When called a weirdo, Ben smiles and says "Thank you! I consider that a compliment!"
He's an award-winning children's author; he wrote the popular book Touching Spirit Bear, among others.
He's also a cliff diver, pilot, and skydiver; and he was best friends with a 750-pound black bear named Buffy for 26 years.
"People that are outside the box, they'll either become state senators or they'll become convicts! Nothing in between. They're not willing to accept the normal," Mikaelsen said.
The eccentric author visited Bode Middle School with a motivational message.
He spoke of his childhood, growing up as a "white boy" in Bolivia, South America, about growing up in a poor household and never having any formal education until fourth grade.
Mikaelsen spoke of his struggles with literacy even into his college years.
And how he was relentlessly bullied for being "stupid" or "different" through his school years.
"I'm one of those kids who could have easily fallen between the cracks and I could be in a jail right now," Mikaelsen said.
And in the middle of inspiring adolescent minds to be successful, Mikaelsen speaks directly to the bullies who may be in his crowd and says, "You're only a loser if you choose to be."
He says that direct approach is by design.
"I have a stack of emails from those students after I leave a school that say, 'You talked to my heart today. You made me realize I was being a bully with my actions. And I'm never going to do that again,'" Mikaelsen said.
Bode's library media specialist Dlo DuVall helped bring Mikaelsen to her school.
She says Bode used concession stand money to pay for the visit, and that his talk exceeded her expectations.
"I laughed. I cried. I got excited for the kids to have the opportunity to hear him speak and be motivated. Both messages were wonderful. [To tell them] that it's never too late to keep learning. It's just a wonderful role model for them to have," DuVall said.
Mikaelsen, above all else, is a story teller, and his message to each child in his audience is for them to shape their lives into the best story possible.