Michael Pilarczyk: ‘What I do is not for pathetic, poor people’

Sitting on a cushion with a strange dress on and a beaded necklace around your neck: this is how Michael Pilarczyk (52) describes the approach that he does not use. “Meditation is a loaded word, I know. I get a lot of businessmen come to me. If I were to ask if they would like to meditate, the answer is ‘no’. But would you like more peace of mind? Yes, they do.”

A brief summary of what Pilarczyk does: “Restructure the chaos in the head. I like that. dr. Phil. Most people lack overview. It starts with creating clarity. I also used to be unable to help myself because I didn’t realize something was wrong.”

At the beginning of this year, he was in the top-10 of the CPNB Top 60, the hit parade with the best-selling books in the Netherlands, with two books at the same time. Master your mindset (220,000 copies sold) and You are as you think (75,000) are still high in the list. Translated and published by him Think and grow rich, by Napoleon Hill, has been sold more than 150,000 times in the Netherlands. This summer Pilarczyk will embark on a largely sold-out theater tour through the Netherlands. ‘Rest in your head’ will be concluded in May 2023 in Carré.

And then there’s another app: Meditation Moments. After performances, the audience often asked the question: don’t you have a CD of this? “But yes, a CD, what can you do with it? In 2017 a few guys were in my room: we are app builders, can we work together? Now I am again with a company that employs thirty people.”

The app is listened to daily by more than 200,000 people in the Netherlands and Belgium. The English version, also voiced by Pilarczyk, has 600,000 users per day. “You don’t have to call it meditation, it can also be concentration. Or inspiration. You can sit down while you listen to what I’m saying. Or you can go for a walk in the forest. I call it a moment for yourself.”

A big company, that was where the problems started in Michael Pilarczyk’s previous life. At the end of the last century he was a presenter on the music channel TMF and a DJ at Radio 538. „It is now as if I have never experienced that. I still have the photos, they are the proof, but it is almost a different person, a different life. My dream was to work in radio, TV came along with that. I liked that too. Until the day I didn’t like it anymore.”

Photo Khalid Amakran

Why?

“At first it was creative, we were allowed to choose the music ourselves and determine what the programs looked like. It got bigger and more successful – so others started deciding what we should do. When you get to the top of something, there’s politics involved. Suddenly there are interests that come into play.

“Every day I made four hours of radio and two hours of TV. That was tough. On Radio 538, the success started with characters, personalities. And then it had to become a unit. Arithmetic models started to determine which record had to be played at what time in order to reach the largest number of listeners. The work wasn’t fun anymore.

“I was 29 and thought: how long can I do this? You can continue with it as you get older, but then you have to go to other stations, Radio 1 or Radio 2. I didn’t think I was that good either, I wasn’t the big star. In 1999 I decided to start a production company, everyone did that then.

“Future Active Network quickly became big and successful, with 10 million sales. A childhood dream and terribly naive. I only saw the beauty, not what really happened. Suddenly I had a company that employed 150 people. Again a political game arose, with bosses and bosses.”

Also read the life lesson of Michael Pilarczyk: ‘The menu is not the meal.’

Isn’t it amazing that you didn’t see what happened?

“What was even more amazing: those owners threw me out of my own company. I had two partners who were wealthy and experienced in the business world. They saw that the company could really become successful and took control. Now I can understand that; I did not function well, I did not have the overview to run such a large company.

“My world collapsed. I had lost millions on the stock exchange, there was a sick woman at home and on top of that what was happening in my company. By drinking you can make reality disappear for a moment. Only it was a lot, a liter of vodka or whiskey a day. Many people derail. They have a hard time coping with what happens in life.”

In 2002 he left to set up a new company, the Pilarczyk Media Groep, a production company that made programs for RTL and later SBS. In 2007 it was sold for a profit of millions to The Telegraph. About all those crazy years Pilarczyk published the novel in 2014 Dancing in Heaven. “The book was about life and death. The protagonist saw no way out of his problems and his wife knew she was going to die. In the book you read how someone first realized that life is finite. Then every day becomes enormously valuable.” He then toured the country with lectures. “At those lectures people came with pretty tough life questions. I saw that there was a need.”

What did you say during those lectures?

“I wanted to make people aware of what they are doing with their lives, I asked them questions that make them think. Why am I doing this job? Why am I in this relationship? Everyone just rolls around in this life, often you end up somewhere by chance and then that is just the way it is. While you only have one life, why not think about it more carefully? Every day is so precious, you will never get that day back. Think about how you want to organize your life.

“I was already working on this subject myself, I read books about it for years. But more importantly: I had gained a lot of life experience from practice, that outweighs what you learn from books or what you hear from someone. Privately and professionally I had experienced so much hassle, those lessons are almost priceless.”

Then you started lectures that weren’t just about your novel anymore?

“It started spontaneously. I rented a room in Bunnik and didn’t know if I could expect an audience. I wanted to cancel it a few days in advance, nobody would come anyway. In the last days it still sold out, 160 people.”

Photo Khalid Amakran

At the beginning of the corona period, Pilarczyk still lived in Ibiza. It was quiet for the first seven weeks. “That made me so happy. I wanted to grow our own food in the vegetable garden, to be independent. We almost only eat from our own garden. I find that useful for the future, especially if we often have situations such as with corona. On another Spanish island we were able to buy an old farm, with a piece of land. And a studio where I can record and broadcast my programs live.”

What do you call it yourself, what you do?

“Personal mastery. Be master of yourself. Healthy living, healthy eating, your breathing, your self-confidence, your energy level. Learn to manage your emotions and thoughts. art of living. I know it sounds really big, but it is. In the Netherlands, one and a half million people use medication because they cannot do these things well. One in seven workers is not able to function properly. Then something is structurally wrong in a society.

“What I do is not something for pathetic, poor people, by the way. I get calls from successful people who earn a lot of money and don’t like it anymore, they have lost the overview. All these things are not taught in school, although they are important. Because of the lockdowns and all the fuss around it, it became worse than it already was. I noticed that my books and the app were selling even more.”

Actually, a mobile phone app is a weird choice for spreading these thoughts.

“That telephone is indeed exactly where the unrest is coming from. That’s where the incentives come in, the messages that have to do with the problem people are facing. But yes, at the same time it is very practical. Most people focus so much on the problem they see in front of themselves – they are no longer able to imagine what the solution would be. Often the problem is less serious than they make it themselves. I try to help them with that. Rest in your head.”

You have no education, right?

“There will be courses for this, but I have not followed them. I did learn from people and took courses, read books. On stage I tell a story that I have written in a kind of novel form. When I sit one-on-one with someone, it goes deeper. When people come to me with really big problems that I can’t solve, I tell them to see a psychiatrist or a doctor.”

Do you consider yourself to be lazy?

“No. I am for a loving world. That is what I hope to achieve with what I do.”

Can you laugh at yourself?

“Not that, what I do is not to laugh. I try to keep it light. One of my teachers was a Tibetan monk who traveled the world. I went to do all his workshops, I wanted to know everything. He said to me: you should laugh more. That is the problem in the West, he thought: you are too serious. Especially in the Netherlands. Society has become skeptical and cynical, less cheerful and friendly.”