Podcast: What Not Backing Down Can Cost You, an Interview with Michael Dash
Michael Dash shares the lessons he learned from spending six years and a million dollars fighting with his business partner.
About the Host
Ryan is an entrepreneur, podcast host of the show Life After Business and the co-owner of Solidity Financial. Having personally experienced the hazards of selling a business, he joined up with his friend Brandon Wood to educate others on the process. Through their business (Solidity Financial), they provide a platform for entrepreneurs called Growth and Exit Planning that helps in exit planning, value building and financial management.
About the Guest
Michael grew up in a small town in New Jersey where he developed his passion for entrepreneurship while working with his father. Michael learned the value of hard work and the importance of a strong worth ethic during this time.
He went on to study at the University of Maryland. He began his career in sports advertising and soon began working with a childhood friend in the staffing business. In 2007, he followed a business opportunity to Utah. This was the birth of a thriving technology talent acquisition firm called Parallel HR Solutions where he is the CEO and President.
Michael is also an active community member and philanthropist. He supports and is a member of the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Team-in-Training fundraising group. He is also a part of several national organizations such as Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) and The Founders Organization. He has plans to finish his book Chasing the High early next year.
If you listen, you will learn:
- Michael’s business background.
- How Michael got into the staffing service business.
- The early years of Parallel HR and the move to Utah.
- How Michael and his partner structured the business.
- Why he decided to buy his partner out of the company.
- How the buy-out led to a lawsuit and a counter lawsuit.
- The danger of emotional decision making.
- The 2 people not to ask advice from during a lawsuit.
- How flow consciousness helped Michael make positive changes in his life.
- The importance of small changes.
- The power of positivity.
- How the six-year lawsuit was settled.
- Michael’s future plans moving forward.
- The 5 principles of activation.
- Michael’s final thoughts.
Michael Dash: It was very awkward and it was like not a good time. It was very tense and it was also very juvenile. I think both of us and you know I certainly made a lot of mistakes that I would have handled differently if I could go back in time, but you live and you learn and you take those lessons and move forward with.
Announcer: Welcome to Life After Business, the podcast where your host, Ryan Tansom, brings you all the information you need to exit your company and explore what life can be like on the other side.
Ryan Tansom: Welcome back to the Life After Business podcast. This is episode 117 and today's guest name is Michael Dash, and if you have a partner or you've had a business partner in the past, you're gonna. Really enjoy this episode because we all have that fear of what happens if we have a breakup with our partner. What am I going to do? What's going to be the recourse? How is this business going to survive in? How am I going to mentally deal with this? Well, if I were to say that Michael had one heck of a business breakup, I would be understating it because it was a six year lawsuit that result in an upwards of a million dollars in legal fees after Michael had decided to buy the remaining shares and the ownership interests from his partner of the company that they call Parallel HR Solutions where they were doing recruiting and staffing for the finance and the technical space, and they had this whole agreement why he bought her out, what was going to be going through the terms and the conditions, and then it went south.
Ryan Tansom: So on the show today, Michael describes the entire journey of starting the business. What happened in the bio, the ramifications of that six year lawsuit on his finances, the business and his mental state, and then he's very, very motivating. As you walked through why he's different. The things that he prioritizes in life now, what is important to him, the positivity that he wants to put into the world, and how he wants to make a big impact. Now that he's outside of this business, the negativity and the vicious cycle that he was in with his business partner, so listen in as you hear Mike go through this transformation in his life, but then also in the story that he shares in the podcast and if you're sitting there thinking, why am I doing this? You're stuck in a situation whether it's a partnership issue, a golden cage of a business that you want out of just really listening to Michael, go through that transformation and prioritize what's important to him. I think it's possible for all of us, so I really hope you enjoy this episode with Michael Dash.
Announcer: This episode of Life After Business is sponsored by GEXP Collaborative. Their proven process gives you clarity on all of your exit options and how those options impact your financial success, timing and future happiness. Sell your company on your timeframe to the buyer of your choice at the price you want.
Ryan Tansom: Michael, how you doing?
Michael Dash: I'm doing great. How are you?
Ryan Tansom: Doing good, looking forward to you on the show. You and I have a lot of common friends. We met at the YEC Escape and uh, you've got quite an interesting story and you had a, a very long-form posts in our group, kind of giving the rundown and as you and I were just chatting before we got on the recording, we have, there's a lot of entrepreneurs and owners that have gone through their journeys and tend to make it sound better and hide a lot of the internal stuff and you've been very open ended open book about it. But so before we get really into the meat of it, why don't you kind of give our listeners a little bit of a backdrop of how did you become an entrepreneur, you know, what was the business and um, what were some of the major milestones that you had as you were going?
Michael Dash: Yeah, sure. So I grew up in a family with an entrepreneur as a father. So early on he had me working in his stores and taught me what hard work was. I, I think I knew from that point on that I wanted to eventually at some point I didn't know where or what, but I want it to run the show, so to speak. I kind of like the aspect of him being in charge. So he had a couple of businesses import, export business and then a retail shop and it was all around fine China and collectibles. Think Lalique, Baccarat, Waterford, Humbles all that, Gathford all that fun stuff. And uh, and China. So I, I still say to this day, whenever I get married, eventually I'll probably know more about the China and the glasses, then my spouse. So, uh, so that'll be an interesting dynamic. But yeah, so I grew up in that. He actually wanted me to take that over, but I had zero interest in that business. Not a, not an interesting business and um, as it was really popular in the eighties, but as more women entered the workforce, then those specialty shops became more challenging to run and to be profitable because the mall's really, especially, this is back east coast malls all over the place. So yeah. I'm your one stop shopping where you can shop, uh, you know, for your spouse, your kids, yourself everywhere in one place so that, you know, ended his business in the early two thousands.
Michael Dash: Uh, but I went on to take a job. Uh, I went to University of Maryland. When I graduated there, I took a job in sports advertising for four years. I did really well there, but I disagreed with the ownership and how they ran the company. So I left. My good friend convinced me to go into staffing. He said he was at a staffing company for four years. He wanted me to join him. He said you'd be awesome at this. We crush it together. So I'm like, all right, sounds good to me. So I took a job at another staffing firm for one year so I could learn everything on their dime. And then I eventually left and joined him. Uh, I worked with him for four years in New York City. Uh, and then, uh, I was calling on etrade financial and they didn't have any business, New York, New Jersey. But they said to me, if I knew somebody in Sandy, Utah, they are trying to hire 200 financial service revenue in the next three and a half weeks. [Ryan interjects: Cool.] At the time my company didn't want any business outside New York and New Jersey and I happened to know one person in staffing outside of Metropolitan area who was in Utah. Almost like the, like the guy laid out there for me. So we put a bid on the project, won the project, filled all 200 positions on budget on time. So we got additional projects in Alpharetta, Georgia, Jersey City in Tampa, Florida. And we filled 800 positions in one year just for etrade.
Ryan Tansom: Holy cow, how many people did you have to interview to get 800 people placed?
Michael Dash: A lot.
Ryan Tansom: So what was your, what was your buddy before you guys started the business? What was he doing or did he run the business and then you went and joined him?
Michael Dash: Yeah. So he was a president of that business. He was working for a, an owner that we both knew. We all grew up in the same path together. So we have the owner who grew up in our town, then my buddy who worked his way up to president, then he brought me on as director. Um, and then after that etrade stuff happened. He actually got into a dispute with the owner. They ended up breaking apart and that's where I kind of exited and I was going, I went to Utah to help open Parallel HR Solutions with my ex business partner based off the success we had on all that etrade stuff. And I was going to stay there for six months and I ended up staying there for 11 years.
Ryan Tansom: Six months, eleven years... [Michael interjects: six of one, half dozen of the other.] So. So did. So the, your body, that was the president. So that whole business disappeared. And then you guys started Parallel HR?
Michael Dash: No, that. Yes. Yes and no. That business did disappear because he got a legal dispute with the owner and he ended up getting fired. Like in court. He's the president of the company, built it up to 11 million. That company ended up desolving, ended up going away, the run into the ground because my buddy was gone and the owner didn't know what he was doing and my buddy started his own company in New York and then I went to Utah with my ex business partner. I had worked with her for that one year when I, the first year in staffing and I went to work with this other company. That's where I met her. Got It. So went to Utah, was gonna spend six months and help her get the company up and off the ground and running and I landed a huge account right away. Uh, overstock.com, which is a big client of mine. They're based in Salt Lake City, Utah. And it was just off to the races and basically my buddy was offering me 30 percent to go back to New York and help him open up and she was offered me 50 percent to stay in Utah. And I made all decisions based on money at that point in my life. So it wasn't, it was kind of a no brainer to me. And I stayed in Utah and I had to tell my buddy that I grew up with new all these years and we had talked about opening all these years together. I had to tell him, yeah, I changed my mind. I made a different decision.
Ryan Tansom: How do you take that?
Michael Dash: Um, it was, it was one of the toughest conversations at the time that I ever had to, had to have because we had been talking about it for years that we were going to open up together and I understood why he was only offering me the 30 and not the 50 percent because he was in the business for five years longer than you had a lot more contacs, he put a lot more sweat equity into it all and all that stuff. But uh, but yeah, at the end of the day, like I said, I just didn't. I made the decision solely on money and to me 50 percent was more than 30 percent even though I didn't really look at how big each pie would be. How big the pie is, is kind of relevant.
Ryan Tansom: So the circle graph looked the same but you just didn't have any numbers.
Michael Dash: Because at that point, both the circle graphs had nothing in them.
Ryan Tansom: So what was the. So this is your partner there. What, what, what, how did you get structured? I mean, and what was the, was it just off to the races because you guys are growing so fast, but it, like what was the kind of the original foundation of the equity and the operating room? Was there anything, any kind of communication around where, because I know that's kind of where this will probably lead to, right? Is, you know, how does that make sense? Like what did you have?
Michael Dash: Yeah, basically. So we want it to be certified as a minority-owned, woman-owned business. Um, so w we couldn't do it minority on but we were able to do a woman-owned so she owned 51 percent of the company. Um, and I came in and then it was her, her husband at the time set up all our infrastructure and everything. So he had like a nine percent interest or something. So I came in at 40 percent with a nine percent option, basically. So upon sale or anything, you know, I would, it would be split 51:49 on the sale on, uh, but as far and then, and then in terms of payments and commissions and salary, it was 50/50.
Ryan Tansom: Got It. Did you guys have any, any distinguished rules around ownership versus like salaries and WG, because there's a lot of people that get stuck in the "Hey, we're both owners. We have the same salary, same distributions" or was there just kind of grow and we're both gonna split everything 50/50, have the same salaries.
Michael Dash: Yeah. So we didn't really pay ourselves salaries at first. We just, uh, you know, we had other corporations kind of set up. We're kind of doing it that way in the beginning where we pay our corporations our corporations for our services that we were providing to the company only when we had, when we were profitable and made money. Um, so we weren't taking salaries at first because we were hiring people.
Ryan Tansom: You're piling it all back into the business.
Michael Dash: Yeah. So anything we made at the end of the year then we would take distributions or whatever and, but we ended up switching that and then being W2 employees at some point, but after six, after five years about I bought her out.
Ryan Tansom: So let's, let's kind of take some of these milestones we're going because we don't have to go into the technical stuff because I know you've got a great story about kind of changing things that have happened in your life, but like what was, like, how big did the business go from employees or revenue size mean what led to the triggering event of you, you buying her out?
Michael Dash: So we were a full-time staffing company. Permanent employment was our main focus. We did some contract but permanent employment. So you know, you're obviously not having people on your payroll billing a lot of billable hours. So the revenue model looks a little different. We have built the company up until about five and a half million in revenue over the first five years and that's when I bought her out. I think we had at that point about 30 employees, offices in so Lake City, Utah, Lewiston, Idaho, and Nasik, India, and uh, so we have three offices with about 30 people spread around and I was looking to expand and I wanted to go into New York and I wanted to build it up more and she was really content at the size of the company. She wanted to spend more time with her kids and all this other stuff. So she was working less and less and I was working more and more. That's where the friction started happening. I mean I was working 10, 12 hour days and she was working like six hour days and spending all this time with the kids, which I was fine with. I'm like, Hey, if you want to spend time with your kids, I totally get that, but I'm working 10, 12 hours and you're working like six to eight hours, then this isn't a 50/50 deal and we're not going to split it.
Ryan Tansom: So then how did you get like how did you approach that final conversation then and how did you evaluate the business and then determine which route you were going?
Michael Dash: So we had our lawyers actually do that. Um, but I angled it so I bought the business because that's what I wanted to do. I mean I had the relationships with all the clients and she had really built the internal operations and had a lot stronger relationships with some of the employees. For instance, the India office, she opened it herself, like I had never met the India team. I worked with them every day. We talked every day, but we didn't meet in person like she had been over there three times. So, uh, we just got to a point though where we were butting heads and, and would be days. We didn't even speak to the offices right next to each other, very awkward. And it was like not a good time. It was very tense and it was also very juvenile. I think of both of us and you know, I certainly made a lot of mistakes that I would have handled differently if I could go back in time. But you live and you learn and you take those lessons and move forward with them.
Ryan Tansom: So then did you pay it out over time and then that was. So that was five years and then you said you were there for 11 years. So what are.... Now, how did that kind of come and go and then what was the kind of the next couple of chapters?
Michael Dash: Well, I wish I could say it came and gone, but it came and it sat there for a long time. So after we went to the lawyers, the lawyers had us in separate rooms going back and forth, like trying to negotiate a. The first thing we wanted to do is negotiate a number and then decide who was going to buy.
Ryan Tansom: Is there like a shotgun clause or something like that? Just... you wanted the business. Right. I mean so...
Michael Dash: I wanted it the whole time. So I would tell them the lawyers, I'm like, it doesn't make any sense for her to keep it. She doesn't have any relationships with clients, but you need to go back in there and keep telling her that. And um, so eventually, anyway, I got what I thought I wanted, which at the time I did want, which was I wanted to buy the company. So I did. So I had to take a big loan obviously to pay her off and all this other stuff. But within six months of purchasing that company, I found that she, uh, well I thought violated the contract because she actually had an affair with the director in India and the director in India who she's actually married to now, she got divorced from her husband, then married the director in India, brought him over here, has twins with him. Okay. So like within six months of me buying the company, we were doing like a million dollars in deals over out of our India office and it tanked. It just completely tanked. She was over there like three times within the first six months and just...
Ryan Tansom: Distracted, was she just distracting him?
Michael Dash: Yeah, and they weren't working hard for me. They didn't give a shit about me, like they didn't care, right. There was her, she was their savior and blah blah blah blah blah. So there were like, uh, I dunno, I can't. 14 employees and like one day, like nine of them walked out on me. Yeah. So...
Ryan Tansom: So your, your payment and the value wasn't tied to retention of revenue or profits or anything like that?
Michael Dash: No, no, I just paid what I felt the value was. And then I paid a big chunk up front on closing and then I owed, uh, four more payments over two years. So every six months, right now, the first payment was due after all this was going on, you know, I was like, hell no. You know, I mean, the company just, I just had paid her a million dollars for the company and the company just going down the tube and all of a sudden I'm like in a sinking ship after just paid all this money, which I owe. And she... And I felt she's disrupting everything and violating the agreement. So I had my attorney send her a letter saying that we were doing an internal investigation into all this and then she countered by suing me. So then I countered by counter-suing her. Then we were off to the races and that lawsuit lasted six years. Six years. So I had friends who were married and divorced in a shorter period of time than my lawsuit was settled.
Ryan Tansom: The mental energy that just gets sucked out of that. I mean, how were you, how were you doing with that and running a company?
Michael Dash: Very poorly. I didn't do a good job. I was angry all the time. I felt very heavy feeling. I wasn't a great leader. I, uh, kind of did things by the seat of my pants and I made a lot of poor emotional decisions, especially with the lawsuit but also in the business itself because at the same time I was trying to expand into New York. So here I am like in New York, hiring all these people in New York, these new employees trying to integrate them with the India team, the Utah team, uh, Idaho team, and it was just way too much for me to handle and I didn't have the right people in place to be able to elevate what we already had. So, I mean, no, I made emotional, emotional decisions and took things personal, too. Like if somebody wasn't working hard, I took it personal, like that's an attack on me. You're not working hard. Right. And that's not how you run a business. Right. So, yeah, I mean with the lawsuit, especially, one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that there are two people not to ask for advice when you're in a lawsuit. One are the actual lawyers.
Ryan Tansom: I was going to say... I bet they paid for a lot of stuff over six years, too. In their personalize lives... They were doing all right.
Michael Dash: Yeah, yeah, they're fine. They're getting paid, you know, whatever. They don't care. Um, you know, who the others are not to ask for advice?
Ryan Tansom: I don't know where this is going on. I'm curious on your answer.
Michael Dash: Your parents. Okay. Because your parents have a bias to protect their children and so however they're going to answer, even if they're very pragmatic, right? They can't help but want to protect you. So if somebody is attacking, at least in my scenario, whenever I was attacked in this lawsuit, my father who I am very close to his, his advice would be attack back, right? Don't you dare let her do this to you, you know, like, and that permeated most of my... Throughout most of my decisions throughout this entire lawsuit. So I was, she didn't realize he was doing this. He didn't, you know, that's just his nature, right? It's just so he thinks he's doing it in a protective manner. But I, and I didn't realize it until after the fact either because I was so emotionally wrapped up in it and emotionally involved and took it so personal that I couldn't separate what is the smartest thing for the business and what is the smartest thing for myself personally and my sanity and my finances and all of that. I couldn't separate that away from my ego, which says nobody's gonna f with me. Right. My Ego, which says if you attack, I attack back. My Ego would says I don't lose. I only went even like, who the hell even knows what that means? That's it's so...
Ryan Tansom: It depends on what your definition of winning is, right?
Michael Dash: It's just such a juvenile way of thinking like you're a child. Right. And, you know, and, and, and that's how I made a lot of decisions which exacerbated my situation and which conteinuted to extend it, year-over-year. I definitely made some decisions where I took a couple steps back if I had the tools and have now maybe I meditated before I, you know, told my attorney go do this or go do that.
Ryan Tansom: A shotgun, right?
Michael Dash: Yeah. Yeah. I'd come back into commerce state and be able to make a, you know, a, a more strategic decision for everything that was involved instead of shooting from the hip. I'm driven by and fueled by emotion.
Ryan Tansom: So where were you and what was the triggering point where you realized what was going on, that this self-perpetuating situation kept getting worse and was exacerbated by the emotions? I mean, and like what happened or was there an epiphany? Like how did the, how did you, where were you, what happened?
Michael Dash: Uh, I was in Bali actually, and it was a couple years ago. I took a trip with-- I'm part of a bunch of these tribes, like you and I are in YEC. I consider that a tribe. One of them is called Unconventional Life and it was like, it's deemed as a business accelerator, but it's really a lot of people who are trying to create the life on their own terms and live the life they were meant to live. Right. So you know, people who don't want to necessarily go into a nine to five job, you know, people doing all different sorts of things. Like that wouldn't be in my life if I wasn't part of this group, like somebody doing energy or astrology or somebody's doing like energy or astrology and stuff like that. Like in the past I would laugh at those people and it would be like they're a scam, like it wouldn't even be able to talk to them or take them serious, but um, but now I have a new outlook on life because you can't make a judgment on something you've never been exposed to, which I used to always do. I used to always judge things I was never exposed to. So I mean it's another sign of ego. So I was like...
Ryan Tansom: What in that then what was it like a breakout or a person?
Michael Dash: So it was a breakout session where two people were talking about flow, consciousness and living in flow. And the whole premise of that is how you make decisions, making decisions from your heart versus your head all the time. And if it's not a hell no, it should be. Excuse me. If it's not a hell yes, it should be an f no in everything you do in your life. And that's just not how I made decisions. Like I just made this, like if a friend called me up and said, hey, let's go out tonight, let's go to this place. And I really didn't want to go, like I'd allow them to convince me to go and uh, you know, and that's how I live my life, allowed other people to influence decisions that I made and it's good to get input from people and everything.
Michael Dash: But when you're living a life like that, you're not living to your highest intuition. Right? And that's really what it's all about. And I called that bs on everything they said when I was sitting and listening to them, they, they said, hey, let's talk afterwards. And so I talked to him for about an hour afterwards. I still didn't believe what they were saying because they were giving, like there were just telling me about all these amazing things that's happened in their life. I lived in these principles and they've studied this for years and years and years. And they were offering this course. Um, you know, when we got back to the states online and my first intuition was like, no, again, this is a scam. This is what met all these people. They, they, they kind of fish you really hit and then they hook you. Yeah, it's $800 for a course and you know, my whole attitude towards that is they're trying to scam me, but after I spoke to them, when I started, when I flew back from Bali to the US, I had a long flight so I had a lot of time to think about things and I just started thinking to myself, you know, would it be so bad to live a different way? Would it be so bad to be optimistic every day?
Ryan Tansom: Just questioning your paradigm.
Michael Dash: I mean, I just felt so heavy as a person. Every day I woke up I just felt weighed down and heavy. All these things that were not in a lot of other things that have been discussed with... All these things that were going on in my life and I felt stuck. Um, but, and you know, I used to be the guy who walked down the street and if somebody was walking on the other side and they were looking at me, in my mind, I was thinking, what the f is that person looking at?
Ryan Tansom: Just just, just feeling like everybody's out to get you.
Michael Dash: Totally. Instead of just being like smiling at a stranger and saying hello.
Ryan Tansom: Where did that come from? Was it... have you pinpointed it?
Michael Dash: Well, I mean, it's kind of east coast, you know, you grow up on the east coast, you grow up with a certain mentality. It's really like, you know, if you're working in New York City, especially just grind, grind, grind, work, work, work the more, you know, nicer suits, bigger watches, nicer cars, like status, this, status that. And, you know, I got sucked into all that and you know, I also had addiction issues. So I had a gambling addiction, uh, for 25 years I've been clean for 13 years. I started gambling when I was seven years old. My uncle introduced me to it. And that got me in a very negative mindset as well. So I was like, always just negative about shit. Um, and, you know, then that affects. But, but at the same time then at a party or something, I'd be the life of the party. Nobody would know anything going on or going wrong. Right. Um, but I was miserable. It was just an escape for me.
Ryan Tansom: Internal conflict must have been just super heavy. So as you started asking yourself those questions, I mean, how, I mean there, there was probably cracks in your reality then. I mean, what was the, some of the first actions and how, how did you start looking at all of the things that you were going on in different perspectives? I mean, how like what was the kind of the chain of thoughts?
Michael Dash: I mean, I can tell you the first action. I remember the first day I got to Bali before I even went into that room and I heard that session and had this epiphany. I was talking to a girl there about how I was wasting so much of my life watching reality television every night for like two hours every night. So exhausted from the business that I would just come home. I go work out... [Ryan interjects: numb your brain.] Yeah, just numb my brain. And I've made a commitment to her that first night that first thing I was going to do is get rid of my cable boxes and return them. Okay, cable TV company, so at what I, I did kind of fib a little bit because it wasn't the first thing I did. I actually had to watch the DVR, saved up and clear everything off. One last fix. So I did all that and then I returned them and I remember how amazing I felt by doing that one little thing like just going into Xfinity, which is a company, it's called Utah and giving them my boxes back. They're like, oh, we'll give you this free and that free. And I'm like, I don't want anything. I want to be clean. I want to be brave. So I remember taking pictures and posting it and it just felt like this weight off my shoulder. It's crazy. It's hard to describe, but just so that little move set gave me a little momentum to take the next move to the. To start listening to podcasts for instance. Right. We were talking before the show about podcasts and Louis House, which is a great podcast that I listen to now and I never had listened to a podcast before that, so I started incorporating some of these positive podcasts into my morning, so instead of listening to Howard Stern and sports radio, which I always listened to and what you're entertaining, but they're mind-numbing. You don't have to think. It doesn't help put positive thoughts in your mind. Get your day started right. I then shifted over and listen to something that was a little bit more inspiring for me and positive, and then that starts your day off a little different than you start incorporating, you know, small changes and you know, what I always like to say to people is the smallest change can lead to the biggest outcome.
Michael Dash: It's about taking that initial first step regardless of what it is, and I didn't realize it at the time that that initial step of returning these cable boxes would then lead to another small step, another small step. And then all of a sudden I've made like, holy cow, massive change just by taking those small steps because if you think about, hey, I want to change all this in my life, like it becomes daunting, overwhelming, and you're like, oh my God, I can't.
Ryan Tansom: Right.
Michael Dash: You know, it's just like, and, and you, you, the, our minds are the most powerful thing that we have. We can convince our minds anything. Okay? Whether it's to stay on that, you know, to do five more reps in the gym or whether they get off that treadmill or eat that extra ice cream or you know, the world is out to get me or I can't trust this person or I got to work hard or whatever it is, right? Whatever it is, positive or negative, like our mind can control the actions that we take and it's up to us to program our minds with positive actions. So, and surround ourselves with positive people because that's kind of how you're going to follow them or lead. Um, if you have those type of people around you.
Ryan Tansom: And so what were some of the things that you were realizing that the feedback that you're getting, so obviously your, your life is changing is this, and then how about the interaction with your business? How did you start looking at the lawsuit and your employees, the people that you're surrounding yourself with? Because I think in the context of the question Michael I think a lot of entrepreneurs they build, I was telling you before the recording that you know, that there's a lot of egos are driven about behind building businesses from the top line revenue and people getting these groups and it's just compare, compare, compare, and then, you know, it was our personal situation that kind of changed our paradigm as well. But like a lot of these entrepreneurs that get to this point where then they're stuck because like all of a sudden they themselves start to change, but then they're in, they're surrounded by vendors, clients and you know, employees and this whole situation that how do you change when you're in this situation? So how did you ripple those different things into the business and the, the situation that you're in?
Michael Dash: So, interesting question. I don't know that I did. I continued to, so I, I started changing my outlook on things, but I realized that when I had certain situations come up, especially let's go through the lawsuit. Okay. Where I actually had a chance to settle right before we went to trial. I didn't.
Ryan Tansom: Why?
Michael Dash: Because I was still, I thought I had grown and I wasn't quite ready. I had to learn another lesson and um, I emotionally, I wasn't done doing cost benefit analysis in my head as to what the right thing to do because I was so involved because I was already five and a half years into the suit and then we were finally going to trial. But I was, you know, offered. Yeah. We discussed settlement right before trial and there was an amount we kind of came close to agreeing to, but never quite pulled the trigger. And you know, I, I just didn't, I didn't do it and I didn't realize that I was making the [unclear] again. I went back and asked my dad what he thought and then after I made the decision and all of a sudden we're getting prepared for trial and stuff and the fees are just mapping it out and I could have ended all that. Um, so we, I actually went through a six day trial, right. This is all over 350k, by the way. So I went over a six day trial. The jury actually came back and they found that I didn't owe her 350 that were technically I owed her the 350 but she caused damages. So the net was 90k that I owed her, right. But no, it gets better. So the judge said I'm not certifying this ruling until you both agree on attorney fees. So now we're trying to agree on five and a half years of attorney fees.
Michael Dash: She wants to half a million dollars in attorney's fees from me. And I'm like helmet because she technically was the prevailing party even though she was trying to get 350 and they are awarding or 90k. So this went on and on and on and this is eight months later and they still can't work out the attorney's fees. So that's when um, and she was threatening if we don't work this out, you know, I'm going to appeal, she could still appeal the verdict and then I'm going to appeals court and then that's another year to two years and I had already been going on for six years and I was just like, look, I can't do this anymore. Like I told my attorneys or I, I, I said I'm just going to call her up and offer her a settlement because I don't. It was either pay her pay, the attorney's fees are just keeping on mounting up. Attorneys were ruthless in their fees, you know, I did not. I had a worse experience with my attorneys than I did with...
Ryan Tansom: Suing your partner.
Michael Dash: Yeah, totally. Totally. So, so I ended up calling her and settling on the 350 than I originally after the jury rule that I actually technically only odor because because I didn't know with the, with the fees and with all that stuff, like I just didn't want it to go on and on we, it was, it was clear that we were not going to agree on attorney's fees and then it would go to the judge and then the judge would have to make a ruling and then she could appeal that or I could appeal that. And then now we're talking six months or a year more and attorney's fees are racking up and everything. After six years. I'm just like, there's no way I'm not doing this anymore. I'm like, I don't care if I lose everything I have. So I made a decision that I was going to sell the company and take the money from the sale and pay off the lawsuit. And that's exactly what I did.
Ryan Tansom: Oh, my gosh.
Michael Dash: It felt amazing.
Ryan Tansom: There's so many questions.
Michael Dash: And so I felt amazing even though like I spent on this whole lawsuit right between her and attorneys, a million dollars. $1,000,000 should be in my bank, but it's not right. So all those years of working in everything down the drain. So now I have like no money but I don't care because it's like, that is not how I live my life. Right. And first of all, I uh, I know how to make money, so if, if it came to it and I needed to go and sell something, I could sell ice to a damn eskimo and I, I mean, I don't, you know, I'm, I'm very comfortable in being able to make money so, you know, that's why I was fine like selling the company and taking everything that was all the proceeds from the sale and settling this lawsuit and then paying these attorneys off because um, because I'll figure it out down the road. And, and plus it's not how I make decisions in life anymore. Like my, what I want to do is impact other people. Okay. And you don't need money to do that. Obviously I need to make a living somehow, but the best feeling right now is I actually don't know how I'm going to do that. And um, because I'm on a six month transition contract from selling the company, I have one month left and then after that I, I, I'm writing my book, but other than that, how will I make money? I'll figure it out. It's more of living in that low state of flow and being able to choose what projects you want to be a part of that are at the highest level of interest that are going to bring the highest excitement to you that you could really make an impact on. And I'm finally after 20 something years, 30 years, whatever. I'm old. I'm finally in that position to do that and not have any restrictions of which so many people box themselves in and convince themselves that they can't change it. But they can because I did.
Ryan Tansom: Where were you when you, I had this switch in the feeling where you felt the shackles come off?
Michael Dash: Um, so when I sold the... I mean it slowly started happening, like settling a lawsuit was, like, felt great, uh, and then selling the company and also felt great because I actually became, I, I started to have an adversarial relationship with my own company. Like I started hating my own company.
Ryan Tansom: Because you said all of that garbage in every aspect of the business is my guess.
Michael Dash: I just hated the business. I started like, you know, it's not, I didn't have a great business setup to begin with. I'm doing direct hire and everything. You don't have that consistent flow of a contract of like billing coming in. So it's very high pressurized. So we shifted the model a little bit, but it was just a bad business model and it wasn't a great, sustainable business. The way I had it set up and it's extremely pressurized and you're just dealing with people like I love people, but I don't need to get a phone call that, you know, somebody overslept their alarm and are 45 minutes late for an interview. Like I don't care. This is not what I want to spend my time with this point in my life.
Ryan Tansom: I always, uh, I always wondered about the people that are in the recruiting business because I've know a lot of them and you started because you like people and you know, connections and know how to move people in the right direction, but then all of a sudden people become your inventory and you end up seeing people in a different light. And I've had this one gal, she's like, oh my gosh, why are these people just not doing what they should be doing?
Michael Dash: Yeah, it's uh, you know, I found if you lower your expectations, uh, you know, you're, you're always pleasantly surprised.
Ryan Tansom: Well, it's not ideal, right?
Michael Dash: I'm not saying it's ideal, I'm just saying that worked for me.
Ryan Tansom: Who'd you, who'd you sell the business to?
Michael Dash: So I actually sold it to my best friend who got me into the business to begin. Yeah. Yeah. So everything comes full circle and he got me into business and he's getting me out of it. So he had a, he has a $20,000,000 company in New York that focuses primarily on nurse nurse staffing. And admin staffing and he wanted to ad tech technology staffing to, you know, his suite of services. So he bought it.
Ryan Tansom: Was it an earnout or up-front payment or a combo or what was the structure of.
Michael Dash: Yeah, it's a, uh, it's kind of a up-front payment. I needed the money to settle the lawsuit basically.
Ryan Tansom: Let's go with what you've got going on right now. And your mindset has changed so much and as I've been, you know, as we've been following each other in different circles, I mean explain, I don't know, is there principles that you're running your life on in your day-to-day or like as you look to the next venture, who are the, I know apart of being activated. You can kind of give them a plug. I want to hear how you're interacting with that, but then you were at Louis houses, and conferences. What are the things that you're doing and other principles and there's kind of, is there a foundation that you're building to, to move forward with?
Michael Dash: Yeah. Well, first of all, I'm writing my book, which is called Chasing the High and it's really about my entrepreneurial journey, uh, about addiction, about lawsuits, about the lessons that I've learned along the way and about, uh, you know, the, the challenges and overcoming them. So I really want to dedicate my life now to helping others, whether it's helping others not make the same mistakes I did from an entrepreneurial aspect, whether it's helping others through recovery because I've gone through that or whether it's, you know, helping the homeless, feeding the homeless, like whatever it is, [unclear] things. I'm involved in all aspects of these things. So that's kind of what the book is about. And I'm going to Bali again, uh, the end of November day after Thanksgiving, I have a one way ticket and I'm not coming back to the book is finished. [Ryan interjects: Oh, cool.] I'm about three quarters of the way done with the book, so I think I should be able to bang it out in the month of December and they'd come back and then know, probably I would assume March or April.
Michael Dash: So I'm doing that. I started a new series called Fate F A T E, From Addict To Entrepreneur and I interviewed former addicts who are now entrepreneurs and I both have million dollar businesses and I write articles for thrive global about those interviews, which is already on the Huffington's publication. And uh, I've uh, possibly gonna look to turn that into a television show. Uh, so I could, I could totally see that being show on like TLC or something. Yeah. I'm excited to see what happens with that. So those iare um, kind of the two things. Two of the several other things that I'm working on. Um, and I also partnered with a company called Ignite Journeys and I'm going to Mexico with them on a four-day humanitarian trip where they go into, um, like impoverished areas and they give back to the community and they take executive teams though. So that's their spin.
Michael Dash: They take executive teams for like a week or for, excuse me, for like four days, you know, to these places where the executive team gets to spend time with each other outside of the office and build like a different type of bond and relationship and give back to the community. [Ryan interjects: That's awesome.] Yeah. So they want me to be an ambassador for them. So they invited me on a trip to check it out. And if that goes as expected then I most likely, you know, will be promoting their services as well and maybe reaching out to my my business context. I can't, you know, I don't want to. I mean it's 11 years, 15 years really patient sheets. So I'd like to be able to, you know, keep, keep nurturing them in some aspects, especially something positive like that. So those are like those are the things that I'm working on right now in terms of your original question, which was like the pillars of what I live by and everything.
Michael Dash: Yeah. Um, so we, we did start Activation, um, a couple of, like a year or so ago, and I'm a year ago, two years ago, it was around the same timeframe. Everything kind of happened. It was two years ago and Parvee and I, and our buddy joey, we're actually driving a car from park city up to an event YEC had in Utah and Parvee turned to me and he said, I'm going to activate everybody at this event. What do you mean you're going to activate it? He's like, I'm just going to make sure everyone... I'm like, what does that mean? He's like, I'm going to make sure everybody's having the highest level of excitement that they're just pumped up at the present, not worrying about everything else going on, that they're really authentic and really enjoying the experience and all this stuff. And I'm like, all right, that sounds cool, but um, I'm going to activate more people than you do.
Ryan Tansom: I've never heard this original story.
Michael Dash: We're driving up there. We just start activating everybody. And everybody's like, what the hell are these guys doing? Right? So there was a big, like a big response to it afterwards when people were really like, intuit and energetic about it. And so we decided to actually start something. We thought, hey, I think we have something here. So, you know, we started, um, we came up with the five core principles of activation and it stands for paper, P A P E R. So positivity, authenticity, passion, empathy and resilience. And we try to live by those five core pillars, you know, uh, on a day to day basis. I know I try to do it in my life, um, and that's what our movement is all about. And uh, you know, we were just kinda tired of seeing everybody complaining, uh, whether it's about the elections because this is kind of how it started was back two years ago, everybody posting this is so divisive, people complaining about their mother and mother, father and their this, and that.
Michael Dash: And instead of like being grateful and having gratitude for everything that we have people's tendencies or just a bitch and moan about what they don't have. Right. Um, so, you know, being able to kind of put something positive out there, it's also a reminder to myself every day that, you know, hey, yeah, you got a roof over your head. You know, you're in the United States of America, the land of the free. You can do anything you want. I grew up in a middle class family. I have nothing to complain about, nothing. Right. When I was bitching and moaning about this lawsuit and bitching and moaning about my employees and bitching and moaning about my clients bitching and moaning about the bank cutting my credit line off. Every single thing when I look back on how I was acting was complaint, complaint, complaint, negative, negative, negative. Um, and it was on autopilot. Like I just did not have the exposure to the tools. Let's think positively to be optimistic. I, I wasn't exposed to it because I didn't even let it in. But as soon as I started exposing myself to it, I could slowly shifted my mindset and slowly incorporate new things to really live a better life and to make sure that whatever I do, like it's truly what I, from the heart, am driven by and you know, it's truly what I feel like I've been put on this earth to do. So like I like to consider myself an expert in how not to do shit.
Ryan Tansom: So what are those like, you know, you got this book and we don't, you don't even have to give away the meat of it because I want the listeners to go pick it up when you have it. But like what are some of the main lessons, you know, the, the main shit that you said you shouldn't do, you know? And yet a lot of stuff that you've shared that you've, you've obviously learned a lot from because you're way different. You and I were talking about. It's all about growing and creating the new person that you want to be. But like if you're, if you, if one of the listeners is stuck or they're in that negative feedback loop, you know, what are the, what are the lessons that you learned and the things that they should be doing to get out of it?
Michael Dash: Well, the first thing I would say is emotional decision making. Nothing good happens on text message. Nothing good happens making a emotional decision when you're in the middle of something and it's a trigger point for you, you're going to know that you have to be able to identify your trigger points. So easy example is my trigger point is an email from my lawyers. Whenever I see the email come in with the lawyer name on it, okay, I know I'm going to be triggered. So I created a folder I can see when the folder, you know, highlights itself when a new emails come in and I made sure sometimes I don't read that email for two days. I make sure I'm in a great mood. Well whatever happens, I'm going to react to it, you know, in a much more pragmatic fashion, much more relaxed fashion. Sometimes I would go and I would go into the other room and literally meditate for 15 minutes, then I would get up and read the email. Right? So just taking a step back and a deep breath before you react to something and not acting emotionally about it regardless of how much emotion it involves. Because there's a bigger picture to it. Like every action has a reaction. So if you're going to send something you expect you're going to get something back and then it's gonna just it's going to be that much more challenging or difficult to solve that particular issue you're dealing with. And again, this isn't just for entrepreneurs. I mean this is just life, right? Because I did this in other areas of my life as well. So I would say that that's Kinda like the first thing that I learned and then about being stuck.
Michael Dash: Uh, you know, it's daunting when you say you want to change your whole life. Like if you look at it from that, it's like if you're trying to lose weight and you're like, I need to lose 100 pounds. If anybody actually looked at that and said, I've got to lose 100 pounds, like most people will never start, right? Because it's too big of a hill to climb, but I just. For instance, I just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro earlier this year. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever done in my life. It's 19,000 feet. If somebody said to me, hey, you're going to call claim 90,000 feet, you're going to run a marathon, right? I've, I've run some marathons. Great. When you think about 26.2 miles, like there's no way in hell I'm going to be. But then when you get the that get a schedule together and you break down your training sessions and you see, oh, the first week, the biggest run is six miles.
Michael Dash: Oh I can. I could get through that. Right? And then you've done six miles and then you look at the next week and you're like, oh, they bumped it up to eight miles this week. Well I did six last week. You know, I can definitely, I can get through eight and then all of a sudden the next one's 12 and you're like 12. That's going to be tough. That's doublint. Now we're doubling it, but, but then, then you get through it and then you slowly crack away at the things you've convinced yourself you think you can't do by taking small actions and small positive steps forward. And that's what I discovered. I discovered that the smallest change can lead to the biggest difference because that's how you can pick up your momentum.
Ryan Tansom: If you've ever read the book, Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy.
Michael Dash: Yup. Yup. I have that book.
Ryan Tansom: Eat the damn frog in the morning. Right? Because it's the highest leverage of things that'll actually change the trajectory of where you're going. I mean it's, you know, you and I could probably do a whole nother show on this because. Because I would get geek out on this stuff for a long time, but I mean it's the ego and there's this. We've got this group coach because there's an entrepreneur group here in the twin cities where it's like above the line or below the line and really where you're coming from, your inner self of the bottom of the line off the say this and I'll link to it for the listeners, but it's like despair and hopelessness, but the top is just absolute peace and joy and so like literally what you dish out is what you attract and it's like you get into these feedback loops and it, it takes a lot of time and it takes suppressing your ego and your emotions and because it's a challenging thing though, but, and then going back to taking one bite at a time because otherwise it's just, like you said, it's daunting, but you totally can change it. What are the, uh, so other, all this stuff that we've talked about, you've, you've mentioned a lot of different things. You talked about some of your lesson. Is there something that we haven't talked about? Something that you want to highlight and leave the listeners with?
Michael Dash: Um, I, I just, it doesn't take a lot to make change. That's really what I want. Well listeners to know. That start with something small and it will set a range of decisions in motion that you don't even know what will happen. So the, uh, again, I mean my, I think the biggest overall theme is just like small changes can lead to monumental outcomes and, and you know, if you want to change your situation, the first thing I did when I came back from Bali is get rid of the cable box that led to me starting to listen to podcasts right? Value-positive podcasts. Then I started doing some meditation for 10, 15 minutes a day. Then they put me in a totally different state of mind and I don't, I haven't been consistent with my meditation, I'll be the first one to admit it, but every time I do like I have just such a clear vision of how I want to move forward. And uh, I'm actually going to a meditation today. Yes. So, um, so I, and, and so that led to that. Then I had like all these things, these other things that were weighing me down and I just slowly, slowly check them off my list and you know it is okay to say no. Another important thing, it's okay to say no. I used to say yes and try to please everybody, but you can't please everybody and you can't be the best person you are and less you love and respect yourself and if you're miserable all the time about everything that you're doing and you feel stuck and you feel like this is not the life you want to live, then you're not going to be good for anybody. You have to get right yourself, so if you want to be good for others and a leader in my company, I was never able to do that until the end and I had already determined I was like getting out. It was easier for me to be positive at the time because I was just like. I'd had enough of that. That would be my overall, my overall theme.
Ryan Tansom: If the listeners want to get in touch with your or look for the book or follow you, what, what's the, what's the best way?
Michael Dash: So I would say, you know, find me on any of the social media channels. Linkedin, facebook, um, instagram, instagram, I'm m d a s h one and on facebook. I'm just Michael Dash d a s h. Same on Linkedin. And then, uh, my book will be coming out early next year. I do have a website. It's Michael g dash.com and there's a little link there. You can just put your email address in and keep you updated on when the book's coming out.
Ryan Tansom: That's awesome. Michael had a blast on the show, man.
Michael Dash: You as well. It was great. It was great being a guest. Appreciate it.
Ryan Tansom: Yeah. Thanks for sharing your story.
Michael Dash: Absolutely.
Ryan Tansom: Well, I'm sure you had plenty of your own takeaways from the episode and from listening to all Michael's stories, but if I were to just reiterate a couple things or give you my two cents and one is that making sure that you have all your operating agreements, all this stuff buttoned up so that way your partnership, no matter whose life changes and different circumstances that come involved, you have a plan and you've already prewritten the choose your own adventure, so there's nothing that's left up to ambiguity because when there's ambiguity, that's when people get into self survival mode. Emotions come involved and then it's all about me versus them and the only person that wins in that situation are the attorneys because there's too much emotional sunk costs into this where people will just do whatever it takes to win in an. If you build all of the mechanisms in place to already have that preplanned, it actually eliminates conflict because you've already determined how all the different things will unfold should someone do something.
The second takeaway is more on the emotional side is, you know what, I really do believe that if we know why we're doing this as in why do we have our business, why are we taking all this risk and it's based in something that is bigger than us, bigger than our egos. Then we can filter all of these hard decisions from employment issues, vendor issues, contracts, all this stuff into reality that is hopefully somewhat based in logic and not in egos or driving towards something just for the sake of winning because I think if you think about what Michael was talking about at the end of the podcast, he's happened. He's prioritizing things that are fulfilling for him and for others and there's a bigger impact, so if we know why we're doing this, then we don't have to just get into some vicious cycle of a dysfunctional relationship, partnership, relationship or revenge for just the sake of doing it. So I hope that is a little bit of an eye opener. If you had any other great takeaways, let me know. Shoot at any comments to the podcast. Give me a rating. Again, there's tons of information about partnership, bios different internal stuff on the GEXP Collaborative website. Other than that, I will see you next week.
Written by Ryan Tansom
Ryan runs industry-specific podcasts on his website which pertain to mergers and acquisitions, and all the life lessons he wish he had known then. He strives to bring this knowledge to his listeners in a way that is effective and engaging by providing new material each week from industry experts.