Tony Robbins: The Best Advice I’ve Ever Been Given

Tony Robbins is unquestionably one of the most prolific and successful motivational speakers and life performance coaches of the past century. He’s authored four bestselling books, including his most recent tome, MONEY Master the Game.

Robbins is probably most known for his motivational seminars, where he can talk on stage for dozens of hours (we’re parched just thinking about it) about the transformational power of one’s thoughts. With all of his experience and passion for conveying his message via public speaking, it’s no surprise he’s given one of the most-watched TED talks on “Why we do what we do,” viewed over 15.5 million times.

Tony sat down for a LIVE chat with Product Hunt, and some of his answers were too good not to share. Read on for some of the highlights—and if you want to enjoy the full Q&A, you can find it here on Product Hunt:

What are your top two public speaking tips? -Ben Debayle

My #1 speaking tip for anyone is stop thinking about yourself. Most people experience enormous stress or even fear when they are about to speak to an audience of any size. The reason for this is that they’re focused on how they are doing and how they’re going to come across. If instead, you can put all of your focus into your audience and be present with them, focusing completely on their needs, desires, and concerns, then you will be guided to spontaneously shift your speaking conversation in a way that truly meets the needs of your audience. More importantly, you will be focused on serving them and not on yourself, and so you’ll have no fear.

My second tip is to over prepare by truly studying your audience in advance of your speech. Do your homework to discover their deepest desires and biggest concerns. And then formulate a plan for how to serve them better than anyone else has before. I believe that life is found in the dance between what we desire most and what we fear most. Help people with those two things and you will succeed with any group.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? -Alex Finkielsztein

That’s a tough question because my life is constantly about getting advice from the best in the world. But if I had to narrow it down, I would say two pieces of advice. #1 [comes from] my original mentor, Jim Rohn. He taught me that the secret to life is to find a way to do more for others than anyone else is doing. If you want to be extraordinary as a friend or business person, as a father or a lover, find a way to add more value — especially to those you love the most. I’m obsessed by this focus, and I really believe it’s the secret to not only wealth, but real lasting happiness. In my soul I believe the secret to living is giving.

The second piece of advice came from a man who at the time was the richest man in Canada — a brilliant businessman, billionaire, and entrepreneur. He taught me that proximity is power. He told me at the time that if I wanted to make a movie, it would be easy because I had so many clients who were producers, actors, and heads of studios; I’m around them all the time. In fact, they put me in a dozen movies at that time, without my even asking, because I was in their proximity. He said, “If you wanted to make a deal at IBM, you could probably make it work, but it would be a lot harder because you’re not in proximity.” In order to get my financial goals, he taught me to get in proximity with investment bankers. Two years later, I made a deal that was worth $400 million to me, taking a company public! Proximity is power — remember it, apply it. It will change your life.

What does your daily routine look like? How do you get the day started right and still hold positive sustainability to the end of day? -Maria Gosur

I start every day by jumping in freezing cold water! :) In all of my homes, I either have a cold plunge that I keep at 56 degrees, or here in Sun Valley where I am now, I have the river, which I jump in even in the winter! I do this as a daily practice, as a discipline to make my mind know that when I say I’m going to do something, I do it now! No matter how difficult it may seem. It also has amazing physical value for the body. Every cell, nerve, muscle in your body, pumps like crazy when you make that radical of a temperature change. It moves your lymph and makes you ready for anything. Completely invigorating.

What are some exercises to help you work on introspection? -David McGraw

After I’m done with my early morning cold plunge, I immediately sit down for 20 minutes of what I call “Prime Time.” I don’t hope that I’m going to have a great perspective on the day; I prime my nervous system: I prepare it, and I train it, for the perspective I want. I do this by sitting down and doing an intense breathing pattern that changes my state even more. Fundamentally, it’s raising my arms up to the sky as I take a deep breath in through my nose, and then exploding my arms and legs down, forcing all the air from my stomach through the back of my spine and through my nose with intensity. I do three sets of ten of these types of breath. Then, I pause and experience the change in my body and mind, and feel the sense of peace. I continue these three sets of ten with pauses three times.

I then take a minimum of ten minutes — usually twenty and sometimes as long as 35–40 minutes — and do these three things: I take three minutes to focus on three things I’m deeply grateful for and I deeply associate to the feeling of gratitude for those people or experiences in my life. I take three minutes and I ask for a blessing that everything that needs to be solved is solved and then I ask for a blessing for all those that I know and love, from my family and friends to my clients, that they experience the same blessing. Finally, I take three minutes and focus on my “Three to Thrive.” I focus on three things I want to accomplish; I see them as done and I feel grateful for them. This sets me up for the day and provides a perspective to deal with any challenge, as well as a state of fulfillment in all that I experience.

I have $100,000 in cash a very good credit score with no debt where do you suggest I put it? -Mike

Please read my book! There is no one place you should put this money. If you do, that’s the biggest mistake of your life. I talked to Ray Dalio, the man many called the Leonardo da Vinci or Steve Jobs of investors; he has the largest hedge fund in the world (a big one might have $15B in assets; Ray Dalio’s has $165B — ten times the size!). He told me what he’s learned is that no matter how smart you think you are, markets are always changing.

So how has he produced a 21% return prior to fees over the last two and a half decades? He’s figured out a strategy to understand how to make money in any season, any environment. He’s famous for what’s known as the “All Weather” strategy, and he’s never revealed the exact percentages of that diversification strategy before. In fact, you had to have a $5B net worth and give him $100M just to start ten years ago. But today, no matter how rich you are, he won’t manage money for you. His fund is closed to outsiders.

I persuaded him to share with me the actual numbers of this strategy and it’s in the book. It’s worth a chapter’s read! When back tested over the last 75 years, it’s made money 85% of the time and the largest loss was only -3.95%! It’s average return has been just under 10%. I wouldn’t put all your money in anything, including this strategy, but the book shows you all the choices you have in how to protect yourself as well as maximize your potential returns. None of the book is my opinion. It’s all driven by the answers of the 50 most brilliant financial minds in the world.

Finally, be sure to read how to protect yourself from destructive fees. Most people have no idea that the average mutual fund, when you dig into the fine print, has up to 17 fees which according to Forbes magazine average 3.12%. By contrast, if you have two people who start at 35 years old with $100,000 and they compound a 7% return, the person who’s paying 1% in fees will have $760,000 vs. the person paying 3% in fees amounting to $430,000 at age 65. They had the same rate of return; the only difference was fees. My goal with this book was simple: to convert you from the chess piece to the chess player!

What book are you reading / listening to right now? -Irina Jordan

One of my favorite books of all time is The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History by Michael Hart. It takes a provocative look at who has influenced history the most. And I find that even a short biography of the greats of history to be incredibly inspiring. I also recommend to everyone that they read a classic: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. After reading it, no matter how big your challenge, you’ll realize you have no problems! And you’ll remember the unwavering power of the human spirit that lives within you.

In your quest to feed millions every year and coordinate thousands of other programs to help people, what is a pain point that you are experiencing, and how can we help? -Troy Shu

I’m touched by your question. The answer is simple: I hate suffering. I hate to see people suffer because I feel their suffering. And I love to light people up. I love to see people transform. I love to see the light in someone’s eyes when they become a giver instead of a taker.

Your question is astute. Most of us find our passions in things that were either denied or were taken from us…that’s often where some of our desires come from. I grew up in a family that today we call “food insecure” — there were days with no meals. So I’m very passionate about feeding people. I was 11-years-old one Thanksgiving and we had no money for food. A stranger delivered a Thanksgiving meal to our home; it changed me forever. It was more than food — it made me believe that strangers care. And it made me care about strangers.

I promised myself that someday, I would do well enough to take care of others and provide the same gifts. At 17, I fed two families for the first time at Thanksgiving. It was so enormously fulfilling that I wanted to double it each year. Within a few years, I was feeding a couple hundred people. Then I got people involved in my early stage companies — my employees, my friends. Quickly, it grew to 1 million people, then 2 million. In the last seven years, my wife and I have matched our foundation’s two million meals, with two million meals of our own for a total of four million.

These last few years, as I wrote Money: Master the Game, I couldn’t help be struck by the radical contrast between those with enormous wealth and those who are still living like how I grew up. In fact, Congress cut what we used to know as food stamps a few years ago by billions of dollars, functionally eliminating one meal a week for all people currently using government assistance. I decided to do something. I’ve fed 42 million people over the course of my lifetime, since I was 17. I decided I wanted to feed more people in one year than I had in my entire life.

So I partnered with Feeding America, the nation’s #1 hunger relief organization. I asked them how many people could I feed if I donated all the profits of my book in advance. It was a sizable amount — they told me I could feed 10 million people! I committed on the spot to do that, but then decided to raise that number to include an additional gift. I’m proud to say that I’ve personally donated 50 million meals this year alone.

How would you define success? For yourself, for clients, for companies, for “scenes”, for industries? -Andreas Klinger

I believe success is not a destination, but an ongoing process of constant and never ending improvement. Our success in life comes in two forms. First is our ability to take our vision and make it real, whether that be in our professional or personal lives. But secondly, and equally as important, is our ability to contribute to others in a way that creates a sense of true meaning and fulfillment.

A sad example (someone who was successful by most people’s measures) would be the great loss we experienced last year in Robin Williams. He wanted to be a great comedian — to make people laugh around the world — and he accomplished it. He wanted to be a great actor and win an Academy Award; he succeeded there, too. He wanted a beautiful family, and people around the world who loved him. He accomplished all of this. But he took his own life because success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. My wish for you is to find a meaningful mission that will ignite you every day.

You can find the full schedule of Product Hunt’s upcoming LIVE Chats here. Here are some guests to look forward to in November—you can click on each one to sign up for the chat: