Mike Michalowicz’s Net Worth

I know exactly why you’re here. You want to know my net worth. You want my number.

In fact, you are not alone. One of the most popular searches about me is mike michalowicz net worth.” I get it. I totally do. For the longest time I did the same net worth searches on authors, entrepreneurs, celebrities, neighbors and friends. I wanted to know the value of a lot of different people.

Then one day (February 14, 2008 in fact) I discovered how to find the net worth of anybody and everybody. It is so deadly accurate that it’s scary. If you read this entire post (it’s a doozy), word for word and follow the exact steps, you will be able to find anyone’s net worth. Including mine. Including yours.


Why Resumes Are One Page Long

There is a reason why resumes are typically only a page long. For almost all of us (me particularly) our professional accomplishments can only (or barely) fill up a single page.

I have my own one-pager of “look how great I am” bullet points – building and selling a couple companies before my 35th birthday, writing a few business books, facilitating angel and VC raises (and getting ridiculous valuations), hosting business makeover segments on TV, keynoting a lot and being the CEO of a business consulting group. There, my self-fellating ego stroke is done. That’s it. It can’t fill much paper, but surely can fill my ego.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am proud of those accomplishments and worked hard for them. But being brutally honest with myself, those bullet points represent my entire list of professional accomplishments and they don’t even fill out a complete sentence. Let alone a complete CV. If I want to fill out a full piece of paper I am going to have to add filler stuff. Like “proficient in Microsoft Word” and “knows three words in sign language (curse words).”

Yet, it’s that one incomplete sentence that triggers people’s (perhaps your) thirst to know my net worth. Here’s the problem. . . when I tell you my number you are going to judge me and yourself. We’ll get to that in a moment.


Depositing Six Figure Checks

I sold the first company I founded, a computer technology integrator, to private equity in 2002. With the money I made, I could have taken off from work and lived quite comfortably for a few years. But I decided to “go all in” on a new company. With a partner, I built and sold my second company to a Fortune 500 in about two and a half years. At that moment I achieved financial success that I never experienced before. I distinctly remember depositing the first of multiple checks I received. That first check was for $388,000.

The money from the sale went into a temporary bank account my partner and I set up. (We did it for tax purposes.) We then wrote out our distributions from there, on the bank starter checks. Starter checks people! Starter-friggin’-checks.

I will never forget how bizarre it was to go to my bank’s drive through, send a $388,000 handwritten starter check to the teenage teller, and for him to never flinch or even look at me. He just deposited it, asked “Is there anything else I can help you with?” and sent me the receipt back with a cheap plastic bank pen for me to keep.

I made four more deposits (big fat ones) over the next two weeks. Each time it was the same teenage teller, bored with his ho hum job and bored with my ho hum deposits.

It was odd, I thought. You would think you would get a thumbs up. Or a smile. Or at least that he would look up to see who was dropping in “boatloads of cash.” But, he never looked. He never cared.

Funny enough, I later discovered that young kid knew a lot more about net worth than I ever did.


The Midas Touch

An interesting thing happens when you make a lot of money as an entrepreneur.

First, every financial planner on this planet calls you. “Hi, this is so-and-so. I saw the article in The New York Times about the sale of your company. I want to congratulate you. And, I would to take all your money and make a ton of commissions on it.”

The second thing that happens is that friends and family start calling you Midas.

My brother-in-law was the first to say it, “Everything you touch turns to gold, Mike.” Then it was my parents who said it. Then my sister. Then my friends. Then me.

I would look in the mirror with a smirk. I was staring right at Midas. I felt it. I knew it. Everything I touch turns to gold.

That was the day I lost it all. On the bright side, I didn’t die of hunger like Midas did in greek mythology.


How To Spend Millions, When You’re In A Rush

I may know how to make millions of dollars, but I found that I am really, really proficient at losing millions. In case you are curious on how to lose millions, here is the sure fire method I suggest:

First, move into a town that is really, really expensive. Second, buy a Dodge Viper and let every friend you have tell you, “you must be making up for a small penis.” Of course, if a Viper doesn’t suit you, you can get one of those Italian jobs, especially if you have an ultra-tiny penis.

Third, on the same day you buy your over the top sports car, also get the highest-end Land Rover you can find, and top it off with a tricked out BMW. Fourth, join a private club that you never go to yet still sends you a ridiculously big food bill every month, because you didn’t consume the required minimum.

Finally take the fifth step, and this is the big one, make sure you invest in a dozen brand new startups that have no clue what they are doing, because it doesn’t matter. . . you are Midas after all.


The Angel of Death

I called myself an angel investor. The model was simple. I’d put $50,000 in this company, $10,000 in that one, and perhaps $75,000 in another. Then I’d hire a team to help manage the infrastructure of all these startups. My team did the accounting, the customer service, and the management. The entrepreneur would just invent the concept and sell it, while my team would run it. And me? I just used my Midas touch, baby.

Within 12 months, all of the companies, except one, were belly up. It was so bad, that there were times I was paying bills for companies that were already out of business. That’s when I realized I sucked at being an angel investor. That’s when I knew I was really the angel of death.


Happy Valentines Day

February 14th, 2008 was a Thursday. I like to celebrate Valentines day with my wife and children. We always have a nice dinner together, exchange cards and share stories. I love the holiday. And now, I love that specific Valentines the most. It was the day I hit rock bottom.

I was at the office that afternoon and as I was wrapping up to go home, I received a call from my accountant. He got an early start on my taxes so I could be prepared for April.

Before I go into the details of the call, let me make something clear. I had wasted away almost all of my money at this point. Over a half million in savings gone. An embarrassingly bigger amount of investment money (which I guess is simply another label for savings) gone. My business accounts emptied. My ongoing income was squat. I had almost nothing left. On Feb 28th, 2008 my net worth was $10,000. The next day it would be $0.

Even with no income and thirty thousand left to my name, my big fat ego couldn’t accept defeat. I had lost almost everything at this point. Yet, I felt that if I could find just one more investment to make – one more startup to fund – just land one big client – that everything would turn.

Back to the call. Keith first said all the niceties that you would expect from your accountant. Then he told me the “good news.” My tax liability was less than he anticipated. I only owed $28,000.

Twenty eight thousand. I lost my breath. My chest tightened to what I presume a person in cardiac arrest might feel. I felt the sharp pain of a knife stabbing into me. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck. I had to scramble to get $18,000 bucks, and had no idea how to cover my mortgage next month.  I didn’t have enough.  Not even close. As Keith wrapped up the called he nonchalantly said the bill for his services would come Monday.

“How much?” I asked.

“Two thousand,” he said.

I felt the knife twist.


The Piggy Bank

Valentines day was not what I expected. Nor was it for anyone in my family.

I didn’t come home with flowers. I came home with defeat.

I didn’t sit at the dinner table. I slumped.

The shame was too great. I started to cry. Sob, actually. I started to sob.

I looked at my children and wife and told them. I had lost everything. Every single penny. All that money I had made to support my family was gone. My net worth was zero. I was worthless.

There was complete silence. I think you could have heard a pin drop, but I wouldn’t know. I couldn’t afford one.

My daughter was nine years old at the time. She stood up from the dinner table and ran to her room. I totally understood the reaction, I wanted to run away too.

Everyone else sat at the table in an awkward silence. What would you do at a moment like this anyway? So everyone just froze as I oscillated between crying and being totally angry at myself.

Two long minutes later, my daughter walked back down and put her piggy bank on the table. Then she said the words that will be with me until the day I die.

She said, “Daddy. We’ll make it.” And then she slid the piggy bank toward me.

Valentines Day 2008 I learned what net worth really is. Thank you to my nine year old daughter.


Determining Anyone’s Net Worth

I always believed that determining someone’s net worth was a simple formula: their cumulative financial assets minus their cumulative financial liabilities. Net worth was a number.

Valentines Day 2008 my net worth, I thought, was zero. But in a moment, my daughter had taught me something different. My net worth (and your net worth) is so much more than money. In fact, money is the least significant part of net worth. Perhaps money has nothing to do with net worth.

Your net worth, my net worth, everyone’s net worth is about value. Your value to your family. Your value to our community. Your value to the world. And most importantly, your value to yourself. Ultimately, I have discovered that our net worth is at it highest when we are one hundred percent, unabashedly true to ourselves – when we live fully in our life’s purpose.

From that day forward I have never sought out the monetary net worth of another person. I found that it means nothing. Instead, I look to see how true people are to their definition of their life’s purpose. If they are living it, their net worth is astronomical. If they are not living it yet, it is just a matter of time (and effort) and they will find it – and to me that is still a pretty dang high amount of net worth.

This may sound tooty-fruity, but I truly believe we (you, me, the rich guy and the poor guy) all have huge amounts of net worth. So much so that no amount of money can influence any individual’s net worth.

But I also discovered one more thing. When I wanted to know the financial breakdown of everybody else, I was actually destroying my own net worth. And you might just be doing the same.


Our Near Insatiable Thirst To Compare

I want you to think about this for a second. Why do you want to know my financials?

I think I know why. You want to judge me. Now don’t get offended. I am not accusing you of anything, it is just something we humans do. We have a near insatiable thirst to compare.

If I told you my financial net worth as of today (and quite frankly, I am really not even that interested in my own number any more – happiness, comfort and living my purpose are my key measurements now), I think it would trigger off a chain of comparisons. You would hear the number and the judging would begin.

You might think I don’t nearly deserve all that I have. Or you might think that I unfairly have more than you. Perhaps, you might think I have too little. You might conclude that I outright suck, because I don’t have X number of dollars. Too much or too little – no matter what you will judge me. And then you will compare yourself to me.

If you feel I have more than I deserve and you have less, it will trigger envy. Envy is a dangerous emotion that will hurt you. Why? Because envy is triggered by a feeling of inadequacy. You feel, in some way, less than me.

Envy sets in and along with it comes the defense mechanisms. “So what if that asshole Mike has more money than me, he is an obnoxious jerk anyway. He’s probably a drug dealer or something. He’s a fake. He’s a fraud. He’s scum.” Envy makes you believe you are inadequate to me (you’re not) and makes you find ways to make you better than me (you’re not). Once you tear me down to a point where you feel I am now below you, you’ll feel good – temporarily. It is only a matter of time that you will be visited by envy again and do the tear down cycle again. Envy makes us pull others down. Aspiration on the other hand makes us pull ourselves up.

If you think my number is too low, you will devalue me. “Really!??! Is that is all Mike has. He is useless. He’s worthless.” And with that you will see me as less than you (I’m not) and seek out others, who you will envy and think are better than you (they’re not).

To me a homeless woman or the richest man in the world have the same net worth. They are both human. They are both significant. And perhaps the homeless woman has a sense of freedom, and the richest man may feel trapped by all his stuff. And perhaps the richest man lives in constant fear of losing it all, while the homeless woman lives in constant hope. The both have their struggles and the both have their successes. Neither is worth more. Neither is worth less.

No large sum of riches, or lack thereof, can even put a scratch in someone’s net worth. If you realize this too, you will break free of the comparison trap and start seeking out the intrinsic value we all carry. You will seek out the intrinsic value in yourself. And the moment you do that, you will see your net worth skyrocket.


The Purpose

2008 was a tough year for me. Beyond the stupid financial struggles I thrust upon myself, going from an entrepreneur to an author is tough!

I had finally finished writing my first book and had launched it on Amazon. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur shared lessons on how entrepreneurs can grow a business like I had in the past. But there I was, starting all over again myself. I was launching a book on how to make millions in business, yet I had now lost the millions I had made. The irony.

It was embarrassing to go to lectures and being introduced as a millionaire entrepreneur, when I was in fact a former millionaire entrepreneur. It felt like a lie. . . I was telling people how to be successful, but I myself no longer was. If I was going to make it work, I had to read my own book. The irony.


From Successful Entrepreneur To Struggling Author

Starting all over again at zero has been a blessing. But it sure as hell has been no easy ride.

The day I launched The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur, no one bought it. None sold! Zero. Zilch. Squat. And if you want to know how painful zero is, that means my own mother didn’t buy it. Ouch.

I started putting on speaking engagements for anyone who would have me. My thought was, to speak for free in hopes of selling books after the event and then getting invited back to speak for some coin.

My first “major tour” was in California, from Los Angeles to San Francisco for five speaking gigs. Four were for colleges and one for a business group. It kicked off with UCI (The University of California – Irvine). When I arrived, I walked into a large empty room. Well not totally empty, one student was there. I asked him where I could find the lecture room I was looking for. He told me I was in it. He then looked at me and said, “Are you ready to speak now? I don’t think anyone else is coming.” A fraternity was throwing a party that night.

Talk about having your heart ripped out. One person showed (he was coordinating the event). A frat party was a bigger draw than me. I did my speech – it was more of a conversation – as best as I could. One person. Demoralizing.

The other colleges, varied from 50 in a room (the business fraternity made it a mandatory event) to an average of 4 people for the other two events. Demoralizing.

Total books sold for the four events? Two. Both to the fraternity, for what reason I am not sure – but think it had something to do with hazing.

The business event was better about 60 people showed and about 20 books sold. But a whole trip to California (I am from New York) with hotels and food could not be covered on a total of 22 books sales.

I’ll save you the long drawn out details of the following year’s struggle. In short, I got back to basics. I did what I did when I started my first business in my early twenties. I skipped hotel rooms and slept in airports. I ate a lot at the free event lunches and skip dinner. I did it all TPE style, and appreciated every single painful lesson it taught me.

I had to rebuild my financial net worth from scratch. But my true net worth, and your true net worth, has and always will be unlimited.


Be Yourself Unabashedly

I have clawed and scratched my way back to a degree of financial security that is comfortable. In fact the income is enabling me to do more, and more, and more of what I need to do – to live out what I have defined as my life’s purpose in the biggest way possible.

I have permanently lost something, though. . . my arrogance.

I realize, to my core, I am not better than you. I am not better than anyone. And no one is better than me. We are all just different. And in our uniqueness – in our differences – is all our net worth.

You can determine anyone’s net worth. By definition it is unlimited for all of us.

Be yourself unabashedly.

by Mike Michalowicz, Author of Clockwork, Profit First, Surge, The Pumpkin Plan, and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur

Learn More About True Net Worth

Ever since my discovery of what net worth really is, I have been reading more and more on the subject.  Particularly our relationship with money.  If you want to dig in deeper too, I recommend reading Lynne Twist’s book called The Soul of Money.  The stories she shares about her experiences in India moved my soul.  A very powerful read, in my opinion.


286 thoughts on “Mike Michalowicz’s Net Worth”

      1. The TPE has been and is a big help to me as my own business faces insolvency and I have lost financially. My marriage broke up in part because of it too. I didn’t pay enough attention to the financials. The book helped me to recover my sense of mission.
        In the article above your reference to ‘hazing’ was really funny.

  1. Yeah, Mike. Thanks for sharing. I’ve experienced a similar situation and am currently in the rebuilding phase. I never quite went to zero, but it was close. Two young kids, wife. Frightening! Anyway, loved the post. UVA dude here writing from Charlottesville (you were VA Tech I think I read in your first book)! Way to push through and rock it.

    1. Thanks for the honesty… not about the struggles, but that you are UVA dude. It is unbelievable that we are even talking… And that I think you are awesome!

      In all seriousness, thank you for sharing brother! I suspect i know that you felt.

      Good luck to UVA in the year end game. I fear that you guys are going to kick our ass this year.

  2. I had to go the bathroom really bad but couldn’t stop reading!! Thank you for sharing your story so honestly. Here’s an idea for you. Write a book or article of speech all about people who lost it all and started over. I would love to be included as my story while involving a tumor had not so different an end. Maybe that’s why we connect so well. Keep going my friend, keep going!!

  3. Mike, Wow so happy to see you go public with this story. Knowing you personally, have heard it before but never with such a positive twist – kick in the pants- ending. You are one of my hero’s and mentors and and grateful to have you in my life.

    1. Thank you. You honestly were a major player in giving me the courage to share it. It is my version of coming out of the closet. It was a dark period and was so hard to share while I was living it. It is easier in reflection to share. And so needed to be told.

  4. To my friend, my colleague, my “brotha from anotha mutha”
    You have the ability to take your breath, your thoughts and hopes and make them into something constructive and accessible for others. This is how YOU are making the world a better place.
    Keep on banging your drum and awakening the entrepreneurial troops; we are the economic engine that will pull us all out of the dunghil!
    I don’t have heroes anymore Mike, but you are an inspiration and a role model!

  5. Thanks for the insight Mike. It can be difficult when you are starting a business not to feel like a fraud – I go through that internal fight all the time. It’s nice to be reminded that those internal fights aren’t ours alone and also that we need to change our measuring stick. Money is important (it’s how we pay for the basics), but money isn’t everything.

  6. When I saw your email this morning I naturally open it. You always provide great content and things to think about. Then when I saw what the topic was I about gasp. Is Mike that crazy and egotistical to share his net worth? Then as Lawrence stated I couldn’t stop reading it. Great article post and great lessons shared. Thanks Mike!

    1. Mary – Thank you so much for saying that. It is a funny/weird thing… in my younger years I would have bragged (and exaggerated) my financial success. Now I see money sooooo much differently… as a vehicle for things. I simply want to do, what I was put on earth to do (at least what I think I need to do).

  7. Mike. You just made my day, week and added the air I needed to face down what some could describe as being on the edge of defeat. As I looked at the picture of Felix Baumgartner doing the biggest dive in history yesterday, I went between, ‘Yay…you go Felix’ to ‘this is my life…everyday but I don’t a mission control team, NASA, etc. Ahhh…I SUCK! Then your email came in this morning. ‘Wait’….I don’t need NANA, I have Mike. (smiles) Love ya baby!!

      1. You kinda had me at NANA. I thought you were talking about my grandma.

        Now here is the deal Christa. You have your own world record breaking leap in you too. And I dare say you know what it is (even if it if just deep, deep down). So go for it! You will CRUSH IT, NANA!

  8. Mike, You and I share similar experiences (as you know). Congrats on having the guts to go public with yours…
    Talk soon.

    1. Thank you brother. GOT has had a profound effect on me and since this is the stuff we all share in our 100 person forum, I felt compelled in coming out public with it.

      You story is amazing… and I hope you share it too.

  9. Thank you for sharing your story! I almost didn’t open it, but I am so glad that I did!! Just what I needed for a gray Monday morning in entreprenuerville. The sun needs to shine on the inside!

  10. Pretty good advise Mike! I nearly went to zero — a licensing business with great potential, but just when it looked to be the turning event (healthy cash flow) our tech partner designed us out. Two years and educating them on the science and they stab us. The lesson there is trust not the business side of people. Once money is involved crazy things happen; seemingly friends are not; hand shakes are false indicators; good will is cast aside. A wife, two kids … all sounds familiar. The restart is tough for sure. The lessons are invaluable. Kudo’s to you for sticking with it and succeeding. For me, two more starts that ended net cash even and now recovering working for others. However, the glint in the eye never dies once you experience doing your own thing. Looking forward to that day again!

  11. Mike,
    Your story is SO inspiring. Thank you so much for your honesty. I have been following you from The Big Idea to Entreprenette and beyond. My life will be different as a result of your impact on me.
    Thanks for sharing yourself!

    1. Thanks for reading it Lill. You light up my heart by saying that your life will be different (I pray for the better) because of my impact. That truly means everything to me.

      I have a saying – “A writer write books, an authors moves minds, but my mission is to shift souls.”

  12. Good stuff! Thanks Mike. BTW, I posted my first book review EVER for your book on Amazon. Too much! Keep it coming.

  13. Mike, I lived in a van with my dog and cat for almost 16 months. I didn’t get out of the van until I realized “I am NOT my circumstances.” Same things as “I am not my net worth,” but I never considered net worth…..I learned that money makes things easier, but it doesn’t necessarily make things better. This rocks! You’re a better man for the experience. Being humbled makes you more cautious, more appreciative and more authentic. Go you!

  14. Bravo for shedding light on the misperception that entrepreneurs have about how well other ‘treps are doing…especially ones like you who are in the spotlight.

    I can’t begin to count how many of my colleagues and I have experienced similar lean times on our entrepreneurial journeys. While everyone else thinks you’re rockin’ it, in reality you feel like a complete failure & fraud. Ugh.

    Thanks for giving an important lesson through sharing your story w/us, Mike! (And thank for your talk on Tuesday at Savor too.)

  15. Brilliant and insightful post, Mike. I will admit that the last few years haven’t been the greatest due to this slow moving economy, but what you say really hits the nail on the head. “You will seek out the intrinsic value in yourself.” and “Believe in Yourself.” These are the guidelines I follow. I believe in what I can do for others and always thrilled each time someone lets me.

  16. Mike – Nothing I could write would be as profound as what you shared here in your post. Thank you for modeling vulnerability and for validating and reminding me a of perspective I hold, but sometimes forget. Have a wonderful (filled with wonder) day! – Robb

  17. Thanks for sharing your experience in a what-not-to-do way. Your daughter seems to be on her way to being a million-dollar entrepreneur too with that attitude. Loved that story!

  18. I’m sure
    that if large companies, not just individuals would take on this
    attitude we would see the much needed return of focus on quality and
    not just price, which funnily enough actually tends to bring you long
    term business success, not just the quickie!

  19. That was a great article! It resonated with me. Being a former pilot to the very rich, I learned that many on the jet were often bankrupt–morally bankrupt. It is from this experience that when I meet a person, I never ask what they do for a living?–it does not matter. What I cared about in meeting a person is– are interesting to talk to, what can learn from them and are they a decent human being. I also learned that the secret to happiness in ones life is about being thankful for all the small things which are in fact the big things. My favorite quote is–Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts–Albert Einstein. Your daughter with her piggy bank is such a moment in life when you realize that you are wealthy beyond measure.

  20. Hi Mike, longtime follower and first time commenter.

    It’s 4 in the morning and I’m going through some emotional rides at the moment with a large project I scored a few months ago for my new (1.2years) old company. Having a hard night working long hours on this project, but reading your story at this exact moment couldn’t be more timely. It made me feel a lot better and took some weight off my shoulders to know that this is just part of the process of becoming successful and part of ‘character building’. Greatly appreciate your supportive words that always seem to come at the right time.

    Thank you

    1. ET – Thank you soooo much for sharing what you are going through. We are all on this big globe together and all are the same at the end of the day. I am rooting for you. Your net worth is TREMENDOUS!

  21. Hey Mike….THIS might be the most inspiring entrepeneurial “failure” story that I have ever read. Little Net worth->Some Net Worth->Alot of Net Worth–>Nearly Zero Net Worth->Back to being in Pretty Good Shape. Your story is my story with the chain of events being extremely similiar. Reading your story gave me the chills..That was me and is me. It has been some ride…a ride I believe was invaluable in shaping me into the person that I am today. The “net worth cycle” allowed me the opportunity to learn more about myself and those around me than I could have ever imagined. I would sit in my office all alone when I had “Alot of Net Worth” and I would ask myself ” do most of my “new friends” like me for being me or do they want something from me (I found out later that answer). I’m a glass half full type of guy so I won’t vent, I smile. Seems strange but I have no anger or frustration towards others (my story is full of soap opera type of characters, fraud, prison, etc.). I made mistakes and they were MY mistakes. No one put a gun to my head. It always comes down to being accountable. I did it, my bad, and it was time to move on. Ultimately it was my real friends and loving family that literally “saved me.” They inspired me to start over, I new they had my back, and they always let me know that they loved me. I took my knowledge and focused on the positives and tried and never harp on the past (that was a very difficult thing to do) but somehow I did it. I’m not a very religiuos person but I am inspired by failth, a higher power, and karma. INow my story doesn’t have a happy ending nor does it have a sad one either. It has an ongoing storyline that continues to this day, as it does for all of us. I did restore my “net worth back on paper” but this time for me it just doesn’t have the same perceived value as it once did. Its good to know I can pay my bills but besides that it doesn’t define me as I once allowed it to before. Today I am much more low key (I think that might be partly due to exhaustion :-). I am able to separate the definition of “financial net worth” vs. “life wealth” …I am blessed to have the most remarkable family and a very few circle of friends. I will never tell anyone not to seek money as the means to the end because everyone has to go on their own journey and go on their own “life cycle.” But if anyone aks me about business and making money today i will tell them about all of my failures first and work backwards. My hope is that they can learn from my mistakes and then come to understand that what makes me successful is that I will not allow failure or adversity to define me and that I have chosen to surround myself with great human beings vs. a great biz. opportunity. Also, if you want to do business always seek the opinions of an older person. I have come to appreciate that with age comes experience and wisdom. I have learned to qulify better vs. jump at a “great” opportunity or idea. So no I won’t listen to some person that others tell me is successful just because they live in a big house or drive a fancy car and are so called “sucessful.” My time is my greatest asset and spend it with my loved one’s. They inspire me and from that flow the ideas of creativity and business. Thank you for sharing your story as I have felt alone in the failure and have asked myself “has this happened to someone else.” Today you answered my question….Thank you Mike!

    1. Joe – Absolutely amazing feedback. And yes, learning from mistakes makes us successful!!! I love your summary right in the beginning by the way: Little Net worth->Some Net Worth->Alot of Net Worth–>Nearly Zero Net Worth->Back to being in Pretty Good Shape

      Thanks for all of this, Joe. Wishing you BIG FAT HUGE success! And quite frankly is sounds to me like you already have it.

      – Mike

  22. Mike, thanks for sharing your story. I know it’s hard putting it out there. I’ve never been curious about the net worth of an individual, but I’m always grateful when those with a similar business as mine reveal how much their business makes because it inspires me. Honestly, I don’t think I would even have dreamed of making over a certain amount in my business had I not been inspired by others. I’m equally grateful when people like yourself reveal failures. It keeps me going when one of my big ideas goes over like a lead balloon.

  23. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Mike! I was one of the early people who bought The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and it has so much great advice in it. Thanks for writing it. You’ve come a long way and the fact that you are willing to share this is what makes you so great. Not many people would admit to this. Thanks again for your honesty and for reminding us to all to be ourselves and believe in ourselves.

  24. Wow, you are right, net worth is not by the numbers in the bank account. Humility and being Humble are not the easiest lessons to learn. You are right we are not better than anyone we are all individuals with our own differences and uniqueness. Net Worth.exactly.

  25. Mike,

    Thanks for a great read today and sharing some awesome honesty. I Just got done reading the book you gave me in April at class and there are a few points now from both bouncing around inside my already ADD head as things that really need some work. Thanks for the push, see ya in April 2013.

  26. Mike,
    Your daughter and you understand an important lesson I teach my clients; self worth/esteem is inherent; you just have to recognize it and stop chasing comparisons. You are not better nor less than anyone other human. Great piggy bank story. Thank you for sharing it.

  27. Absolutely perfect timing, Mike. Just had a speaking gig cancel on me … only 10 registered, instead of the 100-150 expected. I decided it was a gift of time. Time to do what, not yet sure, but I’m determined not to alter my sense of purpose because of this. And, thanks to your encouragement, I won’t alter my purpose for anything else either. (Every manager a Barnabas … 10,000 people to hear Mr. Johnson’s message through my voice. Speaking to myself here) I remain on track. Thanks again!

  28. Hi Mike, you Rock and so much I relate with you (except making and losing $$) I haven’t make it yet to that amount but when I do, I’m taking this story to fall back on not making the same mistakes you went thru. You’re an awesome guy and love your style of writing! “I have nightmares of the one nut guy”, is that a good thing? 🙂
    Take care champ!

    1. Thanks Marvin. The “one nut wonder” still pops up in my head. He is a bitch to defeat… but then I found perhaps it isn’t about defeating him. He is just misplaced. Instead of being a villain, I am trying to make him a creator of new ideas/new ways.

  29. Wow! So brave to share this phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes tale, Mike — my hero — thanks! Especially love the part about your daughter — she clearly got the chutzpah gene! Very related, Brene Brown’s TED talks on vulnerability and shame will likely resonate — highly recommend.

    1. So good to hear from you Nancy. I think it is a guy walking out of the ashes kind of thing. I crash and burned myself really badly. And I think I am walking away… perhaps to “soar” again. But I wonder if that even matters as much as fulfilling my purpose with all I am.

      How’s Verve going!

  30. All of a sudden while dancing you jump up and do the splits. Wow! When you love what you do and do what you love, its priceless. The real value is inside of you. Just having the power to control your mind.. Is priceless. Mike, I salute the Divinity in you!!

  31. Raw, authentic… and so,so much truth in here, Mike – really great post for this time in my life as well, I appreciate you sharing so much man!

  32. Thank you for this. I’m reading this after one of the happiest weekends of my life. Next year I will be celebrating 50 years in newspapering as a writer and editor. The only thing that’s brought me to tears recently has been the thought of how little money I’ve made lately, how trapped I feel at the tail end of my career. My newspaper’s owners froze salaries five years ago, and each year brings higher contributions to health care, smaller take home pay, and we’re all living in this economic decline. AND YET, I’ve been doing art photography, in-performance theater photography, and portrait and headshot work for the past ten years, and showing my work in galleries over the past five years. I’ve gotten to know a host of artists in the very active local artists community. I’ve worked alongside some great photojournalists over the years, learned a lot from them in the darkrooms (that digital made disappear), and this weekend I paid some of that freely shared expertise back by curating a gallery show of 7 photojournalists’ work that’s appeared in my newspaper and others in our state and nationally. Photojournalists don’t get the respect they deserve. Mostly, their photos run in one edition and are filed and forgotten at the paper, and the readers recycle them away. They’re “old news.” But we picked their best — 9 shots apiece — and got them on the gallery’s wall, and hundreds in the community came to see them and learn and appreciate. I did it to increase the public’s respect for all journalists, and these photographers in particular, and judging from the responses, I’ve increased my own “net worth” in everyone’s eyes. I certainly feel like the richest man in the world today, and that tear in my eye is from joy. Reading your post puts it all in focus. Again, thank you.

  33. You’ll never know how much this post touched me. I was in the same boat. Millionaire Midas touch to near bankruptcy to slowly struggling my way back to comfortable. And it was in the same year as well. 2008 hit a lot of us. It was inspiring to hear your story, and it has inspired me to write my own and rid myself of the same demons. Thank you for your courage.

  34. Mike as always I so appreciate your honesty and transparency! Great post and a great reminder that the grass is not always greener. Who we are and what we do with what we are given is indeed our net worth. Your daughter rocks and I am wondering if I could borrow her?! Just for a little while… ;)) Thanks my friend!

  35. What an amazing, honest, and authentic message. I’ve witnessed those I care about in a similar situation to you, and I’ve instinctively known about the dangers, but you’ve put it into words in a way that I never could. I’ve bookmarked this. Thank you for this. 🙂

  36. I’m really glad you wrote this post Mike, and I’m glad I read it (even if it began out of morbid curiosity).

    I felt you had kind of written me off after our call (following the video contest) as not being ambitious enough or not being your kind of entrepreneur because I had no plans nor grand desires to expand my business into some multi-million dollar enterprise. I felt you were somehow vaguely disappointed with me and, since my guest post for your site doesn’t seem to have worked out, I figured you didn’t see value in what I was doing.

    But based on what you’ve said here I can assume that’s not the case. Thank you for your thoughts and insights Mike. Sharing these kinds of experiences helps the rest of us make better decisions through the ups and downs of business.

  37. As always I love your honesty and true “heart” that shows in your posts! Thanks again for sharing your Valentine story…no matter how many times I hear it, it brings tears to my eyes. We often think of our net work in $$$ signs yet this story shows the true place in which we should look for net worth! Thank you Mike!!

  38. Mike- This may be my favorite post of yours ever. You had me crying with the story of your daughter and net worth. So true. Thank you for sharing your story.

  39. Mike! This is why I love you dude! You have a way of, for lack of a better term “keeping it real!”

    Everyone, this is a guy who a few years ago I emailed out of the blue to see if he would be up for grabbing a beer since I would be in NY. Without hesitation he agreed. He and his beautiful wife met up with my wife and I for some beers on a roof top bar just outside of Times Square. That night was so fun! For a guy who ate, slept and breathed entrepreneurship, but never had the guts to pull the trigger, Mike convinced me I had what it took and all I had to do go for it. I did…that night as we walked down Times Square…I became a TPE. I will never forget it. More importantly though, I saw first hand the true net worth of Mike and Krista Michalowicz.

    Here’s to your future buddy! I pray that God blesses you and your family and gives you favor in everything.


  40. Wow Mike that is amazing! And to think I first found you on Facebook in the Fall of 2008 (I think I saw you on The Big Idea on CNBC Donnie Deutsch 1st, then found you Facebook). It’s amazing to recognize your true value when you lose all the superficial stuff. 2008 started bad times for me too, rebranding in 2011 and choosing the wrong business partner saw even WORSE times for me financially…. but I know I’m worth so much more than ever realized when I had a 6-figure salary. And I love the opportunity and ability I now have to share that with other people who are going through the process. That’s why I rebranded to Social Sparkle & Shine: your Sparkle is you, it’s what you uniquely bring with passion and fire to every day, that you can use on social media to Shine! (It also works as a reminder for myself, everyday). #Sparkle BTW Mike – Finished reading The Pumpkin Plan last week and loved it!!!

  41. I started reading this because I was surprised you were going to discuss money in such a way. I have read TPE and Pumpkin Plan. I am also one of the 50 in your “class”. I feel like I know you like a brother, sort of. I did not think money was important to you. I am glad I read this. A pleasant surprise. Maybe we are related. You think like I do.

  42. Great post Mike! All I know is you provided tremendous value to me when I was starting my business. It took a few years, but the fact that you believed in us when not many did was key in us not giving up. Today we’re in a pretty great place and we’re having a blast running a profitable business that is 100% controlled by us built on our hard work. I’m sure you’ve provided a ton of value to many others as well and I’m sure you’ll be getting it back very soon. If I can help in any way I would love to help. Thank you.

    1. Ryan – Thank you brother! Help me? The truth is, what helps me most is that YOU be as successful as possible. That you are you the most. With that, the tide rises and it helps all. Just kick ass brother (and tell me your success secrets, so that I can write about it and share it with the world).

      Keep kickin’ ass brother!

  43. I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats! Seriously, thanks Mike for sharing yourself here. I think you have truly found your calling and as you say – what is price tag for that? Blessings to you and all your endeavors!

  44. Those that have never experienced your kind of success don’t know what comes along with it, or how easy it is to lose some or all of the $$$. I read your blog not because I wanted to “know your number”, but to hear what you have to say and find out how to find out other people’s “number”!!! 😉
    Your message was great. Honest reality dissipates fantasy. Go Mike, GO!

  45. Fair play to you Mike. Respect.

    I must confess until reading this post, which I really enjoyed and related to by the way, I may well have Googled your net worth myself. Sorry. Shame on me.

    Actually, on the subject of net worth, I almost invested in a mobile app that would calculate and compare peoples individual to the Times Rich List. Double shame on me. Hey, not all ideas are good but we have them anyway, right :-/

    Anyway, thanks for sharing Mike, reading this has genuinely changed my perspective for the better. My book, which is to be entitled “bullshitters and wannabes – you can’t kid a kidder” is still a work in progress but of a similar journey and packed with just as much irony.

    As me ol’ mucka Plato once said “the greatest wealth is to live content with little”

    – Yeah gr8 thanks for that LOL

    1. Hey Neil – NO SHAME WHATSOEVER. I have done the same for years. I think we are all a work in progress, and for me the net worth comparison was a big huge aha for me.

      And I don’t even know if it is a “better approach” for everyone. It totally is for me. But I can’t say it is a “better awareness” for everyone, I mean… I feel it is… but that is because it is better for me.

      It is weird. Every time I learn more about myself, I feel I know less.


  46. I’m not sure what tripped within your life to bare your soul like this, Michael, but it is quite a post, perhaps even the introduction to another book! And just for the record, I opened this post not to learn of your net worth, at least not in dollars. I know you are frank enough and smart enough to have ensnared us with an intriguing title and I couldn’t wait to read what you really wanted to share.
    Yet, I wasn’t prepared for this side of you. It’s a great reminder that no one is truly successful without the love and support of family and if we have that, we all share a huge measure of success. I won’t even address the ‘net worth’ part because when I read that from others, I’m prepared for ‘the big sell’ of whatever snake oil the author happens to be hawking based on their own success. Thank you for making your message truly genuine and heartfelt. I wish you much continued success and look forward to your normally irreverent posts on how to work smarter in business.

    Another clue that you wouldn’t be taking us down the expected road about net worth – your idea of a throne is that which one sits upon to read books like, well… ‘The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur’!

  47. Wow Mike! Thank you for sharing that. I have a similar story after selling my business. What the stock market did not take, I squandered. I wish I had invested in some young start-ups. At least I would have given someone a shot. I was very angry with myself, but now I am over that. I am rebuilding now and your story is an incredible source of inspiration for me. Thanks again.

  48. TPE was brilliant, and now I know why. Telling the awful truth isn’t easy, and it’s hella risky, but here you are doing it anyway. I’ve never been a millionaire, but I have owned and lost businesses, and had to start over. From my view, you have nailed it again Mike – no one is better than anyone else, and money is largely unimportant when it comes to living a genuine life. Of course money can provide big fun and take care of problems.

    Thanks Mike for again telling the real story.

    1. Thanks for reading TPE. Telling the truth can be very ugly at times. The funny thing is I think millionaire is just money, but I know people (and experienced myself) a degree of emptiness with a million plus in the bank.

      I think the lesson for me has been to find my purpose (either defined by me or by a greater power – can’t tell for sure, but I think God (yes I believe in God, no I am not particularly religious – and yes have some guilt about it) is the one who has defined my purpose). Now that I feel I am living in my purpose, money is a vehicle to support it. It is a facilitator of purpose.

  49. Mike — Best.Post.Ever! Thanks so much for sharing your personal story. Both the good and the bad. Entrepreneurship isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but you rarely hear people talk about the darker side. Your story is inspiring to anyone dealing with challenges in their businesses or life. “Don’t worry…we’ll make it!” 😉

  50. Mike, you are truly amazing. That is why I respect you so much and love being part of all of this. Thank you so much for your story. It is truly inspiring and a reminder that we are all human, capable of making mistakes and can lose everything faster than we got it. I live by this saying myself: “Rome may not have been built in a day but that is all it took to burn it down”. When it comes to finances- “Fools rush where the wise fear to tread”. Thank you for all of your wisdom and showing us our true net worth.

  51. Brilliant Post, Mike. I’m a reader from a faraway country, yet still find great empathy in your sharing. Guess no matter where we are, the true quest is to find out our true values, not our net worth.

    Keep going man!

  52. Thanx Mike, your words were inspiring. I too wish to start a small service provision company and begin to tender for Government contracts. Wish me luck!

  53. Thank you for sharing this. Having learned so much about myself this year through changes in personal circumstances as well as in business , you are truly right.

    The financials are important but being true to yourself and recognising your own value and what you bring to the world is worth so much more and is an important life lesson we all need.

    Thanks for being awesome as usual!

    1. I think financials are critically important, but not to the compromise of ANYTHING else. Money for me, I believe, is a vehicle. The more money I have, the more it amplifies who I am and the impact I can have. I think a big dose of humble pie has been important to me. I hope I don’t need it again… but if I do, I think I will get another dose

  54. Mike, Your net worth is so much more than you could ever imagine. You have touched lives when you never knew it! Your inspiration and motivation is exceptional.
    I didn’t read your article ‘cuz I wanted to know the number. I KNEW you had a different message.
    Your AWESOME!
    Giant Hugs

  55. Thank YOU, thank YOU Mike! In our uniqueness is also our value to ourselves and the world. Your sharing mean so much to me.

  56. Hi Mike, I don’t know if I should say a great story or sad story, however being able to relate I have learned adversity (not so much necessity) IS the MOTHER of all mothers of invention (and creativity) – and you know I know.

    I consider you a good friend, starting from the kindness you have shown me and seeing how you give to others. I always knew you were a cool guy on the outside and now I know you are as cool on the inside and I see how deep it runs.

    I don’t know about your net worth that is for you to assess, However being able to relate to your story my net worth doubled because my “friend portfolio” doubled+ in value by knowing how deep and where your integrity and generosity originates.

    Mike does this mean the $5,000,000 check is no good? 

      1. You are welcome, Mike. Your experience is an absolute source of innovation. When you have time we could discuss it and could be further very helpful to every entrepreneurs.

  57. Wow! I admire your openness, honesty, and authenticity. I have learned so much from you; from both your success and disappointments. In my book, your net worth is huge no matter what your bank book says (which of course, changes constantly.) Your consistency in caring and sharing is always there, and one thing we can all count on not to change. Thank you!

  58. Mike – As a recent follower of yours (less than two weeks) I am blown away by your candour and honesty. Thank you for sharing. I have had a similar experience, Bankruptcy, (14 years ago). Nothing more humbling than living in your parents basement. Now, I would not say I am even close to “fit” finanacially today, but a lot better off than in 1997/98. I am happy to tell you I am on the “upside of terra firma” today, because of the belief and support I received from my family during my crisis moments. Net worth – beautiful wife and two kids that love me.

  59. Thank you so much dear Mike! Its an amazing journey to discover the true value of life, and the fact that you reveal all your ups and downs on this bumpy road, shows just how humble and wise you are. I believe that your millions will not only come back, but double because of these realizations. May all of us learn from you!

  60. Hey Mike, you would not believe how similar we are. I had my 6yrold now 14 do the same thing with her piggy bank,

    I went from living on the street 7yrs then starting Canada’s first high speed internet provider. Then owning a expensive no mortgage house to pulling equity out till the bank against until the bank had %75 of it. Owning really expensive cars to making payments.

    Money can be a strange thing when you first make it can make you cocky and feel unstoppable so you start another business and another one and hey that worked out too. Now you think you can do anything and everything. and when you stop following your own plan and methods or procedures WHAMO! it can all come crashing down.

    Just rebuilding now starting fresh.

    Thanks Mike

    1. Holy crapola…. that is some serious up and downs. Living on the streets, I suspect is something you never, ever wanted, and at the same time I suspect it is a lesson that you never ever would trade away. Is that true?

      Kick ass my brother! The world is truly starving for your success.

      1. I am from near the Toronto area and live here now with my wife and three wonderful children. I was kicked out my house when I was 14 hitchhiked around Canada and the States spent a 1/2years on the streets in Berkeley and San-Fransisco I met my wife when I was 18 she was 17. The funny thing about that was I thought she was a street kid like me and we head hitching down to Mexico and lived on the beach with no money for 6months and found out she wasn’t a street kid but moved onto the streets and become homeless because of me. How’s that for true love.

        When we got back to Canada, we ended up the middle of the Rocky Mountains and lived deep in the bush for 2yrs in a log cabin living of the land no power no electricity or hot water.

        It wasn’t until she got pregnant with our first daughter, we moved into a small village and got on welfare and the rest is history.

        Not bad for a big shot entrepreneur 15yrs later.

        How we had home births with all 3 children and me delivering our first cause the midwife missed it is for another story.

        wow I should have just put that in a blog post myself and linked to it.

          1. I actually live in a small city of about 80,000 the city of Brantford about an hr from Toronto. I say near Toronto as no one seems to know where Brantford is unless you are a fan of Wayne Gretzky. I talk to his Dad Walter once in a while.

  61. I almost didn’t read this post, because I thought it was going to be about what most people consider “Net Worth” to be and I thought, “who the hell cares what Mike Michalowicz’s net worth is?” (no offense). Then when you emailed about it being your most popular post I thought I would take a look. I’m very glad I did.

    I am torn between which line to like the best. Two quotes that I’m cutting and pasting for future reference:

    Envy makes us pull others down. Aspiration on the other hand makes us pull ourselves up.


    I am not better than you. I am not better than anyone. And no one is better than me. We are all just different. And in our uniqueness – in our differences – is all our net worth

    Very cool! Way to go, Mike Michalowicz!!!

  62. Thanks Mike for being real about the ups and downs that entrepreneurs go through. The downs make you appreciate what real success is even more and it’s not just the numbers on your bank statement. Loved TPE and was glad to participate as a Pumpkin Plan warrior and have shared this post on social media . Keeping it real ! Cheers, Eric

  63. Mike, This post is one for the books,a true classic. I have been unemployed since July and my savings ran out in September. Thank God,my brother has a good job and has been helping me keep my head above water. I am 54 and have never been this low before. I have been finding out how much my paycheck,or lack thereof,was my measure of self-worth. Screwy right? Thank-You for the giving me a fresh perspective. Blessing on you and your family. Bob

    1. Bob – Thank you for the honesty. I had a meeting with a friend who is 64 and she is at her lowest financially ever. It truly seems unfair to have these dips and drops. But, perhaps there are valuable life lessons.

      This too shall pass, Bob.

  64. Hey Mike – Thank You! I started following you after meeting you at the Diva Toolbox event last year and this article is a great example of the reason I am still here. Your honesty, your humor (class clownness LOL) and your ability to really be you, are refreshing. It was so great to see you again in Boston this week and to get The Pumpkin Plan (I read half of it on the plane – awesome). I love that you are modeling that we can tell our stories – the transparency. Our stories are very similar and when people hear that I sold a trucking company and had the ability to retire in my early 40’s they have certain expectations but they forget that life goes on and that we are still entrepreneurs and that money likes to flow (both in and out). I am going to share your post on my Facebook Fan Page right now.

      1. Love it and Hate it! LOL Love it because I have been focused on this exact topic for my business for the last 3 to 4 months and you have laid it out in easy action steps with stories. The stories have my creative juices flowing. Hating it because I am getting ready to do the scariest thing I can imagine – letting some clients go. It goes against everything my 47 year old entrepreneurial brain can fathom. I just downloaded the assessment chart and am beginning to fill it out. Then I am going to send it to my VA and have her make sure I am not playing favorites anywhere. YIKES!!

  65. Profound. Moving. Inspiring. Thank you. Those life lessons must have been brutal in the learning… but I love how you came through with gratitude and that you had the guts to do what it took (sleeping in airports, etc) to “go for it” again. Cheers!!

  66. Mike –what an AMAZING display of grace, wisdom, humility and vulnerability. It was exactly what I needed to read tonight…and it has given me the courage to deal with something I have been avoiding. I am so very conscious of running out money and my monthly bills far exceed my monthly income which varies so as an artist and entrepreneur — and realizing how expensive it is to live in Los Angeles…and I’m hopefully going to be around another 30 years with the longevity genes in my family…and I’m feeling like I’m down to my last few squares….only to realize that the issue is not about my net worth…and that my Life purpose and Gifts are: Artist, Mentor, Healer in the Spotlight and that the financial stuff is secondary to me loving what I do no matter what and inspiring the hell out of the people who gravitate toward my work! Know there is the lesson in this predicament that will guide me to expansion and a fired up energy toward a resolve! Thank You so much! Elisa Goodman

  67. Wau. That
    was fantastic honest. Thank you for that. I will cherish you book (I have the
    first one) even more. And I totally agree. I realized only recently what my own
    net worth is based on. We are not rich – far from it – but have what we need.
    And I would never trade money for my basic values.

  68. I was in a hurry and dumping emails I hadn’t read to clean things up and yet I decided to read this one, talk about inspired choices.
    I have been there several times, why learn a lesson the first time when you can go there time and time again. It’s comfortable.
    I have been breaking the cycle recently and focusing on a narrower path. I seldom judged others but could be arrogance deluxe.
    It was when I got tired and had heart problems that I smartened up.
    Too bad I hadn’t had this email twenty or thirty years ago, I got a lot of ground to make up, and I can.
    With all my heartfelt appreciation,

  69. Mike – Thank you!!! I actually got a little teary-eyed reading this. You’re right, I don’t really give a crap what your financial net worth is (and I haven’t looked), but you have tremendous value as a person, a teacher and a dad and that is worth all the money in the world. Keep sharing all that you are! Best, Angela

  70. Mike, as your writing partner, I want to say I am stunned, absolutely stunned by this amazing post. I remember the day you told me this story, and how it stayed with me, and you have found a way to share it with the world in a way that allows all of us to learn from it. It’s not just a heartwarming story about the humbling of Mike Michalowicz; it’s a profound lesson for all of us.

    As your friend, I want to say that I could not be more proud to know you than I am at this very moment. You always speak the truth, and you’re not afraid to be who you are. The world knows all about your earnest drive to learn more, do more, be more, and to help entrepreneurs do the same. They know your brilliant business mind. And now the world knows your heart, too.

    Thank you for sharing this very important story–and lesson–with all of us.

  71. Hi Mike,
    I must say, before this post, i did see you as a millionaire that was selfless enough to share the true secrets of success with anyone that cared to have them. I actually hardly ever read ”entrepreneurship books” because i never could relate to a lot of them in my given location (Nigeria) and circumstance, but when a friend introduced me to the pumpkin plan some days ago, i only had to read the first chapter to have my eureka moment , now my approach to running my business has changed for the better.All this from just the first chapter!! I have ordered both books and cant wait to get them. Anyways, i really believe that the point you are @ now is exactly where you should be because you were meant to change lives with your books and truth be told you are a great author (one of the greatest, in my opinion) because you have the ability to draw in just about anyone with your style of writing and very few people have that gift.

  72. Mike,
    It was great meeting you (again) last week at the Women’s Toolbox conference. Whether it’s your posts, your books or your talks, I always find myself learning something from you and laughing my a** off at the same time. This post makes a great point that entrepreneurs sometimes forget in the scramble for cash–that money is just one form of value.

    Personally I think your net worth includes a little piece of every business that has grown and flourished in part because of your advice. I’m following up on the new business idea I had during our lunch last week, so when it takes off (not if), you can add it to your portfolio!

    Thanks again,
    Sandra Larkin

    1. Sandra I completely agree that Mike’s net worth includes a little piece of every business because of his work and advice; including mine for sure. I think that is true of us all too, every little thing we do to help someone else adds value to this world and our life.

    2. I was so good to see you Sandra! You are speaking to my heart… I want to always share valuable learnings and have fun doing it. I love laughing!

      I really, really like your observation. You have me thinking about that in a big way. Every person that I help, even in the tiniest way, is definitely part of the path of my purpose… hence my net worth.

  73. Mike thanks for sharing your story. The contrast between the hopefulness of the homeless vs. the trapped feeling of the wealthiest is a key insight. We are never so free and so powerful as when we have nothing to lose. Burning the boats on the beach is an act of freedom and I think central to the TPE concept. You are living proof of that concept and I’m very thankful that you are sharing your experiences.

    1. Thank you so much Giovanni. I was so misguided in believing that financial wealth equals freedom. You know that common saying that we all aspire for “financial freedom”… being able to do what you want, when you want.

      The thing is that I used money to trap myself, not free myself. Stuff becomes a noose around our neck.

      I am not getting all Buddha… but less stuff seems to equal more freedom. I mean, I still love stuff (loving my laptop and iPhone right now), but I think it is really about a balance and that balance is with a lot less stuff. Kinda rambling here… sorry.

  74. One of the best articles I’ve read in a long time … and, yet, the whole time I was reading the article, I was saying to myself: “Yup, that sounds all too familiar.” There’s nothing quite like finding yourself in millions of dollars in debt… turning it around to making millions in the positive only to wake up one morning and find out that much of it slipped between your fingers…. But, oddly, if it wasn’t for those challenges … I know I wouldn’t be where I am today … and, more oddly, when I look back at the mistakes I made that cost me anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars at a whack – I’m grateful they happened. Again, great, great article Mike!

  75. Thank you Mike. I thought I was the only poor author. Now I am getting business savoy and I am finding many contacts and ways to get my message across. I am worried about the direction of education in this country…and My Baby Compass will change that. One child at a time. Thank you for sharing your story.

    1. My pleasure Kathy. Some food for thought:

      1. While I lost almost all of my financial wealth, it has nothing to do with becoming an author. It was because I was arrogant and believed my own sheeyat.

      2. Being an author is generating more than enough income to support my life and more importantly to support my life’s purpose.

      3. I have read studies (but haven’t researched it myself) that the wealthiest people in the world are first entrepreneurs and second authors.

      And… I suggest you don’t judge your self as poor or rich… since that puts you back into the Net Worth based on $$ and not your personal value.

      I don’t know you personally, but I do know that your net worth is HUGE.

  76. Super post Mike. Your daughter summed it up perfectly.

    I think net worth equaling value is a super assessment. Not only in your value to your family, but in the value you can provide others by talking about your experiences and failures, as I think that is the best way we can both teach ourselves and teach others.

    Material possessions can only go far and can come and go, however that gesture with your daughter and her piggy bank is a story and a lesson that will provide VALUE that can (and will) be passed on generations. Very humble, inspiring post. Best- MJ

  77. I have no clue how I stumbled upon this post but I’m glad I did. I appreciate you and your family. I say family because a lot of times family helps shape who we are. Thank you for being so honest. I’m still reading Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and I love it. It is an amazing/candid business guide book. Thank you again and God bless.

  78. Mike, I so much appreciated your post. I am getting a slow start on my first start up. I have had a very discouraging day. You have put things into perspective for me. God Bless you and all your endeavers.

    1. Thanks Tommy. Welcome to the voyage of entrepreneurship .. the waves will rock the crap out of you at times, but your job is simply to keep the boat right side up during those periods, to keep it floating. Then when you have smooth waters you push forward hard. It is a long voyage, but you will master it.

  79. I just learned this yesterday while I was listening to a CD by James Malinchack: “Your net worth is greatly determined by your NET WORK”. Jim Rohn says that you will be the average net worth of the 5 people closest to you (I asume this will not include family). This is what I say: “If you want to fly like an eagle, you have to stop running with turkeys”. Case closed!

  80. Pingback: I Am A Failure
  81. Mike-Good stuff. Don’t read many business books. The ones I do read tend to reveal being good in business means being good in life. As a society that compartmentalizes their lives…where I work is different from my neighborhood which is different from where I shop, go to church, vacation or just have fun. People behave differently in each place. Seldom realizing it. Your “net worth”, as you say, is how little you compromise yourself when living the various aspects of your life. Which really are all just one. Thanks for sharing.

  82. Mike – Thanks for the unabashed stream of consciousness. You speak the comedy, tragedy and wisdom of being human so well. And a great reminder of how we often confuse net worth with our worth as a person. Thank you.

    1. Thanks for saying that Rick. It was a difficult story for me to tell. Alas it is my reality, and I think the reality of many, many people who never share. Wishing you the best, brother!

  83. I really liked this post. It makes me feel I’m OK even thought I have not figured out my career path yet. 🙂 Thanks!

  84. Great post, Mike.

    You mentioned your book “tour.”

    I almost did one, too.

    Not really.

    I almost did book signings locally after my franchise book came out.

    But, I was told that very few people show up anymore. So, i didn’t do any!

    Very happy with that decision.

    I appreciate and respect your honesty. And, it’s nice to see that you are a humble guy. That’s important to me.

    I hope that we can meet soon.NOW, I want to meet you. Maybe I’ll bring Ivana. Heck, she’s a neighbor of mine.


    The Franchise King®

  85. Thank you for sharing! I read it because I wanted to know what you knew about finding out what a person’s net worth is, and was terrified to find out, because mine isn’t worth much, financially. After reading this, I do feel better, and I will share with my kids, it is worth it!

  86. Dude, you’re fucking awesome! You share what most are afraid to let everyone see. You are genuine and I am so glad I happen to meet you in Philly at Dex Digital’s
    event. I just got the The Pumpkin Plan in the mail today. Looking forward to reading!

  87. Mike – thank you so much for sharing. It helps to be reminded that a number is just an idea, no more no less. A dollar sign doesn’t represent success, it simply means somebody was willing to exchange their efforts for yours. A small number doesn’t mean you haven’t contributed greatly to the world, it just means that you’ve done more outgoing exchanges than incoming lately.

    I know that my future is bright. Thanks for reminding me that money is like air pressure, with a financial net worth being the barometer. Unless I’m on Mt Everest or in the mariana trench, I probably don’t much need the reading on the gauge, just enough oxygen to fill my lungs – what I really want is a sunny day and the feel of a breeze through my hair.

    This article is definitely going in the front of my bookkeeping journal for regular review 🙂

  88. Mike this is a great story.

    The part about your car being somehow related to the size of your manhood is hilarious. If owning a Viper or Lambourghini implies a small penis, what brand of car implies that you are well endowed? Apparently Ron Jeremy drives a Saturn so you may be on to something here (google Ron Jeremy Car to see for yourself). The car companies really need to figure this out.

    Paul Graham who runs Y Combinator said that the best way to lose money really quickly is through investments (funny coming from a VC). If you are buying physical things you could see that your spending was getting out of hand. If you spent a million dollars at Best Buy you would have so much crap in the house you woudn’t be able to move. If you blow a million on investments you dont even see it.

    I have a 9 year old daughter as well. If we were in the same situation she would bring her piggy bank to the table too. I would cry like a baby. My real net worth is my relationship with my daughter. Her vote of confidence that the piggy bank represents means everyting.

    I hope you are doing well financially. You provide huge value to your tribe and deserve to be rewarded for that.

  89. Mike-As a fellow EO member who has seen some ups and downs myself, thank you so much for sharing your story.

    1. Hey Michael – It is so good to hear from a fellow EOer here. I think many of us have gone through the ups and downs. Wishing you all the best. And hope we get to meet some day soon. What chapter are you in? I am in the NJ chapter.

  90. Truly remarkable. I found myself crying over your daughter’s tremendous gift. Thank you for a great, great read and a wonderful reminder of what is truly important in life.

  91. Holy shit, did I need to read this today. I’ll spare you all the crap my lizard brain has been telling me about myself lately, but thanks to you, I just told the slimy creature to F off. Just finished the Pumpkin Plan, thank god it’s not too late to start farming, thank you, thank you, thank you.

  92. I heard you tell that story on Creative Live and it was really touching (not the part where you were a total ass at the dealership but the part where your daughter gives you her piggy bank, bless her).

    What really struck me is how honest you were in telling this story and how this can happen to just about anyone.

    I love that you have so much life and business experience to share and that is tremendous net-worth.


    1. Thanks so much for listening in. Yes… it does happen to anyone, and I think it happens to all of us. We should be proud of ourselves, regardless of the events of our lives…. the dark stuff and bright stuff build who we are! No shame….

  93. Mike I cannot thank you enough for showing this painful, vulnerable, often embarrassig side of entrepreneurship most if us think we have to shy away from because we think have to keep up this ‘facade’ to the world. I saw you on creative live and i too cried when you shared what your daughter did.

    My dad who was an entrepreneur all my life, retired now, sparked it in me and the story reminded me if how hard and humbling it can be and how devastating it is to one’slf worth. Thank you for reminding us our self worth is intrinsic and not related to money and no one can take it away from us, that we are the most valuable thing we have in our business.

  94. Dude, awesome post! Mine was an eight-figure lesson (yeah, eight figures after the .00). I recognize you from class! ;0)

    1. I knew, that I knew you. You were the student right up front, raising your hand!

      Thanks for sharing… as I suspect you experienced too, it is the most humbling experience of my entire life. I am grateful for it, yet want to NEVER experience it again.

  95. Mike, I involuntarily left the corporate world 9 months ago during a lay-off of 1000 people. After 25 years I was escorted out by a guard with a taser. The hardest part wasn’t the loss of the money (although that hurt), it was the loss of my dignity and respect. Your blog can be translated beyond the monetary net worth of a person. I felt that my net worth was zero because that was the way I was treated. Your words have helped me to realize that my net worth is what I make of it, not what someone else thinks it is. Thank you. I am really glad I found you and your books!

  96. HI MIke- I respect you SO much for sharing this unabashedly raw and humble take on worth. How refreshing not to read yet another rant on how many millions everyone should and can make! Just what I needed to hear at this time. THANK YOU 🙂

  97. Hi Mike,

    We simply can’t hear that comparing ourselves to others is pointless enough. Not making life about who’s better than whom just removes so many roadblocks to our personal and collective success!

    Thanks for sharing!


  98. Hi Mike,

    I couldn’t resist my tear when I read your daughter’s gesture to help you with her little saving and that reminds us true and unlimited worth of a family supporting struggling entrepreneur – father or husband or family member.

    I had spent 10 years in corporate before starting my own venture in 2009. Our firstly venture failed, second venture was moderately successful but I sold off. Then I have started my present and third venture Ennovation Consulting 3 years ago. I have gotten an initial success, but expansion has been fraught with problems and many other issues.

    In India, entrepreneurship is mostly a forced choice or second level backup as substitute of regular job . So when I started my first venture, people around me laughed at me from back. As I graduated from IIT Kharagpur , a premier institute in India , our society expected me to do a 9 am -5 pm Job ( as an employee ) rather than doing entrepreneurship . So I felt initially a pain of social disconnect and slowly I managed to win their trust.

    Your post is really very motivating, it reminds me the days full of challenges, failures, and off course some success.
    I am lucky that I have found you site few days ago and got to know many valuable information !

    Thanks again!


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