Mike shares his inspirational story about the growth of his incredibly successful MyPillow company, his remarkable crack cocaine addiction recovery, and how he is giving back on WSGW Big Impact Radio.
10 to 500 employees in 40 days
Mike invented the MyPillow due to not being able to get comfortable sleep himself. He tried every pillow imaginable, yet nothing worked. Then, one night, he had a dream about the name “MyPillow” which caused Mike to become entirely focused on inventing the perfect pillow.
After Mike invented the MyPillow, he enthusiastically took it to the big box stores to sell but was turned down everywhere. So he ended up selling his MyPillows at road shows and fairs across the country.
Along the way, Mike also created newsprint ads that Mike made himself. These ads were not “traditional advertising with somebody laying on a bed” but rather, ads that looked more like news stories, with a picture of Mike holding the MyPillow. These ads were placed in publications like “USA Today” and “Wall Street Journal” and were some of the most successful print ads ever. These ads helped Mike get the millions of dollars of credit needed to buy the pillow fabric and foam for the pillows that would be sold by the infomercial that was coming around the corner.
In 2011, Mike got friends and family together to create his first infomercial with a real audience. At first, they tried a teleprompter, but that didn’t work at all for Mike, and they finally shot the infomercial with Mike behind a table, just as if he was at one of the fairs selling pillows.
The infomercial premiered on October 7, 2011, and it was such an incredible success. Before the infomercial, Mike had 10 employees. But, the infomercial increased sales so much that, in 40 days, MyPillow went from 10 employees to 500. And MyPillow success continued so that now, MyPillow has 1,600 employees. So truly, MyPillow is one of the great American success stories.
Today, MyPillow’s headquarters continues to be in Mike’s home state of Minnesota, for Mike has a commitment to make his MyPillows in America. Mike simply doesn’t trust anyone else to make his pillows. Plus, as Mike says, “it is so rewarding to see all my employees just by looking right out my door.” And, the MyPillow business moves fast, which can’t be done when you make your product overseas. For you must wait 100-120 days to get your products and if sales change or something is wrong with the shipment, it is too late.
And – what’s next in line? New ads! For a sleep study found that everything people said in the MyPillow testimonials is true, so the ads will be talking about this new study. Plus, new sheets that are going to “change your life.” Plus other inventions are around the corner, in fitting with Mike’s philosophy of “everything I invent or do has got to help people either physically, mentally, or in their faith.
Mike continues to help others achieve what he has achieved. For, Mike is working on giving vetted entrepreneurs a platform for success where they can have an area where “millions of eyes” will see their inventions. Mike wants to help because, “in our country, so many inventions get taken and copied which is very sad. So I’m going to be helping them.”
Mike’s story of addiction
During the origins and early growth of MyPillow, Mike had a crack cocaine addiction. This addiction was due to his childhood, as he was traumatized by his parents’ divorce when he was 7 years old. To overcome his issues, he was either very shy or the class clown as a child.
As an adult, his fear of rejection was so strong that he couldn’t talk to anyone. But, In the 1980s, he found he could talk to strangers – if he was using cocaine. And he became a functioning cocaine user.
But then Mike started doing crack cocaine, and because of this addiction, he lost his 20-year marriage and almost lost the MyPillow company.
In fact, things were so bad that Mike’s drug dealers actually had an intervention. They said that Mike had told them that the pillow thing was a “platform for God” and that Mike said that someday, he was going to come back and help them. So, they said they weren’t going to let Mike die.
A while later, a friend came to Mike, saying that, “The Lord led me here.” This friend had started cocaine at the same time as Mike and had also started crack cocaine at the same time. So, Mike could ask questions from someone he trusted, questions like “is (recovery) boring?” (The answer is “no” by the way).
Then, on January 16, 2009, Mike hit his bottom. He knew that MyPillow was his calling and that the MyPillow door was going to be shut forever if he continued doing drugs. He knew that he could not go on one more day. So Mike prayed to be free of his desire for all of his addictions: crack, cocaine, cigarettes, alcohol, and gambling. He told God that if he could be released from these addictions, he would do the MyPillow platform thing.
And, as Mike says, “I woke up the next day, and the desire for all the addictions was gone.”
Platform for Good
All along, Mike knew that MyPillow was a platform for good. And, towards that, Mike’s Lindell Recovery Network will help “millions of people” overcome addiction, just as Mike did.
For, just as Mike was inspired by his trusted friend who had overcome drug addictions similar to Mike’s, the Lindell Recovery Network will provide addicts with “stories of hope” from people their age who have overcome the same drugs they are using. So the addict can say, “Wow – this guy made it through, so I can make it.”
The addicts will then be presented with Christian treatment centers that Mike has vetted, such as the Salvation Army, Teen Challenge, and Union Gospel. So, Mike will basically be “like your tour guide” saying “now go over here and get some help and when you get out, I’m going to be waiting for you.” And when the addicts get out of recovery, there will be paid mentors, ready to help them with their recovery.
So, a whole network dedicated to helping addicts get the help they need to get over their addictions. For Mike, it is a full circle or, as Mike says, “MyPillow is a bigger calling for God.”