A founder gets open about entrepreneurship and Adderall addiction

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When I was a kid, aspiring to be an entrepreneur, I remember hearing that Howard Hughes was addicted to something that let him work through the night.

Frankly, it was a handful of entrepreneurs who had that and in my head, I said to myself, “I’d be willing to make that trade-off. If I could take a drug that would make me work harder through the night, I’d be absolutely willing to do it. Yeah, my health would suffer, but you know what? Life makes your health suffer. I’d be willing to do it.”

My biology doesn’t allow me to get into drugs. But it turns out that it’s not some kind of superpower, at least according to Michael Dash’s experience. He is an entrepreneur who built an HR company called Parallel HR Solutions, grew it. We’ll find out how big he got it. And along the way was addicted to Adderall.

Most entrepreneurs will not talk to me about it here. They will talk to me about it in private. Michael Dash is willing to do it, so we’re going to talk to him about that.

Michael Dash

Michael Dash

Chasing the High

Michael Dash is the author of Chasing the High which chronicles his journey through addiction and lawsuits.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, and I do it for an audience of real entrepreneurs. And I’m going to be open with you guys. I remember when I was a kid, aspiring to be an entrepreneur. I remember hearing that Howard Hughes was addicted to something that gave him more speed that let him work through the night.

Was it Howard Hughes or Hugh Hefner? I think it might have even been both of them. Frankly, it was a handful of entrepreneurs who had that and in my head, I said to myself, “I’d be willing to make that trade-off. If I could take a drug that would make me work harder through the night, I’d be absolutely willing to do it. Yeah, my health would suffer, but you know what? Life makes your health suffer. I’d be willing to do it.”

It turns out that I don’t have an . . . My biology doesn’t allow me to get into drugs. It’s just not my thing. But it’s a good thing that it’s not because it turns out that it’s not some kind of superpower at least according to Michael Dash’s experience. He is an entrepreneur who built an HR company called Parallel HR Solutions, grew it. We’ll find out how big he got it. And along the way was addicted to Adderall. Adderall is speed. Am I right, Michael?

Michael: Basically.

Andrew: Basically, cocaine does make you feel more powerful?

Michael: It did.

Andrew: It did. Right. And then gambling makes you feel like, well, the world is kind of blah. If it’s just like waiting for a paycheck, gambling makes you feel like, boom, “I could actually have my big payday.” All those things and the things that I thought would be temptations for me. They weren’t.

I do believe that there is an issue in entrepreneurship where because we’re so under the gun, because we are the types of people who want to get much more out of life than I think most people do, that we are more prone to addiction. We are more prone to taking on addictions without recognizing that we are because we feel like, “Well, we’re living big anyway. This is just a little thing for us. For other people, it might be a big problem. For us, it’s just a little thing.”

Anyway, I want to talk about it. Most entrepreneurs will not talk to me about it here. They will talk to me about it in private. Michael Dash is willing to do it, so we’re going to talk to him about that and we’re going to talk to him about his book which he has on his shirt. Michael, what does the shirt say? There it is. “Chasing the high.”

Michael: “Chasing the high.”

Andrew: Man, you are built too. All right. This interview is sponsored by . . . There’s the book too. This interview is sponsored by two phenomenal sponsors that you have not heard me talk much about, but I will be bringing up. The first, if you’re onboarding people in your company, if you want everyone on your team to actually be working in the same way, have them all organized, you need to create a good training manual for them. Trainual will do it for you. I’ll talk to you about that later. And if you have a second in command, you need to send them over to the COO Alliance. That is where they could get the type of training, camaraderie, and mentorship that they need to help you lead your company right. But I’ll tell you about the COO Alliance later and Trainual later.

First, I got to ask Michael the most pressing question which is, at your height, how much revenue were you doing?

Michael: We were doing 5.5 million a year.

Andrew: And how much of that did you get to keep?

Michael: How much did I get to keep?

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: That’s an interesting question. I think that year I took home about 350.

Andrew: Three hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

Michael: I think so in that year.

Andrew: Okay.

Michael: And then my partner took home 350 also. So, I had a partner at the time. I believe that’s what it was. Now, at the same time, we were running all our expenses through the company, so if we’d . . .

Andrew: Like what?

Michael: I mean, like everything, travel . . . We had offices in India, in New York, and in Utah and Idaho at the time. So, wherever we would travel, any dinners, any expenses, any time out. Really pushing the envelope as much as we could, but relegating it to business expense.

Andrew: But really it’s part of your life.

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. All right. So you’re . . .

Michael: Cars. Not obviously our mortgage, but part of your house you can claim as an office so we would do that. I would work from home a lot as well. And anything we could do legally, we did.

Andrew: Debbie, I think you’re asking what type . . . We’ve got a live audience here for today and Debbie is asking I think, “What type of business is Michael running?” And it was an HR business which he sold. We’re going to get into all of it. I don’t want to make this out into like a sad sack story. You’ve had a good life with some big challenges. Give me the high. How fun was it? So, we understand. Give me like, was there one night out? Was it strip clubs? Was it cocaine? Was it something else? I hear like my sponsor is right now saying, “Why did I sponsor at Mixergy?” But it’s going to get into meaningful stuff, guys.

Michael: Yeah. So, just to correct you real quick, it wasn’t an HR company although HR was in the name of the company.

Andrew: Oh, sorry. It was a recruiting company.

Michael: We were recruiting staffing company which are completely . . . They’re a bit different. But, yeah. I mean, no, there wasn’t one night. There were many nights.

Andrew: Give me one night. Like, just described one even if it’s . . .

Michael: So, I’ll describe how sick it was. Okay? I mean, do you want the fun or do you want the sick? I mean . . .

Andrew: Give me the fun because we will get into the sick. I don’t want . . .

Michael: The were trips to Vegas, gambling all night, strippers, clubs, bottle service, just standing on tables with champagne spraying it all over the place.

Andrew: Literally spraying champagne on people.

Michael: Literally spraying in pool parties at Wet Republic down in Vegas. At the time I was into all the dancers and strippers and all that nonsense. And just completely surrounded by people who could really give two craps about you. But at the time you think they’re the coolest people in the world and you’re friends with them, and they’re just around you because you have money and drugs.

Andrew: So, why did you want that? What was it for you? I feel like for me, I would want just a sense of big without having to earn it, like, the work every day to get big enough that people reflect back to me how important I am. It’s a lot of work and a lot of time. But going out and partying and having everyone feel like I am the big man in the room, that’s a quick hit and that makes me feel good. What is it for you?

Michael: I mean, I’ve just an adrenaline junkie and I’d like to be the center of attention. So, though, that’s a lethal combination when you put the two of those together.

Andrew: And why do you feel like you need to be the center of attention? Did you ever do the work to understand what it is with you?

Michael: I like to be on stage. I like to be interviewed, you know, this interview right now. Right? I mean, I wrote a book, right? Not because I’m proud of everything that I’ve done, but I wrote the book really because I want others to learn. But just . . . I was just on Fox last week. I mean, I love being a person of influence and I like being the funny guy in the room. I like people laughing at me. I like making people have a good time and like, “I want to be around Michael.” Like, that’s the type of person I am. So, that’s what I like.

Andrew: I get that. You were working in New York City in sports advertising. Your best friend came to you with an idea for a career change. What did he say?

Michael: So, I was working for the first four years out of college. I went to University of Maryland then I started working in New York City. I was doing sports advertising where we were basically on the phones 12 hours a day. So, I was pounding the phones and I was really good at it, but I hated my boss because he was a bookie, big gambling guy. And I had a bad gambling addiction then and it was in cocaine, and it was fueling everything, and he was not a good person. So, he would, like, turn employees against each other to get them to work harder to hate each other. It was like crazy what he would do.

Andrew: And that didn’t work.

Michael: No.

Andrew: Because?

Michael: Well, I mean, I’m . . . Like, he would bring . . . I remember one time he brought me into his office and he asked me my opinion of certain employees. So, I’m truthful person, so I told him. The next thing I know he’s marching those very employees into his office to tell them what I just told him about them.

Andrew: Oh, yeah, man.

Michael: I’m like, “What an MFer? What are you doing, dude?” And so now I have a poisonous relationship with these people who I had a positive relationship with, and that’s just the most uncomfortable environment to work in ever. So, I learned early on what the real world was about because I was a naive kid at that time.

Andrew: And you thought that’s the . . . You know what? I’m going to be open with you. I went to Glassdoor to look at reviews of what you were like as a boss back when you were running your company. They were not good. We’re going to get into that later. But right now in this part of the story, your boss . . .

Michael: No. A little teaser you’re throwing out there.

Andrew: Yeah, man. That’s exactly. You know where I’m going. So, you didn’t like your boss. Your best friend comes to you and says . . .

Michael: Well, I told my best friend, I’m like, “Look, I’m quitting. I hate this dude. He’s a piece of crap. I can’t deal with this.” I was making good money, more money than all my friends at the time too, but I was just like, “I got to get out of here.” So, he’s like, “Why don’t you come work for me?” He was working at a staffing company at the time. He was like the president of the company. He’s like, “Come work for me, be my Director of Business Development. We will crush it together.” And I’m like, “All right, cool.” So, I did it.

I know knew him since I was five years old. I trusted him a lot. We were both kind of same mentality except he didn’t do drugs and didn’t have addictions like I did, but in terms of business, we always wanted to be successful, we wanted to run our own show, all of that stuff. So, that’s what we did. And I went and I worked for him and I built up about a $4 million book of business in four years.

Andrew: Doing what for him? How did you do that?

Michael: So, I was doing staffing, so, similar to what my company was but I was doing more of administrative support services and retail salespeople. So, we would basically staff executive assistants on maternity leave. So, it was all like, temp staff, all temp. No . . .

Andrew: And so when you say you were doing the $4 million book, is that right?

Michael: I built a $4 million book of business. I started with nothing, and knocked on doors . . .

Andrew: And that you’re calling up local retailers? Sorry, you were about to say. What did you do?

Michael: Yeah, I called up . . . No, all companies. So, my strategy is always, “Okay. What’s working? Let me leverage that.” So, he was doing a lot in the hospital arena. So, I started calling other hospitals up to try to pitch services, but I just hit everything I could. And so I hit retail shops, I hit banks, I hit financial services, and I ended up with clients in the retail sector. Metropolitan Museum of Art was a big client of mine. Bergdorf Goodman was a big client of mine. And then Bank of New York, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley. So, I was working with all these . . .

Andrew: And they were paying you guys to place temps in for them.

Michael: Correct.

Andrew: What were you doing that made you so good? Give me a tip. Let me learn from you.

Michael: I’m a good salesperson. I mean, I can sell ice to an Eskimo.

Andrew: How? What’s your thing that lets you do it?

Michael: My father was a salesperson, so I was born to an entrepreneur. So, I learned that he had an import-export business and a retail store selling fine china and collectibles. If you’re familiar with Swarovski, Lalique, Baccarat, Waterford, all these fancy things.

Andrew: He would sell that.

Michael: He sold that.

Andrew: You say in your book that you followed him around. I feel like some of what he had rubbed off on you. What did you see that he did especially well?

Michael: So, he was a tireless worker. He busted his ass. He started the company in the house, grew it in the basement, then grew it outside, had one store, then two stores, then two companies, then three companies, so, all tied around the same thing. So, I learned work ethic at an early age. He was the typical, like, first one in, last one out, that’s how you’re successful. So, that’s how I learned. Now I don’t preach that . . .

Andrew: And that’s what you did at work.

Michael: I’m sorry.

Andrew: And that’s what you did when you were starting to work for your friend, the recruiter.

Michael: That’s what I did until the last like, couple years where I’ve started to kind of try to work smarter versus working harder, but that wasn’t in my DNA. I was always like, just to work harder guy. Now. I would always outwork people and that’s how I was successful.

Andrew: I’m going to come back to that in a moment. So, you were working for him, you were doing really well, and then somebody came to you with an offer that had to do with Utah. What was this? Was this E-Trade?

Michael: Well, basically, nobody came to me. I was making outbound sales calls. E-Trade had an office in Jersey City, I was in New York City. I called E-Trade to see if I could provide them staffing solutions. The woman said to me, “We don’t have any business here, but we are massively expanding in Utah. We’re looking to hire 200 financial service reps, series 7 and 63 licensed in 3 and a half weeks in Sandy, Utah. Do you happen to know anybody out there? Can you help us?”

Andrew: So, why didn’t you go to your friends and say, “Listen, I just got this great opportunity in Utah. Let’s expand to Utah. We’re going to make some good money and I’m going to be the person to lead it”?

Michael: The owner of the company didn’t want any business that wasn’t in the New York, New Jersey area in the metropolitan area.

Andrew: Why do you think?

Michael: I have no idea. I could care less.

Andrew: So, it was just his thing.

Michael: I didn’t care at the time. I think he just wanted . . . That’s where he’s from. He was just comfortable there and he wanted to build it and sell it. I mean, that’s what I understood. But at the time, I was like, “I don’t care. I have this great opportunity. I’m an entrepreneur at heart.” And majority of salespeople are entrepreneurs, right? You’re building your own book of business. You are a mini-entrepreneur within a company, right? And that’s how I viewed it.

And I always knew I would run my own company. So, at that point, I was like, “Well, there’s no way I’m letting this opportunity pass especially because it’s in Utah.” I knew one person outside of the metropolitan area in staffing. She was in Utah. We had worked previously together for one year in New York City before I joined my best friend in staffing and she was very good on the technical side of things, I was very good on sales. So we had done a bunch of deals together. So, it was a good combination because . . .

Andrew: What do you mean by the technical side of things?

Michael: So, at the time, I was doing technology staffing. So, I took a job for one year so I could learn the staffing industry outside of joining my friend. I didn’t want to have to learn on his dime, so I joined with another company. So, I worked for them for one year, then 9/11 happened, then she went back to Utah, then I went and joined my friend.

Andrew: You got to tell people about you get into this first recruiting company, they tell you, “Do you know how to use a computer?” You say, “Sure.” Talk about how you turned the computer on or tried to.

Michael: Oh, that’s really embarrassing. Thank you. So, basically, I hadn’t used the computer. I went to college, and yeah, they had computer courses there, but, like, I basically cheated my way through them. And I took this job selling sports advertising. We had a phone and we had index cards. That’s how we did the whole business. So, I didn’t touch a computer for four years out of college, then I go to this company and the first day of work I’m hitting the Disc Eject button trying to turn the computer on. And I turned to my boss and I’m like, “Hey, man. I don’t mean to sell anybody out, but they didn’t set my computer up properly. I can’t turn it on.” And he’s like, “Try again.” And I’m, like, hitting the Disc Eject button, he’s like, “Are you kidding me?” He’s like, “That’s the Disk Eject button. Hit the power button.” And at that point, he told me later, like, he was wondering, “Why in the hell did I hire this guy?”

Andrew: And so, when you going in and recruiting in the tech area, and I know it wasn’t developers or things like that that you were hiring . . .

Michael: No, it was.

Andrew: . . . but you were in a tech environment. How does partnering up with someone else . . .

Michael: It was developers.

Andrew: Sorry.

Michael: It was developers.

Andrew: It was developers in the beginning or we’re talking later on?

Michael: The first year was tech, then I went to admin staffing for four years, then I went back to tech.

Andrew: So then how the hell are you recruiting tech developers when you don’t even know how to turn a computer on?

Michael: Well, that’s why I made a great partnership with this other woman. She did the recruiting, I did the sales. So, I would go to the companies like Bear Stearns which imploded and with the financial meltdown, they were a big client of mine. And Sony Music was a big client of mine. And I had several other clients. And basically, I would go and I would pitch them the staffing services and let them know, “We could fill any of these jobs and I have the best technical resource on the planet. Her husband is an architect. She knows development inside and out. Give us an opportunity.” I would get the opportunity. She would fill it with the candidate. Bada boom, bada bang.

Andrew: Got it. So, now you’re in Utah taking a little break from your day job, doing this thing where you’re going to place a bunch of people for E-Trade. And how were you able to do it? How were you able to place so many people?

Michael: So, she had . . . She was with a staffing company at the time, so I pitched her, I said, “Look, I got this amazing project. Do you want in on it?” And she’s like, “Yeah.” And I said, “Okay, great. I’ll manage it from the business side and you fill all the jobs. Okay? So I’ll get one of your people or you onsite at the facility so you can interview people there and if they pass our interview, then we hand them right off to HR and then they can pass their interview, we get them hired right away. We need to do this quick.”

So, she had a team. We pulled the team together of like, 10 other recruiters. I took 30% and 70% gave to them and I managed it. And then we pulled off all filling all 200 positions within three and a half weeks and from that, we got projects in Alpharetta, Georgia, Jersey City and Tampa, Florida. And in one year, we filled 800 financial service positions for E-Trade. Meanwhile, I had my other business and my other $4 million book of business that I was running too. I still haven’t made that much money till this day that I made in that one year.

Andrew: How much money do you think you made back then?

Michael: It was like 5, 600.

Andrew: Five 600. Meanwhile, your addiction. How is that going? What do you . . . How’s it playing itself out?

Michael: I was just a crazy person. I mean, I ran a chaotic life. It was all . . . So, that speed I’m talking about with the staffing, like, when the day was over, I still needed that. I needed to fill my life with something like that. [inaudible 00:18:08]

Andrew: You’re saying you would work really hard, pounding the phone, talking to your clients, and I remember also . . . Well, I guess this is going to come later. You’re doing all that and then at the end of the day, when, like, 8:00, 9:00 you’d leave the office and then go out and party.

Michael: Yeah. I’d probably meet some of the recruiters out, I buy everybody drinks, I do whatever. We go to a club, we’d . . . Whatever . . .

Andrew: By the way, Michael, I was in Utah. The ClickFunnels people invited me out to interview Russell Brunson in Utah. It was wonderful place. I don’t think of it as a party place. A lot of places don’t even have alcohol. How are you partying in Utah?

Michael: You open your own bar, so that’s what I did.

Andrew: You opened a bar in Utah?

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: Where clients can come in and buy drinks and the whole thing?

Michael: Yeah. Well, not just clients, but yeah. Yeah. That’s . . .

Andrew: Customers, I mean, like you. So, it wasn’t like a home bar. We’re talking about a real bar bar and people would come into your place.

Michael: Yeah. No. I went in with two other guys and it was like bar club. And there was, like, the most fun I had in Utah when I moved in like, two years. It didn’t last long because the two guys I got in bed with . . . Not figure . . . Not in bed with.

Andrew: No literally, but that you guys partnered up with?

Michael: Not figuratively. One of them had a drug problem, the other had a gambling problem. So, it’s apropos, like, that’s what my life is. And they filtered . . . that they coffered the company from all the money that was in there, so it shut down within, like, a year and a half. But it was one of the most fun years of my life . . .

Andrew: Because of what? What happens when you get to own a place?

Michael: You get free reign, man. I mean, I was doing, pulling people out of line, going into line, pulling the hottest girls out of line. “Come on. You want to come in? Yeah, I got you.” Buying them shots, picking up their tabs, doing whatever.

Andrew: You were still dating them too.

Michael: Yep. Dating them.

Andrew: Taking them home.

Michael: Of course. Yeah, I lived across the street. It was the perfect setup.

Andrew: Wow. All right.

Michael: It was a perfect setup.

Andrew: And so what kind of work were you able to do at the end of that? After going out and partying like that the next day how were you even able to function?

Michael: Pop an Adderall.

Andrew: What does Adderall do, actually? I kind of had a sense that it was deep.

Michael: It’s like cocaine in a pill, basically. I mean, they . . . So, Adderall is . . . If you have ADHD or ADD, the medical industry will give you Ritalin or Adderall. Like, Adderall is very prevalent these days.

Andrew: To help you focus.

Michael: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Michael: Now, I could get a ton of work done, but at the same time it affected my mood tremendously. I would have mood swings and the way . . . I would snap at people, I would cut them off. I wouldn’t hear them out. It took away, like, the person that I really was and it fueled the angry side of me. But I did get a lot of work done. There definitely is that side to it. Like, if you need to clean an entire house or clean an entire garage or something, pop an Adderall and that will get done.

Andrew: Wow. And so that’s why you just kept taking on more work because you said, “All right. Another person is going to help me do it and do it myself.” And you weren’t very good with people so you weren’t good at delegating, structuring and passing the work on.

Michael: I was good with people but not on Adderall. Like, on Adderall I wasn’t great leading people because I was just like . . . What’s the . . . Like, “Let’s just get the shit done. This isn’t rocket science. We’re staffing people for companies. Come on, get the shit done. Show up on time. Come to work on time. Leave when you’re done. Put in extra time when you need to. Don’t give me all this bullshit excuse like I don’t want to hear it. The client doesn’t care. I don’t care.” So, that was my attitude. And it permeated in the negative manner when I fully took . . . Well, through most of running a company.

Andrew: We’re going to talk about it again. I saw some of this online. Let me take a moment to talk about my first sponsor. It’s a company called Trainual. Michael, you’re going to love this. I’m someone too who just needed to do everything myself because I feel like I could do everything. I’ve got natural energy. I was one time . . . You run a marathon, right? I ran this marathon . . .

Michael: Four.

Andrew: Four of them. I ran one in Mongolia. At the end of the day, I call up my brother, I’m like, all jacked up with full-on energy. So, I’ve finished my marathon, I go explore Mongolia, I call my brother with full-on energy. And he goes, “This is just you, like, not even caffeine or anything?” “No, not even caffeine. I don’t have caffeine beyond that first cup of coffee usually in the morning.” And so I feel like, “I could do it all.”

The problem for me and my company was I couldn’t keep on doing it all, and then I had to start . . . Like, if I wanted to grow, I had to start bringing people in. And then I expected them to just understand stuff. I’d say, “Okay. Look, you need to edit my videos. It’s not that tough. You just sit down and you edit, chop, chop, move, move it on and that’s it.” They couldn’t edit the video. I said, “You have to publish on the site.” They tried to publish on the site. They couldn’t do it. It was just such a disappointment for me that they weren’t able to do it, but I didn’t realize that it was my fault.

And what I learned over the years was, and this is feeding into my first sponsor, Michael, to document my process. Now, the problem with documentation is people don’t actually . . . if they were to read the documentation, if they were to see the process, they could get stuff done, but they don’t do it and you don’t know whether they’ve done it or not. And so the team of Trainual said, “You know what? A lot of entrepreneurs, a lot of businesses have that problem. They are really good at doing stuff, they’re not good at passing the information on to other people. We’re going to create software that will make it easier.”

They call it Trainual because it’s like an online training manual. And what it does is it allows you to create your process in an organized documented way, video, audio, text, whatever you need, images, you put it in there, and then you could pass it to other people on your team, and you could see when they’ve gone through the process, and you could see where they’re stuck, where they’re not completing it. Maybe you’re just not explaining it well and you can go in and help them out. Or you can see what they finished fast and understand that that is a really well-done process that you’ve documented for them.

And so the Trainual people put this software together and I said to them, “Well, why would I . . . Get that. Why would I really need it? Couldn’t I just watch people as they’re doing it or teach them by looking over their shoulder in Zoom?” And they said, “Yeah. What happens when you change stuff?” I go, “Oh, yeah. What happens when I change stuff is I have to bring everyone together and make sure that they understand it.”

And Trainual said, “No. If you change something, you could just update your manual and everyone who gone through that part of the manual now gets an alert saying that they need to go through this updated version, this updated part and you know whether they’ve done it or not because you can see the progress that they’ve had.” I’m explaining this when I should be actually telling people to go check it out for themselves.

If you go to trainual.com/mixergy you will get to use this for yourself. If you’re someone who’s into documentation, this will blow you away. There’s never been documentation software like this. If you’ve never documented, this is the best way to get started. Go to trainual.com, give them a shot, see for yourself how good this can be. You can also, once you get started with them, see my processes, the ones that we use to run my business in Trainual. So, it’s trainual.com/mixergy. And for people who keep asking me to spell things out because I know like a New Yorker I talk too fast, it’s trainual.com/mixergy, trainual.com/mixergy.

Michael: So, I have a question for you now.

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: Did you do a read for Trainual before they jumped on board because that was marvelous? I can’t even say it.

Andrew: Thank you. You know . . .

Michael: It was so good that my tongue is being twisted into words because you just blew me away with that. What a professional . . .

Andrew: Thank you. I appreciate that. I did get on a call with them to make sure that I understood their product better than I could on my own. And truthfully, I was a little concerned because I didn’t expect that they would be on the agenda for today. I was planning on reading them next week and I looked and I said, “All right. Suck it up. You know this.” And I just spoke without looking at my notes. I just went for it. So, I’m glad to hear that you said that.

Michael: That was beautifully done.

Andrew: So, at what point did you . . .

Michael: How much stock do you have in that company?

Andrew: At what point did you give up the East Coast job and say, “I’m going all in on this thing. I got this”?

Michael: What was the first part of that? Sorry.

Andrew: At what point did you go all in and say, “You know what? I’ve got my new business. I’m not going to go back to the East Coast job”?

Michael: So, interesting thing happened. I’m working with my best friend that had this side gig going on and everything. And my best friend who was the president of the company, $11 million company at the time in New York, gets in a dispute with the owner over a house he was selling to the owner’s daughter. Everything imploded from there. So, basically, they wanted to get out of the sale. They ended up going to court. The owner of my company took the president of my company to court. The president is my best friend. The owner grew up in our town as well.

So, when that all happened, which is crazy in itself, when that all happened, he basically fired him. He fired him. He was the president of the company fired over house. Right? So, at that point, I had a six-month non-compete. My buddy had a one-year non-compete. I stayed at the company for six more months. The whole deal was I was going to line my non-compete up with my best friend and we were going to open a company in New York, so I had six months to kill.

So, that’s when I went to Utah. I was going to . . . I was helping my ex-business partner get Parallel HR Solutions off the ground. The whole deal was I’m staying out there for six months and then I’m coming back to New York and opening this business with my best friend. So, I go out there and right away I land the big client, overstock.com. Are you familiar with Overstock?

Andrew: I am, yeah.

Michael: Okay, great. So, we start placing developers with them and we’re doing really well. And she said . . . And I said, “Hey, I’m thinking about staying.” And she’s like, “Okay. I’ll give you 50% of the company and then we’ll run this thing.”

Andrew: And your friend was going to give you 30%.

Michael: My buddy was going to give me 30%. So, every decision I made was based on money at the time. And so it wasn’t really a decision for me. It was very tough. I was very nervous about having the conversation with my buddy because he’s my best friend and we’ve been planning this for years, but I had to do what I had to do. Little did I know that 50% of 5 million would not be nearly the same as 30% of 20 plus million.

Andrew: And he did that much better and he was a better person for you to work with. Wow. And that . . .

Michael: I don’t know . . . Yes, he did better. The businesses were different. Yeah, we built them different. Yes, he did better from a revenue standpoint. I don’t know that it would have been the smartest thing to work with him because we were both alphas, we both wanted to be chiefs. And my friendship to him is way more important than any dollar amount in the world. And we’re best friends to this day. So, I’m glad that piece actually turned out the way it did because he ended up buying my company last year.

Andrew: Oh, I didn’t realize that.

Michael: Yep.

Andrew: Okay. Let’s continue . . . Wow, that’s pretty cool. Let’s continue then with the story. You go out there, you get Overstock. You work out of their office. And this is really impressive. As you’re walking around, talk about what you’re doing that helps you drum up more business for yourself.

Michael: And I did this at every company I possibly could. I would just duck my head into people’s offices and introduce myself. And those were the days where security wasn’t like all over the place, so you could do that. And you have a friend a company let you in the door and you just roam the halls and I’m just like, “Hi. Are you so and so?” “Yeah.” “I’ve heard amazing things about you. We provide staffing solutions.” And I’d reference and leverage all the other managers I was working with. I would just introduce myself to these people, all the executives, of course. So, then I would have meetings on the fly and I would be able to drum up a lot of business and I would walk in with really hot candidates with resumes and put them right in front of them and I would just make it happen, boom, boom, boom, and just get in there and get in one area and then leverage it throughout the entire organization. And that’s really how I built the business and had success.

Andrew: I’m looking at an Internet Archive screenshot of what your site looked like in the beginning. You do healthcare, you do financial services, you do finance, you do functional IT, you do technical, you do like a lot of different things. Was there any focus or was this just a whatever we can get, we’re going to jump on and do?

Michael: I mean, at first it was whatever we can get, and then we did more finite. As we had Overstock then, I focused on more e-commerce companies, number one, but more companies that hired the same skill set as Overstock did. So, that’s why it didn’t matter what industry they were in because if they’re hiring a Java developer, then I want to be able to take a candidate and market it to Overstock and then go to Goldman Sachs which isn’t a completely different industry, but they’re looking for the same core skill set and market that to Overstock, and then go, excuse me, Goldman Sachs, and then maybe go to IHC, which is a big healthcare system out there who’s looking for the exact same skill set and market that same person there. So, we want to make it easier on the recruiting team so when they find a great candidate, then we can send it to four or five different companies regardless of the industry, and if they didn’t need to have industry-specific experience, we would have a better opportunity of making a deal.

Andrew: Got it. Got it. How’s your addiction doing at this point in the story? Still addicted . . .

Michael: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah.

Andrew: . . . to gambling?

Michael: No, no, I wasn’t addicted to gambling. I had stopped gambling. So, actually, three weeks ago when I released my book “Chasing the High” it was the week of my 14-year clean, 14 years clean from gambling.

Andrew: Wow. And you know what? I know how you got off of that and we’ll talk about that in a moment. Why don’t we talk about how gambling was your first addiction, right, and how did you come . . . How did you come into gambling?

Michael: My amazing uncle introduced me to it at Thanksgiving dinner and . . .

Andrew: How?

Michael: So, the family was congregating in one side of the house as most do during Thanksgiving, but my uncle was glued in front of the TV. He was the only one there. So, I was a little kid. I was 11 years old, so I ran over, I was wondering, “What is he watching? Why is he so enthralled in this television?” And he was watching a football game. And he pulled this, like, sheet out of his pocket and he showed it to me and it was all the spreads, okay, for the football games.

And for your audience, a spread is the line, like there will be five, six, seven, eight, the number of points a team would need to beat the other team and you can bet on either team, and then based on where the point spread landed, you would win. So, he had showed me that he bet $10 on 4 games and he won 3 of them. He needed to win all 4 to win his bet. And if he won this fourth game, that $10 would return $100. And I was just like, “Oh my God, that’s the coolest thing in the world.” And so he’s like, “If you borrow $10 from your parents, then you can fill one of these out too.” So, I ran over to my parents and I asked my mom and she said, “No,” and I asked my dad and I told him we were getting hoagies later that night because that’s what we call them back then in Massachusetts. They were hoagies.

Andrew: Not sandwiches, not subs. Hoagies.

Michael: Hoagies, yeah, as a Massachusetts I think. And so he loaned me the $10 and the worst thing that could have happened is I won. I bet on the 4 games and I won that bet and I won $100 and that started a 20-year gambling addiction.

Andrew: I can’t believe that you could suffer through the lows and still come back. Like, what’s the most you lost as a gambler?

Michael: Oh, my gosh, I mean, I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in total.

Andrew: Was there one night that was especially bad?

Michael: No.

Andrew: No.

Michael: No. I was . . . No. I was addicted to the high of placing the bet and I loved placing the bet. I got to extreme high of calling my bet . . .

Andrew: The possibility was better than even winning.

Michael: Well, yeah. And I didn’t win that much, to be frank. I mean, I was like, the loser gambler who just kept doing it and doing it and doing it. Yeah, I won from time to time, but overall it was a big loss. So, after I started gambling at 11, I worked for my father in his warehouse. The warehouse guys all gambled, so they would take my bets. Then my little league coach, he gambled. So he would take my bet. My little league coach. This happens in Jersey. This is how Jersey is.

And I would go down to . . . The guys from work would take me to the Meadowlands racetrack in New Jersey and my dad was about 30-minute drive from there, his office. So, I would go there. And then we would start playing card games with all my friends and I was the first one to have a job because I was a few months older than everybody. Outside of working for my dad, I got another job working at like this travel mart where I got to wear cool visor. No. Not cool. Not cool. And all my friends came in and made fun of me, but I was like a donut and newspapers stop.

Andrew: And you take the money and use it to go gamble.

Michael: A hundred percent.

Andrew: Wow-wee.

Michael: And then we would . . .

Andrew: And then . . .

Michael: So, we would . . . I had a bank account before all my friends and I . . . So, I would bring a checkbook to card games with my 16-year-old friends and I would write a check for the whole pot. I would bet more than everybody because I had more money than everyone because I was working and they weren’t yet. And I would put a check into the pot and they were like, “What the hell is the matter with you?”

Andrew: And you still couldn’t buy the pot? Like, I would think that much money would scare them away.

Michael: Yeah. Well, back then that’s what I did. I was, like, bullying . . .

Andrew: That you put in so much money that they can’t keep up and then you beat them because they can’t go all in like you.

Michael: Exactly. And then I just kept going and going and going and when I was in college, I was like, “Why gamble when you can be a bookie?” And so I became a bookie.

Andrew: Wow. And then at some point you also started selling weed because you needed money. Am I right?

Michael: Yeah. Well, it wasn’t even that I needed money. I just wanted money. Like, everything was money, money.

Andrew: Why do you think you wanted money so badly?

Michael: I think I grew up . . . So, I grew up . . . I was very fortunate to grow up in a middle-class family. My dad was successful, so I wanted to be successful, number one, but I had this vision in my mind from the movies, from all the media and everything that if I was rich, everything would be fine. If I had money, I would have houses, I would have cars, the nicest suits, the nicest watches, then all the women would come.

Andrew: You said that all that everything would be fine. What do you think wasn’t fine about you that you wanted to fix? Was it that you weren’t good with people otherwise? Was it an insecurity? I know for me it was insecurity.

Michael: I was great with people in high school . . .

Andrew: Yeah. So then what do you think needed to be fixed?

Michael: Well, I was . . .

Andrew: Go deep.

Michael: I mean, back then I think it was a status thing. It wasn’t that I needed something fixed back then. Over the years, it was I was running away from certain problems, but back then I was a college kid and it was just this I wanted to be the big man on campus, that center of attention I was talking about earlier.

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: And that that entrepreneur at the same time because I had this entrepreneurial spirit, I just used it in the wrong way. So, when I went to college, I started going door to door selling home improvements. And I was selling roofing, siding, windows, decks, and I was very successful doing that, but it was in some of the worst areas of the country like Baltimore, South East Baltimore, I mean, like, the murder capital of the country at the time. And I was still pretty successful doing it and I just had no . . . Like, I never thought of repercussions about anything that I did. There was no such thing as repercussions because I got away with everything probably because I’m white and I borrowed my dad’s Lincoln Continental, like, “Who’s going to pull me over?” Right?

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: I could do this crazy shit and I probably wouldn’t have been so fortunate if I was a minority. That’s just the facts, but it is what it is.

Andrew: So, the way that this all stopped was you were riding in a car with your brother, you wanted to listen to the game because you needed it on Thanksgiving. Am I right?

Michael: Yeah. I was . . . So, gambling. The way gambling stopped, yeah.

Andrew: Gambling, yeah.

Michael: It was after college, we were going up to Massachusetts for Thanksgiving again. I wanted to listen to the pregame reports so I could figure out who I was betting. My brother wouldn’t let me listen to it. We argued back and forth. We put the radio on. We listened to the music for three hours. It was very peaceful and calm. I asked him, “Why can’t you listen to sports radio? It’s absurd. It’s ridiculous.” I thought it was the most outrageous thing I ever. And he’s like, “Well, I’m going to GA.” I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “Yeah, I’m going to gamblers anonymous.” I’m like, “What are you? A loser? What do you mean you’re going to gamblers anonymous?”

And so that was it. So, after the ride, I thought to myself, “Wow, that was really calming and peaceful.” And then I was like, “I want to know what these gamblers anonymous did to my brother. Where is my brother?” And so I went to a meeting. He didn’t ask me. He didn’t tell me I should go. I was just curious and I just tapped into that curiosity and went to a meeting.

Andrew: And so the first thing you thought was, “These guys are losers.”

Michael: Degenerate, losers, scumbags.

Andrew: You just couldn’t relate to them in any way and you felt superior to them.

Michael: Initially when I walked in the meeting I felt superior to them. I’m like, “Are these guys kidding me? I’m in my 20s. I’m making six figures. Okay. I got nice suits on. I work in New York City. Like, I’m right here with a bus driver and a teacher and a mailman and a cop.” I’m like, “All these people are losers and they lost all their money and they’re in trouble with their wives. I can’t relate to these idiots.” Right? And by the end of those two hours, I realized I had more in common with every person that was sitting around there, then I did with my very best friends. And . . .

Andrew: Because they would stand up, they would talk about what they were experiencing.

Michael: Yeah. And why they were doing it and the internal pain they were going through and the isolation they were causing themselves and all of the things that weren’t cool to talk about, the pain, the agony, the self-loathing, the feeling like the smallest person in the room, just things you wouldn’t admit to your friends. And then I just was like, “Wow. I’m actually in the right place.”

Andrew: And you gave it up.

Michael: I gave it up. It wasn’t that easy, but I had this guy get in my face. I was like, answering his questions and kind of lying to him and he saw right through me. And I remember clear as day because he was this close to me. And I remember seeing him screaming at me like thinking, “This guy is psycho.” And he was so passionate that the saliva from his mouth would come out and I would watch it land on my face.

Andrew: I remember that from the book.

Michael: Like, I see it visually every day and I still talk to him actually. And he became my pseudo sponsor and I never gambled again. I worked the steps, I belonged to that meeting for years, I still go from time to time. When I moved out to Utah the first thing I did, I was there my second day, I had no car still, and I got in a taxi, didn’t have Uber and Lyft back then. And they drove me to the VA because that’s where the gamblers anonymous meeting was and I walked in the second day there and I made sure I got to a meeting because I was only clean about a year, two years at that time, so I needed meetings still. And I got to that meeting, and then probably a few months later I was leading the meeting and I led the meeting in Utah for five years.

Andrew: Wow. Yeah, what a change. The other stories you were telling me that I remember is you having a hotel room at some hotel that had a casino. You drink I guess so much that you throw up on yourself?

Michael: Oh, yeah. That’s a lovely visual for the audience. So, I’m sure they’re going to thank you after the story, but I was in Atlantic City and I was gambling all night and I was doing coke and I was drinking. And I was playing blackjack. And I just didn’t want to leave the table, but I knew I have a bad stomach as it is. And I don’t really drink that much. I never have. I didn’t really like drinking. But I love doing coke and I love doing all the other stuff and drinking just kind of came with it, so I would have a few drinks.

But I was getting sick and I was feeling really queasy and I was in the middle of a hand, I was betting two hands, and it was 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. There weren’t a lot of people in the casino even. Everybody was sleeping who wasn’t addicted gambler. You could tell who they are because it’s 5:00, 6:00 in the morning and they’re still gambling. And I was one of them. And I was going sick and I was like, “I’ll be right back.” And I was running to the bathroom and I couldn’t get there in time and I pulled my shirt out and I threw up in my shirt.

Andrew: Wow, man.

Michael: And I went into the bathroom and I like, wipe down the shirt, I turned it inside out, I put it back on, and I went back to the table and gambled for another couple of hours.

Andrew: Wow.

Michael: That’s how sick I was. And I was doing coke at the same time like I said.

Andrew: And it was gamblers anonymous that got you out of the first addiction. And then from there, you were able to continue . . . You still stuck with the other addictions for a bit before you gave up the rest, right?

Michael: In my mind, like, gambling was my only addiction because I did it every single day. Cocaine I did on the weekends. I did it every weekend. So . . .

Andrew: And Adderall?

Michael: It was definitely an addiction. I didn’t discover Adderall until I went to Utah. So, at that point, I was still in New York. So, I didn’t know about Adderall. I knew about Ritalin, but I really only took Ritalin like when I needed to study three days in a row for college exams because I would miss half the classes, dealing drugs, and booking and partying and doing all this other nonsense.

Andrew: Meanwhile your business was growing. You opened up an office in India. Why?

Michael: Why hire one person when you can hire four for the price of one?

Andrew: Why does recruiting company like yours need people in India? What was their job going to be?

Michael: They were doing the same job that the people in the U.S. were doing. They recruiting . . .

Andrew: Sourcing?

Michael: Recruiting candidates. They were actually . . . We trained them. So, they would call candidates, they would screen them for tech jobs and then they would send them over for approval for submittal to me, for instance, or other salespeople, and then we would submit them to the client. The same exact things our recruiters in the U.S. were doing.

Andrew: Really? They were actually staying up U.S. hours and start to make calls and do the whole thing?

Michael: They worked the night shift. So, they worked the night shift over there. So, they would work from like 7:00 p.m. to like 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning.

Andrew: Okay.

Michael: And tons of . . . There’s a huge business there of what they . . .

Andrew: I saw them on your website.

Michael: Yeah. And in the whole country, the staffing is a big business that is in India and Philippines and all these different countries. And yeah, that’s what they would do. So, we could hire four for the price of one, so why not do that?

Andrew: I wonder if what you needed . . . This is kind of feeding into my second sponsor. If you even had a second in command like a COO, a General Manager, a VP of Operations. Did you have that?

Michael: At the time I had a business partner. She’s the one who opened in India. So, I was here maintaining the clients. She was dealing with all the internal operations and delivery. So, she was . . .

Andrew: So, delivery fell into what they were doing in India.

Michael: Exactly.

Andrew: Got it.

Michael: So, they were into the delivery side which I’m sure your sponsor might be able to help with.

Andrew: I’ll talk about the second sponsor, which is COO Alliance. So, get this. I’m running a marathon on every continent. I went to Australia to run a marathon. I said, “As long as I’m here, I want to interview entrepreneurs.” I interviewed this woman, Jane Lu, she runs an e-commerce clothing site called Showpo, $60 million in revenue, fully bootstrapped. This woman just wanted to figure out how she could sell clothing online and she did it.

And I said, “Well, how could you run it? You don’t have much experience, manufacturing is tough, e-commerce . . . all these things are tough.” She said, “You know what? It is. I actually at one point just decided to book a trip to just get away from it all.” She went to the Ultra Music Festival. I said, “Interesting. How did the company do while you’re away?” She said, “I felt a lot of guilt. I couldn’t really afford it, but I did it.”

I said, “When you came back, did the company kind of fall apart and you had to pick it up again?” She said, “No, no. The company actually did better.” I said, “How did it do better?” She said, “Well, I got this woman to come in and be my second in command. She started running this business. She ended up running it way better than I did because she’s such an organized person.” Jane told me that every time that she had an idea for how to run things by seat of the pants, this woman who was essentially her Chief Operating Officer, her COO, would pick up the pieces and organize it and despite Jane’s wishes at times, make the company more orderly and help it grow. And so what that helped me realize is the power and the importance of hiring the right second in command.

Now, what we do is when we hire somebody, we sometimes give them training, right? So, you hire an SEO person, maybe you sign them up for SEO training or get them SEO software or whatever. What do you do with the second in command? Well, it turns out there aren’t a lot of organizations with a second in command to go to to get help.

So, this guy, Cameron Herold, who built 1-800-GOT-JUNK? as their COO, as their second in command into I think $100 million-plus operation who built other businesses by growing them as the chief operating person or as a Chief Operating Officer said, “You know what? I’m going to create it. This is the time in my life where I’m going to create it.” He created the COO Alliance. You people if you’ve heard my interviews, have heard me go to him when I was trying to figure out who to hire and ended up hiring great VP of Operations, thanks to his guidance.

Well, if you want that type of help for your COO, give them the guidance, give them the mentoring, give them the team of people that he could work with, let them work with Cameron Herold, who is at this point, by far the number one COO trainer, number one CEO . . . Like, what’s the word for it? I don’t know if like . . . The person that COOs, the person that second in commands go to.

If you want that you should go to cooalliance.com/mixergy. Just get them in touch with Cameron. He will help them out. And if it’s not a good fit, you guys don’t need to work with him. But if it is, it’s going to be life-changing for them, so you’re going to give them a gift and it’s going to be life-changing for your business in ways that you probably not only couldn’t anticipate, but in ways that you probably as an entrepreneur, as a COO would resist. He is that good. This organization is that good and the right COO is that good. Go to cooalliance.com/mixergy.

Let’s continue here, Michael. Why are you holding your mic, by the way? You’re not sitting at a desk?

Michael: I moved for you, remember?

Andrew: Oh, right. And so now you have no desk and you’re holding it for an hour.

Michael: Hey, I’m here to please you. So whatever you need. You need me to do a cartwheel? It’ll hurt, but I could probably do it.

Andrew: Thanks. I appreciate that you’ve got the energy to keep doing it.

Michael: No problem.

Andrew: You mentioned earlier that she fell in love with someone. She was in India. Is that where she fell in love with the whoever it was that was working with you?

Michael: Yeah. My ex-business partner, you’re talking about?

Andrew: Yeah.

Michael: Yeah. No. She started having an affair with one of the three directors in India unbeknownst to us. She was married and she had two kids.

Andrew: And so she was doing this. Uh-huh.

Michael: Behind our back. So, like, when I bought the company from her, I had no idea this was happening until we went over there and transitioned the company. We had this big company party. At the end of the party like . . . And she drank a lot. It was very emotional for her because she thought this was her company and this is why it was hard for her to let it go and for me to buy it. We basically, we were . . . At the time we were fighting non-stop. Like, I was . . .

Andrew: Why?

Michael: I’ll take you through what got up to that time. I was working longer and longer. She was working less and less. She thought she set up the infrastructure of the company, so she’s done. “I don’t need to work hard.” So, she’s working like six hours a day wanting to spend more time with her kids. And I’m all for spending more time with your kids, but not at my expense, not if we’re 50-50 partners. So, I told her, “Fine. You want to work less, then we’re not splitting things 50-50.”

She obviously wouldn’t have anything to do with that, so she wanted to work or 6 hours and I’m working 10, 12 hours managing all the clients, but I needed her because when we had new employees, she was the best recruiter, so I needed her to train them and she didn’t really want to. So, that’s where we started butting heads, I wanted to continue to build the company. She was happy at where it was. And we eventually weren’t talking to each other, hated each other. Our offices were right next to each other and we would not speak to each other. It was very volatile. It was very tense. It was very angry. It was very emotional. And it was driven by both of our egos. My ego drove me for years, ego and money. So, eventually, we went to our own lawyers and we had our lawyers negotiate a buyout between the two of us.

Andrew: Where you knew you would be the one to buy out because you’re the one who was more committed to spending time at the company. You agreed to spend how much money to buy her out?

Michael: Well, I didn’t know but my whole my mentality going into it and hers was too. She wanted the company. She wanted me to leave.

Andrew: Oh, wow. Okay.

Michael: But I positioned it in a way that I was able to buy her out because I had all the relationships with the clients. I said, “This doesn’t make any sense. You’re going to buy the company? You don’t even have relationships with the clients. I do.” So, that’s kind of how I was able to leverage that and I bought . . . We agreed on 1.35 million, and again, we were doing 5.5 at the or 5 or whatever it was. And I paid her a million upfront, which I didn’t have.

Andrew: How?

Michael: What’s that?

Andrew: Yeah. How did you get the million?

Michael: I had saved about half of it, so I had half of it and then I borrowed the other half.

Andrew: From . . . Is that the Chase loan?

Michael: No. No. The Chase loan came after. I actually borrowed it from my father.

Andrew: Wow.

Michael: Yeah. So, he gave me $0.5 million loan over seven years and the first, like, year or two . . . I think it was the first year or two it was interest only, so that was great. So, he gave me an opportunity to get on my feet and make these payments and everything like that. And at that time, I wanted to expand back into New York. So, immediately after I bought her out, I had already started expanding into New York and that’s when I got the Chase line because I needed that money to bring a whole payroll on in New York, bringing like a director, an SVP. Like, I hired some big-time people in New York and it ended up blowing up in my face because at the same time a lawsuit started with her and I find out she’s violating the agreement.

Andrew: Why? Why did you . . . Who sued who? There’s a whole chapter about this in the book.

Michael: Yeah. So, she sued me. So, it was 1.35, paid her 1 million upfront. Within two months of that, I found out that she was in fact having an affair with one of the directors in India. I needed this guy. I was counting on this guy to run the office there. She was over there taking him to the Maldives, doing all this stuff. And right after the office in India which was $1 million producing office started tanking. And she took . . . I didn’t have the loyalty of the India people. She did, because she went over there multiple times. I had just met them at the sale. So, it was crazy. So, basically, she had their loyalty, she ended up taking 9 of the 14 employees out and staffing them at another company. And it was like coup, basically, where she was setting up her own company on the outside of it in violation of our agreement. And so I held off on the next payment, told her we were doing an internal investigation, and she sued me.

Andrew: And how did the lawsuit check out?

Michael: Very bad. Very bad. It was six-year-old deal. Six years of lawsuit. It basically cost me over $1 million.

Andrew: Really?

Michael: Over 350K and it cost me over $1 million.

Andrew: Do you think you could have just given her 350 and . . . If you would have given her the extra 350 and just suffered through it, you would have been better off.

Michael: Would have, could have, should have.

Andrew: Wow. Okay.

Michael: A hundred percent the lawyers. I ended up actually hating my lawyers worse than the feelings I had towards her. My lawyers I felt were bilking and bilking and milking me. Milking or bilking, whatever.

Andrew: Bilking. Both actually work.

Michael: Both, yeah, yeah. And six years I went to trial, actually. I was on the stand five times. The jury actually awarded in my favor. However, because . . . So, they awarded that I actually owed her the 350 because I signed the agreement, but that she costs 260k in damages through her actions, so it was a net 90K, but the judge awarded her as the party that won. So, that meant I owed attorney’s fees. Now, this is six years of attorney’s fees.

Andrew: Oh, wow.

Michael: Yeah. So, now she’s trying to recoup like 600,000 in attorney’s fees.

Andrew: She still is.

Michael: No, she was at the time.

Andrew: She was.

Michael: So, we were going back and forth. The attorneys couldn’t agree on attorney’s fees. The judge wouldn’t certify the ruling until that was agreed upon and it was just a nightmare. So, after eight months, after the trial ended they still couldn’t agree on it and I’m like, “Forget this.” I’m like, “I need to just come up with an agreement with her. I have to move on with my life.” It was destroying me. It was absolutely destroying me emotionally, mentally, financially, everything. I felt completely stuck. I was miserable. I was isolated. I was smoking pot every day. I was just . . . I was not . . . I was just a miserable human at the time. And so I ended up negotiating a settlement with her for 350, the same amount I owed her 6 years earlier . . .

Andrew: Wow. After all that.

Michael: . . . because that is how my life works.

Andrew: Was this your ex . . . Okay. All right. So, who was it who called? Your best friend called her up and try to work things out with her. And is he the one who made that deal?

Michael: Yeah.

Andrew: He was. Wow.

Michael: Unbeknownst to me. Yeah. He’s the one who got everything the ball rolling and everything.

Andrew: So, I went through Glassdoor because that’s how I research people and here’s what I saw. “2017, just two years ago, I worked for . . . ” Here we go. The headline of this one is “The CEO needs to go.” I thought, “Maybe it’s not Michael.”

Michael: It is.

Andrew: It is. I’m reading through it. It said, “The CEO, Michael Dash,” very clearly, “a horrible leader. His customers are leaving in droves. A few customers he has left are only with them because they are drinking buddies. He feels okay to speak behind people’s back and to put the blame on his failing business on anyone else but himself.” Is this true all the stuff that I’m reading about you on Glassdoor?

Michael: I would say not all of it. I would say probably 75% is definitely true.

Andrew: It is.

Michael: Yeah. And so if you know Glassdoor just as a precursor, you can comment every year for up to five years after you’re done with employment. So, some of those comments are from the same people, my ex-business partner, her sister worked for me . . .

Andrew: They’re just going back and updating it.

Michael: . . . her brother-in-law. Yes. However, that’s just a very . . . That’s a small portion of it. I had a very bad time in New York when I tried to expand into New York and I was under a lot of stress and I did not treat the employees properly. I didn’t run it properly, basically. I just totally botched the whole thing. I was hopped up on Adderall. I had . . . I was in the middle of this lawsuit. I was fighting with my attorneys, fighting with my ex-business partner. I was paying back these loans to Chase Bank, paying back a loan to my father and managing three offices at the same time.

None of those are an excuse for my behavior, but I was an ego-driven maniac. And the way I treated and reacted to situations was not from a place of empathy and mentorship. And a lot of it was the Adderall would just flip a switch with me. And if a client yelled at me, instead of like, taking it and learning from it, I would take that and yell at my employees. So, it was like transferring the client’s anger through me to the employees when at the end of the day I should have managed it a lot better, I should have talked it out, I should have not micromanaged, I should have allowed leadership to do their jobs. But I was under a lot of pressure and I . . .

Andrew: How did you turn this around? How did you get to a place where you could get past it?

Michael: Very, very, through a lot of lessons, a lot of lessons learned.

Andrew: Just you suffering and spending the time learning lessons. Do you actually sit down and journal through it or do you actually extract the lesson?

Michael: So, I went to Bali and I went to this retreat called Unconventional Life. And it’s an amazing retreat of eclectic people from around the world who are all in different areas. So, there’s some corporate people, there’s some healers, there’s energy people, there’s digital nomads, there’s entrepreneurs. So, there is a subsection of everything in this group where I had never been exposed to a lot of these people.

While I was there, there were two people talking about flow and living in a state of flow. A process of making decisions by following your intuition. And if it’s not a hell, yes, it should be a fuck, no. And you can bleep that out if you need to. Okay? And that is the whole premise of it. Right?

And I had never heard of this before. And then I called bullshit on them. I said, “This is nonsense,” because they were telling about all these crazy stories. They were in corporate America and they weren’t happy, but they were successful and they didn’t feel like they were living their . . . what they were meant to do on this earth and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all the nonsense you hear. At the time, I thought it was all nonsense. And they were telling me how their lives changed and they started studying flow and they were being invited all over the world to speak on this for free and being put up here and there and they’re meeting Richard Branson and all these other people. And I’m just like, “This is bullshit.” I’m like, “Get out of here.”

And so I call them on it. I resisted it hard because that’s the state of mind I was in until they said to me or I raised my hand and I said, “Look, I’ve been in this awful lawsuit. I can’t get out of my own way. I’m miserable right now. I think what you’re saying is bullshit.” And they said, “Let’s talk after the session.”

So, I talked to them after the session, they told me about this course that they have, and it’s $1,000, and I immediately thought, “Scam. This is a scam. They want my money and they’re going to teach me some nonsense that doesn’t even work.” But when I left it I was in so much pain. I was in so much misery at that time. Employees all over hating me. Right? Business was kind of . . . I still had clients, but we weren’t really doing great. We were down to, like, maybe 3.5 million from 5.5 million, so we were going down.

I had shrunk my staff. I had like this lawsuit that was hanging over me. I had these loans that were going crazy. I had these addictions that were out of control. So, it was a really a chaotic life. And I just thought to myself on the plane ride back from Bali, “Would it be so bad to live a different way?” And I sat with that one sentence over and over and over and I said, “I’m going to push everything aside, all my preconceived notions about people who taught flow and energy and astrology and healing.” Everything I learned from back east that these people are shi-shi nonsense, don’t believe it, I pushed it to the side and I said, “I’m just going to take the course and I’m going to drop my ego for the first time in my life and see what happens.” And I took this course and we went through a process of clearing out our limiting beliefs through tapping and EMDR. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with this idea.

Andrew: Not EMDR, but I’ve heard of tapping. Yes.

Michael: So, EMDR is like you’re moving your eyes back and forth from one side to the other, you’re tapping at the same time, you’re repeating these . . .

Andrew: Tapping you do in the back of your neck and you move your eyes back and forth.

Michael: Exactly.

Andrew: What’s the tapping for?

Michael: It’s supposed to . . . It basically hits this nerve, this here that releases some sort of energy.

Andrew: Okay. And that’s for people who are listening. The back of your neck. Okay. And you’re supposed to say something.

Michael: And like, take a limiting belief that change is difficult as a simple one, right? So, you’re just repeating, “Change is difficult. Change is difficult.” moving your eyes back and forth and tapping here. And they actually told me, “Once you do this, you’re going to be physically exhausted.” And I’m like, “Yeah, whatever. I just ran for marathons. Give me a break. I’m not going to be physically exhausted.” So, but I said, “I’m just going to do it.” And you write all this out, by the way, as well.

So, I had written it all out, I was doing all this, and all the sudden . . . And then you release the limiting belief and then you put in a positive belief. So, like, “Change is difficult.” to “Change is easy.” Right? So, you’re replacing it with a positive belief. So, I did all this other . . . And I was physically and emotionally exhausted after it. I actually had to lay down. And all I was doing was sitting, tapping and move my eyes back and forth and speaking.

And things started changing in my life. I was able to start manifesting solutions to the problems that I had when all I was doing before was trying to logically think of all the solutions but none of them were happening for me. I was all of a sudden starting to manifest things. And the word manifestation was never in my vocabulary. I never said it once before I met these people.

Andrew: Like what? What were you manifesting?

Michael: So, for instance, I was a person who needed to plan every single trip that I ever took months in advance. I would need the hotel, I would need the flight, I would need the car, I would need everything. Right? So, I’d said, “Okay.” And they told me they never planned this stuff, that they would plan it like a couple of days before a week before and things would manifest themselves based on them speaking about what they were doing and people would connect with them and all this stuff. And I said, “All right, let me try this nonsense out.”

So, I was going to South by Southwest. And if your audience is familiar with that, it’s a huge conference for tech, movies, and music, and held in Austin every year. And I would go every year and I would plan months in advance, and I didn’t plan anything and maybe like a week before, I was like, “All right. You know what?” I started calling around to my friends. I’m like, “You guys going?” They’re like, “Yeah.” I’m like, “Where are you staying?” And they’re like, “Oh.” Everybody was booked or nobody had a place, so I’m like, “Let me call my friend down there and let me just see if he knows anybody.”

Two days before I call my friend, I’m like, “Hey, I’m coming down for South by. I don’t have a ticket or a place to stay or a car or anything. Do you know anybody?” He’s like, “Man, you must have some amazing intuition because last night I booked the flight for my whole family. I’m taking them all to Hawaii. I’m taking them out of town. You can stay at my 3,500 square foot place.”

Andrew: Wow. It’s hard even months in advance to find a place in Austin for South by.

Michael: It’s impossible. It’s impossible. So, he’s like, “You can stay there for a week. And I’ll do you one better. I just got a brand new Mercedes truck. You can use the truck as much as you want. And my office happens to be . . . ” Because he’s a lawyer. “My office happens to be right on the strip where all the event is happening. I have a parking pass for you. You can use that also. All you have to do is feed my gerbil.” And my response, of course, was that, “You have a gerbil?” So, I went, I fed his gerbil. I stayed there. It all fell into place for me. He actually had a free ticket to some of the events as well. All these stuff. And . . .

Andrew: Wow. And you’re saying this is the type of stuff that happens to you now because you’re manifesting because you’ve changed your outlook from limiting beliefs to more empowering beliefs. Let me close this out with this two things.

Michael: And following my intuition.

Andrew: Let me close it out with . . . And following your intuition. Let me close it out with two things because we’ve got another guest coming on. We’re doing this whole thing live here today. I want to understand, what happened to Parallel HR Solutions? You’ve been running this recruiting company, it was going down. How did you turn things around so that you can sell it or did you turn it around so you can sell it?

Michael: I basically sold it. I mean, it was kind of at a plateau, it was kind of doing like 3, 3.5 million and I sold it at that level. So, I sold it for a discount from what it was worth.

Andrew: Did you get enough money to pay back your dad and to pay back Chase?

Michael: So, yes. So, basically, what happened is I wanted to settle the lawsuit and pay the lawyer bills off and pay my father off and pay the Chase loan off, pay it all off and reset my life. So, that’s what I did. I stole the business . . .

Andrew: How much did you end up personally at the end of all that nonsense?

Michael: What’s that?

Andrew: How much did you end up with personally at the end of this whole run? Anything?

Michael: No.

Andrew: No. No money. So, you were back to zero.

Michael: No. I mean, I had some money. I had four houses, right? Through that, I invested in houses and stuff, so I sold those houses. So, I got a few hundred grand from those houses. But that’s it. Everything else I sold . . .

Andrew: About $0.5 million in the bank that now you could start your new life off with?

Michael: No, I don’t have 0.5 million, but I . . .

Andrew: Two hundred?

Michael: Yeah. Yeah, 200.

Andrew: Got it. But no more obligations for work, no more obligations for anything except to tell people, “Here’s how you turn your life around,” and they could too. How did you get off of the other drugs? We kind of closed it by saying that you got off of gambling and that was the first step out. What did you do to finally get rid of everything else?

Michael: So, they’re interesting. So, I mean, the cocaine I actually was in New York City. My friend got in a fight. I went to break up the fight and I actually got hit from the side and broke my nose. And after I got my nose fixed, they handed me a bill and it was $10,000 and I looked at the bill and I said, “I will never put another thing up this $10,000 nose again.” And that’s how I quit cocaine. Dead serious. I lost you. I can’t hear you.

Andrew: Sorry. Just cold turkey.

Michael: Cold turkey.

Andrew: Wow. Okay.

Michael: And I already knew the principles of what I needed to do to quit something because . . .

Andrew: Did you go through the 12 steps on your own?

Michael: I didn’t. I just quit cold turkey. I hated the drug, actually, so I quit. I didn’t do it every day. I just hated it.

Andrew: Okay.

Michael: It was easy for me to quit. Adderall was different. Adderall was much, much, more challenging. I’ve been off that for over a year now. It’s definitely affected my level of energy level for sure. I drink a lot more coffee than I used to, but I’m a much more empathetic person. I actually lead from a leadership place. I’ve always been a leader. I always did a lot of philanthropic things besides my company, gave back a lot, raised over 100 grand for leukemia, lymphoma society, all that stuff.

But I basically had ran out of Adderall at my office. I couldn’t get it. I’m going to condense this story. I couldn’t get it for three days. Three days working with my staff, they were like, “What . . . Are you okay?” They were like, “You seem like a different person.” We were managing and coming up with solutions to any of the challenges we had and it was much more flowing conversation and a much better interaction with all of my employees. And I decided, “I don’t need this anymore. It’s turning me into somebody I am not.” And so that’s how I gave it up because I realized like, I can manage things. I can mentor people from a lot more of empathetic space and a leadership space without this drug and I don’t ever want it in my life again.

Andrew: Wow. And so now you’re drug-free completely.

Michael: I mean, I dabble once in a while with marijuana, but I don’t buy or purchase or have any marijuana in my place.

Andrew: Sohan was listening . . .

Michael: But I’m not going to sit here and say, “No, I never.” Never with Adderall, never cocaine, never with gambling. The things I was addicted to I will never do again.

Andrew: Weed, alcohol?

Michael: Yeah, once in a while, though, but I don’t seek these things out. So, if I’m somewhere and it’s around and I’m like, “Yeah. Let me have a hit.” I will, but it’s nothing that I seek out and it’s nothing that I yearn for. These other they were not like, addictions that ran my life like these other things did.

Andrew: Sohan in the audience is asking, “What’s the URL of that intuition program that you mentioned?”

Michael: So, it’s actually in the book on page 107. They actually . . .

Andrew: You know what? Let me see. This Kindle version of your book is giving me the stupid location numbers that Amazon created. I love Amazon for everything except that they insist on location number. I’m now on location number 1531. What does that even mean?

Michael: I have no idea, but you could just go in chasingthehighbook.com and it’ll take you to . . . You can buy the Kindle version or the paperback version. On page . . .

Andrew: I got the Kindle version. I’m not messing with paper.

Michael: Hopefully, everybody else likes paper. But Kindle is great too. On page 107, I have in the book Justin and Jackie talk about flow principle number three which is follow your intuition at all times. If you want to learn more about that, after you buy my book, you can go to flow-mastery.com. So, that’s flow-mastery.com. And you could contact Jackie and Justin, they are very good friends of mine. Tell them you heard me. And they’d be glad to speak to you more about their program. I will highly, highly recommend it. It changed my perspective on everything and changed my life.

Andrew: And Michael has a very easy to spell name. You can check out his website at michaelgdash.com. And I want to thank you for doing this interview, Michael. I like the book. I like sharing your stories here, but I also love reading them too in the book.

Michael: Great. Can I mention one more thing?

Andrew: Yeah, yeah.

Michael: Yeah. So, I might have mentioned it earlier just to you, but . . . So, I sold my business, I changed my whole life so I could focus on helping entrepreneurs and business leaders who are dealing with addictive and compulsive behaviors that are affecting them as leaders in their company, family members as friends like they did to me. I can relate to them, I can relate to making a decision every 15 minutes of the day for 10 hours straight and wanting to escape. And so if anybody is interested in learning more about that program, I built a free webinar which you can find at michaelgdash.com/flow, excuse me, /fate. Sorry.

Andrew: F-A-T-E.

Michael: F-A-T-E, which stands for From Addict To Entrepreneur. So, michaelgdash/fate. It’s a free webinar 45 minutes you can learn more about my program.

Andrew: I’m on the page now. All right. And his last name is Dash. We’re not talking about the punctuation. Michaelgdash.com/fate.

Michael: Fate.

Andrew: All right. I want to thank the two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first if you’re trying to train your people get them up to speed using your documentation, go check out Trainual. Specifically if you go to trainual.com/mixergy they’ll give you a discount, a 30%, they’ll also show you the documentation that we used to run our company and the interview that I did with the founder. Trainual.com/mixergy. Really, organizing your company that way will change the way your company functions. And second, if you have a second in command, go check out cooalliance.com/mixergy. Michael, thanks so much for being on here.

Michael: It’s been great. Have a great rest of the day.

Andrew: You too.

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