The Common Path to Uncommon Success: A Review of John Lee Dumas’s First Book

“You’ve been lied to. In fact, we’ve all been lied to. The reason? Most people don’t want you to know one simple fact. Uncommon success is achievable, and the path is a common one.”

John Lee Dumas

John Lee Dumas (JLD) filled the pages of his book, The Common Path to Uncommon Success, with detailed instructions to identify your big idea, how to niche deep, create an avatar, find a mentor, create a mastermind, ask your avatar the right questions, how to build systems and processes, and much much more.

Even if you’ve been a listener of the Entrepreneurs on Fire (EOFire) podcast for as long as I have, you are guaranteed to fill pages of notes. I’m impressed that even after 3,500+ podcast episodes, JLD continues to share novel takeaways in this book.

What do you like?

When planning a new creative project or business you should start by making a list of what you like about the projects that inspire you and that you enjoy consuming. Then make a list of what you don’t like. When John Lee Dumas was completing research before launching the the EOFire podcast in 2012 he wrote this list containing his dislikes about many of the other business podcasts:

  • Poor audio quality
  • The hosts rambled and interrupted the guest frequently
  • The hosts repeated stories about themselves that listeners had heard many times (a personal pet peeve of mine…)
  • The guests didn’t share specific stories or experiences, just vague ideas of success and motivation
  • The hosts released new episodes rarely and sporadically
  • The hosts never asked clarifying questions or even seems to acknowledge what the guest had just shared
  • Interviews lasted for forty-five to seventy-five minutes when there was usually less than twenty minutes of actual value.

With his list of likes and dislikes in hand it was easy for JLD to create a new list that he thought would make a fantastic show. (And he was right!) Next, he niched down deeper and deeper until it hurt.

How do you learn to speak your avatar’s language? 

Jon Morrow from SmartBlogger encourages you to select at least ten people that meet your ideal customer segment and record interviews with them, asking:

  • What does your average day look like?
  • Where are you right now in your journey?
  • How do you feel about that?
  • How does your family feel about that?
  • Where are you going?
  • Why did you buy that product?
  • What were you hoping to get out of it?
  • If you were to have a before-and-after photo, what does the after photo look like? Are you sailing the world on a yacht or working at home in your pajamas?

John Lee Dumas adds, “Jon’s definition of winning is capturing more of your avatar’s attention and spend on their objective. Jon has found that his avatar started out just being interest in something and then became more and more sophisticated over time.”

You must find a mentor!

Unless you happen to Skip the Line line as I did, you can forget about having your mentor be your favorite entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson, Jesse Itzler, James Altucher, or Robert Herjavec. They are operating on another plane that will take quite some time for you to get to. 

It’s better to find a mentor that is closer to where you want to be in one year. An individual that has recently gone through what you are going through. 

JLD shares, “In 2012, I wanted to become a successful business podcast host. I sought out and hired a mentor who had been a successful business podcast host for about a year’s time.”

How do you find your perfect mentor?

“First, write out exactly where you want to be in one year’s time [by looking to the future and answering these questions].

  • What have you created?
  • What does your day-to-day look like?
  • Who are you serving?
  • How much revenue are you generating each month?
  • What types of projects are you currently working on?

Now that you have a clear understanding of where you want to be in one year, it’s time to search for your perfect mentor. Your mentor is currently where you want to be in a year’s time, so your goal is to create a list of five individuals that meet these criteria.”

Don’t give up after your first no… You may get a no for many different reasons such as, they don’t have the time, they live within a mindset of scarcity, or they just don’t want to mentor anyone. 

Don’t be discouraged, this is why John Lee Dumas suggests you ask five people to mentor you. If you followed the instructions he shared in the book and foster a genuine connection with these individuals, one of them will say yes.

Form a mastermind group

This one intimidates me because I like to work on my projects in my own time with very little accountability. This lets me slack off and procrastinate. I know I am not growing as quickly as I can, but I am also not letting anyone down. Except for myself. 

Before you can create a mastermind group you must remove the people around you that are holding you back.

You’ve heard the saying you are like the five people you spend the most time with. Well who are those people? Write down their names on a piece of paper and think about each person individually. 

“But who in your top five is a Debbie Downer? Who’s the Don Doolittle? It’s okay if you want to keep them in your life, but if you want uncommon success, they cannot be in your top five. If you want to be the person they whine to about how tough their life is, how unfair their boss is, how tired and depressed they always are, that’s fine, but you’ll never reach uncommon success.

Buy you aren’t willing to be held back from uncommon success, now, are you? Of course not— it’s the name of the gosh dang book!”

John Lee Dumas suggests you look for two or three people whom you respect that are in a similar place on their journey as you are. They don’t have to be in your exact industry, but like you, they need to be trying to improve their productivity and achieve success. If when you find these two or three people, you meet each week and hold each other accountable you will reach a level of success you’ve never had before. 

The Uncommon Path to Uncommon Success gets down and dirty on how you can build your mastermind and includes rules, an agenda, and much much more all designed by John Lee Dumas’s first podcast mentor, Jamie Masters of the Eventual Millionaire Podcast.

Batching, becoming a master, and hiring help

How did JLD record thousands of podcast episodes, launch webinars, courses, books, and still maintain balance in the rest of his life? He claims it is because of his mastery over batching:

“For over 2,500 episodes, this style of batching has treated me well. I implemented this form of batching in every part of my business. Tuesdays were interview days. Wednesdays were for editing, show notes creation, and scheduling the episodes. Thursdays were reserved for miscellaneous tasks that were on my to-do list. Fridays were dedicated to creating the following week’s social media and email broadcasts. Weekends were for relaxing, recharging, and knocking out a few tasks if the opportunity arose. Mondays were focused on setting the tone for the week and ensuring I was totally prepared for what was to come.”

Having his schedule this buttoned up allowed JLD to keep his team very small as the business grew. 

But how do focus on what you do best while keeping your team lean as you grow?

You’ve got to hire the best talent and give them fantastic training. John Lee Dumas says before you can implement systems including hiring employees you’ve got to know how every piece of your business operates. “Henry Ford knew how to build a car from scratch. He had done so many times. Only after he fully mastered every step of the process did he implement an assembly line to make cars faster, better, and more efficiently.”

How do you transfer your expertise to your new team?

“Your first step in creating the systems and building the team that will allow you to grow and scale is to write down everything you do over the course of a week. Be diligent. Keep track of every task you perform and by the end of the week you should have a comprehensive list.

Your next step is to separate the tasks into two lists. List one will contain all the tasks you’ll repeat the following week and list two consists of the onetime tasks you will not repeat.

Dispose of list two.

Now rearrange list one from most time-consuming to least time-consuming. 

Start at the top and identify one of your most time-consuming tasks you’d like to create a system for. Next, write out the step-by-step process of how you accomplish that task. Then, look at the step-by-step process and see if you can identify any unnecessary steps. Remove every unnecessary step until you have the most lean and efficient process you can create.

Next, create a video of you talking and walking through this process. Once you’ve finished, level the video correctly and store it in a folder on your computer labeled Systems.”

JLD encourages you to create at least one training video per week following the above steps. Before you know it you’ll have an entire library of tutorials of the tasks you repeat every week. Now as you build your team you’ll have a library of training videos to get them up to speed. And as you need to replace different team members for one reason or another you’ll confidently know your business will be okay.


You’ve designed content specific to your niche avatar, found a mentor, formed a mastermind group, and you’ve built a team. Your audience is growing quickly and it seems like more people are discovering you and more opportunities are coming your way each day. Now what? 

John Lee Dumas suggests you stay in touch with your audience by holding one on one conversations. When you ask the following questions you will, “keep your finger on the pulse of your audience and reveal potential ideas that will allow you to diversify your income streams”:

  1. How did you discover my content?
  2. What do you want to see more of?
  3. What do you want to see less of?
  4. What is your biggest struggle right now?
  5. If I could give you a magic button that when pressed would reveal the perfect solution to that problem, what would that solution look like?

With these questions and a steady stream of individuals to answer them you will continue to grow your audience, know what their biggest struggles are, and be clear on which of your projects is leaving an impression.

“Uncommon success means that you will thrive in the good times and survive during the lean. Uncommon success means you must create diversified streams of revenue so you can adapt when the economy, Mother Nature, or life in general throws a curveball” 

If you want to stay ahead of the curve I suggest you pickup a copy of John Lee Dumas’s book The Common Path to Uncommon Success. I only began to scratch the surface of the value bombs you will receive throughout this book.

“Looking for permission? Check the mirror. Time and time again, I see people looking to others for permission. Permission to start, permission to stop, permission to breathe. Why do you feel the need to seek permission from others?

On the common path to uncommon success, the only permission you need is from yourself. This is your life, your opportunity, your path. Why should we allow someone else to lead the way? In a single word, don’t.”

Feature image courtesy of Jukan Tateisi.

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