Logo Horizontal

Business and Fun: A Chat with Daven Michaels

Here at The Best You Magazine, we dive deep into the lives and insights of extraordinary individuals shaping our world. Bernardo Moya, editor-in-chief of The Best You, had the honor of sitting down with Daven Michaels. Daven is a renowned entrepreneur, author, and speaker known for his expertise in outsourcing and business growth strategies. He is the founder and CEO of 123Employee, a premier outsourcing center, and has helped thousands of businesses achieve success through effective outsourcing solutions. Learn more at DavenMichaels.com.

Bernardo: Hey everyone, I’m really excited today because I’m speaking with an absolute pro, Daven Michaels. Daven, how are you? It’s great to see you, amigo.

Daven: It’s great to see you. I’m very blessed and honored to talk to you today. 

B: Thank you. So Daven, let’s just start from the beginning. Tell us a little bit more about yourself, about your early years, where did you start? 

D: Since I was 15 years old I have been thinking about business, I was always hungry and wanted to do things. I actually graduated high school a couple of years early and I started college. Not because I wanted to, but my parents wanted me to. Back then there were no entrepreneur programs, so I was lucky at a local JC when I signed up for a one-year entrepreneur immersion course. It was run by these two maverick entrepreneurs, they really took me under their wing. Most of what I learned in business I learned from doing with these guys, they taught me that it was possible.

With help and some luck I got my very first business in the early eighties designing clothing for music groups. Most of my bands had nothing going on, most of them were playing in their garage. But then MTV came on the air and changed the face of music, it changed my life. Within months, most of my bands had record deals. Within a year, they were selling millions of albums. And I was designing clothing for all the biggest bands of the eighties and nineties, Prince, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Thompson, all these cool bands. 

That launched my entrepreneurial career – I got into telecommunications and sold that company very young. Then I got into the entertainment business and became the biggest EDM event producer in the US. I used to throw parties for like 20,000 people a night, and because of that built in fan base I had a short career as a recording artist, long careers in music and television producer, about 15 years. And then started a little sleepy company about 15 years ago called 123 Employee that grew into a big conglomerate with thousands and thousands of people all over the globe. 

B: Amazing life journey, and what amazing things that you managed to achieve. But let’s get back a bit. At what age did you sell your company? 

D: I sold my first company when I was 26. At that time I was selling pagers, you’re probably old enough to remember what those were. When we sold we were in 50 cities across the US, that was about two years before cell phones came into play. Everybody thought that more pagers were going to be sold when cell phones came into existence because back then it was very expensive. It was like 50 cents a minute. But looking at the numbers I knew I had to sell, although it wasn’t easy. I sold the business into a public company, the owner was this maverick entrepreneur named Hal. He would not pay the price I chose to set up so I made a deal with him that included stock. He took that deal and about a year later that company got acquired. That kind of moved me on to the next level, which was pretty cool. So yes, you can say I’ve been a successful entrepreneur. It’s really interesting, Bernardo, when you zoom out on somebody’s life, yes, they’re successful. But if you zoom in though, there were a lot of trials and tribulations. It was very, very hard. I had nothing back then. It was tough. 

B: Yes, but sometimes that’s the beauty. Like you, I did a lot of things in life, I was a DJ, I’ve been a waiter, I used to run clubs as well. Fast forward quite a few years later, I was filling in events with 14,000 people. So it’s amazing how we gain so much different expertise and apply that throughout our life, throughout our journey.

D: Oh yeah, absolutely. I think I’ve been a promoter in every business that I’ve done. It was kind of cool when I got started, I was doing EDM events in LA and San Francisco with my partners. We’d have like 500 people that would show up to these parties. And then by some crazy twist of fate, in one evening, my partner and I became the biggest EDM event producers in the US. And by the time I was excited that we had like 20,000 people a night, we ran into this kid that used to go to my parties. I inspired him to do the same thing and now he’s the biggest EDM event producer in the world. He does 253 events a year. We are going to his event in Vegas in about a week, and he’ll have 458,000 people there. I mean, absolutely insane where it’s going.

B: Wow. Special breed, aren’t they? You know, any promoter is a special kind of breed.

When you connect with someone that’s done events, produced events, you know what they are made of.

D: It’s true. One of my neighbors always tells me “I have no idea why you do what you do”. I guess he just doesn’t get it. I think it’s the greatest thing, right? I mean, make people smile. It’s just a wonderful, fun thing.

B: Yeah. And then there is the “how do you do it?”. For me I always put the goal in sight. This is the date, this is the time, this is the place. This is what it’s doing, then fill in the blanks. 

D: I think that’s what all successful entrepreneurs do. They start with the outcome and then work backwards.

B: Yeah, for sure. But also adapting, adaptation to new times and trends is key for the entrepreneurial spirit. In your journey you were really ahead of the game.

D: Yes, absolutely. My background was music and television, and I had a production deal in Southeast Asia with another producer. That took me to that side of the world. There we started a little shop in the Philippines with about 10 employees. When we reached up to 20 employees we thought of offering the little jobs we did for the production as a service. Like outsourcing for entrepreneurs. At this time big companies like American Express were outsourcing to India, but small companies weren’t.

So we launched it and failed, and relaunched it and failed. And then the third time, we kind of got it. And we began this slow, steady pace. The biggest issue we had is that we didn’t really have a market. We knew that entrepreneurs needed outsourcing services like virtual assistants and call center services, but at that time they didn’t know it existed for them. So we were just way early to market.

People always think that there’s this home court advantage to being early to market, but I’m here to tell you, it sucks being early. I realized at the time that if we wanted to have a market, we’d have to somehow carve one out. So we decided to adopt an educational model. I started writing books, speaking on stages and doing webinars. We started doing our events globally, in Australia, US, Europe, Asia, New Zealand. I started creating info products and we began educating our prospects and turning them into clients, which is a methodology that the company still uses today. And obviously that’s not kind of a new thing now, but it was definitely a new thing back then. 

This was our first tipping point in our business, our second tipping point was when we started making some money and we started to bring on some C-level help. And then the biggest tipping point was when Tim Ferriss’s book came out. So remember, we were a US company based in the Philippines. Back then it was un-American to outsource, we would get hate mail, we would get FU calls with threats to burn down our building. But when Tim’s book came out, two things happened. One, we stopped getting those phone calls. And two, all of a sudden we were the bell of the ball. Everybody wanted to learn about outsourcing. It was a groundbreaking book for us.

So those were the tipping points in our business. And that education marketing model really helped in a lot of ways. We went from marketing to one, to marketing to many and that helps your business grow exponentially. So I would write a book and 100,000 people would read it. I’d speak on a stage and hundred, if not thousands of people would hear me and see me. If I did a webinar, we’d have hundreds of people online. If we create an info product, thousands of people would absorb it. That really changed the business, and today we have thousands of employees all over the globe. 

B: I’ve been to some of the gigs that you’ve been speaking at and it was so educational. I highly recommend anyone to give him a listen because he’s a natural. But I don’t think that happens overnight is it? 

D: I appreciate that. And I’m definitely not a natural. I remember my first real speaking gig, a big one for me, 400 people in Vegas with big names like Marshall Silver, Les Brown, Mark Victor Hanson. And thinking back, there are a lot of lessons to be learned from that gig. First of all I wasn’t planning to be one of the speakers. I went to the promoter, his name was Mike Lathogy, and asked him how I could help, with no ulterior motive. He told me what every prometer wants “can you help get butts in seats?”. So I put the word out and sold a bunch of tickets. He called me one day and said, “How come I have all these big speakers, but nobody sold a ticket? I’m putting you on my stage”. So there I went, so I was in the back of the green room watching these guys who are masters of their craft. They’ve been speaking for decades. And I remember thinking to myself, if I could just be 10% as good as them, I would be happy, I’d be over the moon. But I went out that day and I failed. And that was the beginning of my journey seeking knowledge. I invested in my craft, invested money and time, and now I can say I’m in that same group with those guys. Now I’ve spoken in 51 countries and just love it. It’s my favorite thing to do. 

B: Yes it’s great to see that progress. I remember a story you told about a one dollar client. Can you share that story? Because I loved where it took you as well. 

D: Yes! There was a guy that bought one of my books. I made a whole dollar from the purchase of that book because it was on a major imprint so you usually don’t make a lot of money on those sales. So this gentleman bought my book and I made a dollar. He liked what he read and he bought a $500 ticket to one of my events. After that he signed up for my mastermind, which was 35K. So we went from one 500, 35K. He wanted help with his business, and I gave him some ideas outside his blind spot. His company took off, he had 3 million distributors in his business in eight months. I can’t take the whole credit because he was a highly accomplished entrepreneur already. But it was an unbelievable growth curve. After that he needed customer service help. 150 agents became a $2 million account. So again we went from one dollar to 500 to 35K to 2 million a year. Some of that got paid in Bitcoin

B: Yes about that. Quite a few years ago we did not use emails and didn’t think that we needed them, but of course today it’s absolutely necessary for business. What do you think about crypto? 

D: Yes, that is funny what you said about the emails. I remember when the internet came out and people started having websites. I remember sitting around with my very smart friends and we were talking about that, as soon as somebody cracks how to actually make money on the internet, they’re going to make a fortune. We were trying to wrap our brains around that, come up with ideas, but we weren’t that smart. And now you only make money on the internet, right? Everything, all commerce and transaction it’s on the internet. But back then we couldn’t quite wrap our brain around it. It just wasn’t there yet.

B: Yes. I believe everything happens for a reason. So what I try to do is listen to messages that come to me. And funny enough,  I connected with you because your name came up a couple of times recently. And I instantly took action, maybe there’s a reason why I need to speak to them now. And obviously you’ve connected many different dots along your journey, being open to learning and everything that’s coming to you. 

D: Absolutely. And I’ll tell you this, back to Bitcoin. When it was worth like $40 I had dinner with an amigo of mine. We take a cruise together every year and we had a three hour steak dinner. Throughout the meal he told me everything about Bitcoin. And at the end of that conversation I thought it was worth looking into it but kept it in the back of my mind thinking it was just a faze. And when I finally came about investing it was worth like $1600. After that we decided internally that we would look at everything. Cause we really just blew off Bitcoin. We get inundated with opportunities and we usually say no to stay focused, but we try to look at everything because of Bitcoin. Because who knows what the next thing is going to be. And things are moving so rapidly now that there’s something new and exciting every day. Especially with AI.

B:  Well, everything, new technology, especially around blockchain, you know, Bitcoin is just one of the things, but there’s so many great projects that are now being created in blockchain, it’s just a new reality. 

D: Absolutely.

B: So Daven, tell me what are you involved in now? I know you’re living in Puerto Rico and you had over the chart success with the San Juan Social Club Cruise. Tell us a little bit about that.

D: Absolutely. I love to build communities and today I have millions of followers that follow me all over the globe as a result of my books and events. Six years ago I moved to Puerto Rico, here are some unique opportunities to live and work, besides that it’s a beautiful paradise. But I missed a community, so I started a little group that now has grown to almost 2000 people in the San Juan Social Club. We do curated events at different locations across the Island once a month, literally to bring people together. It’s a very unsophisticated model with a very sophisticated purpose. Besides the food, the cocktails and the fun, we do social events, learning events and philanthropic community service events. It has really grown into an amazing tribe, there’s no real financial deal, I do them as a public service. Just for fun and to make a difference here with native Puerto Ricans and what I call New O’Ricans.

Now the San Juan Social Club Cruise that we created about a year ago it’s an idea that came from the marketers groups. So for 16 years a dear friend of ours, Captain Lou Edwards, has been doing the marketers cruise where he brings together all the top marketers from all over the world. I’ve spoken on that cruise for the last decade. And there were three by-products that came from that cruise. One is I made tens of millions of dollars from those connections. Two, I built a global audience because I did all these joint venture deals with people from all over the world. And then they went back to their respective countries and shared my message with their tribes. And Three, all of our best friends came from the cruise.

For us I know it’s true Bernardo, we met on that cruise. And if you spend a week with somebody, have great adventures together, meals together, you get to know each other, you go deep, you become besties and you can make more money together too. And so I really wanted to create something like that for Puerto Rico. I actually had the idea a long time ago but it only came about last year, and I have to tell you Bernardo, it was a tough decision. We had to do a lot of work just to get the itinerary, to get a cruise line that was coming out of Puerto Rico. There were a lot of roadblocks. But finally we got lucky. We locked down an itinerary, we had a contract in hand and I did it with Lou. He is my coordinator, we’d been talking about it for a long, long time. And honestly, I was apprehensive because it was a very public thing. If I announced it and it tanked and I failed, everybody would know. But I did it, we announced it and we started to get some steam. I spent the last year worrying about it because I had this vision in my head for what it was going to be, but I didn’t know how it would turn out. At the end it was amazing, we had our first San Juan Social Club Cruise with Virgin. We had 238 amazing high-level founders, entrepreneurs and executives from the Island and beyond, people that live in Puerto Rico or are interested in Puerto Rico that want to network, make friends and learn about all of Puerto Rico’s amazing opportunities and resources.

I put those opportunities and resources in three buckets. One is governmental, like tax incentives. Two are services that guys and gals like me might want to take advantage of. And then all the cool stuff that people like me on the Island are doing. Those are the three buckets. And so the cruise was incredible, we raised money to buy 21,000 meals for the kids of the Boys and Girls Club. And our cruisers did about $110 million in deals, just networking between each other. So even if you’re not interested in Puerto Rico, you should come because first of all, you end up in the Caribbean, which It’s beautiful. We’re on Virgin, which is reinventing cruising. And also maybe you want to network with high-level individuals, so this is a place to get a serious concentration of them. For now we have 80% of the rebooking for the next one which is until next year, and we’re already bigger than the marketer with over 400 people booked. It took 16 years for the marketer’s cruise to get to 450, for us it was just one so I don’t know where this is gonna go…

B: I heard some phenomenal reviews and I got to say there’s nothing like that, the opportunity of coming together, connecting with the high caliber people that you bring, and for a whole week. I think you’re gonna do great and I’m excited to be there next year. 

D: And let me tell you more. It’s just a small group of people that really take advantage of this. It really requires a pioneering spirit to pick up everything and leave a place that you’re comfortable and come to Puerto Rico. It’s a very interesting place that offers some great advantages for some businesses, only if you’re willing to make your home Puerto Rico. It’s a beautiful place and it’s amazing all the opportunities that opened up by being here. And the Puerto Rican people are incredibly lovely. 

B: Exciting, Sounds amazing. Where can people find out about you?

D: I’m Daven Michaels on everything. You can find out more about me at davenmichaels.com and then if you want to learn more about the San Juan Social Club and the Cruise you can go to sjsocialclub.com. I hope you’ll join us. I will tell you, the secret sauce on the cruise was the cross pollination from people from Puerto Rico and all the mover and shaker friends that I’ve met over the last decade. Everyone got fired up for what the other one was doing so they all started doing business together. And that’s why I’ve been kind of relentlessly reaching out to my friends, like you, saying you have to come on this!

B: Well, we will definitely be recommending it. Daven, thank you so much for your time. I’m very, very grateful we could have this conversation. Congratulations, keep living a dream, and keep doing what you’re doing.

D: Thank you, my man. I appreciate you.

Bernardo Moya

Bernardo is the founder of The Best You, author of The Question, Find Your True Purpose, an entrepreneur, writer, publisher, TV producer and seminar promoter to some of the biggest names in Personal Development. He is editor-in-chief of The Best You magazine – a fascinating voice in the Personal Development world.

Or Share This Post!

Most Recent Articles:

Read Our Latest Issue:

Subscribe To The Best You Magazine: