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How Michelle Phan Became An "Overnight Success"

How Entrepreneur and YouTuber Michelle Phan gained fame and success over her 10+ year journey.

Tam Pham
Tam Pham
5 min read

Michelle Phan is one of my inspirations. For those of you who don’t know who she is, Michelle Phan is a YouTube Celebrity & Make Up Gur She runs three different businesses and is now a multi-millionaire.

I was extremely curious on her back story and how she became such a success. Was it luck? Was she rich? Was she special? How did she do it?

I broke the key lessons down for you so without further ado, let’s dive in.


Michelle was always passionate about art and beauty while growing up. Her mom wanted her to become a doctor but she went against the status quo to truly do what she loved.

The path to being an artist was extremely risky. But Michelle didn’t want to grow up and NOT follow her passions. She made a promise to her mom that she WILL provide for the family. Michelle stuck with it.


I always imagined Michelle as that rich and popular kid in school. That one person where everyone wanted to be friends with… But I was dead wrong.

To start, I found out that Michelle’s dad had a HUGE gambling problem. He would lose all the family’s rent money which made Michelle extremely scared. Her family was so poor that they had to live off of food stamps. They even slept on the ground because they couldn’t afford furniture. And Michelle didn’t have many friends growing up because she moved so much… and she was shy.

Despite these obstacles, Michelle persevered and never gave up fighting for her dream. We all have our own struggles. But it’s up to the individual to overcome these roadblocks and keep moving forward.


Michelle grew up with a clear WHY. She wanted to provide for her family and make them happy. Especially her mom.

“She was an immigrant when she came here to America, she had a great education when she was in Vietnam, but after the war, the entire country was devastated. So she came out here and didn’t know how to speak English, had less than $20 in her pocket. For the rest of her life she had to become a beautician and do nails. She sacrificed everything for her children.

But some good news came. After 5 years of putting out videos on YouTube, Michelle was approached with a deal with L’Oréal to have her own make up line. She called her mom who was giving someone a pedicure.

“ ‘Today is the last day you’re doing that,’ I said. ‘I don’t want you to go to work tomorrow.’ As I told her about the project, we sobbed together uncontrollably.”

Michelle promised her mom that she will take care of the family and she did. That was her WHY. Everything Michelle did had a purpose and it worked out.


Michelle took something that wasn’t done before (online make up tutorials) and DOMINATED that niche. She created a monopoly. When people think of make up tutorials, they instantly think of Michelle Phan.

The word “monopoly” gets a bad rep from what we learned from our history classes… But it simply means being the BEST in your space.

For example, Google is a monopoly. When you think of search engines, we automatically turn to Google. According to a recent study, Google owns 65% of searches all around the world. Google OWNS the search engine space.

Google & Michelle Phan are great examples of dominating your niche.

E) Amazing & Fresh New Content

Michelle didn’t just make your standard make up basic videos… Michelle took ideas that nobody was doing and made her content 10x better.

Look at all the crazy sh*t she does.

Michelle went above and beyond to deliver the BEST content. Quality > Quantity. Her fans were excited to see what she was going to do next.


People look at Michelle today and get jealous of all her success. “She just got lucky!” No, she didn’t get “lucky.” She worked extremely hard and did it consistently.

She started 8 years ago with just a webcam.

Michelle worked on her craft every single day… By 2012, she had 200+ quality videos and that was when L’Oreal gave her her own make up line. What a journey!


She is now not 1, not 2, but is the CEO of 3 different companies. Even today, she is consistency making new videos books, and products… But why?

She’s a millionaire, why not just stop and retire?

Michelle is HUNGRY to create more change. The greatest people in history never start something and stop. They continue to innovate. They continue to change lives. They continue to be GREAT.


Michelle never forgot about her roots. She constantly shares her struggles not to make people feel SORRY for her, but to truly inspire others. For Michelle, it’s all about making her fans happy.


Michelle’s a shy person. She is a prime example on how you don’t need to be aggressive or dominant to be “successful.” Whatever YOUR personality is, don’t be intimated to be somebody you’re not. Use your traits and make them your strengths.

If you truly want to be successful, you HAVE TO study the history of the people before you. What are YOU going to do to be great?


Tam Pham Twitter

I'm a writer and bachata dancer currently bouncing around Latin America. Trying to make the most out of my one wild and precious life.

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