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John Lee Dumas talks about entrepreneurship and the military

By May 10, 2017 One Comment

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John Lee Dumas“So it’s not going to come overnight. It’s a process, but just getting up every day… listening to Mark’s podcast, hearing the mentality, the mindset of gratitude and abundance, you will get there.” –John Lee Dumas

John Lee Dumas (@johnleedumas) is the creator and host of the podcast “EOfire” (Entrepreneur on Fire) which went, in just a few years, from an idea of how to fill a gap in the podcast landscape, to what is now a multi-million dollar business. John talks to Commander Divine about his own style of entrepreneurship, finding value in his work and the importance of his military experiences in his growth as an entrepreneur. What did he learn from interviewing over 1500 top entrepreneurs? Listen in as they discuss the important approach to business and mindset.

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Other episodes of our podcast that you might be interested in are Mark’s interview with Mike Bledsoe on entrepreneurship, and his interview with Nathan Fletcher on helping veterans with PTSD and transitioning to civilian life.

Transcript & Shownotes

Hey folks. Commander Mark Divine coming back at you with the Unbeatable Mind podcast. Thanks for joining me today. I do not take it for granted. I’m super-stoked to have you here. I know you’re busy. Whether you’re in your car or listening at home or in the office. I know you’ve got a lot of other things that you could be doing, so super-appreciate you being here.

My guest today is John Lee Dumas. A new friend, entrepreneur extraordinaire, podcaster and we just had a real cool kind of pre-conversation about his new life in Puerto Rico. So I’m excited to talk to John.

But before I introduce him a little further, let me remind you that rating this podcast has really made an impact. I think we have over 300 5 start ratings, so that’s pretty cool. So if you haven’t rated it and you like what we’re doing then please go to iTunes and drop a little 5 star rating in there. Hooyah.

Couple little updates. One, I hope you’re enjoying the political show as much as I am. It is an absolute riot. I’m having a blast watching what’s going on, and I encourage you to just maintain that attitude. Just look at it as a big reality drama. And that’s taken on new meaning with our current president. But seriously, it’s always been this way. It’ll always be this way. So don’t let it affect your day-to-day.

Hey, that had rhyme, didn’t it John? That’s kinda cool. (laughing) Maybe I just came up with a new slogan.

Anyways, so have fun with that. Couple new things coming out. SEALfit is launching a new product called “Boot camp,” which is kind of our answer to Crossfit without barbells and with mental training laced throughout. It’s going to be a video format. Kind of like P90X. Super-excited about it. I think I lead like 5 or 6 of the workouts, and the rest of my coaching staff is leading the other 4 or 5.

And I’m working on a new book. Unbeatable Mind for leaders. And that’s gonna be pretty cool. So I’ll be talking about that, probably, in a future podcast.

And that’s it.

Intro
[03:18]

So John is the founder and host of Entrepreneur on Fire,” or “E on Fire,” which is a super-successful podcast. I’ve been a guest on John’s podcast. He’s had over 1500 interviews with super-successful entrepreneurs.

And he’s made a business out of this. It’s been really successful. It’s pretty cool. I can’t wait to talk about that. So this podcast is going to have a focus on entrepreneurship and ideas for kind of accelerating your personal-slash-business life because they’re intertwined. And a lot of you who listen to this podcast are entrepreneurs or are moving in that direction.

John is also an Army guy. I won’t hold that against him. Had ROTC scholarship, served in the Army for 8 years, and served in Iraq after 9/11.I think we might have been in Iraq around the same time, John.

So when were you over there?

John Lee Dumas: ’03 to ’04 for 13 months.

Mark: Right on. I was. I was over there in ’04. So I was stationed in Baghdad, and you know, we cruised around quite a bit, but that was… most of my time was in Baghdad. Whereabouts were you?

John: I was a little more west, in the Fallujah area.

Mark: Got it. Cool. What was your…? You were a platoon leader for an armor platoon?

John: Yeah, armor platoon so that was kind of somebody that was in charge of tanks. I was in charge of 4 M1A1 Abrams, 16 men and just part of an armor battalion, which is typically between 800 to 1000 men.

Mark: No shit. And did you guys see contact? I’m sure…

John: Oh yeah. We were there from September of ’03 to October of ’04 so we saw the whole thing. And it was pretty intense. I will say I was pretty fortunate to be stationed under 1st Mar. Div. So that was quite a relief.

Mark: And wasn’t Mattis… wasn’t he the guy running Mar. Div. at that time?

John: Yeah! That was it. That was him.

Mark: Interesting. Yeah. General Mattis. I remember him… cause I was there with SEAL team 1 and SEAL team 1 was hosting, I should say, or under their command was the Marine Corps SOCOM Det. Special Ops Command Det. which was the proof of concept for whether the Marines could be part of SOCOM. And I remember the guys that Mattis… When Fallujah kicked off, Mattis had said, “Hey, I want my SOCOM Det. up here to support the Marines.”And the SEALS said no, that’ll invalidate the proof of concept. And the Marines were really pissed. They’re like, “We want our guys.” And it went all the way up to Rumsfeld. The reason for that whole proof of concept was to prove that these guys can operate in Spec. Ops environment, not just support Marines. We know they can do that. Pretty interesting. Mattis was… they called him “Mad Dog” Mattis right?

John: Yes! And us Army guys were like, “You know what? Just tell us what to do when you’re ready. We’ll just stand back. No problem.”

Mark: (laughing) Awesome. Well thank you for your service, John.

Let’s back up a little bit. Tell us a little bit about who you are, where you came from. What were some of the drivers early in your life that kinda led you into the army and then we’ll kinda roll from there.

John: Yeah, I’ll give the real quick background. I’m just frankly a country a boy who grew up in the state of Maine in a tiny town. Just 2,000 people. Graduated in 1998 on an Army ROTC scholarship going to Providence College in Rhode Island. And back in ’98, the world was good. My father was prior service. He was a JAG officer for 32 years. Both of my grandparents served. My grandfather on one side in the Navy. My grandfather on the other side in the Army. So I just came from a family of service and I knew that I wanted to continue that. And again, it was a lot easier to raise your hand and say, “Yeah, I’ll take a free scholarship to college,” in 1998 than it was for people who were doing that same thing in 2004, ’06 and ’08. So I gotta give those people a lot of credit who did that. Cause I was just like, “Oh, you know, 4 years. After college, probably no big deal. Probably just be stationed somewhere in the States, and get by, and do whatever.”

But sure enough, my senior year of college–that’s when 9/11 happens. So I was the first round of officers that were commissioned post-9/11. We were commissioned a handful of months later in May of 2002. And we were off. We were off to the races. They rushed us through everything. We had an abbreviated training. I was in Fort Knox for armor officer basic course, and that was abbreviated to kind of speed us up. To get us to our platoons, so that they could then get us deployed overseas. And by September of 2003, I was already in Iraq. Like it was pretty much bang, bang, bang. Which for a 23 year-old, my head was kinda spinning a little bit, but luckily… great training in college. Great training post college as well. So I went there feeling pretty safe and secure with the people that I was with. That they knew what they were doing. As safe and secure as you can be, of course. When there’s mortar dropping all around you at night and stuff. But as much as you can be.

I spent 4 years active duty. So did 2002 to 2006 as an officer and then entered the reserves as a captain in 2006. And spent the next 4 years in the reserves. And then in 2010, that was when my reserve time ended so I entered the quote-unquote “civilian” world.

And I tried a lot of things, Mark. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I was very traditionalist throughout my entire life. I didn’t really have an entrepreneurial bone in my body up until that point.

And I think that’s actually a really…

Mark: Well, let me stop there. Don’t you think that the military kind of causes you to have some of the skills and qualities of an entrepreneur? I certainly experienced that in the SEAL teams. I mean maybe that was unique to the SEALs. But you know–you’re on your own over there, right? Pretty much. Even though you’ve got a strict chain of command and everything–you’re in charge of those 4 tanks, and keeping them running and feeding the troops and the care and the emotional bonding. And you’ve gotta solve problems. I mean, in the military, you’re like a MacGyver. You gotta solve problems. Which is very entrepreneurial.

Am I right? Or am I just kinda making that up?

John: The responsibility that is heaped upon the shoulders of the 22, 23, 24 year-old lieutenants in the Iraq war was incredible. And I will say that the major in our battalion, great guy, he always said, “This is a lieutenant’s war.”

And I’m sure other people had other experiences for sure, but as far as with what the Army’s involvement was, it was a lieutenant’s war. They would send us out as platoons. And we would go out and we would be separate from the base. And the captains, you know, in charge of the companies, they would be back at base kind of directing the chess board. But it would be us on the ground. Me with my 4 tanks and 16 men that would be encountering the situations and having to make the on-the-spot decision… the amount of responsibility was staggering and looking back on it, especially in these completely life and death scenarios. That again, absolutely, later in my life, aided greatly into my entrepreneurial ventures that I’ve since gone into. But I will say that even within the responsibility that was heaped on, I still felt very traditional as far as like, “This is the path. I go from 2nd lieutenant, to 1st to captain.” There’s a chain of command and that kind of led… and I’m not going to get to far here… but when I got out of the army, I was just like, “What’s that next traditional step?” And that’s where… You know, I tried law school, and I tried corporate finance because I thought that that was the right path for somebody like me with my history.

Mark: Well, that’s pretty common, you’re right. So traditional. A lot of my peers go to get their MBA or law school. And a lot have gone into finance. Or someone else’s start-up.

And it looks like… so tell us about that period. Like, how many years did you spend kind of searching? I see you also were involved in real estate, so what… Was that like as just a 2 year quick run through those? Or did you spend a number of years kind of working through those options and trying to figure out what was next?

John: It was 6 years. It was not a short stint. Because I left 2006 active duty. But while I was in the reserves, I had all the time in the world to try other things. And that’s when law school and corporate finance and real estate happened. And that was over 6 years of trying… going down a certain amount down those paths and then seeing that it wasn’t for me. And kind of bailing out and then trying that next thing.

So it wasn’t a couple quick experiments and then off to this home-run. Which is EOFire. It was 6 years of struggle, of failure, of not finding my thing so to speak. So it was not a quick period of time. Not just lack of success, but lack of happiness really. Because I’d gone from being… feeling really “of service” in the army, to now being like this drifting soul of like, “What am I doing in this cubicle trying to get people to buy variable annuities?” It just didn’t make sense to me.

Mark: (laughing) My God. I’ve been there. I was there before my military career though, and a lot of people who come to our training, and I’m sure, that you talk to, have experienced that kind of existential crisis of wondering what it’s all about when the corporate world is so flat and lifeless it seems like.

So, what I love about what’s happening today with the gig economy and entrepreneurship and the ability to… you know, like what you’ve done. Start a podcast. Which no one even knew what it was 5 years ago. And earn a really nice living. Is that we’re kind of bringing life back into what it means to work.

And I think that’s probably one of the things that I think I’d like to talk about. Maybe a little bit further down the road, is some of the cool people that you’ve talked to in your podcast, who are bringing life back into work.

Lowest Low
[12:56]

So, what was kinda like the lowest low that you’ve had that turned into one of your biggest lessons in life? Like, your biggest learning moment?

John: Well, I will say this. And this is kinda going a little further back than maybe my lowest low. But it was probably the most difficult scenario that I ever faced in my life. Over the course of my 13 months of deployment, I faced the reality that 4 of my soldiers in my platoon of just 16 men gave the ultimate sacrifice. They were killed in battle. So, you know, this is a platoon that you deploy with. They’re family. You’ve looked at their spouses in the face and said, “I will bring your husband/your loved one home.” And now, you know, you failed on that. And that was a devastating scenario for me to have to go through. And it was 4 separate times throughout those 13 months. So it wasn’t just like 1 time. It was again and again and again and again.

And having to stand as the platoon leader in front of those coffins as they’re playing “Amazing Grace,” and seeing like, the flag draped over and just being so sad about that scenario–I committed each one of those times that I was never going to live a life that was going to be less than what I knew I was capable of living. Because I just saw a hero give up his opportunity to live that life for his country. And so I just was not going to dishonor what they had given up by just being some lifeless slug going to a job that they hated, and just kind of petering my way through work. I thought that’d be the biggest form of dishonor that I could give to these heroes. And so there was a couple of times when I was faced with that. After the army. That was during law school and while I was doing that cubicle life in corporate finance. And then even in real estate. Just saying to myself, “You’re not honoring these people, who you committed to living a life on fire.” That was my phrase. I was like, “I wanna live a life on fire. And I’m not doing it.”

So that gave me the courage, in those 3 separate times within my law school failure and dropping out… And then corporate finance, just being disgusted with the job. Not right away, but after a series of time… getting a little disillusioned. And then in real estate. And having the courage to break away and say, “This is not what I promised that I was going to commit to.”

Each one of those decisions were very difficult, because each path that I was on was going to lead to quote-unquote “Success” down the road. But what is success? And how was I defining success? And of course in hindsight, Mark, which is 20/20, it’s so easy for me to see that I was just defining success incorrectly. But I just didn’t know it at the time.

Mark: Right. Yeah. And you can forgive yourself, because that’s what you were taught to define success.

What I love about that story is that it’s such a great example… I’m speaking to the listeners now… of feeding the courage wolf. Losing a teammate in combat is extraordinarily painful and hard. And many people get sucked into depression and it’s a root cause of PTSD, because, you know, you feed the fear wolf and a) is it going to happen to me. B) is guilt. Why did I let this happen? And why him and not me? Or why her and not me? And to have that happen 4 times, John, is extraordinarily painful and could have been devastating for your entire life.

But you chose to find a positive motivator out of that. A silver lining. And so you used their memory to spur you on to something bigger and better. And that’s such a great example for everyone to hear, because there are a lot of vets out there suffering from PTSD for the exact same reason… who could haul themselves up by their boot straps with healthy thinking instead of, you know, unhealthy drugs.

John: Yeah, and I hope that people are also taking away from this that it wasn’t overnight for me. I made that commitment 4 times. And I don’t want people listening and being like, “Well, John just snapped his fingers and then the clouds parted. The sun was shining, and he was happy the rest of his life.” Cause that was the furthest thing.

Again, I had to go through those 6 years of struggle, post making those commitments 4 separate times to finally snap myself into alignment, which took failures and obstacles and challenges and really just having to look in the mirror, and saying, “What are you doing?” So it’s not going to come overnight. It’s a process, but just getting up every day… listening to Mark’s podcast, hearing the mentality, the mindset of gratitude and abundance, you will get there.

Mark: Right.

Changing Mindset and the Einstein Quote
[19:01]

Mark: So what else kind of changed your mindset from the traditionalist trying to look for a job, or finding success in the material world–to being a very successful entrepreneur? There must have been other triggers that you can point to. Or other moments.

John: Well, just like I shared that there wasn’t like a moment for what I went through just with the loss of my soldiers, etc., and what it took. There actually was a moment when my whole mindset did shift when it came to what I wanted out of life and how I was going to define quote-unquote “success” or happiness. And it was an Albert Einstein quote, and I’ll never forget, because I had read this quote multiple times. It’s a pretty famous quote, and it was nothing new to me as far as, like… I’d seen it books, etc. But I’d never heard it. I had never absorbed its meaning. I just kind of skimmed over, like so many of us skim through life. I just didn’t look at the deep, root meaning of it. But finally, at the age of 32, it was almost like I was ready to read this quote… for it to mean something to me. And this was 5 years ago, Mark. This was right on the precipice of launching my podcast.

Mark: I know what the quote is.

John: Do you know?

Mark: Yeah, I think what you’re going to say is if you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results it’s the definition of insanity.

John: (laughing) That’s an amazing quote, I will say.

Mark: But that’s not it, hunh? (laughing)

John: But it’s not the quote. The quote that changed everything for me, and it really hovers around success. Albert Einstein. “Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.”

And the first time I read that I was just like, “I don’t even know what this guy’s talking about. I don’t even know what he means. Of course you wanna become successful.” And that’s why I was going into law school and then going into corporate finance. Trying to become a commercial real estate broker. Because I thought that that was the path to success. And then 6 years of just failing and hitting a wall, and struggling and not being happy. I said, “Well, geez, you know, maybe this guy has something here. I mean of he’s telling me to not try to become this person of success, but rather just be a person of value. That’s flipping everything on its head. But how can I do that? How can I actually honor his words of being that person of value? That’s when I kind of pulled myself out of that box that most of live our whole lives in, and I said, “Well, how can I just provide free, valuable and consistent content?” And I looked at the ways that I was getting content. Reading books, listening to audio books, which led me to listening to podcasts–this is back in 2010 and 11, when just there wasn’t that many podcasts out there. And definitely not that many that were being done by individuals and I was like, “Wow. I know that this free medium of podcasting is really connecting with me as a consumer. And I also know that one thing that I complain about within this niche is that I looked day 1 for that daily podcast that interviews successful entrepreneurs.”

Cause I was driving to work every day. I was going to the gym. Like, I wanted that daily show… I mean, they had a daily news show of like APM Marketplace, why wasn’t there a daily show interviewing an entrepreneur. And I was shocked that it didn’t exist. And I said, “Well, what if I fill that void.” And just like Albert Einstein said, just be that person of value. And I had no idea how I was going to make money. I had no idea where the revenue was going to come from. I just knew that I had to try something different because for the last 6 years I had just been failing and struggling. So that’s when the idea for “Entrepreneur on Fire” came. And that was now over 1600 episodes ago. Over 45 million listens ago. It’s now turned into a 7 figure a year business and we generated over 10 million dollars in revenue just in the past 3 years. So it came from shifting my mindset from chasing success to saying, “How can I be a person of value?”

Mark: Wow. That is fantastic. And I’m right there with you. I describe the process I went through when I was a CPA kind of struggling with that same existential crisis. Like, “I don’t define success in this paycheck and in this career.”

And then through my meditation training, developing what I now call a personal ethos, which back to Einstein’s quote is really was about defining what is valuable to me, so that I had a set of values to live by. And then aligning with that, so then I could deliver that same level of value back to society, right?

And so that’s kind of what you did. You said, “How can I…?” But you had to deliver value in a way that was something that you’d be passionate about, right? And it was purposeful to you. So how did you find..? Where was the purpose for you in “EOFire?” Where did the… beyond just say, “Hey, I wanna do a podcast.” There were other factors that caused you to want to interview entrepreneurs. And where did that come from? What was that decision point?

John: So not to turn this into a quote podcast, but they’ve had a pretty big impact on my life. And another quote that I live by, and I actually end every one of my podcasts with–including the one that you were on Mark–is I say “You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” And that’s a Jim Rohn quote. And I looked around at my 5 back in 2012 and it wasn’t that impressive. And I said, “How can I up my 5? How can I improve the people that I’m hanging out with the most? How can I start having conversations with people that are inspiring and successful and entrepreneurial that are out there doing really cool things?”

And being a podcast host was the medium for that. I didn’t have a passion for podcasting, in a sense. I’d never wanted to have a radio show or none of those things. I just wanted to have conversations with successful and inspiring entrepreneurs. Cause I knew that that knowledge that I would gain from that would be amazing.

Plus, I knew that relationships that I would make with these incredible individuals would be priceless as well. Now the reality is, I’m just… back in 2012, I’m JL Nobody. I’m not JLD. Nobody has heard of me, nobody knew of me. It was my first go in this entrepreneurial world. So I knew that I had to give people a reason to give their most valuable asset which is time to me, and give me 20, 25 minutes on a Skype call or whatever that might be to have a conversation about how they become successful and their worst moment and their Aha moment, etc. And the only way I was going to be able to do that, Mark, was if I actually had some kind of an audience so that I could give a value back to them. So I just saw podcasting as this medium that would allow me to create a show that would hopefully gain a listenership and then I could go to that listenership and say, “Hey, Seth Godin. I know that you’re about to launch a new book on entrepreneurship. I have a handful of listeners on my show and they would love to hear some more details. And let’s sell some books for you.” So I could give that kind of value proposition back before my podcast was getting over 2 million listens a month, which it is now. Back when I was just like, “Hey, I got a handful of people listening that want to hear your message. What do you say?”

Mark: Mm-hmm. Wow, 2 million a month. That is spectacular.

Significance and Success
[25:59]

So let’s… can you give me a sense for who your most interesting guest was, and/or what the biggest idea or ideas you’ve learned through this journey? I know, it’s probably a difficult question, cause you’ve interviewed so many people. But are there 1 or 2 that have really stood out to you? Besides me?

John: You know, there is 1 that does kind of stand out. Because it was about at the halfway point of my now overall podcasting journey. So I’m approaching episode 1600, so right around the 700s, I interviewed this person whose name is Aaron Walker and he wasn’t like the biggest entrepreneur in the world. He was actually just kind of getting going, but he was the nicest guy. He was kind and I just really connected with him in the pre-interview chat.

And then he said something on the show that kind of shifted things for me at that time in my career. Again this is 700 days ago. That’s kind of the… actually now almost 800 days ago. That’s kinda the cool thing about doing a daily show. You can do that math pretty quickly. But I just had this shift where I was like, “Wow. I’m really successful right now with EOFire. It’s a show that’s growing. I’m generating hundreds of thousands of dollars every month in revenue through sponsorships, through my communities, through my books and my products.” All these things are just working really well, and I was telling him about that. And he’s like, “You know what JLD? You really are successful. But how are you being significant in this world?”

And he kind of caught me off guard. “What do you mean? There’s something above being successful?” Here I was. I followed Albert Einstein. Providing value, value, value first. I became a person of value and then success found me just like Albert said it would. And then “boom” now I’m rocking and rolling. Isn’t that the pinnacle?

And he’s like, “What about significance? How do you go from success to significance?” And that phrase just kind of hit me across the face and I said, “Wow. I really need to up my game in the significance level.” And that’s when I really started opening my eyes and looking for different causes and different areas that I could really throw my weight around. Both financially, but then also just as an authority figure. With a large following and a lot of people that listen to what I have to say.

I did things like launch highspeedlowdrag.org for those transitioning out of the military. And I would help mastermind and train them transition. Not even just into entrepreneurial, but into just civilian life. Because the things that I saw were severely lacking. When I had my transition back in 2006, I just kinda wanted to let them know that, “Yeah, you’ve been an officer now for 4, 6, 8 years. That’s not your ticket to be the CEO of some company.” In fact, my job that I told you that I had in corporate finance, I was sitting next to a 22 year-old college graduate. Who went to the exact same college as me. He went to my college and I just had a desk right next to him. He’d just skipped the 4 years that I’d spent in the army to quote-unquote “get the job.” And he was just sitting there right next to me. And I was like, “Wow.” Eye opening experience. And I wanted to give that just kind of reality to people that were getting out of the military and wanted to have conversations about what it was really like.

And then I interviewed soon afterwards this person who’s now become a close friend of mine. Adam Braun who founded this great charity called “Pencils of Promise.” And I’m a big believer in education. Like, not necessarily traditional education, but just being able to educate yourselves. And I mean, there’s nothing better than going to Google when you have a question, and getting amazing answers and just being able to self-educate. But so many people don’t even have that opportunity. And that’s what “Pencils of Promise” does. They give education to those less fortunate in developing countries. And through that, like I’ve been able to rally my audience, “Fire Nation,” around different things that I’ve done. And we’ve raised just last year over 75,000 dollars which we gave to Pencils of Promise to build 3 schools in developing countries. And just do stuff like that, so that kind of is the answer that I have when you say like, “is there somebody that’s really come out and really changed the directory of my business and my life.” It would be Aaron Walker with that quote.

Mark: Mmm. Yeah. I love that. I love that. And it’s interesting cause what it brought up for me was another fellow I was talking to, and we kind of had some peer-to-peer coaching back and forth. You probably know the guy. I won’t say his name, but was always using that term, you know? The next stage of his life is to move from success to significance. And the challenge I had with was that for him it was still an egoic goal. Meaning, like, he was financially successful. Now to show the world that he was important he had to do something that was beyond the financial and it was significant. And I was a little bit struck by that, because my sense was that, like, what Walker’s talking about, and what Albert Einstein is talking about is something that comes from the spirit. You know what I mean? It’s not the ego. It comes from a deep wellspring of needing to serve at a bigger game or bigger level, you know?

So I just wanted to put that out there. And I’m not saying that this is your issue at all. It just came into my mind that, you know, when we’re looking for success there is kind of a meme going on today that entrepreneurs have to be “social entrepreneurs.” And you have to play this big game and impact the world. And I get that, and I think it’s important.

But it’ll fall flat if it’s coming from an egoic need to be seen. Does that ring true to you at all John?

John: That really rings true. It does. And I will say that it’s interesting. You know, we could probably have a whole other podcast topic on this but there has been a lot of interesting work that I’ve seen come out where the reality is everything that we do in life, at least on some level, at least, is self-serving. That’s what it means to be a human being. That’s… we’re innately born with this. No matter what it is, you know, Mother Teresa–she loved the fact that people around the world said, “Oh, why aren’t you more like Mother Teresa.”

So like just little self-serving things.

But when you talk about it in the manner that you just gave. Where that’s the focus. That’s the overall driving factor, then I think that’s always going to be a mistake and people are going to see through that. And it’s not really going to help you really achieve the aims you’re hoping for.

But I think we still have to be realistic, personally, that we’re humans. To err is human, to forgive is divine. And we’re going to err. We’re never going to be perfect. So if you have these thoughts and you’re just like, “Oh my God! Mark and John were saying that if I have any kind of self-serving interests here, I’m a loser.” Not quite.

Just don’t make it all about the ego.

Mark: Right. If I could add a little to that, cause I think that was brilliant. And you’re totally right. But Mother Teresa’s self-service was also serving humanity, right? And Bill Gates’ self-service, through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also serving humanity. So, you know, self-service just in service to the self is extremely limiting. Self-service in service to the self and your tribe–let’s say your tribe is your gang or even your country–at the expense of the rest of the world is also very limiting.

But when you can serve yourself and serve your broader tribe and serve humanity all at the same time, now you’ve got some serious alignment. And that’s really what we talk about when we say you become a world-centric entrepreneur or a world-centric warrior is that you can serve all of those and meet everyone’s needs. And the quality of thinking, you know, is really distinct and rare when you’re at that level.

And I think a lot of entrepreneurs are actually there these days. But not all. Like I said, there are… and I’ve come across tons who are really just think that that’s what is expected of them. And so they’re still stuck in the self… evolutionary state, you know?

John: I love that phrase that you use. “World-centric warrior.” That’s cool

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, it is cool.

Goals and the Mastery Journal
[35:19]

Mark: So, hey, let’s move on before we get too metaphysical here. Because sometimes I slide into that category. I’m pretty comfortable there, and people must think I’m kinda nuts. But I’m okay with that.

Let’s talk about goals and I loved. Loved, loved your Mastery Journal. In fact, I really want a copy of it. I just haven’t been… I’ve been too lazy to go find one and order it. (laughing) So maybe you can send me one, or tell me where to find one. Let’s talk about your Mastery Journal and let’s talk about goal setting. Because when I looked through the digital copy of that–what you sent me–I was extremely impressed with the way you laid out how to accomplish a goal.

So can you kind of give us your process, because a lot of people struggle with that. I mean, it’s hard work to do effective goal setting.

John: It’s super-hard work. In fact, that’s the number 1 question that I got from my listeners. They were saying, “John, you’ve now interviewed over 1600 successful entrepreneurs. What’s the one commonality they all share?” And doing some deep research I realized that my guests who were successful did have the commonality that they knew how to set and accomplish goals. And so many of my listeners who were struggling were struggling with that very thing. So I kinda wanted to set out and establish and create a tool and a guide. This step-by-step resource that would allow people to really just further themselves in whatever entrepreneurial, health, relationship area that they knew… they really knew that they needed to.

When I started back in 2012, I really only had one skill set that I think was incredibly beneficial. And that was discipline. And I definitely look back at the military and thank the military for that. Cause the military showed me the benefits of being a disciplined individual. And I saw that. And then I saw how a lot of entrepreneurs weren’t super-disciplined in a lot of areas.

And I knew that that was going to be something that I could come in and maybe expose for the good for me. And I could really make the most of that if I could just be disciplined and really double-down on that. And over the past 4 plus years now that I’ve been running EOFire, I’ve been able to really develop my discipline to even a higher level. And then add these 2 other skills, which are the 3 skills that I really focused in on within the Mastery Journal. Which is productivity, discipline and focus. I was able to add productivity and focus to my strengths, which I have few, but they are mighty.

I’m incredibly productive, I’m super-disciplined and I can be very focused when the time comes down to it. So that’s what the Mastery Journal is. And the tag-line for the Mastery Journal is “Master productivity, discipline and focus in 100 days.”

And that’s exactly what it will do. In 100 days, it guides you how to master those 3 skills. And I am positive that me mastering those 3 skills is the reason why I am a 7 figure a year earner, with my business EOFire–which is me in a room here in Puerto Rico with my girlfriend next door in her quote-unquote “office.” And a couple virtual assistants around the world.

I mean I’ve been able to build a multi-million dollar a year business that has left me completely financially independent. Location independent. Because every morning I wake up and I focus on being productive, disciplined and focused within my life.

And I wanted to create the Mastery Journal to do just that. So that’s what the Mastery Journal is, and Mark, I think that you probably have those 3 things pretty well in hand as well. But you have a Mastery Journal coming your way.

Mark: Oh, that’s fantastic. So where… so masteryjournal.com? Is that the URL you’re using for that?

Crowd Funding and Entrepreneurship
[39:04]

John: Yeah, so what I did was, on January 23rd, I launched a Kickstarter campaign. Which is a crowdfunded campaign. And I just wanted to do that for a number of reasons. I wanted to get it out there, and offer a lot of cool rewards that was not just the book itself. And Kickstarter allows you to do that. So it actually, right now, as we’re talking, Mark, we’re actually about to cross the 200,000 dollar mark for this Kickstarter campaign.

And this is for a 39 dollar journal. So I think is important for people to kind of take away from this is–what is really important for you and your small business as an entrepreneur, is if you’re willing to do what we talked about earlier and just commit to delivering free, valuable and consistent content. Build an audience around that niche. And then ask them what they’re struggling with. Listen to them. And then provide them the solution in the form of a product, or a service, or a community. For me it’s this Mastery Journal. Then you’ll win.

And you’ll win financially. That’s how I built by business. It didn’t happen overnight. I didn’t make a dollar for the first 9 months of EOFire. But when I did turn on the revenue streams, it was a waterfall, it wasn’t a trickle. And that’s where the real secret lies.

I mean, this isn’t the first time we’ve done this. It was 2016–a year ago–we launched the Freedom Journal which is all about accomplishing goals and that did 453,000 dollars in 33 days. That’s why we’re following it up with this one right here, because that’s where the inspiration lays.

Mark: That is really neat. You just gave me some great ideas. I think I need to do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo for my next book. And I want to follow up with you on that, on how to do that. Maybe I should come down to Puerto Rico, and spend a day with you.

John: There it is! Puertopalooza baby. But the reason why it’s important for people to potentially think about going the Kickstarter or crowdfunding route, is because your time is the most valuable asset that you have. And so many entrepreneurs, Mark, spend so much time, energy and effort creating a product they think people will pay for. And then it comes time and they don’t pay for it. And you’ve wasted all of that.

Doing something like a crowdfunding campaign for something that might not work will prove to you… For instance, if I didn’t hit my goal of 25,000 dollars for this campaign, then I would have known that it was not going to be worth my time to sit down and create the essence of this Mastery Journal.

Now we hit that in 6 hours. So, I mean, we crushed it. And now I know 100% that there’s a market that’s going to take out their money and invest in this product. So that’s what crowdfunding can do. It can prove your concept before you spend your most valuable asset–time–creating it.

Mark: That is great. I love that.

Cool. Well we’re almost out of time, John. This has been so cool. I did want to ask you… because a lot of successful people are struggling with taxes and all the frickin’ expenses that come after success. And you told me before this podcast that you up and moved to Puerto Rico and you now pay a flat 4% tax. Period. Like, end of story. Wow. That is cool.

John: It’s pretty epic. You know, I love San Diego. I love the United States in general.

But it was brutal. 2016 was a tough year for us as far as, you know… we generated multiple millions of dollars and when you do that, my CPA who’s amazing, came to me and said, “John, you’re going to have to write a 7 figure check to Uncle Sam.” And I said, “Wow. That hurts.”

And you know, the reality was it’s what had to happen. It’s the law and I was proud to do it. As I told you pre-interview, I’m a proud veteran and a patriot.

But I said to him, “Hey, I’m location independent. I’m financially independent. If there’s a 100% legal way for me to do something cool, I’m up for an adventure. Go find something out for me. I don’t really want to move to Las Vegas just to save state tax. That’s not that big a deal. But find me something cool.”

And he came back to me with this really cool economic stimulus package that Puerto Rico launched back in 2012. It’s called Act 20 and anybody can just Google “Act 20” and you’ll see all these great articles about it. And basically the Puerto Rico government, which… it’s a US territory Puerto Rico… but because Puerto Ricans can’t vote for the president–because Puerto Rico’s not a state–there’s no taxation without representation. So guess what? Puerto Rican’s don’t pay federal tax.

They pay their own state tax, which is not low, but the Puerto Rican government realized the benefit of figuring out a way to incentivize people like myself. People who are making a lot of money. Who can move their businesses and can potentially stimulate the economy in various ways. And that’s where Act 20 came from.

So Kate and I looked at the opportunities. We said, “You know what? Let’s give this a whirl. If it works it’ll be great. If it doesn’t, hey, we spent a couple years on a Caribbean island. Life could be worse.”

So we came down here. We talked to people who had done it. They were from all over the US. They were called “Act Twentiers.” That’s like our nickname. And it was legit. People were doing it. People had successfully gotten the quote-unquote “decree.” And so we came down. We went all in.

And it’s doing everything that you would hope for if you’re the Puerto Rican government. Now I have a pool guy and a lawn person and we have a 5 day a week maid. So we’re hiring people within Puerto Rico, which has a 25% unemployment rate, which is really sad. And so, it’s working, it’s cool. And people like myself… I have a co-working space now. We’re doing some cool things. I’m throwing conferences down here. It’s a really cool vibe and I think it’s an example of what happens when a government incentivizes the right people to do the right things.

Mark: That is very cool. Is there a time frame for this? Or is it open-ended? Is there any chance they’ll end it?

John: So there is a chance that they’ll close the loop at some point. Although, it’s working so well, there’s no word about it. Because, again, it’s not costing them money. It’s just bringing them in money. And basically as long as the US is going to allow it to happen, it’s going to keep happening.

But basically, when you get the “decree,” you’re grandfathered in for 30 years. No matter what happens down the road. Like, I’ll be grandfathered into this for the next 30 years. But then it might be closed off to people in the future.

Mark: Wow. (laughing) I gotta get down there. I’m serious. I’m gonna come down and visit you. How cool would that be? Let’s do that. Let’s follow up. I’d love to get down there. Like I said, I was down there in the SEAL teams. We did some work on Vieques, on this little tiny island called Pineros. It’s a beautiful area. The diving’s great. It’s really cool. So, good for you.

John: That’s exciting. I just sent you the link to a quote-unquote “Crib tour.” Anybody that’s listening, you can just go to EOFire.com/crib and I take a 17 minute walk just through my house and then where I’m at in the community and it’s beautiful. I see Vieques in the distance. We have the mountains of El Yunque, which is the only rain forest in the United States. It’s a beautiful location and it’s really cool.

Mark: That is really cool, thanks. I’m gonna check that out.

So folks, that’s it. John Lee Dumas. John, thanks so much for your time. Thanks for all the work you’re doing. Keep up the fantastic work. I really appreciate your time today, and I know our listeners do.

Gosh, I wanna meet you in person. So I’m serious. Let’s follow up. I wanna come to Puerto Rico. My schedule is busier than shit right now, but I will find some time.

And thank you for the Mastery Journal. So everyone listening go check it out. I’m not kidding. This is a world-class product. themasteryjournal.com. And you can use that as you’re planning journal for the next 100 days, and it’ll really help you dial in your productivity, discipline and focus. And I’m looking forward to getting mine.

And, John, I’m also going to follow up with you about a Kickstarter campaign. Maybe you can give me some ideas on what to do there.

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thanks so much for your time, buddy.

John: Thanks, Mark. Appreciate it.

Mark: All right everyone. You heard. John Lee Dumas, Entrepreneur on Fire–EOFire.com, masteryjournal.com. All you gotta do is Google him and he’ll come up. He’s got 45 million downloads on the podcast.

That’s crazy. I mean, that’s insane. I think we just hit 2 million, and I was like, “Holy shit! We’re on fire.”

John: You are.

Mark: (laughing) Warrior on Fire. 45 million. I’ve got a long way to go, buddy. Awesome work.

Everybody stay focused, train hard, feed the courage wolf.

Hooyah.

Talk to you soon.

Coach Divine out.

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