Mike Lindell, born Michael Lindell, is a Minnesota native through and through, as he was born in Minnesota in 1961, and then went to high school in Chaska, Minnesota (just outside of Minneapolis), and now, years later, has his famous 260,000 square foot MyPillow factory in Shakopee, which is just a few miles away from where he graduated.
It wasn't an easy road personally or professionally for Mike. He had to overcome drug addiction to find true success, and he's had two marriages: one lasted for 20 years and the other for 20 days. Fortunately, though, he was blessed with four children from the first marriage, now adults, who have all worked at MyPillow.
And now, through years of struggle, hard work, no money, no credit, and an unshaken faith, Mike has captured the essence of the "American Dream" through MyPillow. For Mike is MyPillow's inventor and CEO and has sold over 25 million pillows worldwide. Furthermore, he has established the Lindell Foundation, which provides aid to the poorest of the poor, and he is an author and a producer.
Mike's early entrepreneurial path
Mike's work life has been colorful, to say the least. Early jobs included: "walking beans" on Iowa farms, working as a paperboy, being a ticket taker at the local drive-in theater, and as a grocer.
Mike takes his boss' advice - and becomes his own boss
The seed of Mike's entrepreneurial spirit was planted when he was a grocer. Although he liked working at the grocery store, there were many times when he balked at following the rules he was given. Frustrated, his boss told Mike that if he didn't want to abide by others' rules that he should just become his own boss, then fired Mike shortly after that. But, Mike was not deterred - he simply took his boss' advice and pursued an entrepreneurial path by starting his own carpet cleaning company which he expanded into a larger business. After that, he went on to run lunch wagons, nightclubs, and small town bars.
Mike, MyPillow, and Giving Back: The Condensed Story
This video is the quick, condensed story of Mike’s MyPillow invention and success, and how that success led to Mike's programs of giving back.
As Mike summarized, “You helped my dream come true, now I’ll be silent so you can dream too.”
See the details, below.
Mike invents MyPillow
But all that changed in 2004 when he had a dream.
Mike's dreams - about a pillow
One night, Mike had a dream about a pillow, and when he woke up, the idea for a pillow named MyPillow was formed. His first action was to have his oldest daughter create the now infamous logo for the MyPillow. And, before he even built his prototype, he had the logo printed on 30,000 bags.
Developing the MyPillow then consumed Mike's resources and time, even to the point of mortgaging his home, and going through 90 formulas before he finally invented the MyPillow. And, in the end, he invented the MyPillow we know today: a pillow that is cool all the time, is comfortable, that never goes flat, and that you can throw in the washer and dryer Or, as Mike says, "the most comfortable pillow you'll ever own".
MyPillow's early sales
After inventing what Mike knew was the perfect pillow, Mike just assumed that all of the stores would love to sell his pillows. However, every large distribution chain turned him down, including all big "box stores" and Home Shopping Networks.
Mike's start from a kiosk
All of Mike's money had gone into building the MyPillow prototype. In fact, he didn't even have enough money for Christmas that year - he had to borrow money for Christmas presents. But, when a friend suggested he sell his pillows at a kiosk, Mike jumped at the chance, despite his lack of funds and his lack of knowledge about how to sell at a kiosk.
The kiosk did not turn out the way that Mike thought it would, and the possibility of future sales looked rather bleak. However, as luck would have it, one of the few people that bought a MyPillow ran the Home and Garden show.
This man was so impressed with the pillow that he wanted Mike to sell MyPillows at the Minneapolis Home and Garden show. He invited Mike to have his own booth at the show so Mike could sell his pillow in a place with many customers.
Mike's total passion for his pillow was a hit at the Home and Garden show - he sold out of all of his pillows. His next step was to sell the pillows at the Minnesota State Fair, which was also a success. So, he began selling at fairs, home and garden shows. and craft shows around the country. And this was how the MyPillow was born: by Mike and a few other sales people hopping all over the country selling the MyPillow. In fact, Mike will tell you that if you have a product you want to sell, the acid test is to sell that product at booths like he did.
Mike continued to grow his business. Not only was he out selling the pillows, he was also involved in every part of the business - he even invented the machine that automatically fills each pillow. And he committed to the cornerstone of the MyPillow business: that the pillows are 100% American with no outsourcing. In fact, even his customer service center is located in Chaska, Minnesota, right outside his office.
"I was an addict in every way"
Mike was a functioning crack addict
But, there was a dark side: during this time, Mike was a functioning drug addict. He had nonviolent scrapes with the law (all now expunged). He was a sports' better, a cocaine user (starting in 1982), a crack user (starting in the late 1990's) and abject alcoholic. In his upcoming autobiography, Mike writes "I was an addict in every sense of the word."
In fact, in the fall of 2008, Mike, now divorced, had run out of crack again and had been up for more than 2 weeks. But, to Mike's surprise, none of his dealers would sell him any drugs. His crack addiction had gotten so bad that the drug dealers had to have an intervention.
Mike gives up drugs and gives his life to God
Mike finally ended all his addictions on January 6, 2009, because he was at the end of his ropes, and felt he didn't have one more day left.
So Mike prayed. He asked God to take away any desire to do drugs. And, he told God that if God helped him take away his desire to do drugs, that he would do whatever God wanted him to do.
And, God answered his prayers. When Mike awoke, his desire for all of his addictions was gone. Mike will tell you that he felt the most peace that he had ever felt.
This marked a transformation in Mike's life, and he has been sober ever since that day.
And, so many miracles
Mike has experienced many miracles since he gave up his addictions and gave himself to God. And, because of these unique miracles, he has seen amazing success.
For example, Mike owed $30,000 to the fabric company that made very specific fabrics for MyPillow. Upset, the company gave Mike only a few days to pay his debt, so he felt that his only option was to close up shop and walk away.
But, as a last shot, he took a chance and went back to a bar where, weeks earlier, he had met a man that had told him about some investors. And, Mike waited - and waited - until the man finally walked in and Mike was able to get the investors' names.
So Mike met with these investors and, with incredible passion, put everything on the table with them. And, amazingly, they gave him a $30,000 check without any collateral. With total relief and elation, Mike was able to pay off the fabric company hours before they were going to shut him down, and he sold all 500 pillows that he was then able to make. This was a new start for the company and for Mike.
MyPillow takes off
As luck would have it, on January 2, 2011, the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote a special human-interest story about MyPillow in their business section, which caused a major spike in MyPillow sales. In fact, MyPillow sold more pillows than it had for six months!
That his story could sell pillows was a complete revelation to Mike. This new-found knowledge led Mike to write an ad based on his story about creating the MyPillow which ran in numerous papers nationwide. Needless to say, the ads were a huge success, causing MyPillow to grow to the next level.
MyPillow was doing well with the sales from the fairs and home and garden sales and newspaper ads. But - Mike wanted to grow MyPillow even more, so he decided to create an infomercial.
For this, Mike pooled money from friends and family and together, they all produced the infomercial. Rather than hiring a celebrity, Mike and a friend hosted the infomercial, even though neither of them had any previous television experience.
The first infomercial aired October 7, 2011, and was a success from day one. Mike's passion for his pillow and his desire to help people sleep shined throughout the infomercial, causing sales to go through the roof. In fact, due to the infomercial, MyPillow grew from 10 employees to 500 employees in just a few short months.
Through years of struggle, hard work, and an unshaken faith, Mike has captured the essence of the entrepreneurial "American Dream".
There are few Americans who do not recognize Mike as the My Pillow King through his infamous infomercials. And, MyPillow is now a thriving near-billion dollar company which manufactures and sells more than 75,000 MyPillow products every day, has a workforce of 1,500 and has sold more than 25 million MyPillows globally. Due to this growth, Mike opened a second factory in 2016 to handle the MyPillow annual sales growth, which was $280 million at the time, and continues to grow.
Mike continues that success, growing MyPillow through the show booths, newspaper ads, infomercials, and on the radio with an ad budget of approximately $1.5 million per week, with Mike personally overseeing all the advertising.
The most innovative marketer in home goods
Those big retailers like Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, and QVC that originally rejected Mike are now eager to sell his products.
In fact, Mike has been called the most innovative marketer in home goods, breaking major QVC sales records and winning QVC's prestigious "Product Concept of the Year" award.
Mike's savvy marketing, taking chances, and just hard work has created the MyPillow we know today. And, through it all, Mike builds his business based on trust, oftentimes sealing business deals with just a hand-shake. For, he remembers when people took a chance on him when he was down and out and is determined that these people - and all those he deals with - trust him now.
Mike makes good on his promise to God and gives back through philanthropy
Most importantly, Mike made good on the “I’m all yours” promise he made to God almost seven years ago. So Mike took steps towards his passion to help those in need.
MyPillow's success inspired Mike to donate to those in need. donating to charitable events such as the Teen Challenge, several groups of troops overseas, The Wounded Warriors, various Veterans groups, Hurricane Sandy victims, and the Salvation Army.
The Lindell Foundation
The Lindell Foundation Beginnings
When Mike invented MyPillow 12 years ago, he couldn't imagine the success it was to become. However, he believes that MyPillow's success has been a platform provided by God to allow Mike to change the lives of those in need and the poorest of the poor around the world.
So, Mike formed The Lindell Foundation, which was originally formed out of Mike's passion for helping his employees. He discovered early on that when there was a work-related issue with an employee it usually had to do with an underlying struggle.
He found that those struggles included issues like drug or alcohol abuse, or severe relationship issues. So, rather than firing these employees, Mike decided that he would help them instead.
That help came in a variety of ways, such as offering rehabilitation programs and providing needed counseling. And often, the help came in creative ways, such as the time when the Lindell Foundation bought a car for an employee that was walking 14 miles to work each day.
The Lindell Foundation grows
Mike is now in the process of incorporating systems in the foundation that will give people trust and transparency:
- 100% of all donations will go directly to those in need, with the overhead paid for by the Lindell Foundation. Therefore, people can trust that their money is going to those in need, and not tor items like bloated directors' salaries.
- People will be able to select the needs they want to give to. They will then get a report back detailing how their money helped those in need. Therefore, people will know exactly where their money went and how it affected those they donated to.
And, Mike will be extending the foundation to help those in the inner cities, such as those with addictions, the homeless, and veterans. Towards that, he is meeting with groups like Teen Challenge, Union Gospel, and Love, Inc.
Mike Lindell and Donald Trump meeting
Mike has been an early and ardent supporter of President Trump. In the summer of 2016, Mike's story of restitution and his made-in-Ameria MyPillow business philosophy caught the attention of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. So, in the summer of 2016, Trump asked Mike to come meet with him.
Mike Lindell and Trump then met on August 15, 2016, in Trump Towers. Trump started the meeting by talking about Mike's religion and cross and about God. Mike then told Trump that he believed that Trump was a "divine appointment". They then went on to talk about businesses making products in America, as well as how to bring jobs back to America. They also talked about the inner cities, what Trump wants to do to revive the inner cities, and about Mike's Lindell Foundation's devotion to helping those in the inner cities.
As Mike was leaving the meeting, Mike met Trump's employees and said that "every one of them said what a great employer Trump is" and that they all agreed that Trump's whole agenda really is to make America great again.
After this meeting, Mike was so impressed with Trump's sincerity about fixing issues in America that Mike said that "Donald Trump is going to be the most amazing president in history.” Mike later went to Las Vegas during the last presidential debate on October 19, 2016, and, during an interview with Fox Business News, emphasized this same confidence in Donald Trump.
Mike speaks at Trump presidential campaign
The last thing that Mike ever thought he would do was to get involved with politics. However, Mike was chosen to speak at a Trump presidential campaign on November 6, 2016, two days before the election, where he said that this election was "Biblical" and was a "miracle". For, Mike said that he was concerned about what was going on in America, as he was seeing people he graduated with coming to MyPillow for jobs because their companies had left the state or because they had gotten laid off. So, he said that he had said a prayer in the fall of 2015 asking to meet Trump.
Mike then talked about going to the National Prayer Breakfast in January 2016, where he was one of 12 people picked by Dr. Ben Carson to pray for our country.
Mike also talked about going to the Republican convention where he sat in Trump's section with Trump's family and associates. He stated that 'these people are amazing - they are Christians, and of God - they are just amazing".
Mike said that, after the convention, he sat next to Dr. Ben Carson on the plane, and was able to talk at length about what was going on in America.
He then talked about the incredible meeting he had with Trump the summer before and emphasized that this election was "Biblical" - so Trump needed to win the election. He also said that the media was wrong - that Trump "will be the most amazing President this country has ever seen in history."
Mike Lindell at Trump's Made-in-America Roundtable
In July 2017, Mike sat right next to President Trump with 19 other corporate leaders who are committed to making products in the USA at a Made-in-America Roundtable. This Roundtable was created to emphasize the importance of making products in America and was hosted by President Trump; Vice-president Pence; Peter Navarro, the Director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy; Alex Acosta, Department of Labor Secretary; and other members of the White House staff. Representative Erik Paulson, who represents Minnesota's 3rd congressional district, where MyPillow is headquartered, was also in attendance.
During the Roundtable, President Trump turned to Mike to say, "I actually bought a couple pillows and they are very good - they are great - I’ve slept so much better ever since.”
Mike talked about MyPillow having over 1500 employees, and that he is very proud that his products are made in the USA, where even MyPillow's call center is in Minnesota - right outside Mike's office door. He said that at MyPillow, all of his employees have a passion, that it is "like a family".
Mike also talked about a snowmobile company that left the states, and about all of the other companies that supplied products to this company that also left the states to follow the snowmobile company, taking valuable jobs with them. Mike concluded that when companies make their products in America, like MyPillow, the company's and the supplier's jobs are all kept in America.
Minnesota Representative Erik Paulson went next, and he announced that he "sleeps on a MyPillow every night" and feels privileged to represent many of the employees of MyPillow.
Mike's belief in the Made in America philosophy
Mike's whole MyPillow business is based on making MyPillow products in America. In fact, all of the 30 million pillows sold have been made in his plants in Minnesota, Mike's home state.
Based on this strong belief about making products in America and the enthusiasm he gained from President Trump and from the White House Roundtable, Mike wrote an editorial about companies making products in America. In it, he quotes from President Trump:
"America will be first again. We will once again rediscover our heritage as a manufacturing nation. It will restore the bonds of kinship between our citizens and our communities."
Mike then goes on to reiterate what he said at the Roundtable - that businesses who leave the states cause a ripple effect because the companies that supply those companies, such as the ones that "make the bolts, the fasteners, the seats, and other related product elements" move with those businesses, taking valuable American jobs with them.
Mike goes on to say that he has a "passion to serve my employees" and that his employees know that they can come to Mike for help. Mike truly cares and because of this, the employees believe in the company. So, each employee "has a passion for what we do at MyPillow."
Mike states that at the Roundtable, Mike saw that the President has a real passion for manufacturers and their employees, and that, as Vice-president Pence said, “Made in America is not a slogan, but a mission.” Mike also emphasized that he felt the presence of God when he was with President Trump and all of his staff.
Mike finished by saying that:
"Made in America is going to help make America Great Again, and the industrial and business communities have an ongoing opportunity to play a critical role."
Mike Lindell - the author
And now, Mike's book is coming out soon.
Mike has always led an interesting life, including his childhood working on his uncle's farm, being a recovered crack addict, being the MyPillow founder and inventor, and his political involvement with President Trump.
His biography titled "What are the Odds?" (although Mike has quipped that is should be titled "From the Crack House to the White House") describes his journey through difficult times to his rise as the king of pillows to his latest passion project, his foundation.
Mike's life is truly an American success story which, when Mikes book comes out, will be both an interesting and motivating read.
Mike Lindell - the producer
Mike has also turned his attentions to producing Christian-themed films. Towards that, he co-founded LIGHTBEAMedia with actor Stephen Baldwin. They are currently working a movie called Youth Group, which will be coming out soon