Anthony "Tony" Robbins (born February 29, 1960) is an American life coach, self-help author and motivational speaker. He became well known through his infomercials and self-help books, Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within.
Robbins writes about subjects such as health and energy, overcoming fears, building wealth, persuasive communication, and enhancing relationships.
Robbins began his career learning from many different motivational speakers, and promoted seminars for his personal mentor, Jim Rohn. He is deeply influenced by neuro-linguistic programming.
Robbins' programs have reached over 4 million people from 100 countries around the world.
In 2007, he was named to Forbes magazine's "Celebrity 100" list. Forbes estimated that Robbins earned approximately $30 million USD in that year.
In 2002, Robbins was ranked as the 45th "Top Business Intellectual in the World” by Accenture’s Institute for Strategic Change. Robbins has spoken at Harvard Business School and was ranked by the school among the “Top 200 Business Gurus” (Harvard Business School Press, 2003).
Robbins was born Anthony J. Mahavorick in North Hollywood, California, on February 29, 1960. His surname was originally spelled 'Mohorovic' and is of Croatian origin. He adopted the surname 'Robbins' from his stepfather.
Robbins began his career promoting seminars for Jim Rohn. According to Robbins, Rohn taught him that "happiness and success in life are not the result of what we have, but rather of how we live. What we do with the things we have makes the biggest difference in the quality of life."
Robbins promoted his services as a "peak performance coach" through his books and TV infomercials, gaining strong public recognition and lucrative sales. He gained wide exposure through infomercials advertising his Personal Power series of self-help audiotapes.
In 1997, Robbins began the Leadership Academy seminar, in which participants learn to "[c]reate an identity for them self as someone who can help 'anyone', no matter what his/her challenge may be." Robbins is a featured speaker on the seminar circuit sponsored by Learning Annex. Robbins appeared as a featured speaker at the 2007 Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference. As of August 2012, his talk was the 6th most popular TED talk.
Robbins is involved with the Robbins-Madanes Center for Strategic Intervention, which focuses on personal, family and organizational psychology, and claims to help people "find breakthrough strategies and solutions for overcoming the problems that confront us all."
Tony Robbins giving a talk at a Twitter conference in 2009
Robbins also conducts seminars, including his four-day Unleash the Power Within (UPW) seminar, Mastery University and Business Mastery.
During Unleash The Power Within, participants walk barefoot over hot coals. The aim of the seminar, demonstrated in the firewalk, is to illustrate that the main quality shared by those who achieve greatness is the ability to take action - even if they experience fear ("Personal Power").
Mastery University is promoted at the UPW seminar. Mastery University is composed of three seminars:
Life Mastery, espouses Robbins' ideas about what makes for a healthy lifestyle, and has in the past featured guest lecturers including Deepak Chopra and John Gray.
Wealth Mastery, espouses Robbins' ideas about what makes for a wealthy lifestyle.
Date With Destiny, the only Mastery event at which Robbins is present for the entire event, is said to be designed to help participants align their values so that they are not in conflict, but rather are aligned with the participant's individual goals.
In 1997, Robbins initiated his Leadership Academy seminar, in which he invites participants to learn the skills he uses, with the stated goal of the program to enable the participant to "[c]reate an identity for yourself as someone who can help 'anyone', no matter what his/her challenge may be".
In 2009 Robbins created his Business Mastery program, designed to provide business leaders with tools to manage and grow their businesses. The seminar is conducted live by Robbins and features entrepreneur guest speakers. Past speakers have included Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts,Peter Guber (Chairman & CEO of Mandalay Entertainment Group) and Tony Hsieh (CEO and Founder of Zappos.com).
Robbins has published two best-selling books, Unlimited Power and Awaken the Giant Within.
Unlimited Power, published in 1987, discusses the topics of health and energy, overcoming fears, persuasive communication, and enhancing relationships. One reviewer called the book "uplifting and idealistic" and referenced the "dynamic enthusiasm" of the book;" and another describes Robbins as “a persuasive communicator who spends more linage on step-by-step details of his recommendations than in self-boosterism." while another reviewer said it's "too wordy" and "reads like a transcript of a series of talks."
Awaken the Giant Within, published in 1991, was an expansion of his personal development techniques and strategies taught through a motivational self-help type approach. Robbins made the distinction between neuro-linguistic programming and his own technique, which he calls 'Neuro-Associative Conditioning'. The trademarked difference is defined by applying "conditioning" rather than "being programmed".
Robbins teaches that one should constantly take control of one's emotional state by controlling one's body language, facial expressions, breathing, mental representations, language, metaphors and mental focus.
Robbins teaches that people are held back from making the changes they wish to make by the fact that they still associate pleasure to their old pattern of behavior, and pain to changing. For example, someone may be overweight, and may wish to lose weight, but still feel that exercise is painful and that fattening foods are pleasurable. Neuro-associative conditioning is intended to change these inclinations, so that the new, productive behavior is now felt to be pleasurable, and the old, sabotaging behavior is felt to be painful. According to neuro-associative conditioning, there are six steps to changing these inclinations:
Decide. Robbins teaches that personal change starts when the person makes a strong, irrevocable commitment to change.
Get leverage. To motivate them to change, the person must acutely feel that their old habits were destructive and painful, and the new ones are empowering and pleasurable.
Interrupt the old pattern. This is a neuro-linguistic programming technique. When someone gets caught up in a familiar pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors, Robbins teaches that they should do something unexpected to shock themselves out of it. He writes in Awaken The Giant Within, "Next time you start to feel depressed, jump up, look at the sky, and yell in your most idiotic tone of voice, 'Hallelujah! My feet don't stink today!' A stupid, silly move like that will definitely shift your attention." Robbins frequently compares interrupting patterns to scratching a record so that it will no longer play properly.
Create a new pattern. The person must have something new to replace their old habit with.
Condition the new pattern. This step involves repeating and reinforcing the new pattern until it is habitual.
Test it. Put yourself in the situation where you previously would have engaged in the destructive behavior. Make sure you follow the new pattern rather than the old one.
Life's two master lessons
According to Robbins, life offers two master lessons:
The science of achievement. This is "making the invisible visible." Robbins says that materially successful people already have this mastered. It is a learned process or pattern that can be repeated; a method of one's successfully operating within their environment.
The art of fulfillment. Robbins says that this is a part of life that is not attained very often, and when it is, it is often late in life or after a serious issue where a person has faced death.
Decision is the ultimate power
Robbins regards Western culture largely as a "therapy culture" that believes biography is destiny. He asserts an alternative opinion that the defining factor is our own resourcefulness. If we can connect with other people on their own emotional level, we can achieve. We must simply decide to be creative enough, playful enough, fun enough, and so on.
Robbins describes the cultural tendency to look at one's past as a definition of the future as a continuation of the impulse to look externally when considering the cause of failure. For example, if a person's business idea does not succeed, they might regard an external resources deficiency, such as a lack of time, money, technology, contacts, experience, or management as the critical reason for its failure, when they likely were also deficient in an aspect of resourcefulness (our internal resources), such as creativity, determination, love, caring, curiosity, passion or resolve. According to Robbins, "decision shapes destiny'; all of our external deficiencies can be overcome by our own resourcefulness, and this resourcefulness can be cultivated.
The decisions we make
Continuing with the notion that our true resources are defined by our own resourcefulness, Robbins says that our determination of our resourcefulness is shaped by three decisions that we make at every moment of our lives:
What am I going to focus on? What is your focus, or what are you feeling? Is it something in your past, present, or future? Is your focus on yourself, or on others? Robbins states that whatever you decide to focus on, this gives it meaning. "What your focus is will be what you feel."
What does it mean? Is it the end, or is it the beginning? Are you being rewarded or punished? This meaning produces an emotion, and the emotion creates an action. Robbins states that you should actively choose what your object of focus means, which determines which emotion you will experience.
What are you going to do? Are you going to give up, or go forward? Depending upon which focus you have chosen, and the active decision over what it means, you will either have a negative reaction, or a positive one.
What shapes us
Robbins says an examination of what shapes us is also a window into understanding what shapes other people, and that understanding this is a requirement for being able to exercise our resourcefulness. He states that all people are shaped by two things:
State. This is both a person's physical and emotional state.
Model of the world. This shapes people in the long-term, and is their "filter" for what they encounter. It determines meaning, emotion, and action.
Six human needs
Robbins teaches that all people must fulfill six emotional needs, and that often they meet these needs in dysfunctional ways. The needs are:
Certainty. Assurance you can avoid pain and gain pleasure.
Uncertainty. The need for variety, the unknown, change, new stimuli.
Significance. Feeling unique, important, special or needed.
Love/connection. A strong feeling of closeness or union with someone or something.
Growth. An expansion of capacity, capability or understanding.
Contribution. A sense of service and focus on helping, giving to and supporting others.
Robbins states that the first four are "needs of the personality," and are attained by all people, in one way or another. If necessary, people will resort to violence to achieve this attainment.
The last two, Growth and Contribution, are described by Robbins as "needs of the spirit," and these provide fulfillment. These often are not attained by many people.
Robbins states that whichever of these six needs are the most important or significant to a person will ultimately tilt a person in a specific direction and provide the trajectory that determines their life.
What influences a person
If you want to influence a person in your drive to be resourceful (or to understand what influences yourself), Robbins says that you must understand three things: their target, their map, and their fuel.
Target. This is what a person is after. These aren't desires, they are needs. Robbins also states that these are not formed by one's experiences, but are preexisting. They are based on decision-making patterns that are governed by the six basic needs.
Map. Once the person's target is uncovered, Robbins states that you must determine the map. The map is the person's belief system regarding how their needs will be fulfilled. Robbins says there are seven different beliefs that lead to a proper map trajectory, if they are applied consistently:
Everything happens for a reason and a purpose. Even if something doesn't turn out how you wanted, take that as a learning experience and imagine the possibilities of improvement. What did you learn? How do you think you can improve this situation?
There is no such thing as failure, only results. Never look at failure as a result that you did not want as a failure. You should instead look at it as a learning experience.
Whatever happens, take responsibility. Great leaders and successful people all believe that they create their own world. Remember the phrase, "I am responsible, I will take care of it."
It is not necessary to understand everything to use it. If other people have done something or you have tried it and it worked, then go out and do that. Do not spend tons of time analyzing everything.
People are our greatest resource. Take advantage of information that people are sharing. Learn from others who are successful.
Work is play. Enjoy life, enjoy your business. No successful person hates what they do.
There is no abiding success without commitment. Individuals who succeed have a belief in the power of commitment.
Fuel. A person's fuel is their emotions, whether positive or negative. There are over 6,000 emotions in the English language, some of which are empowering, and others which are dis-empowering. Robbins states that research from RRI has found that there are only 12 basic emotions that drive people's daily lives.
Robbins concludes by stating that a proper understanding of what influences us allows us to fulfill all of our needs, including our "needs of the spirit," growth and contribution. Ultimately, a mastery of understanding human motivation is about contributing to others' well-being and fulfillment.
Six steps to emotional mastery
Identify what you are really feeling. Seek clarity from the emotion. For example, you might ask yourself, "Am I feeling angry, or is it something else?" Robbins says that these are not the emotions we should emote, but Action Signals that inform us of our initial state.
Acknowledge and appreciate your emotions, knowing they support you. Be thankful they are sending you a message. Cultivate the feeling of appreciation for all your emotions. They are there to serve you, and not the other way around.
Get curious about the message this emotion is offering you. Getting curious helps you master your emotion, solve the challenge, and prevent the same problem from occurring in the future.
Get confident. The fastest way to deal with an emotion is to remember a time when you felt a similar emotion and realize that you've successfully handled it before. If you do the same things, you will have similar results.
Get certain you can handle this not only today, but in the future as well.
One chapter of Unlimited Power, called "Energy: The Fuel of Excellence", is dedicated to a discussion of health and energy. It endorses the Fit For Life program of Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, food combining, and deep breathing. Robbins refers to Harvey and Marilyn Diamond as his "former partners". The National Council Against Health Fraud wrote a highly critical review of the chapter.
In both Unlimited Power and later works like Living Health, he teaches that 70% or more of food should be fruits and vegetables, that people should avoid eating meat and dairy products, and that calorie restriction, deep breathing, gentle aerobic exercise and good emotions have an important influence on health.
He was lampooned in episode 22 of season 3 of Family Guy. In Men In Black, there is an array of screens in the headquarters monitoring aliens masquerading as humans. One of these screens shows Robbins.
In July 2010 NBC debuted Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, a reality show that followed Robbins as he helped the show's participants face their personal challenges. NBC canceled the show, after airing two of the planned six episodes, due to low viewership of 2.8 million. In March 2012 the OWN Network picked the show up for another season beginning with the original first season set to re-run and thereafter leading directly into the new 2012 season.
In 1991 Robbins launched a charity, the Anthony Robbins Foundation. It is dedicated to empowering students and prisoners through food drives and learning programs based on his teachings. According to the official website, the foundation has "products and programs in more than 2,000 schools, 700 prisons, and 100,000 health and human service organizations." These programs have been written about and featured in many dozens of articles. They have appeared on various websites, like Cherish Our Children International and Harmony With No Limits. The independent charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, gives the foundation a rating of three out of four stars. The official website states that "the Foundation is committed to make a difference in the quality of life for children, the homeless, the prison population, and the elderly through its various programs". The foundation has subsequently led to the forming of "Basket Brigades" across the world that occur each Thanksgiving. Individuals and groups have joined together to assemble and deliver dinner baskets to needy families.
Federal Trade Commission: In May 1995, Robbins Research International (RRI) responded to Federal Trade Commission charges of misrepresentation of potential earnings to franchise investors. RRI and the FTC entered into a stipulated settlement agreement, in which RRI agreed to pay 221,260 USD in consumer redress. RRI did not admit guilt under the settlement.
Wade Cook: Financial seminar guru Wade Cook also sued Robbins for copyright infringement and plagiarism, alleging that Robbins used proprietary terms in his seminars and in his book Wall Street Money Machine. In 1998 a Tacoma, Washington, jury ordered Robbins to pay Cook US$650,900 in damages. The order to pay damages was temporarily withdrawn until 2000, when the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the trial judge had misinterpreted the statutes.
The verdict and damages were reinstated with a statement that "The Court found that U.S. District Court Judge, Jack Tanner, erred in "finding a conclusion contrary to the jury award" and sent instructions to reinstate the award. "This is a landmark decision by the 9th Circuit Court because of the high profile players and issues at stake" said lead attorney and Wade Cook General Counsel, Troy Romero. "The Court is telling individuals that, no matter who you are, the protection of copyrightable material will be preserved." Robbins was forced to pay the entire amount.
In 2001 Robbins filed a lawsuit against The Vancouver Sun newspaper, alleging defamation and libel. The judge determined the Vancouver Sun defamed Robbins when it called him a hypocrite. Awarding Robbins $20,000 in damages, the judge wrote "While damages are presumed, the plaintiff's failure to take the witness stand and to testify about his feelings and the impact of the defamation upon his reputation leaves the court somewhat in the dark about these matters". The court awarded Robbins his attorneys' fees and costs in addition to damages.
2012 Firewalking event
In July 2012, the San Jose Mercury News published a report about a Tony Robbins' Firewalk Event conducted in San Jose, California, on July 19, 2012. This was picked up by other media outlets including Fox News.
These reports were later retracted as inaccurate. On August 8, 2012, Fox News' program Fox & Friends issued an on-air retraction and correction to the inaccurate report; Steve Doocy stated:
During a recent segment concerning a Tony Robbins’ Fire Walk Experience in San Jose, California, we reported more than two dozen participants were hospitalized with burns. While a few of the 6,000 received minor burns akin to a sunburn, they received on-site medical attention and continued to participate in the event. None were hospitalized and there were no reported third-degree burns. We understand news reports to the contrary were inaccurate.
In 1984, Robbins and his ex-girlfriend, Liz Acosta, had a son, Jairek Robbins.
Robbins' first marriage was to Becky Jenkins, who already had three children from two former marriages; Robbins considers them his own children. Robbins and his first wife were divorced in June 2001. He married Bonnie Humphrey, now known as Sage Robbins, later that year.
Robbins alluded to his personal belief in a higher power in Unlimited Power, giving the grand complexity of life as evidence of an intelligent designer.
^"My first mentor was a man named Jim Rohn. He taught me that happiness and success in life are not the result of what we have, but rather of how we live. What we do with the things we have makes the biggest difference in the quality of life." (Robbins 1987, p.409)Rolando Ponce de Leon. "Anthony Robbins: A true motivation life". MotivationLife. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
^"I'm picking up new skills and new technologies from a variety of sciences. I continue to use many of the NLP and Ericksonian techniques that I began my career with; some of them are the finest available." (Robbins 1992, p. 108)
^Robbins, A., 1992 'Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny'; ISBN 0-671-79154-0
^ abRobbins, Anthony (2005). Leadership Academy Manual. San Diego, California: Robbins Research International, Inc. p. 3.
^Robbins, A (1987) 'Unlimited Power' Publisher: Fawcett Columbine (Ballantine Books) ISBN 0-449-90280-3
^"He comes across as a dedicated, idealistic, and brilliant young man; it is impossible to read his book without absorbing some of his dynamic enthusiasm."(Printed in Magill Book Reviews, Jan 1990) Salem Press. Pasadena, California.
^"...the text is too wordy--it reads like a transcript of a series of talks--and it also needs more structure and organization. Though it strives to be upbeat and encouraging, Unlimited Power leaves mixed feelings." (Printed in Library Journal, Aug 1986) John Moryl. Yeshiva University Library. New York, New York.
^"Reading UNLIMITED POWER, one keeps hearing echoes of such self-help classics as Dale Carnegie's HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE, Norman Vincent Peale's THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING, Napoleon Hill's THINK AND GROW RICH, and Maxwell Maltz's PSYCHO-CYBERNETICS. Robbins freely acknowledges his indebtedness to these and others..." (Printed in Magill Book Reviews, Jan 1990) Salem Press. Pasadena, California.
^"It suggests that you could come to me, I would program you, and then everything would be fine. You wouldn't have to do anything!" (Robbins 1991, p. 111)
^"An excellent source for a thorough treatment of the subject of food combining is Herbert Shepherd's Food Combining Made Easy. Also, my former partners, Harvey and Marilyn Diamond have written an excellent book called Fit for Life..." (Robbins, 1987. Unlimited Power. p. 177)
^"...I believe all the world problems are factors, but I also believe in a source much larger than my present understanding. To say that there is no source of intelligence that we may call God is like saying Webster's Dictionary is the result of an explosion in a print factory and everything came together perfectly and in balance." (Robbins, Unlimited Power, 1987, p. 392)