a long period of time, which a lot of people don’t.
John Lee Dumas: Ten is a huge number for people. I’m in a very elite podcast mastermind with Cliff Ravenscraft, the Podcast Answer Man. He does a lot of great things over there – Podcasting A to Z, this podcasting mastermind that I’m involved with, and most podcasts that launch don’t make it to number 10. Number 50 is a huge number and number 100 is the century mark, which is usually unheard of for most podcasts. Again, I launched September 20th and I’m already there. So it just shows you what a little bit of consistency and determination can take you.
Rebecca Livermore: Wow! That’s awesome. Okay. Now, out of all of those interviews that you’ve done, which ones, or you can say more than one if you’d like, stands out as being the most memorable and why?
John Lee Dumas: Well, my interview with Seth Godin was pretty memorable because it was really probably the only interview of the full 110 that I was very nervous to do because I knew Seth Godin was such a big name and I knew I was only going to have this one chance with him. He’s kind of the person, you just really don’t know how he’s going to react to questions. I just wanted to get through the interview, and it was kind of funny because it was one of my more recent interviews so I had probably already done over 90 interviews by the time I interviewed Seth Godin. So I was a much, much better interviewer at that time than I was with some of my earlier interviews, but I really feel like I reverted back to my earlier John Dumas while I was interviewing because I was just so nervous, that I wasn’t really able to have that free flow of conversation that I really kind of have been able to achieve from episodes 50 or 60 onwards. It’s kind of funny because I have a very open audience and a very open listener base, and I got some emails from people saying, “John, great interview with Seth Godin. Man, we could tell you were nervous!”
Rebecca Livermore: [Laughs] Well I guess when people listen to you every day, they get to know you. I mean, even if they’ve never met you, they get to know you. So they’re going to hear that little something different in your voice or just the way that you’re acting and figure out, “Ooh, I can tell John’s nervous.”
John Lee Dumas: Yes. Let me give some unsolicited advice, Rebecca, because I think this would be very valuable. A lot of people don’t start their podcast because they’re like, “Man, I’m not a broadcaster. I don’t have any experience talking into a microphone or hosting a web show or whatever you want to call it.” Guess what? I didn’t either. I started from ground zero. The first person I interviewed was my first time I had ever interviewed anybody. That is the key. You just need to start. The best time to start is 20 years ago. The second best time to start is today, literally. I just started and I was just like, “You know what? I’m not going to be that good at first, but I’m hopefully going to improve,” and I absolutely improved, and the feedback that I get from my audience literally is, “John, we’ve really enjoyed watching your journey as a host. We like going back to the early ones and seeing how rough around the edges you were and seeing how you’ve progressed every 10 episodes or so because we feel like we’re on the journey with you.” So if I just waited until I was good, I never would have started because I’ll never really be that good. It’s just something I’m passionate about doing. Then number two, they really are able to relate and resonate with the journey that I went through. So just like me, Rebecca, you’re doing great. You just need to start and you’re going to start feeling better every episode you do and your audience is going to appreciate that and they’re going to resonate it. They really will.
Rebecca Livermore: Yes. I think that’s absolutely true. While you were speaking, I was just thinking, “Yes, yes. That’s so true because I just kind of decided, I’m just going to do this,” and knowing I’m not that great or whatever, but knowing that the only way that I’ll get good is just by doing it. So kind of having to push that insecurity or self-consciousness or whatever aside and just get out there and do it. That’s really the only way that people learn how to do anything.
John Lee Dumas: I mean, you’ve already improved on this interview from the beginning to right now. It’s incredible.
Rebecca Livermore: Oh. Well, thank you. That’s cool.
John Lee Dumas: [Laughs]
Rebecca Livermore: I didn’t really notice, so I’m glad you did.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely.
Rebecca Livermore: Anyway, you obviously have a ton of experience interviewing people. More so than anyone else that I can think of off the top of my head. At least the people that I’m rubbing shoulders with.
John Lee Dumas: Yes.
Rebecca Livermore: So through all that process, what do you feel that you’ve learned that are keys to a successful interview?
John Lee Dumas: Well, I really believe there’s a number of keys to a successful interview. One of them is really set the expectations of the interviewee. You want them to know what they’re going to be getting into, so you definitely want to send them a flow of the interview. You want them to have the questions beforehand. You did a great job at this. I have the questions in front of me so I know probably what you’re going to be going to next and I have a good feel about what the interview is going to be about. I do the same thing with all my interviewees so they have a great expectation and they know what the interview is going to be about. So they’re not just giving some haphazard answer. They’re really being able to give the right, true, thought out answer, which is always the best one. Another one is try to make to make it conversational. I mean, sometimes you’re going to go off on these tangents. When I was first interviewing people at EntrepreneurOnFire, I would always try to cut them back and bring them back to my very rigid schedule that I thought that I needed to stick with. Through feedback and just through me growing as an interviewer, I realized that that’s not the best way to do it. Sometimes tangents are really where the valuable nuggets are found.
Rebecca Livermore: Exactly.
John Lee Dumas: So if something happens and you get off topic, just kind of go with it. You can always get back on topic if you want to, if you need to, but just kind of let it be conversational, let it flow, and let the interviewee talk. I mean this is about them. When you’re interviewing somebody, it’s about them. It’s about their story. It’s about what they can bring to your audience. So those are some key things I would really focus on.
Rebecca Livermore: Okay. Well, with that in mind, I’ve noticed that with your podcast, you use the same basic format and more or less the same questions with each person. What have you found are the advantages and are there any disadvantages to doing it that way?
John Lee Dumas: Well, I’ll start with the advantages. I think what the advantages are is that for me as the interviewer, and especially starting off, I was able to be very comfortable doing a lot of interviews right away because I knew the format. I understood it. It was kind of a lifeline that I could cling to when things kind of got a little nerve-wracking for me when I was doing so many interviews every single day, every single week with so many big names. I was really able to kind of cling to that if I needed to. A lot of the listeners really know what they’re going to get now when they press the “play” button. They know that when they turn EntrepreneurOnFire on, they’re going to get an awesome entrepreneur, a successful and inspiring entrepreneur, and they’re going to be able to listen to their journey. They’re going to hear a failure and how somebody overcame that failure. They’re going to hear an aha moment and how they turned that aha moment into success. They’re going to hear about the current passions that they have and then their vision for the future. And then they’re going to get to hear some great nuggets of information in the Lightning Round. So people know what they’re going to get when they press “play” on EntrepreneurOnFire.
Rebecca Livermore: I think that’s really a good point too, is that when you ask these same questions, everyone is going to answer them differently, which means there’s not one right answer to that question. I think that’s an awesome lesson in and of itself. Like what’s the best tip or whatever, everyone’s going to have a different best tip that they give or what have you.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely.
Rebecca Livermore: Alright. Well, to wrap up, I would just love it if you would share the number one piece of advice that you’d give to someone who wants to start a podcast specifically. And then while you’re at it, go ahead and give yourself a plug.
John Lee Dumas: The biggest piece of advice I can say is literally just start. Starting a podcast, there are definitely a lot of steps to it, but the first step is just recording that first audio. Hit the red button, record something, talk into a microphone, see what comes out. I guess this is just an easy kind of transition to a plug, is that I’ve gotten so much feedback from people that just said, “John, I want to start a podcast. I don’t know where to start. I know it would be great for my business, great for my niche.” Because of that, I partnered up with Ryan Lee of Ryan Lee Marketing and we’ve created “PodPlatform.com,” which is just this amazing service where anybody can just literally record an MP3 like this MP3 that we’re recording right now, Rebecca. If you are absolutely clueless about what needed to happen next, which I know you’re not, but there are a lot of steps that have to come after this is recorded to make this an actual podcast and get it out to the world through Apple Podcasts. You would just send my team that I’ve created here at EntrepreneurOnFire at PodPlatform this MP3 and we would literally do the rest. So all you need to do is send PodPlatform your MP3. We take that MP3 and we do everything else that needs to be done. We upload the artwork, we format the MP3, we upload it to our private server to host the media file, we submit it to all the major directories, and then we send you back the direct downlink to put on your website. So it really takes away any excuse people have of I don’t have the time, I don’t have the knowledge. It’s an easy turnkey solution that makes podcasting incredibly simple.
Rebecca Livermore: Wow! That is awesome because you’re right, so often, people are just intimidated by the process. Even though once you learn it, it’s not hard, but the learning part of it can be a little bit tricky.
John Lee Dumas: It can be. That’s the major thing, is a lot of people have their own businesses. They’re running entrepreneurial businesses. They just don’t have the time.
Rebecca Livermore: Exactly. Well, John, this has been great and I really, really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today and share your insights about podcasting.
John Lee Dumas: Absolutely, Rebecca. And just to all the audience out there, prepare to ignite!
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