Perhaps like you, my life has been impacted by Tony Robbins, I have gone through Awaken the Giant Within many times, and it is one of the top 100 best books I have ever read. If you are not familiar with Tony's other books please check out Life Force, Money: Master the Game, and Unlimited Power. Additionally, be sure to take the time to watch his powerful Netflix documentary Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru.
We would have never gotten this chance however if it was not for Harry Kloor of Beyond Imagination, a company that is backed by Tony. Harry heard that we were interviewing 100 billionaires while at our Family Office Club's quarterly investor club summit, and within 24 hours we had the interview complete.
Richard C. Wilson interviews Tony Robbins (Audio)
Tony Robbins is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. For more than forty years, millions of people have enjoyed the warmth, humor, and the transformational power of Mr. Robbins’s business and personal development events. He is the nation’s #1 life and business strategist. He’s called upon to consult and coach some of the world’s finest athletes, entertainers, Fortune 500 CEOs, and even presidents of nations. Robbins is the chairman of a holding company comprised of more than 100 businesses with combined sales exceeding $7 billion dollars a year. His philanthropic efforts helped provide more than 100 million meals in the last year alone. He lives in Palm Beach, Florida.
Learn more about Tony's powerfully inspirational live events at TonyRobbins.com
1. What's the major turning point that increased momentum or strategic choke point that you once acquired or completed, and made everything you were doing surge forward?
I would say making the psychological shift from operator to owner in my businesses. When you're an operator you're always stressed. You're trying to do it all. You try to supervise everything and everyone. You try to make sure no one makes mistakes and so it all requires your attention and so you can never scale.
The only way you succeed on a large scale financially or in business is by scaling. So one of the ways that I made that shift was to stop asking how to get something done and ask who can get this done. Who would be the best person? Who would be the most skilled person, who could do this more rapidly than anyone else? I had focused on the who versus the how, and that turned me into an owner. Now, I have 111 companies and we do over $7 billion in business. At the time I was stressed with two companies that were doing less than $5 million in business. So that would be answer one.
2. What's the most valuable strategy that was worth far more than a million dollars that you wish someone provided you with earlier on that you can share here?
Probably the most valuable strategy was understanding proximity is power. I was interviewing or, actually, visiting at the time with the person who was at that time the richest person in Canada and he wanted to help me and he asked me some of my goals and I told him some of them, and he said, "Let me give you the most valuable advice that made me wealthy - "Proximity is power" and I said, "I think I know what that means, but please tell me what it means." He means, "If you wanted to make a movie today, Tony," he said, "You could do it easily. I've seen about 10 movies that you're in some little role." He said, "The reason is you have so many people in the entertainment business that are your fans. Writers, directors, producers, actors, heads of studios." He said, "So you're in proximity with them all the time, they're thinking about you and as a result, my guess is you didn't even have to ask to get put in those movies." And this is even before films where I played a bigger role like Shallow Hal, and he was absolutely right.
He said, "Now, if you wanted to do a deal with IBM, I'm not saying you couldn't do it, but you don't have proximity. Your chances of really making that deal are shrunk massively." Whereas, if you look at Bill Gates, his family is directly tied to the board of IBM and it made the possibility and the probability of making that deal so much greater.
If you are in proximity of people playing the game at a much higher level than you are. Think of it this way, if you play tennis with someone and you're better than they are, your game is going down over time because you're not challenged. If you want to really do well get in proximity with people playing the game much higher than yourself. Using the tennis metaphor, someone who's so much better, so if you're playing against Serena Williams, your game is going to explode just to stay on the court. So, getting yourself in proximity with those who are already getting the results that you want, that are playing the game at the highest level is huge.
By attaching this idea of getting around people in the case of the advice he gave me as people that were investment bankers, I ended up putting together one of the biggest deals of my life, which at the time, at the age of 39, allowed me to take a company public in a reverse merger. I made over $400 million, whereas I'd worked a lifetime working 18-hour to 20 to 21-hour days sometimes and hadn't come close to that.
So, proximity is power, and understanding that principle can create more momentum faster than almost anything else that I've seen in life and in business.
3. What is the number one cost of mistake you've made, seen many investors make or business owners make that could be avoided?
Well, as a business owner, the number one mistake is staying too long with people that aren't right. Rationalizing versus making decisions quickly. It's like taking time to hire people to really believe you're right, but then quickly, if you know they're wrong, not rationalizing and staying with them because they're eating up the time of others. If you have platinum players and you have somebody that you bring on board that's a bronze player or a person who, for example, is not the right team fit, they can suck the energy of your culture and your environment.
When it comes to investments, the biggest mistake, again, is people not willing to make a decision to cut their losses. Being in a position where somebody tries to continue to be optimistic about something and that as an investor, will get you in trouble.
One other valuable strategy I'll give you that you want to avoid when it comes to investing is from Ray Dalio whom I interviewed for my book, Money Master of the Game. I interviewed 50 of the smartest people alive in investing, Ray Dalio, Carl Icahn, Warren Buffett, and Paul Tudor Jones. He's the most successful hedge fund manager in history and has returned over $50 billion in profits to his clients. He manages over $165 billion in business, and I said, "On your 40 years plus of investing, what's the most important, what is the holy grail of investing?" and he told me, "Tony, the most important thing is to remember that if you can find 8 to 12 uncorrelated investments that you really believe in, you reduce your risk by 80% and increase your potential returns.
Anytime you can do something and reduce your risk 80% and still be in the game, it's priceless." and so I've worked on making sure my asset allocation always has at least those uncorrelated assets. Which means you can't just have public assets, you have to have private equity and/or private credit or private real estate assets as well.
Hopefully that's helpful.