Connecting with Influencers In Your Market With John Lee Dumas
In this episode we speak with John Dumas of EntrepreneurOnFire. In today’s show we discuss how John was able to connect with so many top influencers during his rapid rise to podcasting fame.
So, join us and sit back, relax and enjoy this weeks episode.
John Lee Dumas is the Founder and Host of EntrepreneurOnFire. John’s daily podcast interviews showcase today’s most inspiring and successful Entrepreneurs.
- John’s back story – Find out how an army lieutenant became a podcasting rockstar
- The key to connecting with people– It’s very simple….ASK. Put yourself on the influencers radar by connecting with them and offering value.
- Networking Tips & Tricks – Be genuine, be persistent, be courageous.
THE FULL TRANSCRIPT
Jake: Welcome back, listeners. I’m Jake Hower, your host. You’re listening to The Multimedia Marketing Show. In this episode we’re speaking with John Dumas from EntrepreneuronFire.com.
I hope you enjoy this interview. Let’s go off and get straight into it right now.
Jake: Welcome back, listeners. As discussed at the top of the episode, today’s guest John Dumas from Entrepreneur on Fire. John, how are you?
John: I’m doing great, Jake. Thanks for having me on.
Jake: Thank you very much for taking the time to come on today.
John: My pleasure.
Jake: Okay. You’ve had a pretty rapid rise to fame with your podcast, Entrepreneur on Fire. What I’d really love to delve into in this episode is, I guess, focusing in on how you were able to connect with so many top influences early on in your show’s episodes. How does that sound?
John: Sounds great. I’d love to.
Jake: Fantastic. For those listening to the show who may not know a little bit about you, John, how about you delve into your background.
John: Yeah. I’ll give the real quick 30 to 60-second rundown. I was born and raised in the state of Maine, which is about an hour and a half north of Boston, Massachusetts. At 18 years old I accepted an ROTC scholarship to go to college at Providence in Rhode Island and spent the next four years training as a cadet and just being a student, living the student life. Then at 22 in 2002, I joined the army. I was commissioned as a lieutenant. I spent four years active, four years in the reserves, highlighted by a 13-month tour of duty in Iraq. After my tour of duty in the army, I actually got out and just traveled around the world. I went to India and Nepal, Guatemala, different countries, different continents.
Then I settled down, tried law school, tried corporate finance, tried real estate, tried a tech startup, tried a bunch of different things. Enjoyed it all to some level, learned a lot, but never really found my niche until June of 2012, which was when I was 32 years old. I just recently turned 33. I decided to give my passions and drive and desire fully into a new venture, which I called Entrepreneur on Fire. That’s what I do 100% of my time. I launch daily business podcasts where I interview inspiring and successful entrepreneurs five days a week.
Jake: Excellent. That’s fantastic. For any of the listeners who want to hear a little bit more about you, I think one of the best interviews is Dan Norris on his Web Domination podcast. I will include that in the show notes as well.
John: Yeah, Dan’s a great guy. I had a lot of fun with him.
Jake: Yeah, he’s great. Okay. We’ve heard a little bit about your background. Before we delve into how you’ve been able to successfully connect with these influences, let’s give the listeners a little bit of perspective. How about giving us some of the stats surrounding your podcast right now so our listeners have context.
John: Well, right now – and we’re talking the end of January 2013 – Entrepreneur on Fire is currently being downloaded over 5,000 times every single day in over 100 countries. We’re going at about a click of about 150,000 unique downloads per month. The great part is that that number truly is growing every single day in the snowball effect. I can get more into why that is happening, but it’s been a great ride. I started September 20th of 2012. That was actually when I launched the podcast. I definitely started building the platform back in June, but I didn’t launch the actual podcast until September. It’s really been a nice steady, organic growth since then.
Jake: That’s great. All right. Early on, you were able to bring on some really big players in the space. I believe Pat Flynn was your second episode. Now, these are hard people to get in touch with. I’d love to hear how you’re able to connect with these people so early on.
John: It wasn’t easy, Jake. The decision that I truly made early on, which is a very valuable one, was to go in 100%. Back in June of 2012, I left it all behind and I decided to put all of my efforts into Entrepreneur on Fire and really truly live my favorite acronym, which is FOCUS: Follow One Course Until Success. Back in June, I decided to just throw myself into the mix. I went down to BlogWorld that was being hosted in New York City. All these people that you’ve been mentioning – Pat Flynn, Derek Halpern, David Risley – all of these early interviewees that I had, I actually met down there and said, “Hey, guys, I’d really…” I had to walk up to them after their speech and say, “Hey, guys, I am looking to do this. I love what you’re doing online. I’m looking to build a large audience by sharing this kind of journey, these kinds of experiences on a daily level, every single day. Nobody is filling that niche out there. I am going to do that.”
They saw my passion. They saw my genuine desire to make this happen and they said, “Hey, sure, John. We’ll give it a chance. Shoot me an email – here’s my direct email address – when you get back.” Over that summer I reached out to these seven, eight, nine people that I really connected with at this conference and asked them if they would be my first interviewees, and they said yes. Over that summer of 2012, I actually did 40 interviews because once I started getting Pat Flynn in my back pocket and already having that interview done and Derek Halpern and Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner, I started being able to use those people as social proof. When I reached out to other people in the industry and they saw that I had already interviewed these names, they were much more willing to give me 20-30 minutes of their time to do the same. By the time I launched, Jake, in September of 2012, I had 40 interviews complete with top names in the industry.
Jake: That’s amazing. All right. I really do want to get into the nitty gritty of connecting with these people. Let’s start out with the BlogWorld Expo. You say you went up to these people and introduced yourself after you heard them speak. If you were to break that down, why do you think they were interested in what you had to say?
John: Well, there’s a specific reason, and this is something that’s really valuable for all entrepreneurs to know, especially people that are just starting out. That’s the value of a mentor and/or coach. For me, when I was just getting ready to start, I knew I was going to launch into this venture, I started looking around in my local area for a coach or a mentor that really would be able to take me to the next level quickly just with his or her skills and knowledge and connections and relationships. For me, that was a podcaster that I had been listening to for a couple years at that point. Her name was Jaime Tardy, and she runs the podcast Eventual Millionaire.
I had been listening to her just organically for a number of years, knowing that she lived close to me in Maine but never reaching out to her. When I decided to make that leap, I reached out to her. She agreed to become my coach, my mentor, and so we actually went down to BlogWorld in New York City with a plan together where she knew these people because she was actually speaking at this conference. She was friends with these people on a let of levels. She was in masterminds with them. She was really that first link that I had to be able to say, “Hey, my name is John Dumas. My mentor, Jaime Tardy,” who is standing right next to me, smiling and laughing and talking with other people, “is somebody that’s guiding me right now. This is exactly what I’m looking to do with Jaime’s help. I’m going to do it the right way. She’s going to hold me accountable.” People saw that it was probably worth their time to give me a chance because somebody that they already trusted and knew and liked was going to be there guiding me along the way. So that was extremely valuable for me.
Jake: That’s fantastic, and I totally agree. Having that social proof of connecting with somebody they trust makes a massive difference. That’s a huge part of it. I don’t think it would be absolutely everything because you still have to have something that these people – their audience, obviously, they’ve got to be delivering great content for their audiences. They’re not going to share their time and their audiences cheaply or easily. Do you think also the fact that you’re coming out with something relatively unique at that time was another reason that people, I guess, paid attention to what you were saying?
John: I think it was a huge reason, Jake. To give you a little more background, I was driving around in my prior job in commercial real estate spending a lot of time on the road, really loving to consume podcasts just because of that passionate, targeted, on demand content. I realized that I was just going through the current podcast at such a rapid rate. You brought up the name Pat Flynn who was one of my first interviewees. He has an amazing podcast, The Smart Passive Income, but it only airs once every two weeks. I went through all of his 40 or 50 episodes that he did over the course of two years in about 1 month, and I was like, man, there has to be a niche that needs to be filled for somebody like myself that’s driving 1, 2, 4 hours a day and then coming home and hitting the gym or walking my dog and wanting to continue to consume content while I’m doing that.
There are definitely people out there like myself who want to have this fresh podcast waiting for them and an inspiring interview with an incredible entrepreneur. When I explained it to them in that manner, they agreed that it was out there, that that niche needed to be filled. Pat Flynn doesn’t have the ability to do a daily podcast because he is so busy doing everything else that he’s doing, although, I will say something that’s very exciting on that end. He told me that I was his inspiration for moving from a once every two weeks podcast to a once a week podcast. He said, “Man, if John Lee Dumas can do it every single day, I can do it at least once a week.” So now Smart Passive Income is going to be once a week, so that’s great for all of his fans out there.
They saw that I was delivering something unique and something different, and I think they saw the potential. A lot of them were like, “Man, I wish I could do that. I wish I could dedicate myself to doing something every single day,” but a lot of these people have prior commitments. They have family. They have businesses they’re running. They just couldn’t do that, which is the power of finding your niche, drilling down to the bare core of it, and then just really crushing it.
Jake: Yeah, absolutely. I think from our brief conversation so far, one of the other aspects, which I’ve picked up from that is the amount of planning that went into it. You didn’t just willy-nilly go to these people and say, “Hey, I’ve got these podcasts that I want to release. I’m thinking daily. I’m going to interview entrepreneurs just like yourself. How about we have an interview.” You’ve actually sat down, you created a clear plan and path for action, and you’ve been able to execute on it.
John: Absolutely. I attribute a lot of that to my prior military training. I mean I just really knew that a lot of times tasks expand to the time allotted. I knew that if I could just really focus on getting everything done at the time that I wanted to allot that to then I would be able to do that. A lot of people look at me and say, “John, how are you doing a daily podcast?” The crazy part is – and this is the truth – I literally only work one day a week on the actual podcast part of it. I do eight podcast interviews every single Monday. I edit all of them every single Monday. Tuesday through Friday and Saturday and Sunday when I’m working on the weekends, I’m still busting my hump on the business of Entrepreneur on Fire. I work extremely hard and long hours, but that part of my business is done. The fact that people think that they don’t have enough time to do a weekly podcast or a monthly podcast or even a daily podcast, I do it all in one day.
Jake: Yeah. Definitely. This is something which came up in an earlier interview with Greg Rollett. One thing that I’ve noticed with The Multimedia Marketing Show is the amount of effort and time which goes into the actual podcast itself – the recording and the production of it – is probably 10%. The remainder of the time, the 90%, is actually focused on promotion and building an audience. I think that’s also important for people – for our listeners – to understand is that if you’re looking to get something like this out into the marketplace, the majority of your time is going to be spent on the promotion of it.
John: Absolutely. For me, it’s kind of like an assembly line. If I do eight podcasts in one day, I can really knock them out with all the intros and all the outros and all the editing. Doing those eight in one day is much more efficient than doing one podcast a day for seven days.
Jake: Definitely. Okay. Well, that sort of covers the first block of interviewees. How are you finding it now? Are you still chasing entrepreneurs, or are you finding that people are coming to you wanting to be on the show?
John: I definitely am no longer chasing entrepreneurs. When I first started, I was really looking to build a big list and a big buffer of interviewees and interviews that I had completed. When I actually launched September 20th, as I previously noted, I did have 40 interviews complete. I’ve really kept that buffer from that point going forward. Right now, I just released episode 101 today, but I’ve actually completed 155 episodes. I’m about 54 odd ahead, which puts me almost 2 months ahead in this kind of “buffer.” I’m not in this rush to feel like I have to chase people or that I really want to track people down and get these people lined up because I’ve given myself that breathing room
I really just kind of find people as I’m reading Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc., Fast Company, as I’m watching Shark Tank, as I’m just being introduced to other people just because of the relationships I’m forming with my current interviewees that I have. I just got back from Las Vegas where I spoke at New Media Expo by BlogWorld on the state of podcasting, and I met so many amazing people out there. You just kind of start to organically gain interviews naturally without having to reach out to people or really chase people. They just start to come to you.
As to your fact about other people coming to me, I’m getting emails all the time from PR companies and different entrepreneurs and business owners who are inquiring about the ability to be interviewed on Entrepreneur on Fire. I’m definitely having to say no a lot and having to turn people away just because I’m at the situation now where it’s really just kind of a natural growth that Entrepreneur on Fire is doing. I can be very selective.
Jake: Yeah. Definitely. Let’s have a look at a specific guest then. My guestimate would be that potentially his PR company has contacted you. Let’s look at Seth Godin. This is episode 43. That would’ve been close to launch time, I guess, when you interviewed Seth or potentially a little bit after that. Can you tell me a little bit about how that particular interview came to be?
John: That is an interesting story. It’s probably a lot easier than most people would realize. I have a better one that I’ll tell after this. With Seth Godin, I knew that his book, The Icarus Deception, was set to be coming out in a short time period. I had just been a part of his Kickstarter campaign where I actually did donate to the cause to receive a digital copy. So I knew that he was coming out with a book, and he was probably looking to promote it. I went to him in a very straightforward manner. His email address, I was able to acquire from another interviewee that I had. I reached out to him and laid out exactly what Entrepreneur on Fire was, what I would like to talk about, and the fact that it would only take about 20-25 minutes of his time over Skype.
He literally emailed me back an hour later and said, “Hey, John, how about tomorrow?” It was pretty funny because normally I’m pretty strict because I have my “studio time,” and I really like to fit people in to my Monday block of schedules because it just makes my business and my effectiveness so much higher when I can have everybody on in one day. I really fit people into that and give them a lot of options and days to choose from as far as Monday the 1st, the 7th, the 14th, whatever, and then a number of time periods throughout that. I really like to try to funnel people into that system. With Seth I was like, “Okay. Absolutely. Yeah. You name the time. You name the place. I will be on Skype calling you.” So we did, and it was a very enjoyable interview.
A really good story I’d like to share because this is just something that I think listeners will find even more value in is how I got Barbara Corcoran. So I’m sitting around. It’s a Friday night. It’s 8:30 p.m. Shark Tank is on, and I’m watching it on ABC. It’s a great episode. I’m sitting there with my girlfriend and we’re having a beverage because we’re about to head out and meet some friends. Barbara made a comment because a guy in the marines came in to pitch his product, and she didn’t actually invest in him but she did say, “I just want to say thank you for your service. I really just honor the military and what you guys provide for us.”
So I had a couple drinks in me and I’m like, “You know what? I’m going to go up, and I’m going to email Barbara Corcoran and tell her that I’m a veteran and if she really honors the military, she should come on my show as a show of her appreciation and share her journey with my audience.” It was half joking and half serious. I ran upstairs, Googled Barbara Corcoran and went to her “contact me” page, composed this long email to her little “contact me” form, hit the send button, and the lo and behold – I kind of forgot about it – Monday morning I have an email from her assistant, Gail, who was just like, “John, Barbara got your email. She was very touched. She’d love to be on your show. When can she be on?”
It was really something that easy where I made a connection with Barbara who I saw on Shark Tank, and she mentioned something, and I was able to connect myself to that thing that she felt endeared to and use that to ask her to come on my show where I did prove to her with my download numbers and the fact that I had had other big name guests – Gary Vaynerchuk, Tim Ferriss, etc. – that that social proof was all she needed to go forward and give me 20 minutes, which ended up being almost1 45 minutes of her time to share her journey with Fire Nation.
Jake: Yeah, that’s incredible. What comes out of that for me or what really resonated for me is the fact that you’re approaching these people with a message which they’re going to connect with. For Seth, it was the fact that he had a book coming out. He was about to hit his circuits of promotions. With Barbara, it was something recent that she had been talking about. It resonated with me because I’ve had Chris Brogan on the show in an earlier episode, and I think through dumb luck essentially the same thing happened. I sent him an email asking him to come on the show. Lo and behold, he replied and said yes.
What I didn’t realize until a couple of weeks later is that he had just re-launched his own show – his own podcast – and started appearing on all of these other podcasts. The same thing essentially was happening without me actually knowing it at the time.
John: Absolutely. It’s just really behooves anybody to keep their eyes and ear open. When these big names are coming out and they have a new product, service, book, podcast that they’re looking to promote and to get out there into the universe, that’s a great time to reach out to them, and it’s probably going to be worth 20 minutes of their time. It’s a very low barrier. I was sitting on the phone literally 30 minutes ago on Skype with Noah, the CEO or Stitcher Radio, having my own interview with him. Thirty-five minutes later I’m talking to you, and I’m just here sitting in my studio. It’s not difficult for these people to give 20-30 minutes of their time to reach a potentially large audience.
Jake: Definitely. Well, let’s look at a little bit about the actual process you followed when connecting with these people. For myself, generally I’m sending an email. When possible, I’m locating their exact email address from prior interviewees, or I’ll use some tools like LinkedIn and also like Rapportive and Gmail where you can actually try to guess their email address. If you get the right one, it will pop up all their social profiles. You mentioned that you contacted Barbara via her website contact form. For our listeners out there, do you have any other suggestions with how they should be connecting or trying to connect with these people?
John: For my audience especially and for the interviewees that I generally go after, far and away the best place to connect with them is at their headquarters, their website, and their “about me” or their “contact me” page. I have had by far my most success there. I really even haven’t tried other avenues that much because I’ve had so much success there. The most important thing is literally in the first two or three sentences you really need to establish social proof.
You need to lay out what you’re looking to do and why it’s of value to them because these people get so many emails from just adoring fans or inquiries of random sorts that if you can just get it out there in the first couple sentences – and I’ll give you an example of what Entrepreneur on Fire does is basically my first two or three sentences are: “Hi, this is John Lee Dumas, the founder of Entrepreneur on Fire, a top ranked business podcast on iTunes, currently generating over 150,000 unique downloads a month in over 100 countries. I’ve interviewed people such as Barbara Corcoran, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuck, Tim Ferriss, etc., etc. I would love the opportunity to have you come on my show and share your journey with my audience. Twenty minutes over Skype, audio only is all I ask. Let me know if there’s an opportunity to make this happen in your schedule.”
What I’m doing right there is I’m initially establishing that it is absolutely worth their time to talk to my extremely large listener base, and I’m showing them that other people on their level and even levels above them have come on my show and shared their journey and I’m saying, “Hey, it’s just 20 minutes over Skype, and it’s audio only, so you don’t even have to shower.” I just keep it really easy for them. I keep the barriers low. A lot of times the people that are reading them are going to be their assistants or their virtual assistants. Nine times out of ten they’re going to look at this and say, “Hey, this is something I need to pass up the food chain.”
Jake: That’s great. It sounds so simple that it shouldn’t work, but it’s amazing that it does.
John: It works.
Jake: Yeah. It’s really great. That is also something that I’m finding with inviting guest on my show as well is the fact that all it takes is an email. Really what’s holding people back from being able to do it themselves is probably mindset.
John: It is mindset, and I have one more story. Do we have time for one more story?
John: Okay. This is my favorite story thus far, although it has not yet ended in a success, but I’m still on the journey. This is just to show you that sometimes you need to work a little harder. One of the people that I truly want to interview, extremely high on my number, maybe my number one interviewee that I would love to get on my show just because I’ve always idolized what he’s done as an entrepreneur is Mark Cuban. He has a lot of things going on. He’s the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He does Shark Tank. He invests in a lot of people. He’s running these foundations.
I was driving up to Sugarloaf, which is a ski mountain here in the state of Maine, just this past weekend. I was reading this Inc. Magazine article that was basically talking about patent trolls. I won’t get into what patent trolls are, but they’re just a really big pain in the butt for a lot of small businesses. Mark Cuban was quoted in that magazine as his stance against patent trolls as well, so I really resonated with that.
I had been emailing Mark Cuban for weeks and weeks and weeks just on a very consistent basis. He’s really one of the only guys that I’m doing this with. I’m really just getting out there and just trying to be very consistent in reaching out to him, hoping that I’ll get a response sometime, someway, which I’ve had zero success with so far. I get up to Sugarloaf on a Friday night. I compose this email really quickly. The title line was just “patent trolls.” I wrote, “Mark, I just read this article. You got me fired up. I would love if you came on Entrepreneur on Fire and just shared your journey with my 150,000 plus unique downloaders what the issue is with these patent trolls, etc., etc.”
I just ended it there, sent it off. Twenty minutes later I had an email back from him that said, “John, you need to contact so and so and so and so. Here’s her email address. Here’s her website. Get her on the show.” Lowercase M. He just wrote the lowercase letter M. I was like, “Oh, my God. Mark Cuban just responded back to me.” Obviously, he had been getting my previous emails and just discarding them like he probably discards a thousand emails a day, but this one resonated with him. I struck a chord.
Since that point, I’ve reached back out to him and said, “Thanks, Mark. I’m going to reach out to Julie, etc.” I’ve done that. I’ve scheduled Julie for the show. She’s going to come on. We’re going to talk. Then I’m going to use that leverage and the relationship I’m going to be building with Julie, who is the lawyer in charge of Mark’s little foundation that he has, to hopefully convince her to convince Mark that it’s worth him coming on for 20 minutes to talk to my audience about how patent trolls are affecting small businesses and entrepreneurs around the world. As you can see, sometimes you do have to work for it, but sometimes it’s worth it.
Jake: Definitely. I think that brings up a very interesting topic. You’re right. You do have to work at it often. One thing that I’ve had success with previously is when I’m trying to reach somebody. I’ve actually found that taking an indirect path to them has worked in my favor. What I mean is rather than target that particular person, work at the people who influence that person. Generally, you would say they’re usually a rung below in terms of the popularity or their influence. Connecting with, I guess, these periphery people will eventually get you in front of the person you’re trying to get a hold of. For me, I’ve had a lot of success in just basically ticking off their influences around them and then finally approaching that was my initial target.
John: Well, if you ever see Mark Cuban on Entrepreneur on Fire, you will know that that system works.
Jake: Well, that’s great, John. Thanks very much for coming on the show today. Where can listeners find out a little bit more about you?
John: Well, my headquarters, Jake, is literally www.entrepreneuronfire.com. The word “entrepreneur” is so difficult to spell. I still have a hard time doing it. So I actually also have the website address that will get you to the same point, which is www.eofire.com. Both of those website addresses will get you to my headquarters, to Entrepreneur on Fire. That’s where all my podcasts are. I would love if people wanted to check me out on iTunes, subscribe. It’s a great podcast. Like we mentioned before, I interview one successful and inspiring entrepreneur every single day, and I’ve interviewed some great guys from all over the world, including Australia. I’ve had Will Swayne, Adam Franklin. Brendan Sinclair was actually my number 100. Just a lot of great entrepreneurs from you continent and just a lot of great people from around the world. It’s a good podcast, and I have a lot of fun doing it.
Jake: Yeah. Thanks very much. Listeners, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. John, thank you very much for coming on. I’m a loyal subscriber to the podcast. For everybody out there, if you haven’t checked it out already, certainly do head across to iTunes and, of course, Stitcher.
John: Stitcher Radio. Stream it.
Jake: Yeah. Absolutely. All right, John. Thanks very much for coming on the show. We’ll speak again, I’m sure, in the future.
John: Definitely, Jake. Thank you.