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I recently had the opportunity to interview John Lee Dumas, entrepreneur and host of the hugely successful Entrepreneurs on Fire podcast. In just 20 minutes, he shared some incredible insights that are useful to any business owner. Here are eight things I learned from him in this interview.
1. Spotlights others, not yourself
In an article for the Denver Post, licensed therapist Neil Rosenthal points out that people who tell us a story often "respond by matching or exceeding it." Dumas interviews people every day for his podcast and his goal is to highlight their thoughts and stories, not his own.
As entrepreneurs, we might want to focus on ourselves – our ideas, our success, our next step. However, a more valuable practice would be to focus on others. How does our product or business help others? How can we build our teams? How can we serve our partners or customers?
When we focus on others rather than ourselves, we create better work environments and better customer experiences.
2. Success doesn't mean everything
Dumas is extremely successful as the host of an award-winning and profitable podcast. However, he points out that a few years ago he realized that while he could have financial success, he needed more. He needed meaning and meaning in his work and he's been working to find it ever since.
Purpose is the key to our life as entrepreneurs. If we chase the money and that's it, we will have problems when our business goes up and down or during a crisis. Finding meaning in our work, however, focuses us on what it all means on a deeper level.
3. Every master was a disaster
Dumas started his podcast with zero experience interviewing people or podcasting in general. Since then he has interviewed over 2,000 entrepreneurs and says the first time he felt good about his skills was the 400th interview.
Anyone who is good at something used to be terrible at it, or at least an amateur. The adage that it takes 10,000 hours to do something well is correct, and getting a little better every day is key. We may not know everything about our industry or our business, but we cannot let that discourage us. Instead, we need to schedule the hours and trust that consistency will prevail.
Related: Why Intentional Practice Is Important for Entrepreneurs
4. The 4-hour work week is incorrectly interpreted
The 4-hour work week is a dream popularized by Tim Ferris in his book of the same name, and many young entrepreneurs today aspire to it. They outsource their work or invest in a company that "can run itself" without knowing that it actually takes work to get a successful company going and to stabilize.
Dumas believes that the 4 hour work week is misunderstood. The purpose is to implement systems and processes to turn 40 hours of work into 4 and then use the extra time to grow your business or other valuable things. If we change our mentality from laziness to efficiency and ultimately freedom, we can achieve real success in the 4 hour work week.
5. Don't burn out
Dumas recorded interviews for several weeks in a row on the same day. The next day he was exhausted and he would give himself a day to recharge and do nothing.
We work hard as entrepreneurs like we should, but it is wrong to be proud of the burnout. We all need downtime to rest and rebuild our energies without being ashamed that we are doing “nothing”. Give yourself permission to rest instead of getting burned out.
Related Topics: Understanding Entrepreneurial Burnout (And How To Deal With It)
6. Don't be afraid to leave a safe job and study
Dumas worked in commercial real estate for a number of years – a "safe" job. He was afraid to leave it and pursue something he really loved and cared about, but eventually he did. Now commercial real estate is in ruins and he's been a successful company for seven years.
Entrepreneurship is an act of bravery. Most of us have had to take risks, leave something safe, and invest our lives and money in something that could fail. Not only do we need to take the plunge, but we also don't have to be afraid to learn. Reach out to a mentor, start a class, or join a mastermind group.
7. Surround yourself with amazing people
There is a saying that you are the average of the five people you surround yourself with. Dumas says that when he started learning from mentors and joined his mastermind group, the people around him were also ambitious, learned and were also afraid. His attitude changed and he grew much faster because he was around people who had purpose and drive.
Who we spend our time with, at work and outside, will affect our growth. We'll grow faster and better when we join communities that focus on hard work and learning, when we hire people who share our values and mission, and when we choose friends to support us.
8. Your actions have a ripple effect
Dumas ended our interview by revealing that he is committed to creating a positive ripple effect with everything he does. Every action that we as an entrepreneur and person take has an impact (positive or negative). If we focus on making a positive impact, we will see the positive impact not only on our fellow human beings, but also on their families, our communities, our customers, and beyond.
Listen to the podcast episode here.