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Great Expectations

By Ann Wycoff

Photo by Ashley Gabrielson


Philanthropist, social entrepreneur, orator and inspirator, Mike Sherbakov, 33, is on the fast track to changing the world.

Mike Sherbakov’s time in the U.S. Marine Corps at the height of the Iraq War taught him that he was a natural-born leader, and what he thought he was capable of was only a fraction of what he could do. Fascinated with human potential and the mind-body connection, he graduated magna cum laude with dual degrees in kinesiology and psychology from SDSU and launched his first health and fitness business at age 26. But something shifted inside of him after a volunteer house-build project in Mexico. It was this project that led to his Karuna Towels company, a one-for-one business model that contributed to impact partner AMF (Against Malaria Foundation), which has sent 61 million anti-malaria bed nettings to African villages.

During a “board meeting” with his best friend while surfing Beacons in 2016, The Greatness Foundation was born. Cueing from his heroes, Musk, Gates, Branson and Oprah, Sherbakov created this Leucadia-based impact accelerator with both a revenue generator and a nonprofit side. The foundation, whose three pillars are Be, Do and Give, builds houses every three months for migrant workers living south of Ensenada and recently opened its first school, in Nicaragua. A second school, in Kenya, is underway. “One hundred percent of donations go directly to the impact projects. We don’t take salaries—never have, never will. We are able to do this because of our revenue-generating side, where we help people start and grow purpose-driven businesses, along with offering life-changing global retreats,” explains Sherbakov.

Despite being a self-professed introvert, Sherbakov is a brilliant speaker who leads by example, and a soul-stirring podcaster with a global following and active community of 70,000 strong. He says: “My core belief is that greatness isn’t what we have; it’s what we give."