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MyPillow founder details overcoming crack addiction and what drives him

Chelsea Lombardo
Production Assistant

Not all paths to success are a clear road.

Infomercial mainstay MyPillow has made itself a household name across America since first entering the manufacturing scene back in the early 2000s — but it didn’t start off as an instant success.

While dealing with the struggles of building a company from the ground up, MyPillow founder and CEO Michael Lindell had to simultaneously overcome an addiction to cocaine and crack.

“I invented MyPillow in 2004,” Lindell told Yahoo Finance’s YFi PM on Thursday. “But I didn't quit crack and everything till January 16th, 11 years ago today in 2009. I quit everything overnight.”

Before Lindell turned to sobriety, the MyPillow founder faced rejection on numerous fronts. He was turned down by every major big box store, and he couldn’t attract customers at a mall kiosk.

At some point in 2011, Lindell knew it was time for a change.

“When nobody would take me...I told my friends and family...if nobody is going to take us, let's make an infomercial,” he said.

Mike Lindell, the Founder and CEO of MyPillow, stars in one of the brand's famous infomercials.

Despite being told that he was awful on camera, the informercial launched on October 7, 2011 in the middle of the night.

“I was living in my sister's basement. And I had like, 10 employees. And 40 days later, I had 500,” Lindell said.

Lindell told Yahoo Finance that the brand has opened 11 retail stores and now employs 1,500 workers and sold over 46 million pillows. The company also pulled in $250 million in revenue last year.

“I was always an entrepreneur too,” Lindell said. “My sister flooded a third-story apartment with a waterbed one time in the '80s. And so I became a carpet cleaner. I was always trying problem solution. And I had all these different businesses. Some would fail, some I’d come up with. It was a lot of my own adversity.”

Lindell said the key to getting a business up and running are deviations and a passion for what you do.

“When you're out there — I don't care what it is — if you don't recognize a deviation, whether it's good or bad and act on the good and react to the bad, you're not going to make it...If you don't have passion for what you're going to do, then forget it.”

“People say to me all the time, they go, Mike — you work all the time,” he said. “You're doing all this. I said, this isn't work. Addiction was work. I love what I'm doing.”

Chelsea Lombardo is a production assistant for Yahoo Finance. You can find more of her work here.

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