Transcripts > The Tim Ferriss Show > Ep 37: Tony Robbins on Morning Routines, Peak Performance, and Mastering Money - Part 1
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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls. This is a very exhausted Tim Ferriss, and welcome to the Tim Ferriss show. So glad to have you! You know, I am one tired son of a bitch right now and I couldn’t be happier about it because I’ve been flying around the country doing various experiments and I had the opportunity to go to Palm Beach, Florida to sit at the home of Tony Robbins and ask him just about everything I’ve ever wanted to ask him - and this is a very special interview for me!
This is the interview, the conversation I’ve wanted to have for fifteen years [laughs] and now that I’m back in S.F. gathering myself, drinking some what appears to be, Laughing Coyote Tea. I have no idea what’s in it: could be all sorts of drugs, psilocybin. Uh, and I’m thrilled to be putting this out there for you because Tony is a fascinating character. For those of you who don’t know him, he has consulted or advised leaders including Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Margaret Thatcher, and Mother Theresa. He has consulted members of two royal families, US Congress, US Army, US Marines, three US Presidents including Clinton, and other celebrity clients would include names you know like Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Greg Norman - of course, the golf legend - Leonardo DiCaprio, and Oprah Winfrey, who calls him “superhuman.” The stat that always, just, sends my head spinning is that Tony has developed and produced five award-winning infomercials - that’s of course how a lot of people came to know of him - and these infomercials have continuously aired, on average every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, somewhere in North America, since - check it out - April 1989! It’s just Tony TV out there, 24/7: Insanity.
This particular conversation is broken into basically three parts: the first ‘third’ of our very long conversation involves me asking him the questions I’ve always been dying to ask him, ever since I first was exposed to his material; and I explain a lot of the background - which is kind of hilarious [laughs] - when we get started. The second ‘third’ and the third ‘third’ uh, would, of course, we talk about his daily routines, the types of questions that he asks world-class performers and so on. The latter portions of this focus on what Tony’s been researching and, and, really teasing apart and analyzing for the last, mm, ah, well several decades, but especially the last four years. And that is: how do you master the game of money? Why is there so much financial illiteracy and how do you stack the deck so that you can win, because there’s a lot of hi-jinks and there’s a lot of nonsense out there. How do you actually invest? What do you do with your money? And it’s a huge topic but he has interviewed - and in fact, coached - some of the most unbelievable minds in the world of finance and investing. I couldn’t believe the list, uh, including people like Paul Tudor Jones, Ray Dalio: who is of course, a, a whiz in the world of hedge funds, and, uh, the, the list is unbelievable. Carl Icahn, David Swensen, who turned $1 billion into - I think - $23 billion for Yale. Some curious characters like Mark “Doctor Doom” Faber, Sir John Templeton, Kyle Bass, who became very very famous for, in effect, predicting and shorting, uh, the, the subprime crisis; or at least he made his fortune - one of his fortunes - in seeing that through, through the looking glass. These are, these are the Navy SEALs, the [laughs] the top of the top, and he’s been able to ask them just about everything that you would want to ask them.
And a lot of what Tony’s gonna say is controversial or counter-intuitive. No doubt you’ll disagree with some of what he says, but I guarantee you: even if you don’t care about investing or you think you don’t care about investing - and by the way, if you’ve decided not to think about investing, that is a decision in investing - I guarantee that if you listen to this entire conversation, which I plan to listen to over and over, and it has a lot of information that you will take away at least one or two things from Tony, that lead you to say “Holy Shit; I’ve never looked at that aspect of my life that way!” and it’ll turn things upside-down, and you will walk away with a completely different lens through which you can look at how you’re living, how you’re handling your business. And I think you will find tremendous value from this single interview.
So, I will leave it at that. You know, I don’t want to oversell it; I will say that - for me - uh, Tony can be an intimidating guy just in sheer size. He’s a big dude, uh, and he can actually palm my entire face and now we have a photograph of that [laughs] that I’ll share but I get into that in the interview. Uh, he’s also a very seasoned pro, and I have a lot of respect for him. So it takes me five or ten minutes, I’d say; yeah, let’s just say ten minutes, to find my feet in this interview. When we hit our stride, then all sorts of gems come out. And there’s a lot of good material in the beginning, but give it some time; be patient. Listen to this whole thing, it is worth your time. So without further ado - I think I’ve had too much Laughing Coyote Tea - here’s Tony Robbins!
Alright Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Tim Ferriss. Welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss Show! I have a very exciting episode for you and a very exciting guest: mister Tony Robbins. Tony, thank you for having you in your home, of all places!
I’m glad to be home! [Laughs] That’s a rare thing, much less to have you here. Grateful to have you here as well!
And we have many different topics; I have many different questions I’d love to delve into. Of course, I - perhaps unbeknownst to a lot of my fans - have a long history with Tony Robbins [laughs] but not in person, this is the first. And for those of you who don’t know some of the background, when I first graduated from school and moved to Silicon Valley to chase the billions that seemed - just, that they were being handed out in ‘99 -
[laughing] they were in ‘99!
In 1999, they were in a way! I was driving a hand-me-down, beat-up green minivan from my mom. Uh, the seats got stolen from inside - or at least the back - so all my co-workers started, uh, harassing me and calling it “The Molester Mobile.” And, the, the job, the company, didn’t seem to be a long-term fit for me and when I was on a road trip at one point, I bought Personal Power. It may have been Personal Power 2. And I started listening to it to and from work on my commute - which is terrible - for those who don’t know the Bay Area. If you’re on 101 between San Jose and S.F. it’s, uh, horrible. And ultimately, that was one of the catalysts for me starting my first company.
Wow. I’m really touched there, knowing all that you’ve done, that really touch, touches me completely ‘cause you’ve been an inspiring character to me!
Um, not the Four Hour Workweek, ‘cause I don’t - I’m looking for the Four Hour Sleep Week at this stage! I’d like to be able to pull that one off! [Laughs] Oh, but, but, really, I think the, the way you attack subjects - and that’s what you do: you don’t look at ‘em. You go after mastery of them. And the way you experiment and the way you constantly dig underneath to find the organizing principles, I feel a kinship with you. Uh, we’re in different stages of life and things like that, but I have enormous respect for you. And, I don’t feel that way about everybody - I like everybody - but I don’t respect everybody. You deserve the respect, uh ‘cause you go deep. Most people are, really, they, they are surface-level in what they do. So, um, I decided to chat with you and see what could come out of this conversation.
Thank you, for sure. I have, of course, a bunch of self-interested questions that I think will also be interesting to other folks, hopefully. Uh, but what’s always impressed me about your entire career and the results that you’ve achieved is, uh, how far you’ve been able to take it in terms of working with, say, the top one percent of performers in the world. And, uh, I, I read in your, your new book - which everyone should take a look at; we’ll be delving into it a lot more as we progress in the interview - but, uh, there was a quote from, uh, uh, Mister Benioff of Salesforce, and, who credits you with, effectively: “If there were no Tony Robbins, there would be no Salesforce.com.”
That’s a pretty big claim to make. I think he might have totally exaggerated, but he kind of walked me through this. It started very much like you: him, uh, on the freeway in Silicon Valley every day, listening.
And you get these, uh, you’re able to, uh, reach such a high caliber of individual. When you meet with such people, whether they’re presidents, athletes like Serena Williams, Agassi, actors like Hugh Jackman, whoever it might be. Uh, Benioff’s quote was “Tony said to me that the quality of my life was the quality of my questions.” So what I would be curious to know is: when you meet with these top performers, where do you start? What are the questions that you ask them?
Well, I, I ask questions before I meet them. The question I wanna ask before I meet them is: Who are they? What are they made of? What are they after? What’s preventing them from getting it? Where are their wounds? What is their deepest pride - not in a negative way - like what are they proud of? Try to find out as much as I can in advance so that I can be really effective and efficient when I meet them. When you meet somebody - yourself, myself - the most valuable thing we have is our time. So I try to be beyond respectful of that. But also, I load my brain with all the distinctions I can so that when I enter into an interaction with someone, I’m more engaged. I have a disproportionate amount of information, ideas, insights, wisdom available to me - and then I can react to what’s really happening in this moment. So I have what I think in advance and then I have what the moment shows me. And I, I, I, I think a blend of that is really valuable because in the moment, people can show up in all kinds of ways.
Somebody can show up: the meanest person can be kind in the moment. The kindest person can be very mean in the moment! So I really, I like, I like to grab both those and then what I wanna do when I meet them is: I wanna try and understand what is it that they really need, not only what they want.
Um, because what you want - I’m sure you’ve experienced this - I have, in my life, gotten what you want and then you’re like “Is that…”
“… all there is?” You know, it’s like “What the hell?” Um, because what really makes us fulfilled as human beings is what we need, and there’s only so many needs. So I dig under what the needs are, I look at what’s their model of the world, how they approach meeting those needs. And every model has limitations and challenges; mine, yours, anybody’s. And so, that tells me before I even meet them where the real challenge is. And then I listen for what the surface challenge is. And my goal is solve the surface challenge, but also give them more what they bargained for, solve the deeper challenge. And ultimately, my goal is that they have a greater quality of life. Most people I work with have an extraordinary quality of life; they may not realize it, they may have forgotten it, they may have lost track of it. Um, unless I’m dealing with somebody - which I also deal with - who’s, you know, coming back from Afghanistan with PTSD and they’ve got light sensitivity and they can’t sleep at night, they wake up in cold sweats, and they’re shaking while they’re talking to me. That’s a different game - boom! You know, that’s something that’s gotta be dealt with in a different way.
But when you’re dealing with peak performers, their challenges are usually: they’re hungry for more. Right? That’s the nature of probably people listening to this. They’re gonna listen to Tim Ferriss, they’re gonna be listening for more. So it’s like:”Give me something beyond what everybody else is talking about.” And then you’re always seeking to try and find that by not limiting it to yourself, same as myself. Let’s go find whoever’s best in these areas and let’s pull it together and let’s find the organizing principles that codify this.
So, I’m looking to figure out, you know, what is that “more” that they want? And, or, what is it that’s stopping them? And then I, I go into the experience and just absorb what’s there. And the combination of the two is how I’m able usually to get pretty extraordinary results. But without the prep - what most people don’t know about me is the level of prep I do.
Like, I can get up and, with my pinky, do six days in a row without, you know, a no turning of that nature at this stage. That’s not intelligence, that’s experience. That’s like 40,000 hours, not 10,000 hours, you know, over the years [Laughs]. But, um, I still prep ‘cause I, what I do is that I activate my nervous system and that knowledge base of what I wanna be able to serve somebody with. I try to bring that to the surface so it’s readily available. It’s the difference between emotional intelligence and what I call emotional fitness. Emotional intelligence the c- intellignece is the capability to deliver something. Fitness is the readiness to be able to make that happen. So I, I’m more interested in being emotionally fit or being emotionally fit for that person in the moment.
And when you, when you interact with people, for instance, Paul Tudor Jones - legendary investor and trader..
..or Agassi, or anyone who’s at the peak of their game and suddenly enters a slump:
Uh, what are the commonalities, if any, that you’ve spotted in the best of the best who then cease for a period of time being the best of the best? What triggers that type of down slope?
Well, everybody’s got different triggers. There’s some common patterns: one pattern is doing so well that you go beyond your vision. And, uh, you know, it’s the astronaut syndrome, you know: what do you do, uh, when you’ve, you know, you’re thirty-one years old, you, you flew to the top of the mountain, been on top: literally looked back at the Earth and saw the picture we’ve all seen photographed, come back, shake the President’s hand, have the ticker tape parade. Okay, now what do you do with the rest of your life?
And so, what most of those astronauts, if you know their histories, they went through some really tough times: some were alcoholics, some got addicted to prescription drugs.
And so, I.. you know, in some cases, that’s where I enter people’s worlds. Its: they’ve done so well, they’ve called the market, you know, almost hour by hour a week in advance. And they made more money in a day than most people have ever dreamed of when everybody else lost their shirt, and everybody just wants to know what to do. “Okay, I’ve done that. Now what do I do after I’ve called the market during the worst day in history?” You know, most people lose momentum then, or they get distracted ‘cause it’s like: we need something to go for. We all need what I call a compelling future: something that will get us up early and keep us late and excite us - at least, in the nature of the high performer. And if you don’t have that, life feels very dead for those people.
And so, um, you know, the President of the United States. I remember Bill Clinton saying to me; I was with him in Aspen, and, um, I was there at a fundraiser and he asked me to come visit him. And he threw me in the car and said “Come down the hill with me.” It was one of those serene moments: and you know, lights are flashing, I come down Red Mountain in Aspen, if you know the area. And he’s sitting across from me - and [this is] right after the Blue Dress Incident had come out - and, uh, he says: “Tony,.” And he was just like: “I’m still so young!” He said, you know: “What am I gonna do when I leave?” You know? “What am I gonna do in my fifties?” [Laughs] It’s just the wildest thing. I said: “If I were you, I’d get the hell out quick!” Because he was talking about, you know: “I’d run a third time if I could.” And I was teasing him about it. But he found a compelling future and Bill Clinton today has something even greater in his life that he’s going for.
So, the slump shows when people outrun their vision, or the slump can show when they meet their vision but it’s not fulfilling, or the slump shows when people just end up, uh, developing some patterns they’re unaware of that cost them. And this can be such a small thing with an athlete, that can occur. Um, and sometimes it shows like a Tiger Woods when something happens in their emotional life and while they try to say “I’m an athlete here and I’m a human being over there.” They don’t separate.
And so what I gotta do in those situations, regardless of what triggered it, is I’ve gotta come in and get them to re-anchor in their nervous system what made them so effective. And you understand myelin, the idea that the more you do something, the more you wire yourself. It’s like the myelin - the, the white portion of the brain. It, it’s almost like using - if I do something over and over again, I literally wire myself with this myelin. I’m, it’s like having high-speed, you know, cable in there, whatever the appropriate - I don’t know what it is anymore - what high-speed really is these days, the proper term, but, versus, you know, having dial-up. If you do something over and over again you can [snaps fingers] process so much more rapidly. So I will find what- where’s that myelin in that person? What specific pattern will hook them back up again to that part of their brain where it’s effortless - to that part of the brain where they’re in-state, and they don’t even think?
You know Andre Agassi, he was, decades and decades ago, he’d been Number One in the world and all of a sudden he’d dropped - I don’t know what it was - number nineteen or something at that stage, it’s like ‘90, ‘91, ‘92, whenever it was. And um, and nothing worked - and nothing worked because he kept working on his swing and he kept working on his wrist. And he was really upset with his father, who was his coach - there was all these dynamics going, nobody wants to talk about it. He was actually to the point, he shared later on, that he was thinking about quitting, you know, playing the game. This was very early in his career: and, you know, he’d gotten injured, and, and Andre was very frustrated. And Brooke Shields brought him to me - they were just dating at that time - and he said “I don’t need positive thinking.” [She said] “You know what? Tony’s not positive thinking; he’s gonna show you these strategies.” So he comes to me, I sit down with him, and I said, I said: “Andre..” he’s telling me about how he’s doing this, and I said: “Think about a time you hit the tennis ball perfectly.” I said: “Don’t think about it, go to it.” I got him in state, got him kind of in that place where the myelin’s being fired off. And then I said to him: “Okay, you feel that? You feel that?” [Andre] “Yeah.” I said: “Were you thinking about your wrist?” He says: “No.” I said: “Now how the hell would you think you would ever get back to that peak performance, focusing on your wrist?” Right? So I’ve gotta get them back into the pattern that made it work. And then, oftentimes, I’ve gotta help them resolve some other issue that’s distracting them that is something else in their life that’s pulling, pulling them apart from peak performance.
His story is an amazing one. Uh, Open, the autobiography
Isn’t it wild? It’s wild.
It’s one of the best I’ve ever read. Uh, it’s such a fantastic book.
To, so… Looking at the longevity of your career, the, the, the, scope and scale of, uh, the the Tony Robbins Empire, so to speak..
Uh, the s- your s- your endurance has really impressed me. And so I’m wondering, after these decades, what are your, some of your daily routines, for instance: what do you typically eat for breakfast, if it’s up to you?
Yeah. I have salad and fish; it’s like standard. I’m boring as hell. Um, because I just know it’s fuel. Um, that, and I, before I met my wife - we’ve been together for more than fifteen years - um, I was completely anal. I was like: I hadn’t had chocolate, I hadn’t had ice cream in, like, fifteen years. Right, and I was just, just crazy! And then she came into my life, and I’ll never forget. I thought: “God, this woman’s incredible! She’s a phlebotomist, she does the blood, she’s an acupuncturist, she’s a nutritionist.” We’re having these green drinks, and we had this lunch, and that’s where she ordered a hot fudge sundae. And I thought: “What in the hell are you doing?” and she goes: “Living, you bastard!”
[Laughing] So she loosened my ass up just a bit, which was great, because I loved her. So I, uh, you know, she calls it ‘zigging and zagging’ - we zig, zig, zig, and then she zags, or we zag. Um, and when I was first with her, I was like: “You’re zag-“ we were travelling through Europe, you know, Rome, Italy, and, and, uh, you know, various parts of, of France, the south of France. And I was like, you know: “You seem to be zagging everyday!” And she goes: “Well, I’m on vacation!” And, and then later on, we were traveling. She was talking about - I said: “You know what the problem is: we’re always traveling so you’re always on vacation!” But she’s fit as hell, in great shape, but I, I’m fish, fish and, and, and salad. I’m um, I’m um, you know, uh, high greens, you know, protein type of guy; very low carbs. Um and my, but my regimen is that I start with something to strengthen and jolt my nervous system every frickin’ day. I will sometimes ease into it, I’ll go in the hot pools. And, you know, I’m fortunate to have multiple homes, my home in Sun Valley, I have natural hot pools that come out of the ground: just steaming hot. And I go in the hot pools and then I go there in the river. Here, I go in a 57-degree, uh, you know, plunge pool that I have. And I have one in every home I have.
This would be immediately upon waking up?
Waking up. Because it’s just like - boom! - every cell in your body wakes up. And it’s also just like training my nervous system to rock. That there is no, I don’t give a shit how you feel, this is how you perform. Right? This is what you do. Even when I’m taking a vacation, I do it. It’s just - I don’t know - now, I like it. It’s, uh, I like that, that simple discipline that reminds me the level of strength and intensity that’s available at any moment. Even if I’m relaxing, I can bring that up, at will; it’s myelin! Uh, I also have a cryotherapy unit in all my homes. Have you tried cryotherapy?
Do you know what it is?
Uh, maybe you could.. [laughs]
I can put the two words together and probably get -
Oh my God! With all that you do, you’re gonna love this! I’m surprised, I’m, I’m glad I’m teaching Tim Ferriss something for the first time.
I’ve done ice baths, though.
Ice baths suck. Ice baths suck, trust me. I’m onstage and on the weekend - I do my Unleash the Power Within program: three days, it’s fifty hours.
If you’ve never been to an event, I, you know what? You gotta come as my guest to an event sometime.
I would love to.
The, uh, but I’m gonna give you an idea. People won’t sit for a three-hour movie that somebody spent $300 million on and I’ve got like, Usher or Oprah going on like, you know: “Tony, I love you but two hours is the most I can do.” And twelve hours later, you know, Oprah’s standing on her chair going: “This is the most incredible experience of my life!” on camera. And Usher’s like: “Dude, I’m in for all three days!” But for me, one of those days alone, I’m, I, you know, I wear an odometer, and I’m - a Fitbit - and it’s 26 1/2 miles on average.
We start at 8:30 in the morning, I finish at 1:30 or 2. There’s one 1-hour break. People can vote with their feet, no-one leaves. You know, there’s on average twenty minutes of just crazy-ass standing ovations, music, stuff that happens at the end. ‘Cause people are just, it’s like a rock concert, it’s so much fun. But the wear and tear of doing, you know, basically marathon after marathon after marathon on the weekend, back to back, it’s pretty intense! And so, over the years, like the inflammation on my body, the demands I’ve had to do everything I can to reduce it. Nothing has come close to cryotherapy. Cryotherapy was developed in Poland, in Eastern Germany, uh, and the Eastern Bloc countries. And what it does is: it uses nitrogen, so there’s no water. And unlike an ice bath, which you do and you know, you get spasms and you gotta do them still, right? If you’re a boxer, or you’re a runner, or you’re an athlete, uh, which is what I would do before. Hated them. There’s no, none of that process, but it reduces your body temperature to -220 Fahrenheit. And you do it three minutes and it’s mind-boggling. Um, in fact, I have one here and I’ll throw you in at the end, if you want to get the experience.
I would love to, that’d be great!
You’ll love it. I have a unit here, I’ll do it for you. Um, but what it does is, and I do it three times about a week, usually - uh, and when I, when I come back from an event, I do it, you know, a couple days in a row. And what it does is it takes all the inflammation out of your body, and you know what inflammation does to every aspect of the body, the breakdown. Um, but it also, it s- it sends emergency signals to your brain, it’s like re-setting your neurological system. ‘Cause your brain’s going: “You’re gonna freeze to death.” It sounds horrific, it really isn’t: you’ll out find it’s not that painful. Going in my cold plunge at 57 degrees feels more jolting than this does, even though it’s co- even though it’s colder, ‘cause, you know, the fluid of water versus the nitrogen is different.
Right, the conductivity.
Um, the conductivity, exactly right. And so, but what happens is, uh, your nervous system gets this signal, so it’s like everything in your body connects, ‘cause it’s like an emergency. Every part - it’s a reset of your nervous system. You get an explosion of endorphins in your body, which is really cool. So you get this natural high, you feel this physiological transformation, and you get the reduction of inflammation. What it was used for originally is for people with arthritis. And I found my first one ‘cause my mother in law was calling up and she was just crying in pain, and no medication was enough for her and I hate somebody medicated anyway. And so, I started doing all this research and it just started coming to the U.S. And now, the L.A. Lakers, most football teams, its, it’s spreading like wildfire amongst the sports teams. Um, and so, that’s where it took off. So I went and got her one, and, I mean, it took her I think three sessions, and she’s out of pain. And now, there’s not a day she’s in pain. Now most people can’t afford to go buy a unit, but there are local places now that are popping up all over the United States, where athletes go, where people go, where people go for rejuvenation, it’s amazing for the skin. Um, but it, it’s one of the greatest things, I got it for her, so I got it for me, and then now I’m addicted. So I’ve got one every- in three minutes!
What type of unit, do you know the, the actual model and the brand that you use?
Uh, yeah. There’s two of them that’s the best out there. It’s… um, what is it? Java? I, I’ll - Junka? J-u-n-k-a, I think it is. (Note: It’s actually JUKA) I, I’ll get it for you when we go downstairs.
And I’ll put it in the show notes for those of you-
Yeah, if anybody wants to do it. But also like, if you’re in L.A. there’s, there’s a place there on, um… well, I’ll give it to you, put it in your notes, couple of the locations there, there’s some great guys. I’m getting another unit, this is a brand new home so, um, and I’m building a, a- you know, an additional guest house and additional sized gym and so forth. I’m getting a unit, though, that’s better. This one, it just goes up to your neck. And, but I’m getting one that encloses you, a full room. And the reason is, uh, about seventy percent of your nerves receptors are from the neck up, so when you step into one of those, it’s even more powerful. But other than that, I haven’t been doing much unique or different with my life. [Laughs]
[Laughs] I don’t believe that entirely. I’ll keep digging. But, uh, the… So you have the either the sort of contrast therapy that you mentioned, the hot-cold, the cryotherapy, you have salad and fish.
How far after - so, what is the, if you were to kind of spec out the first hour of your day?
Well, the first, the first, everyday. Um, I do the water, I take in the environment, and then the first thing I do before I do anything else in my day is I, I do what I call ‘priming.’ And priming to me is, uh, different than meditating; I’ve never been really a meditator per se, I know the value of it, but the idea for me of sitting still and having no thoughts just didn’t really work out for me [laughs] I’m just a pain in the ass. I just thought: “It’s not natural!” Right, it’s like, that’s what works. But, when I’m in nature, I feel that form of meditation. When I stand on stage and someone stands up, in my brain [clap] it’s done. I don’t even know what it is, but if a person’s suicidal - I’ve never lost a suicide, for example, in - you know, thirty-seven years. Knock on wood, doesn’t mean I won’t someday, but I never have out of thousands, and we’ve followed up with them. So it’s like, there’s something that comes through me. You know, it’s, and, and it’s quite meditative, it’s like I experience it as a witness, you know, afterwards. It’s, it’s one of the most beautiful gifts of my life. Um, so I know that meditation. Um, but for me, what priming is, if you wanna be - have a prime life, you gotta be in a prime state. And, uh, you know, weeds grow automatically. I don’t give a damn what it is. My teacher Jim Rohn used to say that. And so what I do is I get up and I do a very simple process. I do an explosive change in my physiology, I’ve done the water already, right, cold-hot. And then I do it with breath. Because, as I’m, um, I know, you know, all forms of Eastern meditation all understand that, that the mind is the kite, and breath is the string. So if I wanna move that kite, I move the breath. So I have a specific pattern of breathing that I do. I do thirty of these breaths. Um, and I do ‘em in three sets of thirty, and that creates a profound physiological difference in my body. And from that altered state, I usually listen to some music, and, um, and I go for - I promise myself ten minutes, and I usually go for thirty.
And you do that in this room that we’re sitting in, or?
Uh, no, I do it all over - this one room is where I do it, it’s got a great vibe, I’ll do this when I do it at night: I usually will go outside ‘cause I love the wind on my face, and I love to take in the elements and so forth. But I do it in multiple places, I’m on the road: I do it. Doesn’t matter what day. I always - I do not miss priming. The reason is: I’m not - you don’t get fit by getting lucky. You don’t get fit by working out for a weekend. You know, you’ve lived your life that way. Fitness is ‘cause it’s… becomes just part of who you are. So what I do during that time is I do three simple things. I do it, minimum ten minutes. Three minutes of it is just me feeling, getting back inside my body and outside of my head. Feeling the earth and my body, the experience, and then feeling totally grateful for three things. And I make sure that one of them is something very, very simple: the wind on my face. You know, the reflection, the clouds that I just saw, there. But I don’t just think gratitude; it’s like, I let gratitude fill my soul. Um, because when you’re grateful, as we all know, there’s no anger. It’s impossible to be angry and grateful simultaneously. When you’re, when you’re grateful, there is no fear; you can’t be fearful and grateful simultaneously. So, it’s, it’s a, I think it is one of the most important power emotions of life, and also to me, there’s nothing worse than an angry rich man or woman. You know, somebody who’s got everything and they’re pissed off. I wanna slap ‘em.
Surprisingly high number of those.
It is, because they, they develop a life that’s based on expectation instead of appreciation.
And I, I tell people: “You wanna change your life faster, then trade your expectation for appreciation and you have a whole new life.” So every day, I anchor that in, and I do it very deeply and emotionally. Then the second three minutes I do is a total focus on feeling, um, presence of God, if you will. However you wanna language that for yourself, but this inner presence coming in and feeling that heals everything in my body, in my mind, my emotions, my relationships, you know, my finances. I see it as solving anything that needs to be solved. I experience the strengthening of my gratitude, of my joy, of my strength, of my conviction, of my passion, and, and I just let those things happen spontaneously. And then I focus on celebration and then service, ‘cause my whole life is about service: that’s what makes me feel alive. So I flood myself with that, with a breathing pattern that I take that does the opposite: takes the breath down through my body and back up again. And then the last three minutes are me focusing on three things I’m gonna make happen: my Three to Thrive. And I have some big things that I’ll do, sometimes I’ll do things that are smaller, but I see them, feel them, experience them. So it’s a really simplistic process: it’s ten minutes, but I come out of it in my power, and it doesn’t matter if I had two hours of sleep, I’m now ready. You know, and it doesn’t… And I do this even when I have no sleep. I, that’s how committed I am. As I say, I’ve always said: “There’s no excuse not to do ten minutes. If you don’t have ten minutes, you don’t have a life.”
And that’s how I got myself to do it. And now that I’ve done it, you know, twenty to thirty minutes is almost always what it is, ‘cause it actually feels extraordinary.
And where can people learn more about the breathing pattern, or could you describe it?
I’m putting a link online ‘cause I just started to share this just recently, and I’ll get it for you. I don’t know what it is off the top of my head, but it’ll be up shortly, I think this week.
Okay, awesome. And, uh, I will also put that in the show notes, guys. So that’s just fourhourworkweek.com/podcast and you’ll be able to find this episode. Uh, on the - I have to ask, what type of music do you usually listen to during this?
Uh, I have a variety. But for that meditation, I have one in particular which is Oneness Meditation, that a friend of mine made it - who’s from India - that I find really profound, it has, um, no, uh, singing or anything just like that, it’s just the sound of a vibration that’s going on, and, and I just love it. But that’s what I’m doing currently; in the past, over the years, I’ve used all different kinds of peace music, but I don’t use modern music or pop music or rock music, I use that to work out. You know, rap; um, I dunno, it just feels weird to be doing rap while you’re meditating.
[Laughs] But again, what’s different is I don’t look at it as meditation, ‘cause I look at it as it’s priming courage, love, joy, it’s priming gratitude, it’s priming strength, it’s priming accomplishment, it’s priming - you know, when I’m doing my gratitude piece and I’m doing the circle of who’s closest to me, and you know, circling that out to everybody I love, and sending that energy and healing out to them as well. So, to me, that’s - if you want prime time life, you gotta prime daily.
Well, I like that; I like the term ‘priming’ also because I think that most people who struggle with meditation or even attempt to use meditation are utilizing it for that purpose, they’re doing this in the morning.
And you know, when you said: “If you don’t have ten minutes, you don’t have a life.” it reminded me of something that Russell Simmons said to me, which was: “If you don’t have thirty minutes to meditate, you need three hours.”
[Laughs] And I don’t always do thirty minutes, but I do meditate in the morning, and it’s been a very consistent pattern through, among all of the people that I’ve interviewed so far on the podcast.
Really? Wow, that’s wonderful.
Practically 100 percent. Uh, and of course, uh, we’ll, we’ll get to Ray Dalio but, also a very avid meditator.
He’s coming with me to India in a couple of weeks.
That’ll be an amazing trip, I’m sure.
For a week of this experience.
Uh, so the… When people hear the name “Tony Robbins” I think many different people have different assumptions or images, uh, in their heads. What are the biggest misconceptions or the biggest misconception about you?
[Sighs] Oh my God. I mean, there’s so many, right? Depends on who you talk to. You know, uh, when you’ve been in the culture at any level for any period of time, people put their projections out to what you are, and then also you know I didn’t help myself: I did infomercials for a period of time. [laughs]
But you know, I didn’t wanna do infomercials, it was just: I had these insights and skill sets, and I didn’t have it. If I was a great singer - which I’m clearly not - um, there was a distribution channel, right? I could do that and if I wasn’t bullshitting myself, I could rock the world. But in my world, it was write a book - which most people don’t read - um, go do some speeches, so I looked around and saw these silly-ass infomercials, and I said: “These guys are a disaster!” Tommy Vu, come be on my boat and watch me get these women, and I’m rich! And I’m like: “Oh my God, this is disgusting!” So I thought: you know, if you really did something that was real, and the kind of people I reach, I don’t have to pay for endorsements, they’ll do it. You know, maybe people start to understand this is real, and maybe it’ll help me reach people, and it did! It got me Bill Clinton, it got me Princess Diana; it got me, I mean it got me a pretty amazing group of people at that stage. But also, you’re known by the company you keep. So, when you’re between spray-on hair and, you know, you know, whatever, fake diamonds, you know…
..then you’re, you know, you’re seen as that. And also, I talk fast: I’m a passionate son of a bitch, and so I’m not talking fast ‘cause I’m trying to sell something, I’m talking fast ‘cause my brain functions that speed! [snaps fingers] Right, that’s how my brain goes! Slowing it down is just so boring to me: the faster I go, the stronger my brain becomes, the quicker I come to solutions. So, you know, when I’m most excited and I wanna serve people, it speeds up. So it helps when you’ve got a room of people where you can move and modulate that energy, but when you’re seeing someone on T.V. and they look like they’re a crazy son of a bitch and they’re 6 ft. 7 and they’ve got hands bigger than your head…
…you start going, you know: “Who is this guy?” The people that have actually, like yourself or Marc Benioff or, you know, President Clinton or whoever, who’ve, uh, you know, actually entered into my work: once they enter into my work, they go: “Oh my God, this is very different.” So I think most people think I’m an infomercial guy, or a salesman, or a motivator, I mean I hate the word “Motivator.” It is the bane of my existence. Um, ‘cause I’ve never been that. I’ve never, I don’t believe you should just go pump yourself up. I believe in intelligence, I believe: “see things as they are.” If you can’t see them as they are, you can’t lead. Right? But don’t see it worse than it is, so you’ve got an excuse not to try. That’s what most people do: they make it much worse than it is, ‘cause they’re afraid of failing, so they come up with a reason why, a story why it’s not there. And I don’t tolerate that shit; I’m not the guy that says: “There’s no weeds, there’s no weeds.” I’m the guy who goes: “Lemme show you where the goddamn weeds are and let’s pull these sonuvabitches out right now and stop bullshitting. Let’s do it, you and I! I’ll do it with you!” That’s my approach; I think most people think it’s a pump-up approach because, you know, the media sees ten thousand people in a room and they’re jumping up and down. And, you know, you know: “what is this piece?”
That’s because I believe that learning - I believe what I do for people at its essence, when I do events is “E-cubed” them. E-cubed is, I entertain them first: because people in our society wanna be educated, but they’d much rather be entertained. So if I can rock you and get you to have an experience where you feel fully alive, then, and it doesn’t matter who you are, you’re, you know, you’re from any stage of life, any socioeconomic background, then I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna be able to have your education go deeper. And then, so that’s the second part: I give you the best education, the best tools. And the third one is I empower you while you’re in this state, I get you to do things that you won’t forget. Do things that will be in your body. Do things that create momentum. So I think this conception, or at least my perception is: they don’t realize that I’m really a strategist. I consider you a strategist; I know you’re inspirational and everything else, but - being inspiring is nice. You know, it’s like motivation, there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s like warm baths: you should take one or you stink. You know?, But, uh, but that’s not enough!
It’s never been what I’m about. But, you know, most people in our society are, are interesting that it’s like: if you’re looking to improve yourself - people in our world think that’s natural. The average person’s like: “What’s wrong with you?” I remember I took a company public when I was, what, thirty-nine years old? I had a really wonderful hit: $400 million - extraordinary! And the man who ran my company, who’d been the former , uh, CEO of CBS; brilliant guy, brilliant guy, Peter. And Peter at one point, while we’re in the midst of this company, he said: “I wanna go to Harvard and I wanna take this extension course.” You know, very wealthy guy, head of one of the largest networks in the world, and now heading up my company. And I remember three or four people, like: “Why? What’s the matter? Why’s he doing that? Has he lost his edge?” It’s like versus: life is growth, baby! If you don’t keep growing, you’re gonna die! And you know, most people are afraid of the unknown: they’re afraid of “I’m not looking good, I’m afraid to fail.” And so, that creates a challenge. But so I think the answer to your question is: they don’t know that I’m a strategist, they don’t know how much I really care, they have no clue the depth of what I teach or the diversity of what I teach, subject to your body, your mind, your emotions, relationships, your finances. Um, they don’t know the real impact, or they don’t know who I really work with. The assumption is: “He’s taking over weak people’s minds, and pumping them up, and giving ‘em all…”
Casting spells upon them!
I mean, that’s crazy shit. But, I’m not here to try and dispel that. What I try to do, the reason I’m still here is: the more people you touch, the more you reach, I don’t have to do that. The people who’ve been to my events have been the greatest people to balance that out. In social media, it’s been really wonderful because people say: “This is what this guy is.” and twelve other people go: “You’ve never had an experience, let me tell you what this really is about.” And that’s really been a wonderful, um, an enhancement to my ability to reach people, social media.
And I, just to reiterate something you said about inspiration being necessary but not sufficient, I think that - like you - having the label, sort of “Motivation” or “Motivaitonal Speaker” uh, applied to what I try to do is very, uh, frustrating, because one of the things that differentiates-
They put that label on you too?
Oh, I didn’t know that!
It’s just an easy label to throw around.
I know, it’s like: “What else you gonna call it?” [Laughs]
It’s like: “Well, I’m not gonna read the books, so I might as well find a label that I can understand.” And I was gonna say at least - you had an infomercial, but at least you weren’t selling “The Four Hour Workweek” on those infomercials. You’d have twice the level of hell that you already get!
[Laughs] So true!
But the [laughs] the, uh, the difference in your material, because I really wanted to better myself when I was hitting some very rough spots in my first year out of school. And the difference between, say Personal Power, and a lot of your other material, including the new book on money and finance and investing, which - you guys, at some point, I’ll try to share some of it with you. But I have, I would say, probably twenty to thirty printed pages of notes in Evernote.
Just on, uh, just on… I still have about fifty pages left, but it’s a big book! We’ll get to that.
I was, I felt like giving you a pat on the back. It’s like: “Oh, another 600-page book! I know how these go.”
[Laughs] Builds your biceps, this baby!
But [Laughs] you give very tactical next steps at the proper time, so you do sugar-coat the medicine a bit by capturing people’s attention. And not to make this “Glengarry Glen Ross” you know, A.I.D.A. but you have to have those elements in the proper sequence or you can’t elicit action from people.
And, uh, that’s something that you’ve had huge, uh, you’ve been very influential on my teaching, which is how I would view my writing, because of, uh, that model. And so, if you look at, say, the Four Hour Workweek is one instance, the reason that I have these Comfort Challenges at the end of each chapter is because I know I’m gonna have big asks later and I wanna condition people to take action. I think that your material’s some of the best in the world, I’ve ever seen, in that capacity.
Thank you for that. Thank you. I wanna say something about what you said, ‘cause it’s really important to me. You’re one of the few people I’ve heard actually notice it. And I’ve noticed it in your work; I didn’t know it was influenced by me in any way. I’m complimented by that, but I think you probably would have got there on your own, just by the nature of your thinking. “The dog bit Johnny, Johnny bit the dog.” Same exact words, different syntax, totally different experience, especially if you’re Johnny.
And people don’t realize is sometimes, when they think: “I’m thirty pounds overweight and I’ll never get this. I’ve tried everything.” Or: “Every relationship sucks. How do I end up with men or women like this?” You know: “This is my third business, and I’m still not there. I don’t see how it’s gonna happen. They don’t realize that victory is near. And the reason is: it feels like a million miles away, and they’re doing the right things but at the wrong time. Or they’re doing the wrong things [laughs] they’re doing the right things in the wrong sequence. So there’s: timing is so invaluable! Some of that, you and I know, we can’t control. Some of that’s frickin’ luck.
But the more you study, uh, how things grow, whether it be organizations, or human beings, or families, or communities, uh, or the way in which people study ontology, or the study of knowledge. There’s a sequence, and it’s like: if I know somebody’s phone number and I dial it in the wrong order, I don’t reach him. But I do that same exact ingredients in the right order, and that’s what people need very often. Often, they just need a slight twist, and they don’t know it, and they give up. And so, my, part of my passion is to help people find that two millimeters, you know, that little tiny shift that changers it all.
One of the people, I have these people that I’ve coached over the years that are the best in the world at what they do, and I’ll take on clients who I think by touching them I can touch a massive number of people. That’s how I started with Paul Tudor, twenty-one years ago. And, um, it’s turned out really well, with his Robin Hood group growing to-
Giving away a billion, two, you know, over this time, and the impact it’s had. But one of these people is one of the top, to give you an idea, facial surgeons in the world. And, uh, I remember I went to go see him one day for one of our sessions, and , uh, he was late. And I’m waiting and I’m: “No problem, I’m busy.” And the nurse says: “He’s gonna be a while.” She says he said, Doctor Hoffman said: “Why don’t you come in and watch?” And I said: “Wow. Love that!” So, you know, I get all scrubbed up, the whole thing, come in: he’s got Rock and Roll music in there and this guy is like an artist and a scientist mixed together in the most powerful blend, with a giant heart. And, I go in there, the music’s blaring, and he’s just: “Hey, Tony, how you ‘doin?” He goes: “Watch this!” And he cuts this woman’s, he lifts this woman’s face off!
Oh Jesus! [laughs]
[Laughs] and I felt a little state change. And it’s like, uh, “You know…” I stayed around for a few minutes just so, you know, put up that I can handle this shit. And I say: “You know, I got a few calls that I’ve gotta make.” I get the hell out of there. [laughs] So I go into his off- he goes: “Just use my office to make your calls.” So I’m recovering in his office going: “Holy shit!”
Puke in the basket and end up using it as, uh-
I’m not a squeamish guy, but that was, I just wasn’t prepared, right? So I’m sitting in this office and he’s entered this stage of life where, you know. This is a guy, the Sultan of Brunei paid $2 million to fly him over, like fifteen years ago, twenty years ago, to do two of his family’s faces. This is a guy that anybody in Hollywood who had the money, in those days, there was nobody but him, the best on Earth because he’d mathematically figured out how to trigger beauty by what you and I would call sub-modalities. Like, I [inaudible] shorthand for you, an NLP term: those little triggers and the visual triggering device that affect kinesthetic change in a human being. And, um, and so I’m sitting at his desk and he’s got this manuscript. So I’m curious of this manuscript he’s working on, and he wants to finally teach other surgeons, ‘cause he sold, he doesn’t wanna [do this by] just himself anymore: he wants his material not to die. And he’s got a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty pictures of the most beautiful women in the world, the last twenty years, across culturally, around the world: stars, movie stars, different countries. And he’s got the same thing for men. And he’s got all these drawings and he’s showed that - this is ironic - he goes through and he shows that he makes no more than seven changes ever, and the biggest change he makes is 2 millimeters.
And yet, I saw an eighty-four year old woman look like she was in her early fifties and gorgeous, and that’s all the changes he made on her. I’m telling you, it’s mind-boggling. Like, for example, he knows that the measurement of the pupil of a woman’s eye, if you measure that size, and you measure the distance below your nose to the top of a woman’s lip - this is for, only for a woman. If that measurement is smaller than the pupil of their eye: men, when they look at this woman’s face, are driven and sexually attracted to her. If it’s the same size of pupil, there’s attraction. If it’s just two millimeters more, she has an average face. If it’s more than two millimeters more, her face is what he calls “Butt-ass Ugly.” That was a technical term he used at that point. [laughs] When I tell women this, they start measuring their eye, and so, so he makes this little change and it creates that puckered feeling that men don’t even know why. It’s instinctive, it’s just a triggering device; it’s instinctual. So he knows the seven, he knows the two millimeters; and I was like: “You take somebody eighty-four, fifty and looking pretty damn hot.” Maybe not to a twenty-year old, but a thirty, or fourty, or fifty year old, certainly; it’s mind boggling! So I’ve always, like, it’s like golf, right? You know, two millimeters is the difference between, you know, shanking way over here and putting it on the green. So that’s the whole thing: victory is near, but you ‘gotta know that, very often syntax is all that has to change. There’s nothing wrong with you, there’s nothing wrong with the core ingredients. Gotta sequence it differently.
Yeah. So you mentioned a few things: the first is that, uh, “Hand bigger than someone’s head or face.” I think that, for everyone listening, at some point, I would like to see if you can actually palm my face, and I’ll put that out on social media, ‘cause I’m pretty sure that you can, and I’m sure that everybody would love to see. There are probably a lot of people listening who don’t like me very much and would like to palm my face, so Tony will step in for you later. Uh, the, I’d love for you to mention a little bit about the new book. And, uh, just sort of a very basic overview and then I have a bunch of specific questions, because this is the first book in twenty years?
Twenty years. And I’ve read pretty much everything that you’ve put out that I’m aware of. And I guess part of me thought a few things when I saw that this book was related to, to money. Uh, and also referring to it as a “game” in some ways. I thought: number one, what hasn’t already been said? There’s so many books
That’s what the publisher said.
There’s so many books on money. And I think that, uh, perhaps undeservedly so - I feel like I understand a lot as it relates to investing and money. And I’ve read David Swensen. I’ve read about his allocations. I’ve read the annual letters of Warren Buffett. I, I read the letters to shareholders from people like Howard Marks or other hedge fund managers. I know some of those guys, so I saw a couple of names pop up that I recognize, and, uh, I was… and you said in the very beginning of the book, and this is… I’ve tried to do stuff like this in the past, so I realize how hard it is. You’re trying to write a book that the neophyte, someone who’s never taken their finances seriously will derive a lot of value from, and yet at the same time, you say even very sophisticated investors will be able to get a lot out of this. And I thought to myself:
He’s full of shit. [Laughs]
Oh boy. This is really talking a big game! And, uh, the, I mean, the interviews at the end of the book alone are worth magnitudes of order more than the book itself. I mean, you’ve got Bogle, you’ve got Ray Dalio, who runs, uh I believe it’s the largest hedge fund in the world?
Yeah. Largest hedge fund in the world in the world. Largest mutual fund with Bogle, hedge fund with Ray Dalio. Uh, Carl Icahn, who is, you know, Time Magazine put him on the cover as “Master of the Universe.” This is a guy that sends out one tweet and Apple goes up $17 billion in an hour.
Right? And it’s up fifty percent and now what’s happening- he was out doing it again, I don’t know if you saw.
Carl’s quite a character. Uh, yeah, no, the, two things: One, coming what you said: that’s the challenge I love. When I do my Business Mastery Programs, I bring people in from, usually somewhere between fifteen and thirty countries. I translate four, five languages, there are different financial systems, but business, the psychology and the strategies of business, it’s a worldwide game.
And, um, and so I bring people in there that are brand new. They come in like just starting a business. And you’ve got people in there like Homex: largest home builder in Mexico has been in one of my events, you know, a billion-dollar business. And I, they credit me with $750 million in increase in two years, almost doubling their business. And I take this chiropractor or this dentist that, you know, army of three, and show them how to double their business in six months. So I love that challenge of “How do you hit both?” And it’s not easy to do.
It’s very hard.
And thus far, I think we’ve pulled it off. Pulled it off primarily because of who I - It’s not me doing the teaching, it’s me going to the best on Earth and getting them. Simon and Schuster told me the same thing. Um, you know, people said: “Why didn’t you write a book in twenty years, what the hell have you been doing?” Well about every four days, I’m on an airplane…
I see a quarter of a million people a year in fifteen countries, that’s what the hell I’m doing. And I love, I live for that environment: the rawness, the aliveness, the [snapping fingers] every moment, something’s changing. You never know who’s gonna stand up, don’t know what the challenge is gonna be. I mean, that feels alive, and also: it’s just real and it’s now and if it’s not working, frickin’ change it, who cares? When I go to write, as I did twenty years ago, I’m sitting still. That first alone makes me crazy, and then number two, uh, you know, you took away my hands, my music, my voice, my face, my intensity, um, and now I’ve just got written words, which I’m clearly not as skilled at. But, when I concentrate on it, I am. But I also go: “This is immortal. I can’t improve this.” You know, it’s like once you write this shit, it’s done. So I’ve avoided it like the plague, and then also, most people don’t read, frankly.
Yeah. It’s true.
You know, they read blogs, you know? It’s like most people, I can see a generation looking at this book, it’s six hundred and, what, thirty pages, right? And it’s these seven steps: you can do a chapter a day, in thirty days, you’ve got a different financial life. That’s, or if you’re crazy like me, you’ll do it in a weekend, you know? But what’s interesting is they’ll say you know: “Why don’‘t you put this in a blog?” You know? “Why don’t you put this in a… [laughs] infographic?” Mastery doesn’t come from an infographic.
What you know doesn’t mean shit. What do you do consistently? And you gotta go through stages of like understanding intellectually, which anybody can do, but you gotta do. And you gotta get where there’s enough emotional intensity attached to that understanding that you actually do it. And you gotta give it enough consistency and both those- then it gets in your body, and you don’t have to [snaps fingers] think about it and it becomes who you are. And those stages of mastery require.. it’s like, I, uh, I took Taekwondo. I didn’t want Taekwondo, I wanted to learn Aikido, because I thought it was a beautiful art, you know? And I liked the idea that you didn’t have to hurt somebody: ten people attack you at once and it’s like: “Wonderful!” You know? So I learned some Aikido, but I had the privilege of being exposed, uh, to Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee, who brought Taekwondo to this country, and he trained Muhammad Ali, and he trained Bruce Lee in his accu-punch, and so forth; amazing history. And a beautiful man: the most happy human being you’ll ever meet. And he loved me and what I did and was touched by it, and he said: “Would you like to do this?” And I said: “Yes, but I must get my black belt, fastest time in human history. And you must come travel with me, we will do this every day.” Kind of like your insane ass!
[Laughs] Yeah, I read your book in, in two days.
[Laughs] It’s like, completely insane! So he came and I’d finished being offstage at midnight or 1 AM and then I have to go train from 1-4, and then I’d sleep from 4-7:30, three and a half hours, four hours, sometimes date if I could squeeze it, get up and do my next day. I’d do that for, you know, nine months. I did get a black belt, legitimately, in the shortest time in history, but I hated it, never wanted to do it again. But I’ll never forget, I was doing these moves, and it’s like: “Gee, it’s four in the morning. And I’m doing this same frickin’ move.” And I’m doing it over and over and over again, and I said: “Master Rhee!” And I said: “Can we go to the next move?” And he said: “Grasshopper, this is the next move.”
You know, and he started to laugh and he goes: “The fact that you think this and this is the same move is why we’re still doing it!” You know? And it’s like, and I’m like: you know what? It was really true! So I’m into mastery and so what I, I really wanna make sure happen with people is that, that we’ve got them to that place. And when I went to Simon and Schuster, crazy thing. So I’m doing these events, I’m loving this. Simon and Schuster had been begging me for a book for decades. They, huge contract and he made it bigger and bigger, and I said: “I don’t need the money! I’m not doing it for the money!” So they finally came back and I, what triggered me is I saw this documentary called Inside Job.
Did you see it?
Yeah. Matt Damon did the audio on it and it won all kinds of awards. But what’s happened - if you didn’t see it, I really recommend you see it - but I do wanna prepare you: at the end you’re either extremely pissed off, or you’re really depressed, depending on your personality, and I was pissed off. Because they show how a small number of people basically put the entire economic world at risk and, and when they put us near imploding, the punishment for that was to reward them by putting them in charge of the recovery, printing more money, and then taxing everybody else on Earth, and giving their money back. It’s just mi- it’s the, it’s the greatest thievery that’s happened in human history! And so, I thought: this is making me angry because there’s no solution. And I thought: there’s gotta be a solution. I thought: you know what, I’ve got access. The one thing, I’ve got access, ‘cause I’ve called- coached Paul for twenty-one years, and… I mean, he’s never lost money in twenty-one years, it’s mind-boggling. His company’s never lost in twenty-eight years, I was brought in when he was having a tough time to help take things to the next level, and, um, I thought: I know these people; I know this process. What if I took what the ultra-wealthy know, well I brought it in. I go to Simon and Schuster, he wanted a book forever, and the first thing he say is, “No.”
I said: “What, you can’t tell me no!” He goes: “Tony, no!” Jonathan, he’s, good brain, man: Jonathan Karp. And he’s: “Tony, you don’t wanna do this!” He goes: “People are dying for a book on peak performance from you. Dying for a book on, anything! But not finance! This category is a dead carcass.”… is what he said. “It’s been picked clean.” Same things you’re saying, it’s ironic like, so did the head of the financial division. He goes: “There’s nothing new to say.” I say: “That’s because everybody’s attacked it the same way. I’m gonna go to the people that know, not the platitudes and the same B.S.” He actually offered me a larger advance to not do a financial book, and I said: “Look. I’m not doing it for that, I’m in for this book.” And so, uh, now he’s really thrilled, which is really wonderful. In fact, the head of that division came back and said, he said: “I really thought the category was dead, and I head this division.” And he goes: “This is alive!” So I’m real proud of it. But I think what’s great about the book is there’s not a word in there that’s coming from me on the financial side. I don’t tell you my opinion; who gives a shit what my opinion is? I wanna know Ray Dalio’s opinion. I wanna know Jack Bogle’s opinion. I wanna know Carl Icahn’s opinion. I wanna know what Mary Callahan Erdoes, who’s head of J.P. Morgan and manages $2.3 trillion, with a “t” - I wanna know her opinion.
When it comes to the emotional, psychological side, yeah, I, that’s been my baby for thirty-six years. Those opinions are clearly mine and I’ll stand on them. So, I’m real proud of what it is and I think anybody who reads it will be touched, and I, I wrote it to empower readers of all types, but I also wrote it because I was looking, thinking about a vehicle for righting another wrong, in my opinion. I think the system is clearly, you know, guys, if you read Flyboys, or you talk to Michael Lewis or anybody like him, they’ll describe to you how high frequency trading today is so extreme. We’ve all heard about it, but it’s just so extreme. It takes 500 milliseconds for you to click on, you know, your E-trade, and say: “I wanna buy this stock of Apple.” And you got guys that have spent a quarter of a billion dollars to straighten the lines between Chicago and New York so they could save 1.4 milliseconds. And they’re gonna trade hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. They know you’re going after Apple, they know what to do, they make money in little micro-profits. One of the HFT groups was gonna go public last year, so they had to do their filings. Do you know how many losing days they had in four years?
I do not.
One losing day in four years. It’s front-running! So the system’s rigged, but even though it’s rigged, you can still win! That’s why I wrote this book. I want you to know you can still win and here’s how to win and here’s the people showing you how to win so I wanna right that wrong, and I wanted people to have an advocate, but I also am pretty passionate about taking care of people that society’s forgotten, and I decided - initially - I wanted to, like raise my game. They cut $8.7 billion dollars in food stamps last summer. Most people don’t even notice it. It’s the equivalent of every family who’s being supported going without food for one week out of the month for twelve straight months. And I’ve been supporting, I’ve, and you know, my family was fed when I was eleven years old, I had no food. Family, this man came by and delivered a turkey and food and he was just the delivery guy; changed my life. It made me believe strangers cared, so I cared about strangers. So I’ve been paying it forward and I fed forty-two million people in thirty-seven years. This year, I’m gonna feed fifty million people. And myself, personally, I’d started with: “I’m gonna advance the book, I’m not gonna wait and sell books and see how it goes.” So I’m just gonna advance it all now, it was like: “I don’t, I don’t wanna do ten million, I wanna do twenty million, and then thirty.” So now, I’m doing fifty million, and I’m getting matching funds, I have Feeding America delivering the food, and I’ve got matching funds targeting a hundred million people this year alone. And then I’m putting in a system in place to sust- to sustain that. So, doing this book has been opening up doors to thinking larger ‘cause when you’re sitting with Carl Icahn, and he goes: “Yeah, I just closed a deal today, I made $2 billion.” Two billion, the day I was there. After only eighteen months of investment, where he’d put in, I forgot the number he started with, it was a small number, um, in Netflix.
He made it that day. And he’s now putting all his money in Apple and does a little tweet, and seventeen billion of value goes up, right away. Uh, or you’re sitting with Kyle Bass, who took thirty million and turned it into two billion in two years in the middle of the subprime crisis!
Good at the short game.
He’s telling me did it and it’s like Holy Cow! I, I started to learn things so it changes the scale of your thinking. So anyway I’m babbling here is two things: yes, I think this truly - if you give yourself the gift of this book, it’s a category breaker, but, uh, it’ll show you step-by-step how to go from where you were to where you wanna be. If you’re highly advanced, you’re gonna learn out of the fifty-five, plus - I say fifty, but it’s really fifty-five plus - Nobel laureates, self-made billionaires, hedge fund guys, biggest in the world. I’ve put the twelve biggest in the book, and, you know, I’m one of these guys with, uh, the promise of a forty-five minute interview and my average one was three hours, so I know how you function, ‘cause I do the same thing.
Uh, but what really cool was, like, you know what you get with Carl, I get there with Carl and first thing he does is he throws the video crew out. I was like: “Carl, what, what’s the deal?” I’d never met him before, and he’s like: “No, I said video crew, I’m gonna, I’ve just changed my mind.” I go: “Okay, uh, how do we do the interview? We’ll do the audio.” “No, I don’t want the audio.” “No audio! How am I gonna do this interview?”
He says: “Just take your pencil and your pen. Get over here..” he said “..and I’ll give you ten minutes.” And have you had an hour with your friends and it’s, you know, three hours later, I’m out, pictures with he and his wife, you know, and he’s saying: “You got a really, you got a way to help change this world!” And he endorsed the book and supports it. So I want people to know that this has been a four-year journey of going to the smartest people on Earth and finding out the vast majority are incredibly genuine in wanting the average person to do well. They just didn’t think there was anybody who could translate. And when they saw that I could, and I could pitch and cathc with them, ‘cause I do eighteen hours of prep before I sit down with Ray Dalio, uh, they’ll be willing to share things that they’ve never shared before. Later on, maybe we can talk about what I learned from Ray Dalio, he’s pretty amazing.
Oh, yeah. No, I, I do wanna talk about Ray, and… fascinating guy. I, I mean I’m so fascinated with the entire world, whether it’s… and there’s so many different breeds. This is something that I wanna talk about, but you have, say, the Paul Tudor Jones. For those who probably haven’t ever seen a very old film, I think it’s available, like bootleg VHS, called The Trader..
..is an amazing old documentary. You can find it, uh, but you can see his style versus, say, you know, the high frequency guys, or a renaissance…
…all PhD’s, right? Outside of Wall Street.
That’s right: quants.
And then you have the, the, the Ray Dalio types, and, uh…
But they all have things in common, if you look. They all have different strategies, but some are: “Let’s shake the tree of the corporate guys and make sure we get more value out of it” right?
Carl, you know. And some guys are like Templeton; I got to interview him multiple times before he died. It’s like: “Wait for, the bloodletting-“
No, blood in the streets, that’s when he invests.
Blood in the streets, but it’s like: when maximum pessimism hits, that’s when you make all your money, that’s what he did. And then there’s the guys like Bogle which is: “It’s the index, baby!” And these days even Warren Buffett, it’s the index, baby! Um, so they all have different approaches, but what’s in common, I think, is… I’ll tell you four things I saw that stood out. And one is overly simplistic, and that’s why people don’t pay attention to it, but these guys pay attention to it: they don’t lose. Half the key to winning is not losing, and they are obsessed - every single one of them - I mean, a level of obsession that’s just mind-boggling. And it isn’t just these investors, you know: Sir Richard Branson, for example, you know. People see Richard and he’s such an outgoing, playful, crazy guy. Kind of an introvert in some areas, but when it comes to athletics and taking on challenges, he’s out in the world. But, you know, his first question to every business is: “What’s the downside and how do I protect it?”
Like, when he did his piece with Virgin, I mean that’s a big risk: gonna start an airline? He went to Boeing and negotiated a deal that he could send the planes back if it didn’t work out, and he wasn’t liable. That’s the level these guys think at. So they look to see how do I not lose money first? ’Cause the average person has no clue: if I lose fifty percent in 2008 - well guess what - you ‘gotta make a hundred percent to get even. Not fifty percent; your principle’s gone down somewhat. So it’s like: people don’t understand, you lose sixty percent, it’s two hundred percent to get even. And so the average person lives in a world where they try not to lose money but they’re not obsessed. These guys are obsessed. Second thing they all have in common: every single one of them is obsessed with asymmetrical risk-reward. It’s a big word; it simply means they’re looking to use the least amount of risk to get the max amount of upside, and that’s what they live for. So I’ll give you an example. Paul Tudor, when I first went to do the turnaround, Paul was having some challenging times. He’d broken his leg - you know, think about this - he did better than anybody in the history of the world during the biggest stock market drop in history, literally. And then he went to the mountain, he went to the moon, and now what? And so, lost a bit of the edge and, you know, got involved in other things and so forth. And now he’s got a broken leg, he’s not going to the office, and I gotta come in. So I had to go watch that film, it’s the first thing I did.
The white tennis shoes! [Laughs]
I wanted to go see everything about him, study his physiology, the way he used to move, ‘cause this guy’s not moving at all. What his face was like, how he breathed, tone of his voice, what were the physical strategies, what were the psychological strategies, what were the financial strategies? I got to go, you know, to Druckenmiller and Soros, I mean, you know, the world I had access to back then was unbelievable. See what was he like back then, put the plan together to do this turnaround. And when I started making those shifts in him and you [snapping fingers] could see the shift happen immediately, it got really exciting! I got hooked on what was gonna happen. So as I, I did this same process, basically, guess what happens, triggers - I’m thinking about two things at once - I did the same process during these interviews. I didn’t just look at the trading strategies, I looked at the psychology, what set it up. But here’s what I found with Paul Tudor at the very beginning to get him back on track. When he’s at his best, he made sure every single trade had what he called a “five to one.” That means that if he was gonna risk a dollar, he wasn’t about to risk it unless he was certain he was gonna make five. Now, you’re not always right, so guess what? If I risk a dollar to make five and I’m wrong, I can risk another dollar and I still make four. I can be wrong four times out of five and still break even. Their secret is not that they - that they’re not wrong; it’s that they set themselves up where they risk small amounts for big rewards, proportionately. Paul, you know, if he’s right one out of three times, he still makes twenty percent. So the average person risks a dollar trying to make, how much?
Dollar, ten? [Laughs]
That’s right: about a buck, ten! If I could get ten percent: wow, my dollar! Twenty percent would be unbelievable! How often can you be wrong?
Not very often. [Laughs]
No, not at all! You’re in the hole, you’re starting from the hole, and then you’ve gotta build back up. So, they, asymmetrical reward; it’s like, I was with Kyle Bass, and Kyle Bass risked - check this out - in the middle of the subprime crisis, he made $2 billion out of thirty million because he risked, for every 6 cents that he risked, he had an upside of a dollar.
Six cents for a hundred. Well you could be wrong fifteen times!
And you’re still lucky in that area. I mean, he was brilliant to figure it out, he’s a genius to figure it out, but that risk-reward is why it is. He showed his kids, he taught, I said: “How do you teach this to the average investor?” And he said that: “Well, you could teach them the way I taught my kids.” And I said: “How did you do it?” And he goes: “We bought nickels.” And so: “What do you mean you bought nickels?” He said: “Well, I did research; I had this question.” And that’s another thing that all these guys do: they ask a better question. And we talked about- they get better answers, right? Better quality question, better quality answers. “What’s wrong with me?” You’ll come up with something. “How do I make this happen?” No matter what, you’ll come up with different answers. So, this question was: “Where in the world is there a riskless trade, with total upside?”
And he started looking around, he said: “I’m worried about inflation.” So he decided: “Gosh, of all the currencies in the world, a nickel, what it’s made of today…” It’s not made mostly of nickel, by the way. He said: “It’s costing the U.S. Government nine and a half cents to make a nickel. That’s how our government functions.” Like I’m gonna spend almost ten cents to make something worth half as much, right?
The Pentagon Plan.
Yeah! That’s what, it’s the perfect plan. So he said: “But you know what?” Just the actual material value, right? It’s 6.8, or whatever it was, 6, something, six and a half, we’ll call it for round numbers. So he said: “If I buy a nickel, it’s never going less than a nickel unless you believe the U.S. Government’s gone. So I’ve got something that never goes down in value, so I’ve got a guaranteed return, you know, I’m not gonna lose my principal. But day one, it’s worth thirty-six percent more than the day I bought it!” How many investments can you have 100% guarantee of no loss and a thirty-six percent. I said: “Yeah, but that’s melt value, and I saw they passed a law.” A few years ago, uh, I think Charlie Rangel, who ever it was, was the one that pushed it through. He goes: “Yeah, but Tony..” he said “..that doesn’t matter.” He said: “Let me tell you why.” He said: “Look at pennies. When they changed it from pure copper to tin and all the things that they changed, what happened to the old pennies? There’s a scarcity of them and now a penny from those days is worth two cents: it’s a hundred percent more valuable!” So he said: “At some point, the government cannot continue to do something that costs twice as much. Some point, they’ll make a change in the materials, and then all these nickels are worth an unbelievable amount!” So he said: “I was just showing my kids: here’s a risk - you, you need to think different than everybody else.” Don’t think I have to take to take huge risk for huge rewards. Think: “How do I take no risk and get huge rewards?” And because you ask that question continuously and you believe in the answer, you get it. So, you know, I, I, he said: “Listen: If I could put my ent- convert my entire wealth into nickels right now..” [Laughs] he said: “.. I’d do it.” I said: “You’re insane!” And he goes: “I am insane! But it’s the best possible fundamental investment.” He started telling me how to do it; he bought forty million nickels.
Four- he has forty million nickels!
Fills up a room bigger than this, right?
Better be on the ground floor!
And he had his kids dragging it in there, and everybody else, laughing, having fun, and it’s like their little treasure room!
So he can legitimately do, like, the Scrooge McDuck backstroke in a room full of nickels.
For real, with nickels! [Laughs]
So that’s asymmetrical reward. I’ll give you one more and I’ll shut the hell up.
No, no, I’m not here for..
But I wanted, you were asking me to “Tell me the differences.” I want you to know there are differences; we could spend hours and hours on the differences, but what I think is useful is what’s aligned, because then you get something universal that could be applied.
Uh, the other one for them is: they absolutely, beyond the shadow of a doubt know they’re gonna be wrong. You look at these talking heads on television and people screaming at you and hitting bells and telling you what to buy and they’re right, right, right. The best on earth, the Ray Dalios, the Pavels, the, you know, I, I don’t give a- who you talk about; you, you wanna work with Carl Icahn, they all know they’re gonna be wrong, so they set up an asset allocation system that will make them successflu. They all agree asset allocation is the single most important investment. There wasn’t one person, in terms of your vehicle, that it wasn’t the most important thing, no matter how they attacked it. Asset allocation was the element there. And the last one is: they are, they’re lifelong learners. I mean, these people are machines. Like you, like me, like Peter, like most of the people you and I share as friends, they just, they are obsessed with knowing more: because the more they know, the more they realize what they didn’t know and then they apply that and they go to another level. And every time you think you’re the best you can be, in anything in life: your body, your emotions, spirit, your finances, there’s always another level. And these guys live by it. And the last one that I found, almost all of them were real givers. Um, not just givers in the service like money givers - that’s wonderful - but really passionate about giving. And it showed up once they saw what I was doing was legitimate, was really real. That, I mean, then they’re opening up three hours of their time with something that money with these guys will never get.
Oh yeah. I mean, their hours are worth a lot.
Yeah, to say the least!
Uh, [laughs] yeah, saying the least!
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