Ep 102: One Core Message with Dan Miller

It’s a revelatory moment — finding that one core message to build your business around. Today we speak with Dan Miller, a New York Times bestselling entrepreneur and the author of 48 Days to the Work You Love. A personal branding pioneer, Dan shares how he created his wildly successful business around his 48-Day concept. A concept that he developed while offering career coaching at Sunday church.

We then talk about Dan’s business model that ranges from offering one-on-one coaching and affiliate commissions to hosting events at his farm. Diving deeper into his subscription-based online community, Dan discusses what his community looks like, the services that he provides them, and how it provides a linear income while requiring very little of his time. We chat about how Dan evolved his brand and his strategy of making products based on his customer’s problems.

We ask Dan about his audience engagement and he explores how he built long-term trust through intentional and organic engagement. As Dan says, he prefers being the tortoise over being the hare. After talking about his lifestyle, Dan reflects on loving your work while being strategic with your time, and the link between having the right system in place and achieving success.

A man ahead of his time, tune in to hear how Dan Miller turned his core message into a flourishing multi-million dollar brand.




  • How Dan Miller became who he is today — it all began as a Sunday School class.
  • Recognizing the need to stand out and building your brand awareness.
  • The importance of having one core message to create your business around.
  • Dan shares specifics on his business model and journey so far.
  • Increasing your brand impact by fostering relationships.
  • Hear why Dan is most excited about his online community.
  • What Dan offers to his online community; his courses and more.
  • Evolving your business with time and aiming to solve your customer’s problems.
  • Understanding your zone of genius and how it can fuel your business.
  • Avoiding volatility by generating long-term and organic engagement.
  • Loving work while being strategic with your time.


“I built everything to come back to that core message. And that’s important — have one core message, not ten. One.” — Dan Miller [0:07:07]

“If three people ask me the same question, I create a product to solve that.” — Dan Miller [0:16:52]

“I’ve always enjoyed working. I hope that the day I die, that I write three new chapters in my current book in the morning, and then go to my funeral in the afternoon.” — Dan Miller [0:24:48] 


Dan is the author of the New York Times best-selling 48 Days To The Work You Love, No More Dreaded Mondays and Wisdom meets Passion. He has been a guest on CBS’ ‘The Early Show,’ MSNBC’s ‘Hardball with Chris Mathews, and the Dave Ramsey Show. Dan has spoken at the White House Christian Fellowship, and is in high demand as an expert on new opportunities in today’s changing workplace.  His 48 Days Podcast consistently ranks in the top 3 under Careers on iTunes, and the 48DaysEagles.com community is viewed as an example around the world for those seeking to find – or create – work they love.  Dan has been married to Joanne for over 52 years.  They have three grown children (who all host podcasts) and seventeen grandchildren and live on 9 beautiful acres in rural Franklin Tennessee.  


Speaker 1: (00:06) [Inaudible] RV: (00:06) Over the years, I would say it’s been delightful and inspiring to get to know Dan and Joanne Miller. Dan was one of the very first mentors I sat down with when we moved to Nashville now 10 years ago. And I reached out to him because I heard of him and knew of his, his influence. And he’s the New York times bestselling author of a book called 48 days to the work you love, which just released the 20th anniversary hardcover edition, which is pretty amazing. That book has been in hard cover and still so successful after all these years. He’s also written other books. No no more dreaded Mondays wisdom meets passion. He’s been on CBS early show hardball with Chris Matthews. He’s been on the Dave Ramsey show. He’s spoken at the white house and, you know, he, he has a huge podcast. RV: (00:57) It’s usually like in the top two, three, five, every, every single week for careers under career podcasts on iTunes. And he’s just built an amazing community, the 48 days Eagles dot com. It’s like a community and he’s, they’ve built a business out of it. It’s given them an amazing lifestyle. And I just wanted to give you a chance to meet Dan and hear some of his philosophies about how they’ve done it and the behind the scenes journey, because I, I think of him and, and Joanne of just having more than prosperity, having peace and joy and happiness and just as well as profound impact in addition to money and influence that I think a lot of us aspire to. So anyways, Dan, thanks for making some time for us. Thanks was looking forward to, this has been too long since we had a conversation is going to be awesome. RV: (01:53) Yeah. And I, you know, the other times I’ve interviewed you for like, you know, our other old podcasts and stuff was really kind of about your work. And I, I feel like I kind of called in a favor to say, Hey, would you talk to us today more about, less about your expertise? Kind of, although there’s a lot of overlap and more about how did you become, you know, what you are today? Cause you were a personal brand long before personal branding was ever a term like you were building a digital community long before that was ever popular. And so can you just tell us, like, how did you get, how did you get started? You know, this is before social media was really around and like, this is before all of this, you know, what we know today is are the, the essential tenants of a personal brand. You were doing it long, long before. So can you talk to us about that a little bit? DM: (02:47) Absolutely. Yeah. And I was around doing things, building the business before we had hogs podcast and Instagram and Facebook and Pinterest and all those things. It can Be done. Those are just tools and we’re thankful for them, but I started what I’m doing today as a Sunday school class at our church in Nashville. And it was just a class on career life transition. A lot of people were going through unexpected unwelcomed, kind of transitions. And church asked me if I would do that. My academic background is in clinical psychology. I said, sure. Now the interesting thing about that is that I expected to have the 22 year old had just lost his job at burger King, you know, show up in frustrated, what do I do next? We had a few of those. We also had dentists physicians, attorneys, pastors, engineers, accountants, who showed up and said, everybody sees me as successful and I’m doing okay, but I don’t think this is it. So it was that kind of board that I don’t think I’m on track that was so such an obvious need and an immense need caused me to move into this space. DM: (03:58) Well, I didn’t anticipate originally this being a business. I mean, I’m an entrepreneur. I can go make money in a lot of ways. I’m a sales guy, but this was so explosive that finally with Joanne, my wife’s insistence, if I was going to spend so much time in this, that ought to have something to do with our income, that I started looking at opportunities. There put together a real rudimentary form of my Sunday school notes in the three ring binder. And we started selling those like crazy, but I immediately recognized the need. How do you make this stand out? There’s a lot of material out there on careers, on starting a business, finding your passion, all of that. How do you make this stand out? So I was way back then experimenting with what is the catch phrase? You know, I had 30 days to the work you have. DM: (04:47) Well, 30 is just a generic number. It’s like seven, 10 30, 90, 180. And this was back when 48 hours was becoming popular as a TV show. And I said, I’ll bet I can get some brand recognition. If I use that number 48, wasn’t very scientific. Roy. Wasn’t very thoughtful, but I just did it as a marketing technique, just as let’s try this. We started sending out 48 peppermint patties with every order that we were sending out. And that became something that was really iconic that people recognized and expected, but it was so powerful. It really was like somebody threw gasoline on my business because it was something that got their attention and thus what you do with branding. So 48 days now, here’s how that, you know, gonna close the gap here. I mean, I’m still known as a career coach. So if you put in career coaching in a Google search, you’re going to get 13, 14 million sites. DM: (05:46) I’m sure I’m in there somewhere, but I don’t really care where you put in 48 days. Just that nothing else. I own it. I’m going to own the first couple of pages of Google, not because of fancy SEO or buying ads or anything just because I’m the guy who says not just, well, we’ll figure this out. When the kids graduate, when you get another degree, when you finished paying a mortgage, no, I’m the guy who says you can change your life dramatically in 48 days. If you create a plan and act on it. So I discovered that 20 years ago, and that was so powerful. And so I’ve built everything and celery products all come back to that core message. And that’s important as well. One core message, not 10 different messages, one core message, figure out how God has uniquely gifted you. What’s it going to look like on Monday morning? That’s the message I’ve built from that all these years. RV: (06:42) It seems like you recognize also the problem was a big part of like you recognized early on. Wow. People are really struggling to find purpose. Like they’re really struggling to find sort of their sort of their career identity. So what’s, what is your business model? So you mentioned career coach, and I think, you know, I know a lot of people who kind of think of you in that space, cause that’s like, you know, a lot of, kind of what you’re writing about career transition or you have written about what’s your actual business model. Like how, how do you make money? And then also give us a sense of how that’s evolved over time. And and, and also when did you start this, right? Like how many years ago did you start on this journey? You know, so that we’ve got some perspective cause we got some people that are pretty experienced and then we’ve also got people who are brand new beginners, you know, just trying to kind of figure it out and find their way. DM: (07:36) Well, I started this really about 22 years ago when I started teaching that Sunday school class and the low hanging fruit. So to speak in terms of monetization was coaching. People want said, man, can you meet with me? You know, help me review revise. RV: (07:55) One-On-One you’re talking like one on one coaching. DM: (07:57) Absolutely. So initially I was co when I made the transition and stop the other things I was doing to do just this, I was coaching five days a week, five days a week because the needs were so immense. And here’s the thing about building a brand. I could still be doing that today. The needs of certainly not diminished, they’ve increased, but today, well, starting then, as soon as I started develop other parts of my business, I went to four days to three days to two days today I dedicate one day a month to personal coaching because the other parts, my business have grown now, what has, what has happened there? You know, as you know, as you mentioned at the brand new addition to 48 days to the work you love out as a book. But when I do my projections financially, even though I have a New York times bestselling book and others, lots of others out there too, I project zero in income income directly from a book is so elusive. DM: (09:01) You can’t really do a whole lot to make it happen. I feel like it’s kind of, you know, getting, getting an ice cream cone when those royalty checks come, but I don’t place any direct focus on that, but I use the message and leverage it in other ways. So we have a course that goes with that an online course in person course, other insulary products that we’ve got with that. And because I have a clear core message, I do get requests for speaking. So there’s that, you know, universities contact me a lot for speaking and then there’s live events. Cause right now we’ve changed that model. But we have lots of live events that are really popular. We’ve been doing those at the sanctuary, which you know, is just a barn on our property and Franklin. We, we say we limit those to 48 people. We usually have 60 there. We can kind of cram 60 in that little space. And we were doing seven of those a year, 70 events. People pay a thousand dollars each for those. So 60 times, seven times, RV: (10:09) Hold on, I want to capture this. So you said, so you’re saying seven events a year and six 60 people, DM: (10:19) Right? RV: (10:20) So you’re talking about 420 people, right? 60 times seven DM: (10:27) I’m thousand dollars. So there’s that property on our property and dollars just right there. That’s right. So no, you know, no overhead, no hotel fees. We could handle our own catering. We’d have a lot of fun. We’d have famous, Dave’s show up with their red truck and do live barbecue right on our property and just fun things like that. But our overhead was extremely low. So it did that. And then affiliate commissions, you know, nurturing relationships. My goodness right now I’m doing a lot of interviews. Well, I set out like 50 packets, like I said to you for this book. And I didn’t send those to anybody who I don’t have a longterm relationship with. So you talked about our friendship goes back 10 years. That’s pretty typical. So if I send it to John Lee Dumas or Pat Flynn or Dave Ramsey or Michael Hyatt, you know, those are all people that I know. DM: (11:21) I didn’t just send these out cold and say, Hey, interview me zero of those. These are the people that I know. So I sent those out. I’ve already booked I think 36 interviews as a result of that. So there’s that kind of exponential impact on my brand that comes easily when I’ve developed a relationship. So for years, and then affiliate commissions, the same kind of thing. So a free Edwards is promoting is a copywriting Academy. You know, I promote that. Well, I think the last time I did that one in particular, I think I got $26,000. So, you know, affiliate commissions are another way there. And then the biggest thing, the thing I’m most excited about right now is our online community. So what we talking about though, is having, RV: (12:08) Is that, is that a membership? Is this like a membership model? DM: (12:11) Yes. Yes. It’s $48 a month. We just went with my signature number $40 a month. But it’s where people who know they have an idea they want to pursue, they want to develop it. They can link arms with other people who were in the same path where there’s a generous sharing of ideas and resources. So they’re in that now it’s fairly new for us. We have about 1100 people in there right now. And I’m very quickly focused on growing that to 2,500 people. Well, again, if you do the math on that, you know, 2,500 people, $40 a month, that’s another, that’s a million dollar revenue stream there and doesn’t require a whole lot of me, but it’s those things that have allowed me then to go from coaching, something that requires all of my time and effort and also something that requires that generates linear income. I do at once get paid ones into these models where there’s continuity, where there’s ongoing revenue and things that require very little, my time RV: (13:14) [Inaudible]. So I love that. So you’ve built into that. So you started as service model and then you moved. Can you give me an idea with the courses? Do you do one course for every book or do you just have one course and are, are your courses like, you know, higher price ones or lower price ones? Or have you done like a little bit of all of them? Like give us a sense, a sense of that, because it seems like if you, if you’re doing one on one coaching and then that teaches you a lot of content, cause you’re working and then you go, okay, let me put that into a book and you go, if I wrote a book, now I can produce a course. So do you have like one flagship or do you have multiple ones? DM: (13:52) The 40 days to work you love online seminar is, is really what I would call our flagship course. So there is that, but we have other courses and I am quick to throw out a course. I mean, I’ll put together a course. We have a lot of courses that are $48. How to start a business with 15 hours a week, how to overcome your upper upper limit challenge in those are things I’m doing one right now, I’m going to put together on how to hack cars. So you can drive exotic cars without cost you any money. But I put together courses and in, in having an audience, having an audience that pays attention, I can put things out there and there’s a ready receptance of those. I don’t have to do some fancy, you know, click funnel, launch to get it out there and surprise a lot of people who never heard about me. Now we do a lot of just gentle releases inside our community. And then they spread the word to what goes beyond that. RV: (14:55) So on those courses. So you’ll see like the flagship course versus a $48 course, like just a quick one. How much time is there a big time difference in the content like is, is and I just mean like recorded time. So like if I buy your flagship course, how many hours, you know, do I need to have versus if it’s like, okay, it’s a, it’s a $48 course on something that’s like kind of fun and fast, you know, is there a big difference? Is it, is it the, is it the topic that determines the price point or is it kind of more of like the volume of, you know, training hours that are in the course? DM: (15:36) Some of both we consider 48 days to really be that big, the big, the big bear, you know, that, that really covers a lot in there. I have 48 videos of the, usually four to six minutes. So they’re short, but in that to really go through it, you know, you need to be prepared to spend 20 hours to really go through that. That’s two 97 is what we charge for that, those that are $48 or $17. You know, some of those you can go through in two hours, so there’s much less content. It’s a very specific topic that we’re addressing. Gotcha. RV: (16:16) In a couple and just a couple hours, but that’s, I mean, that’s really interesting. You’ve, you’ve built a flagship course on something that’s a few hundred bucks. It’s not a thousand dollars or $2,000. And like you’ve been over the course of time here just to kind of steadily grow and grow. Like, is that how you would, you would describe your business as just like a, a snowball that kind of just has been steadily growing and then over, you know, years you look back and go, wow, this has grown to be something pretty, pretty amazing. DM: (16:47) Yeah, it is, you know, a lot of what I’ve done and this is almost embarrassing to admit as a business guy, you know, I didn’t sit down and really create a strategic plan, have my big whiteboard up and all about this. This has really evolved around me because I keep responding to things that people I asked for. One of the mantras that has served me really well is if three people ask me the same question, I create a product to solve that. Wow. So a lot of this, and it’s only been my goodness in as much as I’ve been doing this, you know, 20 years, it’s only been in the last three or four years that I brought in as strategists to really help us map out what we’re doing, but there’s been so much just responding to what people are asking for. And we had those, I mean, I didn’t intend to do live events. DM: (17:40) And then people were asking me, how did you do what you’ve done with 48 days to the work you love? And while I’m telling people and over and over again, I decided it’d be easier to tell people, sitting in a room to do that same way with coaching. How have you become recognized as the coach that you are? Well, we started teaching people now one of our flagship training programs is coaching mastery where people come in and it’s a six month program, $4,800 come in. And again, the economy of scale, we have people in a group we’re going through that at any given time. We walk them through, there’s a weekly call. They have to document, they have to go through this certification coaching one-on-one, which is online training that I’ve done. So it doesn’t require my time. And then they have to document 48 hours of paid coaching. DM: (18:35) And that’s really a distinctive element because there are a lot of coaching certification programs out there where you buy the videos and you’re certified that breaks my heart. You know, how do we measure competence in that? So we require 48 hours of documented where I listened to recordings and all that on, on that to get somebody certified, but it’s responding to what people are asking for and in doing so, I keep seeing these new areas of things that are developing as major business legs for us. And the interesting thing is, I mean, right now we know live events have been decimated well, fortunately we’ve got a whole lot of other things in place that have been accelerated in this period of time. Sure. But the interesting thing is as well, if I anticipate what I want my business to look like three years from now, there are some core components that will certainly be continuing, but I am confident there’s going to be new things that I can’t even imagine yet. DM: (19:40) That to me, that’s really exciting. So I use as my business model, a Venn diagram with three circles. So they overlap in the center, are my books. My writing, my writing is my first love. That’s, that’s my zone of genius. That’s where I want to spend more and more time, but those don’t create money directly, but they fuel the growth of everything else we have in place as part of our business model. But having that Venn diagram then allows seven distinct areas. So that at any given time, one of those can be on the bubble. Is this going to continue or not? But replacing it, doesn’t put us back starting over. It’s simply a small component of continuing to move forward. RV: (20:30) So in terms of your audience, like you mentioned it you know, I think there’s such a, there’s such a craze around social media, you know, and, and that, and, and you’re not someone that, I mean, you’ve got a social media following, but you’re not someone that it’s like, you go, Oh yeah, this guy is he’s, he’s the killer. He’s the King of online influence. So you’ve been building your community in some other way. I’m going to presume as more of like the email list and the podcast. So could you just talk about how you what’s, what are some of your philosophies around building that audience? Cause that’s, that is how I think of you is you have this community that you’ve built a longterm relationship with longterm trust. You’re not always pitching them the next highest dollar thing. It’s low dollar things consistently that provide value. RV: (21:24) The soft launches. They’re not like these huge, like blitzes where everyone in the world hears about them. It’s like very casual and, and, and in a nurturing relationship. And I think that’s, that’s just a philosophy that I think is not as many people hear about. I mean, the other one certainly can, can generate a lot of income and be successful too. But I feel like everything you do is more kind of just like graceful. And I, I don’t know that it’s, that slower is not the right word, but it’s more like organic and maybe slower is the word it’s not rut. It doesn’t feel rushed all the time. DM: (22:00) You are exactly right. And I do that very intentionally. Is it tempting to jump on the bandwagon with some of the news, social media things we’ve got where you can do, you know, a $2 million launch? Yeah, it is. But I resist a lot of what I see in those spaces and the way that they use slick sales copy, oughta, hype, urgency, all those things in artificial ways to move people into making a decision. And what I see that also, you know, I hear from people who do a launch like that, and then they have a 30 to 40% refund rate. You gotta be kidding me. I mean, we, you know, we track like with mail order, you can anticipate like 12 to 15% returns just buyer’s remorse. You know how that goes. We’ve never hit 1% in what we do. And what that means is are we missing some of those big infusions of cash? DM: (23:09) Yeah, absolutely. I recognize that I liked the other way around, you know, in our community and in online communities tend to be really volatile. People come in and you know, stick their toe in the water. And two months later they’re gone in shirt is horrendous. That’s not true in my community. We have people who come in and they’re going to be there for a life. They just stay. I have people who have purchased everything I’ve ever done. So they started with an $8 audio. They moved into a $297 course. They came to a live event, you know, then they went through coaching mastery. Then they want to have access to my mastermind. You know, they’ve spent 30, $40,000 with me, but it’s been over a period of time. Not all at once. We’ve looked at that. And again, boy, is it tempting with some of these things, but we did well, I just prefer the tortoise and the Hare. Remember that kid’s story. RV: (24:16) So to dive in on that a little bit, cause I, you know, when I think of like, you know, the different mentors that I have in my life and, and that agent and I’ve had over the years, you know, I think a lot of my life is driven by kind of, you know, like my early development is ambition and success and hustle and drive and even, you know, my own book self-discipline and taking the stairs and you guys are really, I feel like are like a counterbalancing force in our life, which is more like harmony peace you know, like pace lifestyle. And can you talk a little bit about that? Like, just in terms of how much you work and, and, and was there, was it more like there was a season when all you did was hustle and it was like, you know, do the Gary Vaynerchuk work until your eyeballs bleed and then you kinda got to a point where you pulled it back or have you always just kinda been like steady Eddie kind of plugging along, but doing other stuff and like, you know, having, I don’t know, I don’t really love the word balance necessarily, but you know, more, more pursuits outside of just like driving the entrepreneurial success story. DM: (25:32) I’ve always hustled. I kind of resist that word because of what it seems to imply, but I’ve always been a hard worker. I’ve always been disciplined. I enjoy work. There is no way that I am trying to get to four hour workweek. It’s just not on the horizon at all. I have zero desire to ever get there. I hope the day I die, you know, that I write three new chapters in my current book in the morning and then go to my funeral in the afternoon. I have no desire to pare down, but now that being said, I’m very strategic about how I use my time. So let me give you a quick example. Mondays are I take care of anything having to do with business? So meetings with my team, always on Monday benders, considering new software, whatever those things all take place on Monday, Tuesday is my coaching day. DM: (26:29) So any coaching calls I have happened, then I have our coaching mastery call call with my personal mastermind. All this kind of things happen on Tuesday, Monday morning, I do my podcast, I that magic mailbox with mr questions. And I put my podcasts together Wednesday afternoon, I’m available for interviews. So I usually do three or four interviews on Wednesday afternoons. That’s the only time Thursday and Friday, no appointments, no commitments. Those are dedicated to at Cal Cal Newport calls, deep work, deep work. That’s when I think and write, I love. And to me looking at the course of my week like that, I mean, it’s like, you know, salivating to get to the piece of key lime pie. That’s what it’s like for me to get to Thursday and Friday, because I love that so much, but those are days. And inevitably there’s an opportunity. Gee, we want to get together for a committee meeting. Do we want to have you come to this conference or whatever? No, I’m more protective of those two days than anything. Now, to me that provides the kind of harmony that I want my weekly schedule. So I’m not overbooked. I’m not rushing around. I’m not, you know, crazy with, you know, things on top of each other. And so in rushing in and out, I live a very casual life. I’m pretty introverted. So I’m not looking for lots of things, just immerse me in crowds. And I have a really peaceful life. RV: (28:11) I mean, it’s, it’s a wonderful thing. And it’s just your, your home is peaceful. Your relationships are peaceful. And I just, I really think it’s it’s a different energy about how you’ve done it. And yet it’s been hugely successful. It’s given you everything and more, I think that you ever originally set out to do. I mean, beyond DM: (28:35) I, I’m still humbled in recognizing that on a decent day, I make more money than my dad ever made in a year. That’s pretty astounding. You know, I’m a simple farm kid, but I recognize the power of having, having a system in place systems that work for you systems that create residual income. And it allows a freedom that is just hard to have imagined even 20 years ago. And one of the things that comes up a lot roar, and you, you, you’ve alluded to this. A lot of what I get contacted for today is not how to grow your Facebook likes by another 20,000 people, how to get more bog hours or how to launch product. There’s a whole lot of guys out there and your generation that can do a better job with that than I, but I get contacted a whole lot by your generation saying, how can I make sure I create the kind of life that you enjoy and are living now that I don’t screw this up? Just recently, I had worked with the young guy who went from $50,000 a year in one year to two to 1.3 million and is looking to grow that there’s a tendency in that to sabotage it, if you aren’t careful. And he’s saying, how can I protect the things that matter most to me, even though I don’t have to get up and hustle to make another buck this afternoon? RV: (30:05) Yeah. Well that DM: (30:07) Is an RV: (30:09) Awesome perspective. And I think a different perspective that we don’t, we don’t hear enough of Dan, where do you want people to go? If they want to kind of plug in and see how you do it and what you do, and maybe join in as a being led by you? Where, what where would you direct them? DM: (30:25) Well, I appreciate that we created a really cool page for your listeners. They go to 48 days.com/rory, and you’ll see samples of the new book. There’s a quiz there. How close are you to living your best life? I really love that and just free resources. They can go there and circles, see other things we’re doing. RV: (30:48) I love it. We’ll put a link to 48 days.com/rory. You could go check that out. Damn. We wish you the best we miss you at Tennessee. I know you’re down there in Florida now, but thank you so much for your, for your, for your wisdom and, and and just your perspective in your friendship. DM: (31:04) Hey, always my pleasure, Roy. Thanks. [inaudible].

follow us on
social media

get 30 days free access to our online summit

Request a Free Strategy Call

Get clear on who you want to become and how you will make more money.
free training

monetize your personal brand

with Rory Vaden and Lewis Howes
free video course

First Step to Famous

get our free video course when you subscribe to receive our weekly email updates

Subscribe to
The Podcast!


5.0 – 154 Ratings

Free Online Summit

25 of the World's Most Recognizable Influencers Share Their Tips on How to Build and Monetize a Personal Brand

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap