This is Morty Lefkoe, with another edition of the weekly podcast, Conversations with Top Personal Development Bloggers. Every week, we have a conversation with a blogger, who has a slightly different take on personal development. There’s so much valuable material being offered by personal development bloggers. This is the best place to find out which ones might provide you with just what you are looking for. What’s unique about each blogger? Why they started writing their blog? How their personal experiences informed their writing? Why you want to be reading their blog, and lots more.


Dragos Roua

Dragos Roua

Today, I have the pleasure to speak to Dragos Roua.

Morty: You’ve got a very interesting blog. I was just skimming through it earlier today, and what’s the name of it? What do you call it, Dragos?

Dragos: Dragos is my first name. First of all, thank you for inviting me. Thank you for having me here. It’s a great honor. I want to salute your audience. Dragos is just a name, but Roua actually means, morning dew.

Morty: What is the name of your website?

Dragos: My name, dragosroua.com.

Morty: Okay.

Dragos: Okay, that’s my website, dragosroua.com.

Morty: Got it, thank you. What was the impetus to start writing your blog? What got you started?

Dragos: It’s a long story. I will start my story around my early thirties. Around my early thirties, I’ve started to think about what I am going to do with my life. Until my thirties, I was kind of drifting around. I was working in a radio station, because it happens that I have a good voice for radio. Actually, I was living by reading out loud, not providing much value to other people. But around the age of thirty, combined with a lot of interesting events in my personal life, I decided to start a company.

Basically, when I was thirty, I started my own company. I became an entrepreneur. I started an online publishing company. I started when I was twenty-nine. Nine years later, in 2008, I sold that company. The moment I sold that company, I started to blog about personal development. I decided to blog about my experience of being an entrepreneur and what I learned about being an entrepreneur. I started to write about my experiments in becoming vegan. For instance, I was a vegan for nine months and I blogged about it. Also, all sorts of crazy things like 30-day challenges, and also about my trips. I traveled around the world twice. I also spent a lot of time in New Zealand and Asia. Right now, I’m based in Eupress, Romania. I still continue to write, but I’m also having other projects in real life.

Morty: Okay, so you’ve been writing this since 2008, you say?

Dragos: Yes. Actually, the impulse of starting to blog was related to me selling the company because I was having a Non-Compete Agreement. After you sell the company, you sign a two years Non-Compete Agreement. I took two sabatical years in which I didn’t do any business related to Romania on the online market. I started to write in English, a blog about personal development and this is how I ended up writing a personal development blog in English, in order not to tamper with the results with my exit.

Morty: I got it, okay. What was your background in personal development? What made you go from Internet publishing, business and entrepreneur, to writing about personal development? What was your background?

Dragos: My only qualities as you may see in the blog are curiosity and stubbornness. This bynum of curiosity and stubbornness made me undertake a lot of different challenges. Basically, I’m very curious about stuff and a very stubborn to follow one thing until I get to the bottom of it. This is how I did with my business.

I became an entrepreneur starting with nothing. I had no knowledge about whatsoever, about running a business, about online field, or about coding. I started to code by myself. I started to learn English by studying online documentation about how to write code and now write proficiently in three programming languages.

I started to write about personal development because there were a lot of things that were quite in sync with the general way of seeing entrepreneurship, like competition, which I don’t think it’s very well understood right now. I go more for connection which is a very different thing. I try to do business based on connection and not on competition, basically because I wanted to share my experience of going ups and downs, and providing value and inspiration to other people.

Don’t think I provide advice, because I don’t believe in advice. I wanted to live a life that’s filled with nice experience. Those experience may get people to pursue their goals, their dreams and start a life of free, instead of following a frozen path of going to job every day and becoming a modern slave.

Morty: Okay. Basically, it’s all the experiences you had in creating your company, your personal experiences, what you’ve learned about yourself and about life, is basically the experiences that you draw and write in your blog, and obviously, the experiences that you have had since then, right?

Dragos: Yes, precisely.

Morty: Who would you say your typical audiences are? Do you have any idea what your demographics are and who reads your blog?

Dragos: Yes, I have my top three countries are the US, UK and Romania. I’m still having big followers from Romania and my fourth country is India. There’s quite a balance between men and women. I have forty-five men and fifty-five women. They are all between twenty-five and forty-five. They are all interested either in entrepreneurship, freelancing or other interesting stuff.

I wrote a lot about my other experiences like starting to run for nothing and then I finished two marathons. And then, I’m preparing for an ultra marathon and Ironman next year. I also started to learn tango and right now I also teach Argentine tango. I started three years ago and I just tango since one and a half year. All those experiences are giving me a lot of insights and a lot of material to write and expose a lot of new experiences.

Morty: Very good, very interesting. How often do you post, Dragos?

Dragos: I used to post three times a week in the early days. Right now, I write only when I have something important like four to six times a month. The blog is still floating and is floating very well because there are a lot of blog posts that are very well linked, very good SEO. Some of them became viral, some of them became books.

I wrote nine books. Right now, I only go through a more being in sync approach, rather than being disciplined. To get here, I was disciplined for the first three years of blogging. I wrote like three times a week like clockwork.

Morty: How would you describe what’s unique about your blog. If you’re taking the personal growth bloggers, or is there a particular thing about your blog that you would say is unique?

Dragos: Yes. I think it’s something related to the fact that I’m myself. It’s something that is related to my own experience and to my whole life experiences. I think you don’t need to create a niche about something. You don’t need to create a niche of being true. You don’t need to create a niche about your own personality or your own experiences. That’s what makes you unique. The fact that you write about what’s unique about you.

If you want to know a few strong points that are making me quite interesting, or nice to follow, nice to see, or inspiring is maybe the fact that I am an entrepreneur for fourteen years right now in Iran, constantly. I also dance tango. Those three combine together, I think they are quite a unique combination in the market.

Morty: I think so. Has anybody particularly influenced your thinking or are there any role models, anybody you’ve read or taken a workshop with that has had pretty big influence on you? Who are some of these people?

Dragos: I’ve been very inspired by the work of Tita Lina back in 2005, 2006, 2007. I actually went to a workshop, to the first workshop of Steve back in 2009. Right until I sold my company, I said, “Okay, now it’s time for me to travel. I’m going to go to the United States.” There’s also a very nice story about how I got my visa because it’s quite difficult to get your visa for United States. Just very briefly, I will tell you the story because it’s very interesting.

As you know, Steve is located in Las Vegas, so I bought my early bird ticket to the conference, I bought my plane ticket and then I realized, “Oh man, I don’t have a visa.” I went to the Embassy of US in Eupress. I stayed in line and four out of five people were rejected. They didn’t get a visa. They had all the questions lined up, they had all the papers but they were rejected. No reason given whatsoever.

I get to the counter and a nice person asked me, “What are you going to do in Las Vegas sir?” I said, “I am going to the personal development workshop.” He looks at me and asked, “Precisely how much personal development are you going to take during that week, Sir?” I said, “Sir, I’m going to take as much personal development as I can. I assure you about that.” He gave me the visa instantly.

That’s how I got my visa for Steve’s workshops. That’s how I got there. Steve was a big influence to me. I got to meet Steve in Romania last year and we also worked together. We organized the workshop here, an event, and I actually had the honor of introducing Steve to the audience. I was the host of the event that he had in Romania. Other than that, I think Tim Ferris has a very interesting approach. I read it every now and then. I also had a group of support people.

When I started to blog, I didn’t look at Leo Babauta. Leo was a very big name at that time. I didn’t look at Steve. I didn’t want to get through them, like becoming their apprentice or something. I started to create my own group of bloggers who were at the same level. We grew together. I’m going to give you at least three names: Celestine Chua from Singapore, Edelyn Lim from Singapore, and Steven Aitchison, who is the biggest personal development blogger in UK. He started as the biggest in UK.

Morty: I know Steve Olson.

Dragos: Yeah, also Steve Olson. That’s what got me inspired.

Morty: Very good. Yeah, I know Steve Pavlina also. He’s a friend of mine. I remember him telling me when he was in Europe that several people set up workshops for them. They were very excited about it. The one you set up you was one of them. That was great.

Dragos: Yeah. He was a very interesting story, very serendipitous. It just happened. In like nine days. We put together workshops with people coming from five different countries, like 50 people paying huge fees to get there.

Morty: That’s exciting.

Dragos. Yeah, it is.

Morty: Do you have a long-term goal for your blog? Is there something you like to achieve with the blog itself?

Dragos: No, not with the blog but with my life.

Morty: Okay.

Dragos: As long as the blog is the reflection of my life, that’s good. The blog in itself, it’s not a mean to an end. It’s something that I use. It’s something that reflects my life day to day, something that I use to refine my skills of writing, of becoming a more skilled writer, of refining my English skills, because I didn’t have any English class in my life. All the English I’ve learned, I’ve learned by myself.

Morty: You did a pretty good job. You’re doing fine here.

Dragos: Thanks a lot. You’re kind. The long-term goal is to reflect my life as clearly as possible and to become an inspiration to other people. And help me express myself ultimately. That’s why we are here on this earth, to express ourselves, to give our measure what we’re capable of.

Morty: Very good. Thank you. Do you accept comments on your blog?

Dragos: Yes, I do. I have a few viral posts that I told you about, especially [inaudible] post. They are starting from thirty-three items up to one hundred items. They tend to get viral. I have like more than three hundred comments on those posts at some point. They became a little bit of a drag because Google gave a penalty to a page because it loaded very slow because of those comments. But right now I get comments, I enabled comments. For good posts, I get ten to twenty comments.

Morty: Do you respond to them generally?

Dragos: Yeah, absolutely.

Morty: Okay, good. I got to the point that I can’t answer all of them anymore. I respond to the ones where there’s a question, or whether there’s some interesting insight, or whether they misinterpreted me, the ones where there’s just somebody saying what they think. I was answering them all, but I just started to run out of time. It’s very good that you can.

Do you have a mission in life yourself other than to live your life fully as you just said? Is there some sort of mission?

Dragos: Yeah, there’s a personal mission to my life that I need to live something like a boldly and courageous life and be an inspiration to other people. We’re not perfect. We, entrepreneur, we are people that are considered to be successful. We are not perfect. We are actually as human as any other person. We also have peaks and valleys. We also have depression. We also have lack of motivation. We also have a lot of dark times in our lives.

If there’s one mission to my personal mission, is to show other people that you can become successful, not by avoiding those pitfalls, but by going through them. Accept them. Integrate them into your life. Know all these obstacles. “There’s no peak without a valley,” they say. If there will be one personal mission, it’s to tell the people that after valley, there will always be some peak. Don’t get stuck to the bottom of the valley. Find something inspiring and keep climbing.

Morty: Got it, okay. It sounds like the essence of your message.

Dragos: Yeah.

Morty: What’s the single most important thing you’ve told people that you think has made the difference in their lives?

Dragos: The single most important thing that I’ve told to the people?

Morty: Yeah, that you think have made a difference to people.

Dragos: In people?

Morty: Yeah, is there any particular message of all the things you’ve said that you think has made the biggest difference in people’s lives?

Dragos: Yeah, there is. I don’t think it’s a personal message. There is a couple of posts that became viral. Their still the big part of the traffic of my blog, they’re called, “100 Ways to Live a Better Life,” and there’s a counterpart which is called, “100 Ways to Screw Up Your Life.” Basically, they are like a mirror or something. Those wall posts became viral like hours after I wrote them back in 2009. They’re still the essence of the blog. The traffic of the blog, I get roughly 1000 unique visitors each day to the blog. A lot of the traffic goes to those posts again.

Based on those posts, I wrote two books based on those posts. I self-published through Amazon. They got translated into Korean and Farsi. They are actually distributed in Iran. People are reading them. People are saying, “This book has made a huge difference.” I sold 6000 copies in Korea and I’ve never been there. I’ve never been to Korea. Everything was done through mail and through e-mail. I think the essence of the messages is in those two blog posts. Those blog posts keep attracting people to my blog. They are obviously making a difference in those lives.

Morty: Congratulations, that’s exciting.

Dragos: Thanks!

Morty: In the URL, I think you’ve just told this.

Dragos: Dragosroua.com

Morty: D-R-A-G-O-S-R-O-U-A dot com?

Dragos: Yeah. That’s my name.

Morty: Got it. Is there anything else that you’d like our audience to know about you or your blog so that they might be able to decide that this is the guy worth spending some time with? Anything you haven’t said, you may have covered already but this is just sort of a catchall. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

Dragos: Yeah. I’d like to add something about my books. Did you know that Steve, about one or two years ago, uncopyrighted all his writing? I wrote nine books and self-published all of them. The topics on these books are motivation, inspiration, personal productivity. I created my own personal productivity framework which is something that goes, in my opinion, on top of GDP. There’s also a block of 30 sentences for a millionaire’s mindset, that’s something that I’ve learned by selling my company. All those books are not uncopyrighted but right now are distributed for free.

There’s a new one distributing my books that started back in June. Actually, people can download all the books from my website. Read them for free. If they think it is worth a contribution, something they want to give back for what they read, they can do this. They have a link inside the book and inside the PDF. They can send money back. If it did not, if they consider that it wasn’t something valuable for them, they are free not to do it. Basically, I give the content first, and if they want to pay, they pay as much as they like. That’s something that may draw some people.

There are nine self-improvement books. Like I said, two of them are translated in a lot of languages. I only told you about Korean and Farsi, but it’s also translated in Japanese and Dutch. That would be it. There’s a lot of stuff that we can talk about because there’s a lot of stuff right now. I created a co-working space in Eupress that I’m managing right now, that’s my latest business that has started in April. I have a real place where people are coming to meet and start their new business. There are a few start-ups that are already located there and I also host a weekly event called, Open Connect, in which I have around 80 to 100 persons coming each Thursday. They’re pitching their ideas.

There’s a lot of stuff going on. I think people should go there and pick whatever they feel they got. Just go there and see if there’s something interesting. There’s a lot more than what’s covered here.

Morty: You’re a fascinating guy doing a lot of really interesting things.

Dragos: Thank you.

Morty: I encourage everybody listening to this to at least spend a few minutes, go take a look at a couple of the blog posts of Dragos has put up. Take a look of some of these free e-books and see if you hear somebody that speaks to you with his voice, somebody that you respond to. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it. Over there in Romania, I guess it’s pretty late over there now.

Dragos: It’s okay.

Morty: It’s ten or eleven o’clock at night. It’s interesting, I’m doing a workshop now and it’s just fascinating. I have a workshop with twenty people and I have eleven countries. Now, it’s not just your country or nearby, it’s people all over the world are finding out about interesting things and showing up and reading blogs.

We’ve got a hundred fifty-four countries have seen my work. In some cases, it’s only like one person. Like somebody from Malta, one person. There’s maybe fifty, a hundred countries where there’s only one person. But a hundred fifty-four countries are on our analytics. It’s interesting to see all over the world, people are finding people and responding. It really is a global market nowadays. Global conversations are going on. It’s great speaking to you in Romania.

Dragos: Thanks a lot, Morty.

Morty: A lot of love and luck coming from the US to you, and hopefully, we will have a chance to talk again soon. But again, I urge everybody to find out more about you. You look like a fascinating guy.

Dragos: Thanks a lot. Wishing all the best to your audience.