John Lee Dumas, host of the award-winning podcast Entrepreneurs on Fire, joins Tom Fox on the last installment of Looking Back at 9/11 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. He tells Tom how his life changed in that pivotal moment, and the big lessons he learned. 



A Time of War

John tells Tom that he was in his final year at Providence College, and in the ROTC cadets, on 9/11. When he saw the towers fall, he knew at once that it would change the trajectory of his career. He and his roommate looked at each other and they knew “that our next four years of active duty army experience went from being in the peacetime army to looking like we were going to war.” Within hours they were called to active duty: “We just became officers in the US army during a time of war,” John recalls.


Leadership Lessons from the Army

Tom asks John what leadership lessons he learned from his time in the army. John outlines three major takeaways that his time in combat taught him:

  1. To learn from those who went before. “I learned right at the beginning, I needed to stand upon the shoulders of giants,” he remarks.
  2. A good decision now is better than a great decision later. Action is everything. Make the best decision you can with the information you have, take action, then adjust if you need to when you know more.
  3. If you discover later on that you made a wrong decision, cut your losses and move on. Don’t compound that mistake by staying in a bad place, John advises. “I kept being willing to pull back and say let’s try again, until I finally made a great decision. It took six years to make my first great decision, but that great decision has led to the last 10 years of living the exact life that I want to live.”


What Americans Should Remember

John wants Americans to appreciate their freedom, because it was hard won. He tells listeners, “So few people have ever experienced what true lawlessness is. And until you’ve experienced that, it’s hard to really appreciate what we do have here. But you know, this is a great country and it is the home of the free because of the brave. And I hope that’s just something that we will always remember.”



John Lee Dumas: Entrepreneurs on Fire | Twitter