Michael Dash — Overcoming Addiction as an Entrepreneur and Reclaiming Your Happiness (Backstage Business #11)


Let’s face it: being an entrepreneur isn’t all roses.

(Unless you mean, like, especially thorny roses that always seem to find the softest parts of you to get stuck in. In that case, that’s very accurate.)

Actually, being an entrepreneur can be bad for you in very real ways!

For example:

Considering these stats, it isn’t surprising that the rate of addiction among entrepreneurs is also higher — 12% compared to the “standard” 4-8%.

When you’re forced to project confidence and pretend — to customers and employees both! — that you have it all together, 24/7/365, it’s hard to look at alcohol and drugs and not think:

“Who cares if it’s bad for me if it helps me get through one more day?”

It doesn’t even have to be a substance addiction, either! You can be addicted to junk food, compulsive behaviors like gambling, or just non-stop work. And if you don’t know even a single a workaholic business owner, then you might be one.

The reason I’m saying this is to prove a point: there’s a clear relationship between entrepreneurship and addiction, and we need to be talking about it. Ignoring it sure won’t help any of us build fulfilling lives and thriving businesses!

So today let’s take a long, hard look at this elephant in the room, get to know it better, and (hopefully) learn how we can make it leave.

This week on the Backstage Business podcast, I’m sitting down with Michael Dash — one of the bravest, smartest voices discussing addiction and entrepreneurship today.

The reason Michael is so knowledgeable and passionate about this topic is simple: he’s a recovered addict and a successful business owner.

At first glance, Michael’s story begins like every entrepreneur’s dream.

Back in 2007, he stumbled on a giant business opportunity in Utah. Michael had very little money, he knew exactly one person in the whole state…

…but he still dropped everything and moved to Utah to start a business.

Over 7 years, Michael founded and grew a business to $5.5 million in revenue — while being an addict. To Michael, drugs were just a tool to help him perform better. A means to an end… or so he kept telling himself.

After a series of wakeup calls that included a miserable hospital visit and a lawsuit (you can learn more about it in the episode), Michael started his long, hard journey towards recovery. It’s a lifelong process, but he’s going strong and has every intention to take it all the way!

Right now, Michael runs an interview series called F.A.T.E. — “From Addict to Entrepreneur.” He interviews former addicts who are now successful business owners giving back to the community.

Michael also sold his company back in July 2018, so he can focus full-time on helping other entrepreneurs to overcome addiction and compulsive behavior. He teaches audiences how to exchange their negative mindsets and manic behaviors into positive, productive, and wholesome lifestyles that support their work — without ruining their life.

In this interview, Michael doesn’t just shine a light on the problem of addiction among entrepreneurs but also shares practical lessons for living a healthier, happier life.

Even if the topic of addiction doesn’t resonate with you at all, you will love Michael’s insights about:

  • How Michael stays sober after overcoming multiple addictions (and even teetotallers will find this advice useful!).
  • One small change that helped Michael break the cycle of addiction — you can use it to improve your life, too.
  • The surprising (and hilarious) thing that helped Michael quit cocaine instantly and for good.

And more.

Also, Michael’s first book is coming out soon! It’s called “Chasing the High” and it tells his journey through addictions, lawsuits, and other mind-boggling challenges. If you enjoyed our conversation, I highly recommend that you order a copy to get even more insights from Michael.

I put the link down in the show notes for you!


Why you should listen:

In this episode, Michael shares the hard-won lessons, habits, and insights that helped him break the lifelong cycle of addiction that haunted him since adolescence. Even if you’re not struggling with addiction, his advice will help you dismantle negative patterns in your thinking and behavior — and replace them with much healthier and more wholesome alternatives.

For the full list of everything we cover in the interview, check out the show notes below!

What you will hear:

[00:18] Introducing Michael

[04:53] Michael’s 7-year spiral into addiction

[07:39] Michael’s “wakeup call” at the hospital

[08:22] “Everybody was using something” — the true extent of the addiction problem

[10:38] How the dominant culture sets entrepreneurs up to become addicts

[15:01] Gambling: Michael’s first addiction, and how he overcame it

[19:52] Why many entrepreneurs are struggling with multiple addictions

[22:00] A $10,000 mistake that helped Michael stop using cocaine

[23:08] How Adderal warped Michael’s relationships with employees and his kids

[26:36] “Filling the buckets” — how Michael stays sober

[30:58] Two powerful stories from Michael’s new book, “Chasing the High”

[38:22] Where to learn more about Michael and get his book


Michael’s website

“Chasing the High: An Entrepreneur’s Mindset Through Addiction, Lawsuits, and His Journey to the Edge” — pre-order Michael’s book

Michael’s interview series, “From Addict to Entrepreneur”