“What a great story about entrepreneurship and faith molded into one,” says Lee Habeeb in this Our American Stories interview with Mike, where Mike shares his story of overcoming crack cocaine and creating the successful MyPillow company, all through his faith in God.
- Mike’s crack cocaine habit was so bad that his dealers actually got together to shut him off after he had been up for at least 14 days. They said, “you made a promise,” and the promise was that, as Mike said at the time, “There’s a platform that’s going to help. When I quit I’m going to come back and help everyone get out of this horrific addiction thing.” The drug dealer also captured the moment by taking a picture of the sleep-deprived, disheveled Mike, telling Mike, “You told us you’re going to write a book, you’re going to need this for your book.”
- Mike believes that his drug addiction was because of his parents’ divorce,“everything in childhood, everything in childhood trauma, affects life and manifests itself in addictions and personality disorders: fatherlessness affects everybody.”
- Mike’s first job was in a grocery store and was a stepping stone to his entrepreneurship. He didn’t like the rules at the grocery store, so they fired him, saying, “get your own company someday and make your own rules,” and that he “was destined for bigger things, you’re going to look back someday and see this was meant to be, that you can’t be a lifer here.”
- Mike prayed to God to meet the right woman and have kids and “the white picket fence.” And “God brought that all to me and handed it to me on a silver platter.” But, Mike jeopardized his answered prayer due to his cocaine, then crack cocaine addiction. For, especially when the crack came on, that “took us down fast” and Mike “lost it all.”
- On January 16, 2009, Mike prayed, saying, “God I want to wake up in the morning and be free from all these addictions. I don’t ever want to feel them, I want to be desire-free. I’m all yours. I’ll do this platform. I’ll do this, whatever you want me to do.” And when Mike woke up in the morning, his desire was gone and he was at peace. And he has been clean and sober ever since.
- Mike’s first step towards selling the MyPillow was at a kiosk. Although the kiosk lost $15,000, that kiosk was actually a good step, as one of the MyPillow customers liked his MyPillow so much that got Mike a spot at the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, where Mike “realized I could sell and help people.” And he sold out, which made him realize that he could support his family, in spite of everybody turning him down. So, Mike started aggressively doing home shows and fairs, including the Minnesota State Fair.
- Mike had another dream that he was “gonna go to a million dollars or two million dollars a week, overnight” by doing an infomercial. Which Mike did, ad-libbing the whole infomercial. And those “ad-libbed infomercials that the American people have responded to because he’s genuine and real are now selling over 75,000 American-made MyPillows per day.”
As Lee Habeeb says: “The troubled son of divorced parents, the crack addict, the twice-divorced father, the near bankruptcies, all of these trials and tribulations must have happened for a reason. The odds of someone with this story selling 75,000 pillow products a day, meeting with the president of the United States in the White House, and sharing his Christian faith before a crowd of over 60,000 in an NFL stadium after a life of fearing public speaking, could have only happened for one reason and by one man. What a great story about entrepreneurship and faith molded into one.”