At age 31, Tony Robbins has reached phenomenal levels of success. According to him, beginning with $1,000, over the past eight years he has built a series of companies that produce over $50 million a year in sales. He and his family live in a $4 million castle in Del Mar, California; he commutes in a jet helicopter and owns a 121-acre resort property on the South Pacific island of Fiji.
In his new book, Awaken the Giant Within (Summit Books, New York, 1991), he shares his latest techniques for achieving super success and reveals how he has helped thousands of ordinary people to achieve extraordinary results. Robbins counts such superstars as Fran Tarkenton, John Denver and Martin Sheen among his good friends. According to the industry newsletter Informercial Marketing Report, Robbins’ past two 30-minute television informercials have already grossed over $60 million, with the second show outperforming the first. As a seminar leader he attracts over 1,000 people in major cities across the country who happily pay $149 each to get a ringside seat at a Robbins’ spellbinder of motivational magic.
What makes Robbins so successful? Most people are drawn to the incredible energy that embodies what people want more of: success, confidence and personal power.
Watching Tony Robbins in action is like experiencing the eruption of a volcano. His six-foot-seven frame towers over the audience. His speech pattern is almost hypnotic. He offers a unique blend of self-motivation and peak performance psychology. His dramatic gestures reveal a powerhouse of intensity. He has been known to go nonstop for eight to ten hours without food or rest.
To describe what he does, Robbins has chosen the term Success Coach. He considers himself a great salesman who is able to raise other salespeople’s standards. How? By raising their awareness of their own power on a physical and psychological level. Robbins challenges his audience to expand their vocabulary for describing their emotions. He teaches people how to reduce the impact of negative experiences, and to reach out for greater levels of success.
While most Robbins’ seminar participants eagerly sing his praises and often credit him for spectacular results, there are others who frown upon his achievements, doubt his success stories and question his credentials. While this magazine questioned only two years ago whether Robbins could continue to rock-and-roll his audiences without risking burnout, during this interview he smiled confidently and explained, “There is a difference between good stress and bad stress.” In true Robbins style, he offers the distinction that if you love what you do, you create more energy, while if you work only for money, it will wear you out. The only things Robbins seems to wear out are his shoes (size 16) and the people who are trying to keep up with his pace.
In this interview, Robbins shares his personal secrets for harnessing both physical and mental energies for peak performance, covers the essential characteristics necessary for sales success, offers practical how-to skills for overcoming the fear of rejection and discusses his tested techniques for problem solving. Buckle up for a roller coaster ride through the mind of Anthony Robbins…..
In your new book, you write, “Performing badly or brilliantly is not based on your ability, but on the state of your mind or your body in any given moment.” How can salespeople put themselves into a state of peak performance where they literally become irresistible?
Robbins: You’ve got to develop an emotional sense of certainty that what you have to offer is worth 10 times more than what you are asking for in return. Sometimes we know something intellectually, but we don’t practice it emotionally. Often people say, “I know what to do.” Yes, they have the knowledge, but why don’t they apply what they know? Your core belief, your inner sense of certainty, gives you the foundation for creating a state of peak performance where you can follow through on what you know.
How do you create the emotional intensity?
Robbins: First put yourself in that state of passion. When you are in a state of passion, you are not pushing someone, you’re enveloped by a force field of emotional intensity. Your belief is so strong, your mission so powerful and your caring so genuine that you will sweep people right off their feet.
You create more energy for yourself in the process.
Robbins: Exactly! Let me give you an example. During the last three weeks of writing my book, I was conducting a certification seminar in Hawaii. We started the seminar at 9:30 in the morning and we didn’t stop until midnight every single day. Because of my deadline, I could only write my book from 2 a.m. to 7 a.m. Then I went to sleep for two or three hours and got up to conduct the seminar. I did that for three weeks without losing one ounce of my focus, or losing my energy or power. That’s the biggest test I’ve ever given myself and I never want to do it again. But I proved to myself that it was possible. How did I get up there in front of 1,300 people and rock-and-roll them all day and all night long? The answer is that I knew I had to be in the most passionate state. I know that what I was talking about could absolutely transform their lives. When I got up in the morning, I used my physiology — all my vital processes — as the leverage. We can all turn on that power, it’s almost as easy as turning on your television set. The airwaves are all there and all we have to do is tune in and turn on the channels to get into any state we want.
Exactly how do you tune into your own mind and body to tap that energy?
Robbins: To me it means standing up, moving, breathing, gesturing until every part of my mind and body is awake, alive, vibrant, intense and passionate. Next I go through a focus ritual where I move intensely and put myself in a peak state. I say to myself, “Now I command my subconscious mind to direct me to helping as many people as possible today by giving me the strength, the emotion, the persuasion, the humor, the brevity, whatever it takes to help these people increase the quality of their lives through what I am sharing now.” I do that again and again. This is not just an affirmation, because an affirmation without discipline is the beginning of delusion. I am using my whole body when I am saying it. I am creating that emotional focus so that when I go in there, I know that I can give every ounce of myself. So when I walk into a room with 2,000 people, my whole focus is on the customer.
Does the movement create the emotion?
Robbins: Yes, emotion is created by motion. If you gesture very lightly, you’re going to feel light emotions, if you gesture more intensely, or if you expand your gestures, you will instantly enhance your own emotional intensity. Words alone don’t sell. We need movement to create emotions. Emotions aim at people’s hearts.
I still get the impression that there is a step missing.
Robbins: Maybe you can tell me what it is that you’re looking for?
Well, you change your state, tune up your body and wake up your mind. This does not explain the intense passion and tremendous energy you show on stage. What am I missing?
Robbins: Well, you know what’s missing for you? What’s missing is a set of beliefs and a set of rules, because you conduct yourself differently. We all have different rules about what is appropriate and what is not. In order to achieve long-term change, you’ve got to raise your standards. If you want to become a better communicator, you have to raise your standards on the tempo, on the voice quality and the amount of energy you use.
But none of this works unless you have an absolute belief that you can make it work. Our beliefs empower us to move beyond our self-imposed personal limits. How do we change our beliefs? By refocusing on our life’s purpose. Unless we have a clear idea of our life’s purpose, none of this stuff is worthwhile. That’s why I teach people to be clear about what their highest values are in life.
Tony’s Keys To Sales Success
What are the key characteristics of a successful salesperson?
Robbins: First, successful salespeople try to find out what emotions are keeping their customers from buying the product. They are able to help their customers overcome their fears and show them how the product will meet their needs. They find a way to meet their prospects’ mental, emotional, physical and/or spiritual needs.
The second key is to change salespeople’s beliefs. Most salespeople have an unconscious limit of what they are capable of doing. They are unaware of the internal barriers that keep them from being effective. While average salespeople will take two or three “noes” from a prospect and then give up, salespeople who make a quarter of a million dollars or more get their sale after the fifth “no.”
The third key is to have a good strategy. Many salespeople overlook that the way you really feel will influence the sale more than anything else. The biggest mistake salespeople can make is to fake themselves into a positive emotional state when they are in a state of frustration. If you are not in the right emotional state, it’s going to come through at some level. As a result, the prospect will begin to associate negative feelings with your product. But if you truly love what you’re doing, and if you are passionate about it, then you’ll be in a state that enhances rapport and soon your prospect will feel the excitement and your positive energy.
What about integrity as a key to sales success?
Robbins: That’s the absolute number one characteristic. Integrity means that you’re absolutely and totally up-front and honest in everything you do. In every seminar I tell salespeople never to exaggerate. Some people think, “If I tell my customers what they want to hear, I will get the sale.” They may get the sale, but they also may lose their job. When your product does not meet your prospect’s needs, you’ve got to be honest enough to say, “As much as I want to sell you this, I don’t think my product will meet your needs.”
What should be a salesperson’s highest purpose?
Robbins: To constantly enhance and increase the quality of life for your customers. If you do that, you’ll make more money than anybody around you ever dreamed of.
How To Overcome The Fear Of Rejection
How can we remove the roadblocks to sales success, such as the fear of rejection?
Robbins: The first key in overcoming the fear of rejection is to change how we feel about rejection itself. How? By changing the sensations we link to it. What does it really mean when someone says “no”? It could mean that the prospect does not understand our product. It could mean that the prospect is fearful. The prospect may be telling us, “I worry that when I buy this product, I am going to have more problems.” In the book, A Course In Miracles, the author writes, “Every communication from another human being is either a loving response or a cry for help.” When we begin to see rejection as a cry for help, then it no longer has the same impact on us. We can condition ourselves to link positive emotions to the word “no” and to respond in a caring, understanding and considerate way.
Are you saying that the meaning we assign to rejection will change the way we feel?
Robbins: It is more than that. By changing the meaning we attach to rejection, we’re adding more meaning to our relationship with the customer.
How To Manage Our Emotions
You once said that people with an impoverished vocabulary lead an impoverished life. Can you explain the consequences of a limited emotional vocabulary?
Robbins: The words we attach to our experience determine how we feel about the experience. That is to say, the way we feel about any experience is not based on what happened, but on what we tell ourselves about the event.
For example, let’s say you and I have a miscommunication. I could interpret this experience by telling myself that we have a problem. As a result, every time I think about you, I realize that I have a problem with you. As a result, I am disempowering the relationship. If I said instead, “I didn’t communicate effectively,” I would see our relationship as problem-free and continue to have positive feelings about you. Many salespeople tend to disempower their relationships with their customers by mislabeling their experiences. When they feel bad, they often blame their customers. We have to realize that words have the power to change our biochemistry. The words we choose to describe our experiences can be either stimulating or devastating depending on how we interpret each experience.
I remember a speech of Larry Wilson’s a couple of years ago in which he suggested not to label a negative experience with the habitual response, “That’s terrible!” but to simply say, “That’s inconvenient.” As a result, we can quickly move beyond the unpleasant experience.
Robbins: That’s great. Managing our emotions begins with the words we choose. In my seminars, I ask people to write down all the positive and negative emotions they experience in a week. No matter where I do that exercise, whether in this country or overseas, the average number of words people use to describe their emotions is about a dozen. The English language has over 4,000 words to describe emotions!
Does the same principle apply to positive emotions?
Robbins: Of course. Many people tend to use weak words to describe positive experiences like, “It was okay.” If we choose stronger words like, “This was outstanding,” we literally transform a small experience into a more significant event. If we start using words like “passion,” or “intense” or “sensational,” we can break our habitual patterns and begin to feel better in our bodies and minds. Salespeople must learn to master their emotions. It is impossible to manage our customer’s emotions if we can’t manage our own.
How To Be Happy And Successful
What is your definition of success?
Robbins: It is to increase the quality of life for every person I can reach. That’s my focus, my goal and my company’s mission.
Would you say that you are an improvement coach?
Robbins: I am a success coach. The only way you can succeed in life is through a commitment to constant and never-ending improvement.
What does the word happiness mean to you?
Robbins: Happiness does not come from things. It comes from making a decision that you’re going to live a life of joy, no matter what the environment brings. It means that you are going to find a way to use life’s many gifts –even those we sometimes call problems.
In an interview we conducted with the philosopher Mortimer Adler, he made a distinction between having a good time and having a good life.
Robbins: I agree. Many people think only of short-term pleasure, like eating something or feeling good for a moment. A good life only comes from who you become as a person. We all want to feel that our life matters. We all want to make a difference. The ultimate fulfillment comes from making a contribution. Salespeople must know that they are giving much more than what they are asking for in exchange. As long as we know that we’ve gone so far above and beyond compared to what anybody could possibly expect from us, we will always be in the position of the giver. As a result, we will not only prosper financially, but also emotionally.
A New System For Dealing With Problems
What methodology do you follow for problem solving?
Robbins: The first step is to remember that how you feel will determine how you deal with any problem. One way to change your feeling is to change the way you use your body. Don’t let your shoulders droop down, but snap into a position of power. Second, change the way you feel about the problem by calling it a challenge. I hate problems, but I love a challenge. Changing the label will change your biochemistry. The third step is to ask yourself a series of new questions. Whenever a challenge comes up in my life I ask myself, “What is great about this?” “What is not perfect yet?” “What would be great?” These questions imply that the problem is not going to last forever. It is in a state of transformation and I am the change agent. The next question is, “What am I willing to do to make it better?” In other words, I immediately focus on finding a solution and hold myself responsible for being the source of it. My view is that we should spend only 10 percent of our time on the problem and the rest of the time on the solution. The last question is, “How can I achieve this goal and enjoy the process?” You see, these simple self-challenging questions can turn problems into solutions and, in the process, change our beliefs, mobilize new resources and improve the quality of our lives.
How To Be More Creative
In your book you describe a problem John Denver had with his creativity. How can salespeople increase their creativity?
Robbins: When I started to write my new book, I felt frustrated with myself because my creativity had stopped. I was trying to force it to happen. I soon realized that I could never write creatively in a determined state. I had to be in a creative state.
The first tool I always use is a change in physiology. I run, jump on a trampoline, dance, take a shower or do something physical where I feel good about myself. I found out that as soon as I stopped forcing myself, I allowed my creativity to return and flow freely.
When I worked with John Denver, I asked him, “Where were you and what did you do when you wrote this song?” He told me that he was skiing down the mountain. I said, “Imagine how it feels when you are skiing.” I immediately noticed his face change. He started to breathe differently and the muscles around his eyes relaxed. He began to talk in a different tone of voice. I got him to imagine skiing and flying his biplane. As he tuned into these peak physical experiences, all of a sudden things started to flow for him. What really triggers people’s creativity is a change in their physiology. Some people need to be still and quiet for their creative juices to flow.
The Three Navigation Tools For Success
I found an interesting thought in your book: “I am no longer willing to drive into the future using my rearview mirror as my tool of navigation.” What are your navigation tools?
Robbins: My number one tool of navigation is my vision of what life is right there in front of me. That vision has to expand every day. It is just like when you look at the horizon and see something, as you get closer, you see more and at the same time you’ll see a new horizon. The second tool is the driving force that makes sure that my present is being enhanced every day. I always ask, “What can I learn from this?” or “What can I use from the present that will help make my future greater? That’s the force of ongoing improvement. My third navigation tool is faith. I have an unbelievable sense of faith in my purpose for being here. I don’t have any references to back that up, but the power that comes from constantly improving myself, the certainty that comes from improving the quality of life for others gives me an inner sense of certainty that says I can succeed against the most incredible odds.
How To Shape Your Destiny
When you talk about destiny, what exactly do you mean?
Robbins: Your ultimate destiny is who you become in your life and what you can contribute on this earth. Essentially, your destiny is driven by your beliefs and values. Unless you have consciously chosen what you value most in your life, you’re not going to be able to make decisions along the way that are congruent with your beliefs and values.
What are the tools for managing our destiny?
Robbins: If we don’t consciously plant the seeds we want in the garden of our minds, we’ll end up with weeds. I think that our destiny is controlled by our decisions. Especially when life sends us challenges. The decisions we make in the face of great challenges are the seeds that will determine our character. In the process we will develop a set of core beliefs about who we really are. These beliefs will shape our destiny.
Is destiny more like a statue or more like a river?
Robbins: It’s more like a river. It’s an ongoing process. It always expands to the next level. I recently had a conversation with Dr. Wayne Dyer in which we discussed spirituality and he said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we’re spiritual beings having a human experience.”
How does that insight translate into how we should interact with our customers?
Robbins: I tell salespeople that if you treat your prospects as prospects, you’re going to fail. If you truly want to succeed, you must truly care about the people you call on, develop quality relationships, do everything you possibly can to serve their needs and in the process you will get all the business you deserve and build lasting friendships as well.