MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell is a serious dreamer. Why not, since his dreams have a tendency of coming true. A dream foreshadowed his creation of MyPillow, based in Chaska but with TV infomercials everywhere (www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwyA-xs1y2E).
Lindell has always been an entrepreneur. As a boy, he and pals found an unattended burrow inhabited by some baby gophers. "We took them, fed them with an eyedropper, then sold them for 25 cents each," Lindell said. He also created a magic act around the sound of water in the stomach of his sister, Cindy, when she was 7. She was sometimes a reluctant participant, but he made up for it by being an insistent promoter.
These and many other outrageous stories will be in Lindell's upcoming book, "Against the Wind," which may also detail the childhood mischief he engaged in at the Gedney pickle factory before the fences were erected.
Lindell gave me the full tour -- corporate HQ, the factory and the place where Mike's head hits his own MyPillow until construction is finished on a new home. In the interest of full disclosure, the books Lindell and his fiancee are reading in their bedroom are from my collection of gossipy tomes. To whom it may concern, Beyoncé, there is singing on my startribune.com but no lip-syncing.
Q I need the short answer to: How you got the idea to start a pillow company?
A With a dream. I get my stuff from dreams from God.
Q What were your five previous professions?
A I was always an entrepreneur. I started out with a carpet-cleaning business. Then I had a lunch wagon business, where you pull up and serve food. Then I had bars and then restaurants.
Q What did you study in college?
A Nothing. I went to one year of college. I only went to class twice a quarter to pass the tests. I thought it was a waste of time.
Q Are you now, or have you ever been, a snorer?
A Yes and yes.
Q Want to hear me snoring? (A tape was played.)
A Oh wow. That's nice.
Q Has anybody ever told you that mustache makes you look like a certain porn star?
A I've heard Tom Selleck, and I've heard from Geraldo that I have the second most famous mustache in America.
Q How does a pillow help with restless leg syndrome?
A You have eight cervical nerves in your neck. My theory of where sleep comes from is that you have to calm down your cervical nerves by keeping the cervical nerves straight. It slows your heartbeat, relaxes your muscles and you go into a deep REM sleep.
Q You do know that customer testimonials are not exactly FDA approval?
A Right. That's why we put on our website that we've been fully checked out by the FDA, the FCC, everything. Everything we can say on TV we've been scrutinized for. And incidentally, I'm doing a study now in Chicago, and we're going to prove all these things people have been saying for years about [how] MyPillow can help you, better than any pillow on this planet, get the sleep you need.
Q Are there celebrities sleeping with My-Pillow?
A [Don] Imus. It actually changed his life. I don't pay him to say the things he does. He just goes off on a tangent. It's amazing the stuff he's said about MyPillow. Geraldo's got a pillow. They both think it's the best thing.
Q What -- if anything -- do you wear when you sleep?
A Just underwear and sometimes nothing [big smile and laugh].
Q With whom do you sleep these days?
A Dallas Yocum. She's my fiancee, and we're getting married June 8.
Q When it comes to MyPillow, do you prefer firm or soft?
A All MyPillows are soft, but it's a matter of how much fill I have in them. I use our green level.
Q Back, front or side sleeper?
A Side and back.
Q How many hours of sleep do you require?
A I'd say five or six. I can go to sleep when my head hits the pillow. When I get phone calls from my factory in the middle of the night, I can go right back to sleep on a dime.
Q When was the last time you had a pillow fight?
A Interesting that you asked that. It was a contest back when I was 13 years old, at a Christian camp in Cokato, Minn., that they gave out trophies for, and I won it. It's kind of come full circle.
Interviews are edited. C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9.