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How an entrepreneur who was adrift in Maine launched a career that’s on fire

Podcaster John Lee Dumas admits: “I was not good at any of the things it took to interview people”

PORTLAND, Maine — About ten years ago John Lee Dumas moved back to Maine, where he’d grown up, got a condo in Portland and went to work for a commercial real estate firm. The city captivated him and his career prospects looked promising. Then the great recession hit.

“It was a brutal year,” Dumas writes in his new book, “The Common Path to Uncommon Success.” “I remember working so hard on a deal, closing it, then getting a commission check of $316.”

Not long after, Dumas had the idea that would change his life: He would start a podcast that interviewed successful entrepreneurs about their journeys. Does that sound…unremarkable? Well, Dumas had a niche. He’d host the podcast not once a week or even two or three times a week—he’d do it every single day.

One night while folding laundry as ESPN played in the background, Dumas heard an announcer exclaim, “LeBron James cannot miss, ladies and gentleman. He’s on fire.” And with that, the podcast had a name: Entrepreneurs on Fire. It launched on September 20, 2012, and got off to a rough start. “I was not good at any of the things it took to interview people or to be a podcast host or anything,” Dumas admits. “But I committed to doing it every day.”

That focus and tenacity paid off. With more than 3,000 episodes, the podcast has racked up more than 100 million total listens—and made Dumas wealthy.

In his book, he has distilled the lessons of his own experience and the experiences of hundreds of other entrepreneurs to provide a road map to professional success. There are lots of tips, but here’s one he delivers with particular emphasis: If you provide the best solution to a real problem, you will find uncommon success.