John Lee Dumas Author Interview

Portrait of John Lee Dumas

When I first got into the world of podcasts, John Lee Dumas was one of the podcasters whom I met in real life. I remember talking to him in a hallway between sessions at the Podcast Movement Conference.

He’s the founder and host of Entrepreneurs On Fire, an award-winning podcast where he interviews inspiring entrepreneurs to help others along their entrepreneurial journeys.

He also has a new book, The Common Path to Uncommon Success: A Roadmap to Financial Freedom & Fulfillment, (Amazon, Bookshop). In it, he offers a 17-steps roadmap to financial freedom and fulfillment.

I couldn’t wait to talk to John about happiness, habits, and entrepreneurship.

Gretchen: What’s a simple activity or habit that consistently makes you happier, healthier, more productive, or more creative?

John: Happier? Smiling. Smile more! and smile with your eyes, not just mouth :-)))))

Healthier? My daily 30-minute infrared sauna…sweat out those toxins!

More productive? Pomodoro method, aka Time-blocking. Specifically 42-minutes of FOCUS on a SINGLE task, 18 minutes of REFRESH time. No distractions, massive progress. It’s how I wrote 71,000 words of my book in 8 months happy and stress-free!

More creative? My daily walks! I love brainstorming and dreaming up big ideas and possibilities on my daily walks. Something about the fresh air, breeze, sun, and blue sky.

What’s something you know now about happiness that you didn’t know when you were 18 years old?

That I am in control of my happiness. Happiness isn’t handed to you by someone else. It doesn’t appear out of thin air based on your job title or salary. It’s not something you can purchase at the store. And it’s certainly not something to ever take for granted. Go out and create a world that makes you happy, and practice gratitude for that world daily.

You’ve done fascinating research. What has surprised or intrigued you—or your readers—most?

In 2015—after having interviewed over 1,000 successful and inspiring entrepreneurs—I was on a mission to find out what made them different. How had they found success and freedom? The answer: because they know how to set and accomplish goals. Sounds a little too simple, right? That if you know how to set and accomplish a goal, you can find success? It’s true if you’re working on the right goals, and this discovery is what led me to create The Freedom Journal: Accomplish Your #1 Goal in 100 Days.

Have you ever managed to gain a challenging healthy habit – or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?

A challenging healthy habit I’ve gained is being disciplined. It’s so easy to get distracted or chase after shiny objects. They’re everywhere! Gaining this healthy habit—which allows me to continue running a location-independent business that generates 6-figures in net income every single month—simply took practice. Anyone can do it, but not many put in the reps and practice it enough times that it actually becomes a habit. My direct advice is this; become a disciple to a plan of action you create each day. Let nothing distract you from executing that plan. Discipline will hand you freedom and happiness.

Would you describe yourself as an Upholder, a Questioner, a Rebel, or an Obliger?

I am an Upholder [Gretchen: Note that in the answer above, John wrote a version of the official Upholder motto—unprompted, I swear! That motto? “Discipline is my freedom.” Wow.]

Does anything tend to interfere with your ability to keep your healthy habits or your happiness? (e.g. travel, parties, email)

Sure. I’m only human! Every fall my fiance and I travel for 3 months internationally. We love experiencing new cultures, places, and exploring our world’s history. When we’re traveling, there are some health and wellness-related habits that aren’t as strong as they would be if I were at home living my daily routine. However, my happiness factor doesn’t fade. I absolutely love travel, and I know myself well enough to be able to take my foot off the gas for a few months (so-to-speak) in order to embrace living in a new and different way. Everything in moderation—even moderation 🙂

Have you ever been hit by a lightning bolt, where you made a major change very suddenly, as a consequence of reading a book, a conversation with a friend, a milestone birthday, a health scare, etc.?

My lightning bolt came when I was driving in the car listening to podcasts—and I ran out of episodes to listen to. In fact, it was my aha moment to start my podcast and business, Entrepreneurs On Fire! I knew I couldn’t be alone. There were certainly other people commuting to and from work who loved listening to inspiring interviews with entrepreneurs who had “made it”, right? RIGHT!

I very abruptly quit my partnership-track job in commercial real estate and was set on launching my own podcast—with zero online presence and zero broadcasting experience. You can imagine that didn’t go over so well with my parents at the time 😉 However, here we are, 9 years later, 100 million listeners of the podcast and over 20 million in revenue generated from that single lightning bolt moment. Oh, and my parents are now the biggest fans and supporters of Entrepreneurs On Fire!

Is there a particular motto or saying that you’ve found very helpful?

There are two I remind myself of often: the first helped encourage me to take my entrepreneurial leap and get started creating what I felt was missing. It’s a quote from Ghandi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Second is one that I’ve reminded myself of since the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey—it helps me stay on track and focus on the right things. It’s a quote from Albert Einstein: “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”

Has a book ever changed your life – if so, which one and why?

Think and Grow Rich (Amazon, Bookshop) gave me a new perspective of how to learn from others, surround yourself with the right people and have those you know like and respect hold you accountable for your big life goals.

In your field, is there a common misconception that you’d like to correct?

There is a misconception that the path to success is hidden, secret and complicated. It’s not. I’ve interviewed over 3000 successful Entrepreneurs (Gretchen included!) and the path to YOUR version of uncommon success is a common one, and I created a 17-step roadmap to prove it 🙂

Book cover of The Common Path to Uncommon Success by John Lee Dumas



Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.