Tony Robbins and How to be ‘Unshakeable’: Financial Serenity, Choosing Friends Wisely, Internal Peace, and Optimizing Health Through Science Fiction
It’s an unusually balmy winter morning in Manhattan, a contradiction to last night’s skin-piercing air that encircled a panoramic rooftop lounge where Tony Robbins held a cake (created by the Cake Boss) so well disguised as his latest book, Unshakeable, that the only reveal was its caricature size.
On the eve of his 57th birthday, Robbins was noticeably most consumed by a new mission. Driven by his philanthropic nature and well-known combustible energy, Tony, in his larger-than-life presence, tells me the ways in which we can financially immunize ourselves to the impending market crash, as well as simple, effective growth-hacks that will reconstruct the course of our relationships, business, health (mitochondria-generating capsule, anyone?), and vitality.
When former Chair of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, reluctantly told Robbins — on the heels of historic global negative interest rates — that he would ‘resign’ if he were still on the throne today, it was the spark that catapulted him into action to help others get through the volatility, leading to dozens of meetings with the world’s financial experts, including Warren Buffet and Carl Icahn.
“I hate writing books!” he announces, laughing, his infectious energy effortlessly dwarfing his 6'7" stature. “I didn’t write a book for 25 years but I wanted to write something that would protect people now because I know the crash is coming. I don’t want people to go back to a 2008 experience but to take advantage of it because it’s truly the chance for someone to leapfrog,” adding, “the next crash is counterintuitively, the greatest opportunity of their life. You don’t get slay by the bear market. You slay it,” he says commandingly, echoing the words of his co-author, Peter Mallouk, and founder of investment firm, Creative Planning, who has grown his fund since 2008 from $500mil to $23bil.
In the throes of one of the most bruising economic downturns in modern history, 2008 was a pivotal moment for Mallouk and his team. They seized it by holding the hands of their clients during a time when a common reflex was for investors to swiftly liquidate assets to hibernate under a mattress until the market improved. Through a balanced asset allocation coupled with a diversified portfolio within it, selling some bonds, purchasing stocks for virtually pennies, minimizing fees, and an ability to cultivate an abiding trust, when the storm had passed, Creative Planning lost just one client.
Robbins acknowledges that the recent change in administration has cemented an added layer of investment trepidation — “That’s why I wrote this book now,” he inserts — as well as anxiety, as it aims to repeal the Fiduciary Rule (created when the Obama administration uncovered $17bil in hidden fees abuse) which would eliminate transparency by financial advisers and brokers. Robbins feels a sense of urgency to expose the buried truths.
“I think everyone should be a fiduciary,” he prefaces.”To me that’s common sense, that they need to put your needs ahead of their own, but unfortunately the lobby here has made us unique in this area. I know so many people who are suffering or just don’t pay attention to it because they feel overwhelmed by finances or that it’s a negative topic but it’s a part of life that once you master it, everything else is easier.” According to the Unshakeable author, 72% of Americans are unaware of fees associated with their 401k plan, and of those remaining, 92% are oblivious to the fee amount. “Even with the Fiduciary Rule enacted, you are not really protected because the enforcement of it is very difficult to do,” he admits. “I tell everyone, ‘you want to be self-educated.’”
Whether a late-blooming baby boomer or skittish millennial, there’s hope for both to achieve financial serenity, and Robbins advises to asses the short-term dream first so that the long-term dream doesn’t feel unattainable. Begin with financial security. “What would it look like for you if you had enough income coming from your investments without working a day in your life, to pay for five things?” he asks. “Your current mortgage, utilities, all transportation needs, basic income and food.” Once financial security is defined, financial independence and freedom are next.
“When I was growing up, the goal was to find a way to earn enough money so that you could retire and not need to work anymore,” he explains. “Today all of my friends work harder than ever. Now, the goal is to make enough money so that you never have to work, and then work at what you love harder so that you’re 95–100 years old and then you die.”
Statistically, men pass away within five years of retirement while women experience longevity through caring for others and connectivity; another beneficial reason why the thirty-one-time business owner and his comrades like real estate mogul, Steve Wynn, Warren Buffet, and Golden State Warriors owner, Peter Guber, are working harder than ever well into their 70’s and 80's.
From financial and physical health to relationship bliss (he refers to his wife of sixteen years, Sage, as his ‘favorite person on the planet’), Robbins has a host of gadgets, mantras, and meditations that fuel his harmonious, peak performance, hoisting him through sixteen-hour days traversing the globe. But the approach has to be holistic and begins with an internal shift and a conscious decision.
“When it comes to health, one of the biggest challenges as people age is they become more toxic because the digestive process takes the most energy,” he explains, “and inflammation starts to break you down.” An avid practitioner of cleanses and physical fitness, all to increase stamina, facilitate digestion and decrease inflammation, it’s the unconventional methods that visibly inspire him the most.
It’s not uncommon to find Robbins lending his body to the science of experimentation for the reward of sustained vigor and lifespan. When he isn’t thrusting his body down to -230 degrees Fahrenheit in three minutes with cryotherapy — “Which sounds like you’d die,” he injects, “but they use nitrogen so you don’t burn” — he might be found in a capsule of sorts, where the pressure change in his body is equivalent to the G-force of an F-18 at twice the speed of sound. But now that his ears no longer hurt from that harrowing process, he can realize the positive byproduct of the experience; mitochondrial biogenesis. In essence, Robbins has no shortage of energy and though the average person might not have access to science fiction technology, there is still a clear, simple path to transformation.
“Most people wake up every morning with, say, one hundred units of energy,” he says. “If you start the day with all of these internal stresses, 40% of the energy is gone just from the junk you keep recycling in your head over and over. But if you can authentically be yourself, that energy is freed up and that goes into your business, creativity, children, joy and intimate relationships.” He leans forward with resolute focus. “When you have no fear and you’re not worried about what people think and you’re in your element, what is your nature? What comes out of you and drives you? I try to get people to use those things in the vehicle they have picked, authentically. It’s reminding yourself that you don’t need the tension or protection. When you say, ‘Who I am is enough,’ then you feel so alive.”
The company we keep is the company we become, and Robbins takes the sentiment deeper. “People should make you grow,” he asserts. “Decisions shape destiny and that’s one of the most important decisions. Life is too short to suffer, and I believe the most important decision you can make is when you decide to live in a beautiful state no matter what, you get answers to your problems a hundred times faster than when you’re in the suffering state of feeling angry, stressed, or worried. When you’re in a beautiful state, you connect with people in a totally different way and they feel you.”
“Unshakeable means that you have courage,” the author explains. “It means that if you’re scared you do it anyway. Unshakeable means if you get knocked off kilter, you don’t let it take you. One of the things that makes me proud I’m a human, and that we’re all human, is that at our best we’ll do more for others than we’ll ever do for ourselves, and that’s what gives me the most energy and a mission. The feeling that there’s a meaning to my life beyond myself.”