Interview with John Dumas

The following is a Q & A exchange between John Lee Dumas and me.

John Lee Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire
A few months ago, I changed my morning commute routine from listening to daily news on the radio to listening to podcasts instead. Most of the podcasts I frequent are leadership oriented. Before long I discovered John Dumas.

Even though his show is not specific to school leaders, his interviews with business leaders are so captivating, I find myself motivated in my own work as I listen to his guests’ stories.

My goal in posting interviews with successful leaders like John is to inspire us to reflect on how our own choices, goals, and actions can affect our lives, our leadership, and our teams. As always, I must give credit to John Lee Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire whose great podcast interview questions I have modified for the Q & A’s I have with my guests. I am absolutely thrilled that John has agreed to let me interview him with some of his own questions!

John’s Bio:
John Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of EntrepreneurOnFire, a business podcast that interviews today’s most inspiring and successful entrepreneurs 7-days a week. EntrepreneurOnFire is a top ranked business podcast generating over 200,000 unique downloads a month in over 145 countries, and his lineup includes Barbara Corcoran, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Gary Vaynerchuk, Guy Kawasaki, and hundreds more. All the magic happens at, so go check them out! Not only does John understand business leadership, he is also a war veteran and was a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army.

John Lee Dumas with 200,000 downloads a month!

WDP: John, thanks so much for being our guest. Can you start by sharing a favorite success quote?
John: “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” ~Albert Einstein

WDP: How have you used the idea contained in your favorite quote to affect your organization’s leadership?
John: I truly believe that those with the goal of providing value first and foremost are those that are on a certain path to success. At EntrepreneurOnFire, I provide daily interviews detailing life lessons of inspiring Entrepreneurs. It has been through providing this value that I have been able to achieve success.

WDP: Along the way to success, I am sure you have faced obstacles. Take us back to a failure or obstacle you overcame and how you did it?
John: The biggest obstacle I had to overcome with the creation of EntrepreneurOnFire was conquering my fear of rejection. I was scared that these successful Entrepreneurs were going to reject my request to join me on EntrepreneurOnFire and share their journey. This fear proved to be unjustified. The Entrepreneurs I approached were more than happy to take 25 minutes of their time to pay it forward.

The biggest lesson learned here is don’t let assumptions rule your life. Get out there, test your theories, and be prepared to adjust as the feedback starts rolling in.

WDP: That’s great advice. I can relate. In fact, I am having the same experience with Principal Matters. I am simply amazed at how willing others are to share their insights and expertise. Can you give an example of something you have done that required risk but created great results?
John: My vision of EntrepreneurOnFire was to produce a daily podcast sharing the journey of one incredible Entrepreneur every day. To do that, I needed to commit 100% of my time and abilities to this venture.

I took the leap, followed my passions, and now I have a top ranked business podcast generating over 175,000 downloads every month in over 145 countries, and am well on my way of my goal to inspire millions.

WDP: Like you, I believe all successful leaders have “aha” moments. Share one example of an “aha!” moment where you realized a key truth that you turned into a success.
John: I knew I had to start somewhere with EntrepreneurOnFire, and for me “somewhere” meant going out and finding my first big name guests.

I had no connections, no rolodex, so I took the plunge, went to my first conference ever (Blogworld in NYC) and took it all in. I saw all these successful Entrepreneurs on stage telling their stories, and was in awe. Afterwards, I mustered up all my courage and approached them. To my surprise, they were very welcoming and understood the vision I had regarding EntrepreneurOnFire.

The key truth this revealed to me was if you lead by asking to provide value, you will receive value in return. In my situation, I was offering the value of a platform, EntrepreneurOnFire, for these Entrepreneurs to share their journey with a different demographic. There is value there. They saw it, and a light bulb went off in my head when I saw it too.

WDP: That’s a great story that can inspire all of us to take risks. John, have you had an “I’ve made it” moment?
John: June 2012 was the date of the first Blogworld conference I ever attended, and as I previously stated, I was in awe of the successful Entrepreneurs on stage. A mere 6 months later, due to the massive success EntrepreneurOnFire had been enjoying, I was asked to speak about my journey on stage in front of hundreds. That truly was an AHA moment for me, and I relished every minute of it.

WDP: What was holding you back from seeing the high levels of success you are seeing now?
John: Belief that I didn’t have the skills necessary to make EntrepreneurOnFire happen. The truth was, I didn’t, but the only way to acquire these skills was through a trial by fire. Launch, learn, fail, pivot, and inspire along the way.

WDP: What is the best leadership advice you have ever received?
John: Start Now. Even if its 30 minutes before you leave for work, or 30 minutes before bed, start working towards your dream. You will be amazed at the progress and momentum you achieve.

WDP: What is something that is working for you or your team right now?
John: Building true relationships. I am blessed that EntrepreneurOnFire allows me to chat with 10 incredible Entrepreneurs every week. These relationships have opened some amazing doors, and I make sure to treat each relationship with the value it deserves.

WDP: Do you have a resource that you just love that you would recommend to other leaders?
John: Workflowy. I use it all day, every day. It’s a to-do list on steroids. I love it.

WDP: If you could recommend a book for other school leaders, what would it be?
John: Uncertainty: Turning Fear And Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance by Jonathan Fields

WDP: If you could speak to the 20 year-old version of yourself, what advice would you give him or her?
John: Take a long walk and really think about what gets you excited, what stokes your fire. Then go home, Google the leaders in this industry. Reach out to them. Ask them how you can provide value to them; ask to be an intern and work for free in return for them imparting their knowledge.

If I’m 20 years old, I don’t need any money J. What I need is experience!

This is the fastest way to find out if your passions are justified, and if they are, it’s the fastest way to learn how to turn passions into a viable business that provides value to whomever your target market may be.

WDP: John, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us your insights, inspiration, and advice. We are all the better for it!

If you are interested in learning more about John Dumas or his podcast, visit his website and subscribe for his daily podcast. If you are interested in creating podcasts, or know a soon-to-be graduate who is, check out John’s new book, Podcast Launch.

Questions for all of us:
1. John talks a lot about reaching goals by focusing on providing value. What do you believe is the strongest value you can be providing?

2. If leaders find success often by “trial by fire,” what are some trying experiences that have improved they way you are serving others today? Or what difficulties are you facing that you can turn into opportunities?

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William D. Parker
William D. Parker