In his new book, Mike Malatesta notes a successful entrepreneur’s worst enemy is himself

The successful Milwaukee entrepreneur said the death of his business
partner in a fire was the turning point in his journey

In Mike Malatesta’s first 10 years as an entrepreneur, he had been indicted, lost an employee and lost a business partner in a fatal fire in one of his own company’s facilities.

He eventually decided that everything that happened to him was only one person’s fault: his own.

“It took me a while to realize it but I was the one who had put myself in that position,” Malatesta said. “I understood that there was no one to blame but me. If I had the power to blame a system that I created, then I had the power to design a system that I liked as well.”

Malatesta, a Philadelphia native who’s lived in the Milwaukee area for decades, writes about his experiences and lessons learned in his new book – “Owner Shift: How Getting Selfish Got Me Unstuck” – which launches Nov. 30.

mike malatesta owner shift

The book is designed for entrepreneurs like him – Malatesta has started, grown and sold two 8-figure waste management companies, and one sold for mid 8-figures, while the other sold for low 9-figures – to never get complacent and to remain optimistic even in the direst of circumstances.

As he wrote in the book: 

That’s really what we’re in this for. To go as big as we can. That’s what I believe. Not for the sake of being big and not for the money. But for the impact that a going-big attitude brings.

“I want to be around people who are winding up, not winding down,” said Malatesta, who turns 56 on Nov. 18. “This book is a roadmap for entrepreneurs who have had success already but have reached a point where maybe they’ve decided they aren’t going to play a big game anymore. I want to remind them that they don’t have to stay that way – and encourage them that they’re capable of so much more.”

Malatesta’s story is filled with the endless roller-coaster ups and downs of being an entrepreneur but perhaps it’s most embodied in 2003, when he lost his father to lung cancer in April and then his business partner in an October fire at one of his company’s facilities. Malatesta would read the eulogy at the funeral and then he would enter what Malatesta described in the book as a “Valley of Uncertainty.”

“A place where I knew that I was in a bad spot,” Malatesta said. “I asked myself when the hell this type of pain was going to stop.”

In the end, Malatesta said, becoming “selfish” was the key to becoming “selfless.”

“Nobody wants to call themselves selfish because no one uses it as a compliment, but when it’s understood the right way, it’s the ultimate compliment,” he said. “I had to become selfish to realize my best self and become my best self for others.”

Malatesta said he grew up in a private family were telling your own story wasn’t part of the norm. He finally feels comfortable sharing his story with the world, especially after hosting a globally successful podcast, “How’d It Happen” – where he’s interviewed more than 200 top entrepreneurs and thought leaders over the last several years.

“Stories can elevate listeners’ lives, and there’s always a worse story than mine,” Malatesta said. “And for me, this is really about helping other entrepreneurs and finding future collaborators where we can grow together.”

 For more information on Mike Malatesta’s new book, visit


In his book Owner Shift, Mike Malatesta doesn’t give you “The 5 Steps” to achieve success, because there’s no such thing.
But there’s something much more valuable.
He gives you a path and a plan that will get yourself unstuck, build confidence, take responsibility, and attract new levels of success.

Ultimately accomplishing more than you ever thought possible.