Sep 9, 2023

130: Get Intentional With Your Business Legacy, John Lee Dumas @EOFire [Legacy Series]

If you’re a fan of business podcasts, you might know the name John Lee Dumas (JLD), founder and host of the award-winning show, Entrepreneurs on Fire. Since launching in 2012, JLD has interviewed over 3,000 of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. With over 100 million listens, he’s turned the show into a media empire generating 7-figures of net annual revenue.

JLD joins Succession Stories host Laurie Barkman to talk about business and personal legacy. What does it take to create a business that leaves a lasting legacy? It involves doing things today that lay the foundation. When the time comes, you will be ahead of the game- and you can do it the right way.

Enjoy this new “Legacy Series” of Succession Stories and why if you’re looking to create a legacy, it’s time to get intentional with John Lee Dumas. 

Show Links:

Entrepreneurs On Fire: www.EOFire.com

SuccessionStories.com

Learn how Laurie Barkman helps business owners build generational wealth: https://thebusinesstransitionsherpa.com 

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TRANSCRIPT:

Laurie Barkman
John Lee Dumas, JLD, Welcome to Succession Stories. I’m super excited to talk to you.

John Lee Dumas
Laurie, I am fired up to be here.

Laurie Barkman
We’re going to talk about you, we’re going to talk about your entrepreneurial journey, and we’re going to talk about legacy. My first question to you JLD. Let’s talk about your entrepreneurial journey. What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

John Lee Dumas
I love freedom. You know, I spent most of my life not really what I would consider in a free world of my own making, meaning I went to high school, went to college on an army scholarship, I was in the military. And then I was in, you know, law school, corporate finance, I always kind of felt like I was in these, you know, defined boxes that I put myself in. But I had to wake up every morning, I had a boss, I had somebody telling me what to do, I was always somebody else’s mission. And guess what? A lot of that is fine, because I learned a lot, built some good habits, some good discipline, especially in the military. But at 32 years old, that’s kind of like, you know, enough of following somebody else’s orders, enough of executing upon somebody else’s mission. It’s time to set off on my own mission. And I don’t really know what that is or what that looks like. But the unknown is pretty exciting to me. So let’s go.

Laurie Barkman
Okay. You were deployed in Iraq and Kuwait, is that correct?

John Lee Dumas
That is correct.

Laurie Barkman
Yeah, I heard an episode on your show Entrepreneurs on Fire, which is a great show, and people should listen to it if they haven’t yet. You said I think So correct me if I’m wrong, that it wasn’t something you talk about often. But something that in your past from the deployment where you had lost a few of the platoon members, during the time you were there. Tell me a little bit about that. What impact did that have on you as you became a vetrepreneur.

John Lee Dumas
So you are 22 years old, typically when you graduate college on an army scholarship. And you’re really commissioned as an officer in the army. So you go from four years of pretty much the least amount of responsibility you’re going to have in your life to the most, which is leading men, in my case, because I was in armor. So it was men only in a tank platoon. So 16 men and four tanks in war. So I went from one side of the kind of drastic scale of no responsibility to now I have essentially 15 lives that are responsible for almost overnight, in a life-and-death situation. So it was drastic, and it’s a lot for somebody that young to handle. And it was difficult. And, you know, like I had mentioned in that show when we ended up losing four of the soldiers in my platoon over the course of my 30-month deployments. You know, I took it very hard, and it’s still something that I, you know, think about fairly often and, you know, keep to the forefront of my mind, because in my opinion, it’s a way of honoring their sacrifice and what you know, they gave, you know, to what it was that we were doing. So, it was very difficult. It’s very challenging. And it’s, one thing that I will say, helps me keep a healthy perspective on life. Because when something crappy happens to me here in Puerto Rico, you know, it’s pretty laughable, you know, when you put it on the scale of what I dealt with, during my 30-month tour of duty in Iraq.

Laurie Barkman
Yeah. And the word freedom that you used earlier really has a different connotation when we’re talking about those privileges, for sure.

John Lee Dumas
It does.

Laurie Barkman
So thank you for sharing that. You’ve built a successful business. And you’ve spoken with thousands of founders on your podcast. So it’s fair to say that you know a little bit about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurs, when it comes to creating a business that leaves a legacy, what themes stand out to you?

John Lee Dumas
So I say the biggest theme that I’ve always kind of hung my hat on really stems from a quote that I read about three months before I launched my podcast, which was by Albert Einstein. And that quote, is, “try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.” And that quote, really kind of shook me and threw me for a loop because for 32 years of my life, I’ve been trying to become a person of success. Like I thought that was what you were supposed to do in the world. But when I looked back on it, I was like, well, yeah, maybe I was chasing success. But number one, I wasn’t really, you know, finding success. And number two, I wasn’t providing really any value in the world specifically. I mean, I was doing some things I wasn’t harming society, but wasn’t necessarily focused on helping society, adding value to other people’s lives. And that quote, that theme kind of shifted my entire mindset and said, you know, what kind of legacy or what do I want to be putting out to the world where I want to be known or I remembered for? And when asked those questions, obviously, there’s nothing that I had already done in my life. So I shifted going forward and said. Well, what’s something that I could do that would be giving value to people? And an area that: Number one, that I enjoy; Number two, that’s, you know, I think I’m capable of doing or becoming good and potentially great in. And when I really sat down and thought about it, that’s what I said, Well, what’s adding value in my life right now, you know, and I thought, podcasting because podcasts were free. They were on demand, and they were on the topics that I want to listen to, I could pick and choose. And I said, Well, what if I could do that for other people? What if I could create a show that was free, that was on demand, and that was on topics that were helping them and adding value to their lives? And that helped me come up with a concept of Entrepreneurs on Fire. And I’ve stuck to that theme going forward of how can I continue to add value in this world, whether it’s, you know, creating my free course on podcasting to help other people launch their show, whether it be, you know, the books and the journals that I’ve created, or the other courses that I’ve done, or the places that I’ve spoken at? So that’s, you know, kind of what led me to Entrepreneurs on Fire was thinking around that thoughts around that quote.

Laurie Barkman
I want to talk about business owner succession. What are important success factors for an owner to exit their business without regrets?

John Lee Dumas
It’s a good question. Because I have interviewed over 4000 successful entrepreneurs, and for the first 2000 episodes, I always ask the question, what is your worst entrepreneurial moments? And so often, Laurie, the worst entrepreneurial moment of the successful entrepreneurs was the day they sold their business, which is shocking to a lot of people that haven’t done that, because they’re like, Well, wait a second, isn’t that the dream to launch a business, to grow it to a meaningful level, and then to exit and then to go sip margaritas, you know, in Puerto Rico on the beach, and essentially do nothing every day. And a lot of people who did that and sold their business thought that was their dream, too. Until they had accomplished that dream, then they realize, well, wait a second, I’m 40, or 50, or 70, or 22 years old. And I’ve just, you know, done what I thought I wanted to do, why am I not happy? Why am I feeling less fulfilled now than I was before? Why is all this money that I now have in my bank account, not making me happy, and a lot of them realize they’re no longer relevant in this world, they’re no longer adding value in this world. And they, they loved it, that part of their business, whether they, they knew it consciously or subconsciously, that was a big part of what they did. And so many of them, you know, went back and then did another passion project that, of course, became successful on some level that brought them to me and my show, which, you know, was able to help a lot of my listeners with their lessons learned. And I know a lot of those conversations really helped a lot of my listeners say, okay, maybe the goal is not selling the business, maybe it is. And that does happen for some people, especially when they have an idea of what they want next. But that’s not, that’s not the finish line. That could just be another step in the process. So just understand that that’s a step in your journey. But it’s not the end all be all. So I think that’s an important thing for individuals to say that when you’re ready to sell or to walk away, or to hand over your business, what’s next for you? And is that thing exciting for you? Because you might be shocked at waking up the next morning and saying, “Wow, like, why is there a big empty gaping hole in my soul right now that I never thought would exist after I sold my business?”

Laurie Barkman
When it comes to your business legacy? How do you want your company to be remembered 10, 20, 30 years from now?

John Lee Dumas
That one reason I love the platform of podcasting is because right now, as you and I are speaking, somebody, somewhere in this world is listening to Episode 274 of Entrepreneurs on Fire, an episode that I produced in 2013, over 10 years ago, right now.

Laurie Barkman
Crazy, right?

John Lee Dumas
Right this very moment. Somebody’s listening to that podcast, and they’re getting value from that because a lot of the value that my show brings, is evergreen is just real core principles that will last for all time. Some of the stuff of course is timely. Some of the stuff is evergreen, will always be valuable. And that’s what I really love about my podcast and the platform of podcasting, in general, is that I will be leaving behind over 4,000 now but potentially when I’m done and 10s of 1000s of interviews and conversations that are free, that are out there for people to consume to help them get over their obstacles or challenges, to maybe give them an aha moment or an idea that they otherwise may not have had that’s going to allow them to go do something cool in the world, that they might not otherwise have done. And like I love that thought, that legacy. So for me, even when I stop the content, the bank of value, which is Entrepreneurs on Fire lives on.

Laurie Barkman
From a personal standpoint, how do you want to be remembered?

John Lee Dumas
I want to be remembered as somebody who facilitated great conversations with brilliant, inspiring, and motivating entrepreneurs, that helped my listeners, Fire Nation, over their obstacles, challenges, and struggles. Maybe it was something that I said, probably not. It’s probably something that my guests came on in their area of expertise, and shared, that helped them get through that time, that struggle, that obstacle, that challenge. But I love the fact that I was the facilitator of that conversation happening.

Laurie Barkman
I love how your show is very actionable, you deliver a lot of value to people who are looking for ideas that they can implement. So I want to make my last question to you about that. When it comes to creating a legacy. What is your number one actionable recommendation for entrepreneurs?

John Lee Dumas
So if you’re looking to create a legacy, it’s time to get intentional about it. I think a lot of people think about legacy, way too late, like after they’ve already maybe walked away or gone through the beginning processes of winding the business down or selling the business or handing it off. Like your legacy starts now. Like wherever you’re at in your business. And like that’s where I would want to share with people and start thinking about what that looks like. So you can start doing the things today that are laying the foundation so that when the time comes, which may be a lot sooner than you expect, or maybe a lot longer away than you expect or somewhere in between. But lay the foundation now, so that you are ahead of the game you’re thinking about it so that you can do it the right way.

Laurie Barkman
Awesome. Awesome. Thank you. JLD, if people want to learn more about you and connect and learn more about Entrepreneurs on Fire, what’s a great way to do that?

John Lee Dumas
Well, all the podcast platforms have entrepreneurs on fire. And of course, right there. eofire.com is our website where we have a lot of free and incredibly valuable tutorials, classes, and just overall material for entrepreneurs, so feel free to check it out.

Laurie Barkman
I appreciate you coming on Succession Stories, and I encourage everyone to check out Entrepreneurs on Fire if they haven’t yet. Thank you so much, JLD, it was great to meet you today.

John Lee Dumas
Thanks, Laurie.

Laurie Barkman
Listeners. Be sure to follow Succession Stories and your favorite podcast player and on YouTube and leave us a review. To learn more about maximizing the value of your business and planning for transition. Sign up for our newsletter and book a call with me at thebusinesstransitionsherpa.com. Join me next time on Succession Stories for more insights from transition to transaction.

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