Life And Work Of Tony Robbins

Read the advice from Tony Robbins, that he Charges Millions for.

For more than three decades, Tony Robbins has been as an advisor for high profile people around the world. He is recognized as a leader on peak performance, organizational turnaround, psychology of leadership, among other fields.

His non profit Anthony Robbins Foundation provides assistance to millions of people in need in more than 56 countries. His live events, best-selling books and multimedia programs have impacted the lives of more than 50 million people all over the world.

In the November 17, 2014 issue of Fortune  writes about the life and work of  Tony Robbins, called Tony Robbins, The CEO Whisperer and comes away with quite a few insights.

Tony Robbins’ seminars are a very organic experience. He doesn’t leave the mood of the audience to chance, he works them out and make them energized and excited.

“I owwwwwnnnnnn you!!!” As I snarl and holler at a woman more than a foot shorter than me while she points up and screams back, the awkwardness of the situation makes it hard for us to keep from laughing. But there’s something undeniably appealing about the experience: Unleashing so much raw energy, in however absurd a fashion, is seductive.

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“Does that feel better, yes or no?” he asks after the music stops. “If you feel better, do you make other people better or worse? If you feel better, do you perform better?”

 

Tony Robbins speaks about the importance of having engaged employees and the responsibility of the leaders in engaging them.

The best, most profitable companies are those in which employees are the most engaged. “You want to get someone engaged, you engage,” he exhorts. “That’s your job as a leader. You can’t maximize resources if you don’t have engagement.” And if you want to reach people, Robbins believes, one of the best ways to do so is to change your “state”—physically and emotionally. Which is why he has us standing and yelling.

In the last years Robbins as changed direction.

Few if any self-improvement gurus are as familiar to Americans as Robbins, but somewhat more quietly over the years he has assumed a different role—as trusted adviser to corporate chieftains and captains of finance. He counts billionaires such as Virgin’s Richard Branson and gaming magnate Steve Wynn among his friends.

What makes Anthony Robbins so special?

His special gift, say admirers, is his ability to help successful people not only take their performance to the next level but also find personal fulfillment in the process. Robbins’ knack for combining pragmatic analysis with empathy has turned him into a modern-day consigliere to the C-suite. “He’s been a source of direction—a rebooter for me when I got off track,” says longtime Hollywood producer Peter Guber.

He still devotes a big portion of his time to the self-improvement industry.

Robbins remains a titan in the $10 billion self-improvement industry. His 25 multiday events this year will attract audiences of thousands who pay richly to learn his techniques for living a richer and fuller life.

Tony Robbins is much more than just an energized motivational speaker.

Spend a few days with Robbins and it becomes clear that he isn’t just a hyperenergized salesman with a headset. Some of the most accomplished business and financial figures in the world deeply respect his ability to listen, process information, and translate it into positive results.

What do all those high profile figures see in Robbins?

Paul Tudor Jones was in a slump. It was 1993 and Jones, then 39, was already regarded as a full-fledged master of the hedge fund universe. His legend had been established when he correctly anticipated the market plunge in October 1987 and made huge profits when most of his peers lost a bundle. Jones earned his investors a 200% return that year. But six years later he was going through a “rough patch” that had hurt his confidence.

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The first thing Robbins had him do was get in the best physical shape of his life, because so much of winning is mental and attitudinal. “By controlling my body, which for me was an easy win, the path was then much easier to control my mind,” says Jones. “He was right.”

The next step was to delve into the secrets of Jones’s past success. Robbins helped Jones identify what made him profitable in his trading—the behaviors and circumstances under which he did best. “I had been a trader for more than 17 years,” says Jones. “But I really had no road map as to how I made money for my clients. I thought it was mostly instinctual, but it isn’t.” Working with Tony over the years, says Jones, has allowed him to get “clarity on where my ‘alpha’ or edge originates from, and that has helped both my longevity as a trader and peace of mind as a person.” Jones says his biggest challenge was overcoming a bad tendency to trade reactively and emotionally instead of developing a planned execution scheme with risk and reward propositions that are carefully thought through. Robbins helped him build a system. “I think that planning process alone has added 5% or more to my returns every year,” says Jones.

Over the two decades that Robbins has been working with Jones, the investor has made money every single year, including in 2008 when the U.S. stock market dropped nearly 40%. To maintain his edge, Robbins and Jones communicate daily.

For Tony Robbins metrics are very important.

 “If you don’t measure, you don’t have a clue what you’re doing.” He has them track metrics of their psychological and emotional state. “I give them a set of qualitative measurements that they give me feedback on, so I get a sense of where they are psychologically,” he says. They also agree on certain key indicators to measure progress in their businesses.

His work with the elite is very well compensated.

For this level of personal guidance, Robbins charges Jones and his other elite clients $1 million a year, he says, plus a piece of the upside of their business. (Robbins says he has offered many times to stop charging Jones, but the trader insists on keeping the arrangement in place.)

Of course, he gets compensated in other ways too. Going deep with Jones and other highly successful businesspeople is a powerful way to achieve what Robbins likes to call “mastery.”

What Multibillionaire Bridgewater Associates founder Dalio sees in Robbins?

“I was blown away by him,” says Dalio. “He got the investment concepts we talk about better than many highly professional institutional investors who devote their lives to this subject. And he was able to convert it to a practical level. For me, it was really exciting.”

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“Sometimes people are wary of simplicity,” he says. “He’s able to see things in a simple but granular way. It’s a talent. I find that it’s a rare case that people have an ability to see things in a simple way and also appreciate the complexity of things. He’s blessed with a mind that allows him to see that way.”

Robbins childhood wasn’t an easy one.

Long before he had acquired those tools, Robbins was a scrawny kid trying to find order in a chaotic home life. He was born Anthony Mahavorick in Los Angeles, where his father was a parking garage attendant, but grew up in Azusa and Glendora, Calif., after his parents split when he was 7. His mother, an alcoholic and pill user whose father was a writer for Walt Disney and Hanna-Barbera, had a series of husbands—men whom Robbins refers to as his “fathers.” He especially connected with a former semi-pro baseball player named Jim Robbins, who legally adopted Tony.

His mother rarely left the house and could be abusive. Robbins, the eldest of three children, found himself searching for ways to manage the environment. “I had to become a practical psychologist to figure out how to protect my brother and sister and to protect myself,” he says. Robbins often did the grocery shopping, cooked meals, and persuaded the pharmacist to refill his mother’s prescriptions. Money was usually tight. So Robbins became a handyman too. A tinkerer by nature who liked to take apart radios for fun before age 10, he bought a cheap book called H.E.L.P.: Home Emergency Ladies’ Pal and used it as his bible for home repairs. In school he made friends by being a problem solver and pleaser. “I got addicted to making people light up,” he says. As a senior he was student body president.

In his last two years of high school, Robbins began a period of huge growth—both figuratively and literally. As a freshman he was unusually short, just five-one. Being small instilled in him a “ferocious intensity,” he says. “That’s what allows me to go in a room of 5,000 people and take it.” When he turned 16 he was still just five-seven. But over the next year he suddenly grew 10 inches. Robbins didn’t find out until he was in his thirties that the rapid growth had been due to a pituitary tumor in his brain. As Robbins tells the story, a Sikh cleric he met was the first one to warn him that he had a pituitary disturbance and should see a doctor. He brushed it off. But at his next physical the doctor told him that, indeed, he had a tumor and needed surgery or else his heart valves could expand fatally. After seeking multiple opinions, Robbins determined that the tumor had stabilized on its own. He’s been monitoring it for 20 years and says he’s perfectly healthy but with a bonus: an elevated level of human growth hormone. “I’ve got for free what some of those athletes are paying thousands for to get an edge,” he says.

How he began his development?

As he was shooting up in height, Robbins began a concerted campaign to expand his mind. Looking for evidence that his biography would not limit his destiny, he dove into books. Robbins says he studied speed-reading and gave himself a goal of reading one book a day, gobbling up stories of great leaders as well as self-improvement literature. “I wanted stuff that was practical,” he says, “something I could use, that would touch something that mattered.” When he was 17 and a senior in high school, Robbins says, his mother chased him out of the house with a knife, and he never returned. He worked as a janitor and found a small apartment, but he dropped his dream of attending the University of Southern California to study sportswriting.

Shortly thereafter, Robbins landed a job with a motivational speaker named Jim Rohn, and his career in self-improvement was launched. The growing field of personal empowerment was a natural fit for an intelligent young man with a driving desire to lift himself beyond his origins.

How Tony Robbins does feels about his earlier career?

Robbins sometimes doesn’t seem totally comfortable with his empowerment origins. He will frequently toss off a comment like, “I don’t believe in a bunch of self-improvement bullshit.” Raise the subject of his infomercial past or teaching people to fire-walk, and he bristles a bit.

Hoes does Robbins feels about meditation?

 

Robbins discovered meditation eight years ago when he was searching for something that would alleviate Sage’s extreme motion sickness, an affliction she had struggled with since childhood. “Here I am, Mr. Solutions for everybody else, and I couldn’t figure this out,” says Robbins. Then he heard from a friend who had traveled to the Oneness University, a meditation center in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. The guru there had a technique that could slow the activity in a person’s parietal lobes, the part of the brain that controls motion. Robbins thought it might help Sage. He began looking for someone in the U.S. who could instruct them in the technique. And that’s how he met Rick Allen, the drummer of rock band Def Leppard, who had turned to meditation years earlier to help deal with the trauma of losing his left arm in a car accident in the 1980s. Allen came to the Robbinses’ house in California and led them in a session. Not long after, Robbins and his wife made their own trip to the Oneness University for several days of intensive study—and virtually nothing else. Robbins was soon going stir-crazy. “I’m thinking, ‘This is bullshit,’” he says. “Is this really going to do anything?” But eventually the guru took them for a ride in a car, and for the first time she could remember, Sage didn’t feel sick. She has been largely cured ever since.

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Robbins says he doesn’t engage in full-on meditation on a daily basis. But he has incorporated elements of the ritual into his routine—a process he calls “priming.” He takes 10 to 20 minutes a day to put himself in a positive state of mind. First he does a physical and breathing routine to change his state, and then he focuses on one emotion. “I prime gratitude, because of all the human emotions, you can’t be angry and grateful simultaneously,” says Robbins. He likes to finish by focusing on three goals he wants to accomplish.

Photo by Martin Schoeller for Fortune
Photo by Martin Schoeller for Fortune

How does Tony Robbins recover from his intense seminars?

For Robbins, the priming is a counterweight to a schedule of seminars that is grueling. “I designed these programs when I was a crazy young guy of 24,” he says. “Now I’m 54.” In a four-day event, Robbins says, he will cover the equivalent of an ultramarathon over 52 hours of seminar time—and he’s in the spotlight, talking, almost nonstop. To recover, he has long been a proponent of “cold plunges” into an ice bath. And more recently he has begun using a cryotherapy machine, which exposes the body to –220° F for three minutes to reduce inflammation. He’s also fastidious about his diet. Robbins doesn’t drink alcohol or caffeine, or eat red meat or chicken.

Robbins will be the owner of a sports team by 2017.

Soon Robbins will be a professional sports team owner too. In late October he joined his friend Guber as part of a group—including Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm, and several other investors—paying $100 million for the rights to launch a new Major League Soccer franchise in Los Angeles. The team will start playing in 2017 in a privately funded new stadium.

How does Robbins prepare for his seminars?

Robbins’ Rules: How to Give a Presentation

Five tips for engaging a crowd like Tony.

  1. DO YOUR HOMEWORK“My first thing in preparing for a presentation,” says Robbins, “is you’ve got to know your audience and what their deepest needs are, their deepest desires, and their deepest concerns. That’s more important than anything else. You have to carve your message and really make sure that it’s going to hit the mark for who you’re speaking with. So I usually do quite a bit of homework in advance, and I have a team of people who also do homework. You can’t add value until you know their needs.”
  2. RESPECT YOUR AUDIENCE“It’s not enough just to know your audience. You’ve got to honestly respect them too. You can’t influence someone you’re judging. So when I sit down and do the slides, I think, ‘Who’s in this audience? What do I respect about them? What do I appreciate about them?’ That gives me a connection with them that I—and they­—can feel.”
  3. GO DEEP QUICKLY“The next question is to ask, ‘How am I going to engage them from the very beginning—to quickly get to what matters to them?’ And to engage other people, you’ve got to be engaged. One way to engage is with shock. Or entertainment. But I think, ‘Let’s engage with the truth. Let’s go for what’s real and raw.’”
  4. KNOW YOUR OUTCOME“You need an outline of what you want to do, but the key is to know your outcome. I pick outcomes that I’m passionate about. I don’t think anyone should ever speak about anything they’re not passionate about. If you’re not passionate about something, no one else is going to be, and you’re wasting everyone’s time.”
  5. EMBRACE SPONTANEITY“Some people clearly need a sequence in their presentation to be able to function, and I understand that. But you also have to be able to flex so that you can be real and in the moment. People are starving for spontaneity. Everybody’s sick of watching somebody do a PowerPoint. I mean, it’s just absurd.”

This story appears in the November 17, 2014 issue of Fortune.

All images came from the same article.