John Breese

Hope for the best but expect the worse. And try over and over again. Many young entrepreneurs put a lot of hopes into their first project and when it doesn’t come out as expected, they just give up. Don’t do that.


John Breese is a founder and CEO of Happysleepyhead, a source of information for anyone looking to improve their sleep. He believes Americans are one of the most sleep-deprived nations and the reason for that is limited awareness about the importance of sleep. Which is why he reaches out to people and encourages them to take their sleep seriously.

Prior to founding his company, John had been working for about 10 years in the mattress industry. He moved from a sales assistant at a mattress store to the top management thanks to the devotion to his job and his striving for perfectionism. Today, he uses that experience in his business quite a lot. It helps him understand the needs of different sleepers and equip them with all of the necessary information presented in a simple and engaging manner.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I used to sell mattresses before I launched this business. The more I worked, the better career results I achieved and the less sleep I got. That was a very stressful period in my life. At one point, I made a decision to bring my life back to normal by following a healthier lifestyle, which included improving my sleep. The problem was, it wasn’t easy to find reliable information on how to do this at that time. I spent a lot of time searching the Web, studying scientific publications offline, and doing my job at the mattress store (knowing about mattresses turned out to be very helpful too). I knew I wasn’t the only one who needs this information, so in the end, I thought, “Why not share what I found?” That’s how the idea was born.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I wake up at approximately the same time during the working week and on weekends — at 7:30 am. The mornings are always booked for important routines that get me prepared for the day. On most days, I work until 7-8 pm, and the evening time, when not spent with friends, is devoted to self-reflection and planning. During the working day, I usually make a break at around 2 pm to visit our office gym and do some physical activity. That helps my brain stay productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

My main rule here is to always share ideas with my team. When you’re thinking to yourself about something, you’re thinking within the limits of your own head. But once you speak it out, you get a chance to look at it from a different angle. After our discussions at the office, I usually end up with the idea being either nicely refined or completely torn apart. Or, it sometimes transforms into something entirely new inspired by collective wisdom. Then, we test the idea and, if it goes well, start working on it full-time.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m excited about the trend of making more informed, conscious decisions. Just a decade ago, people had less access to information and didn’t question what was thought as the common truth. They slept on saggy, innerspring beds and were okay with that, not thinking whether it was good or bad for their health. Today, people want to know what is inside of the product they are buying and want to make sure this product will work for them. They strive for knowledge and don’t regret the time spent on research. It thrills me.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Planning is my key to everything. I create a very detailed plan for the day every evening before. Plus, I always plan more than I can do. It’s tricky because it’s like balancing between understanding that I won’t be able to do everything no matter how hard I try and still trying. But I really manage to do more this way.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Find a balance between work and personal life.
I used to neglect my own self a lot in favor of work. I didn’t spend enough time with family and friends, didn’t sleep enough, didn’t make time to just stop and look around. This drained me out both emotionally and physically.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

We are all egoists. And that’s completely okay. If we weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many amazing things created and so many great deeds done.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Hope for the best but expect the worse. And try over and over again. Many young entrepreneurs put a lot of hopes into their first project and when it doesn’t come out as expected, they just give up. Don’t do that.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Building relationships with online influencers. Sometime earlier, I was sure no one would care about me until I start generating at least a million visitors a day. But as it later turned out, owners of larger websites are always willing to help newcomers. You just need to build communication with them as you would normally do with your friends, instead of simply sending a hundred template letters asking for a publication on their website.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

There’s no one failure. My team and I have made a lot of mistakes and we’re still making them. It’s fun. But treating your mistakes as failures is not fun at all.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I think there’s a lot of potential in the niche of all things organic. With the increase of consciousness, people are gradually moving towards making eco-friendly decisions in different aspects of their lives. So, any idea that would fulfill this need is great, be it organic catering or eco-friendly landscaping.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Donated to Wikipedia. I’m amazed at this idea they promote — knowledge should be free and available to anyone.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Notes on my Mac’s desktop. They help a lot when I’m working on one task and an idea about something else suddenly crosses my mind. It’s easy to tell myself, “Remembered. Will think about it later.” And easy to forget this one minute later. So, desktop notes are my lifesaver.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“So Good They Can’t Ignore You” by Cal Newport. This book has systematized the thoughts that I’ve been having for a long time but just couldn’t express clearly. It puts a passion mindset versus a craftsman mindset, taking versus giving. The biggest takeaway from this book is that you will hardly grow a successful business if you’re just a taker.

What is your favorite quote?

“Do what you love and love what you do”. This quote is about giving and taking too. I actually think the inverted variant would be more correct. Because you first start loving what you do, and then you realize that you’re doing what you love.

Key Learnings:

  • Get out of your own head and discuss ideas with your team.
  • When preparing for the next day, plan more than you can do.
  • Don’t lose yourself in your work. Devote time to your personal life in order to recharge.
  • Build quality relationships with people in and outside your niche.
  • Read Newport’s “So Good They Can’t Ignore You” to understand how accepting a craftsman mindset can help you get more from your business or career.