Things I Learned From Tony Robbins

Things I Learned From Tony Robbins

Episode 217: About The Time Tony Robbins Smashed The Podcast Table

Tony Robbins stopped by on his birthday. And then he started causing problems. Like he does.

“I realize you’re high energy,” the audio engineer says, looking at Tony, “but when you bang the table it sounds like the whole room is shaking.”

In 220 podcasts, it’s the first time the audio engineer had to interrupt in the middle.

“Oh, ok, no problem,” Tony says.

“I don’t want to stop the passion,” the audio engineer says.

“Don’t worry, I’ll be good,” Tony says.

Then the audio engineer went back outside.

Tony kept slamming that table. Outside the room, people thought he was going to climb over the table and beat the S**t out of me. But it was all good.


I felt like I had to keep the energy level high. So pretty soon we were both yelling back and forth.

He was there because of his new book, “Unshakeable.” But we spoke about maybe 1000 topics. Not just the financial world.

So let’s get right down to it. What did I learn?


This is great for newspapers. They say, “The world is ending!” and they say it EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

And yet it never does. It never did. Even in 2008. The world did not end. The market is at all time highs right now.

The key with Tony’s book is he shows these statistics not so you can make money off of them but so you DON’T PANIC.

Markets move. Ignore the news.


Before the podcast I said to Tony, “let’s do a fun outtake.” I wasn’t sure he’d say “yes.” We videotaped it (it’s on my instagram).

He BRINGS IT. It’s so much energy I almost had to stutter out my planned line (“I can’t see your face on Skype, only your chest”).

And when we did the podcast, I felt like I had to yell and really UP my own energy level at least three levels higher just to keep pace with him. I don’t know how he does it.


I asked. How do you do it? I want that energy also.



He finally said, “Enough with the ‘how-to’. Don’t ask ‘how-to’ questions.”

He said, “Ask What and Why?” What is the Result. Why is your purpose.

“Why are you getting out of bed in the morning? And what are you going to do about it?

“Motive matters and brings energy.”

He said, “I love lighting people up.” That, he said, gives me the energy.

When I later found out his schedule, not only was he booked every hour that day with different news sources (he started the day by ringing the bell at the Nasdaq) but IT WAS HIS BIRTHDAY.

He brings it.


This is critical for well-being. Don’t expect the world to provide you with happiness.

Every time you find yourself slipping into an expectation, change it in your head into an “appreciation.” Find the things you appreciate. Then take ACTION.

“It’s like a practice,” I said.

He banged the table.



I said, “How do you learn new things?”

He said, “Modeling.”

I said, “Well, I imagine you look great walking down a runway at a fashion show but seriously.”

He laughed and said, “Look, when I went to write the Money book and then my new book, Unshakeable, I didn’t just sit around reading the paper.

“I went out with a video crew and interviewed 50 billionaires about how they invest.

“I watch what they do. I study how they think. And I see if I can break it down into chunks so that anyone can follow their process.”

In my last podcast with Tony, two years ago, he described how he learned how expert Marines improve their firing skills even though he had never fired gun before. He described almost the same process then.

For me, I know this works. When I want to write, I always read first.

When I want to do public speaking, I watch standup comedians (and singers) first. I want to figure out how the best people in the world do something so I can do it 1/100 as good at the very least.

When I need energy now, I picture Tony Robbins smashing the table and the audio engineer begging me to slow it down.

Well too bad!


“If your happiness requires other people to behave the way you want them to behave, then what are the chances you’re going to stay happy in your life?”

“You’d have to limit yourself to a small number of humans… who you can control, which is not love.”


Learn how to deal with stress. That’s the path to freedom. Not the other way around

He gives many techniques. One of them is to learn to appreciate the things around you. But more than that, he says.

Take, “Massive Action.” Show people you appreciate them. Take steps forward in a career. Feed your mind. Help someone. Cultivate great thoughts. Strengthen your body. Participate. “You activate your body’s chemistry.”

“Doing nothing, you learn nothing.”

How do you do this?

Again, “How brings in fear”. You have to have an emotional purpose. Something more than yourself. Purpose is “why?”

Find a role model so that you realize that what you want is attainable for you.


He said to me, “what are the two things you are most worried about in life?”

No problem. I didn’t hesitate. “I constantly worry about going broke and that someone will cheat on me.”

He leaned forward.

“EVERYBODY IS WORRIED ABOUT THOSE TWO THINGS!” he said. “That’s not your worries. That’s the mind’s worries. It’s in everyone’s mind.”

Don’t bother negotiating with your mind. It’s there to protect you but it’s used to the jungle from 50,000 years ago.

Find things that are bigger than just you. Make those things your purpose. Your reason for living. They can change. But they will be the things that take you to freedom.

Not your mind.

And, he said, when I am afraid to do something, that’s when I do it!


“I had mercury poisoning this past year. I also had a problem with my back that could have been critical.

“But I did a ton of research. I spoke to many doctors and other people with similar problems. I worked on my own issues and did not let them bring me down.”

“I am responsible to choose my own happiness,” he said.

I think I’m paraphrasing. We spoke about so many things I can’t remember everything.

Sometimes when I prepare a podcast, I read so many books, watch so many interviews, jot down so many notes, and get so much nervous energy ready that I feel like it burns like a bright hot light for the entire podcast and then dims once it’s over.


Man, it is hard. It’s like trying to stop a tank. I think my “interruption skills” greatly improved during this one hour. I simply couldn’t do it at first.

But finally I had to do it. He said, “And then President Clinton called me and…”

I had to yell, “STOP!”

“Will you finally tell me why the hell Presidents call you?”

And he answered.

After Tony left I had to go catch an airplane. About six hours later I finally felt like I was starting to calm down.

At the airport I ran into someone on Tony’s team. She said, Tony really enjoyed the podcast.

I don’t know if she says that to everyone. But I was happy.

I know I enjoyed it. I know I learned a lot. I know it got me to start thinking again about why I get up in the morning, about what emotional purpose I want to have greater than myself.

It changes every day. But it’s there. It has to be.

Today it was: Write this post.

Oh, and run for Governor. But more on that later.

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  • Ray

    I enjoy Tony very much, but he is continuously shot out of a cannon. And that is a lot of mass moving at high velocity! Really, an amazing guy.

  • Fabian

    Katie you rock!

  • Fabian

    The only place on earth where people freak out when there is a sale, so true.

  • As usual, wonderful insights on living from you James. Thanks for sharing the Tony Robbins interview with us.

    Carl Kruse

  • Mitch

    After all these years listening to excerpts of Tony, I do believe he is for real. But he exhausts a lot of us, including James, who says as much in the little story above. Tony’s torrent of positive energy is an unexpected bulldozer in our little, manicured flower gardens.

    Tony does have something — a lot of things — to say. But I think I know James. He is going to sleep for three days after this interlude. . .

    • JasonRH

      I agree with you, Mitch. And I think Tony’s greatest strength is his ability to consistently exude that much energy and enthusiasm. He doesn’t just command rooms, he commands stadiums full of people and that is his ultimate talent.

      His tools/techniques are decent, nothing great though. He is the ultimate brand and became a personal brand before it was the thing. I am sure he helps tons of people, but he’s a little much for my personal taste. “Exhausting” is a good word.

  • This was sooooo awesome! Another great interview and Tony Robbins is just one of my favorite inspirational human beings. Thanks so much!

  • Ted Scarborough

    You should do some seminars like he does!

  • Nicole Wirch

    Great James, and you did a great job with your interrupting skills! The always motivating Tony has some great advice and his energy is contagious.

  • Awesome. Nice to see the two “giants” together, James and Tony.

  • Eoin

    Great interview James. The thumping only added to the drama. Full of energy. To get rid of the ‘booming’ issue go with a lapel microphone. It works a treat.

  • Karla

    I’m late on the Tony Robbins bus but I’m glad I jumped on it with your interview. He’s like a jolt of lightning to my mind, this guy. Thanks, James.

  • Tom Musso

    Great podcast, James. Tony is such a nice guy and he really brings passion to everything he does (obviously) :) I really enjoyed your interaction and what he had to say, especially freedom not being about money. Thanks!

  • Julie

    James interviewing Tony Robbins. My head is exploding! I saw Tony live at UPW Sydney 2016 and the energy that man has is insane. He should bottle it and sell it. Oh and happy birthday for the 28th (well the 29th).

  • What a great episode! And I loved the video intro you posted. Bloody funny. I just finished reading Tony’s book yesterday, while taking an overdue break in the Whitsundays. Like your material, it was the quality of the actionable ideas that resonated with me. Inspiration is fine. Motivation is like a bath. But clear, concise, factual data (when understood and put into personal context) becomes enormously empowering. Thanks for doing what you do (both of you). :-)

  • During the last 5 days I’ve been completely lost and unplugged from what I want to do (something happened in my family) and I didn’t know how to connect again, I was clear on what I was doing, felt capable and ready but when I tried to move ahead I felt like trying to solve a puzzle with pieces of the same color… I couldn’t see the picture.

    And then this podcast happened! (actually I kinda avoided listening to it in the last days but something called me in)

    1. Find something bigger than myself
    2. Modeling and massive action
    3. Do what I say I’ll do (no negotiations)
    4. And then fear kicks in haha, but you have to do it anyway

    Thank you a lot James and Tony!

  • Greg

    James, Tony told the plane/internet story from the first-person… which we both know is actually a Louis C.K joke. (Granted, the same thing might’ve happened to him, but it doesn’t feel genuine).

    I gotta ask, why didn’t you press or ask him about this? You’ve shared this exact joke/story on the podcast before…


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    • Joel

      Hmmmm. the stories are eerily similar. And I haven’t followed James that long but it did seem like he knew the end to Tony’s story before he got there. I think he didn’t press him in that moment because he figured A) coincidentally Tony had a similar experience B) Tony just seems like a really genuine guy, not the type to steal a story from someone and pass it off as his own. But yeah I agree with you that he could’ve asked him or simply said “Haha there’s actually a Louis CK joke about the same thing happening…” but I don’t know if I would have either.

      Also, a theory: Maybe Louis’ bit about “You ever tell someone a story about something that happened to you, and then you realize the person you’re telling it to is actually the person that it happened to?” is actually about him telling Tony Robbins’ plane story to Tony, and Tony is the actual person who the story happened to…

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  • Prudence Blasdell

    Thank you James. LOVE Tony! :-D he and Sage are Oneness Blessing/Deeksha givers. They built a Oneness University satellite campus on Fiji, donating both the facility and the land, to Oneness University. He Walks His Talk ~&~ He Seriously ROCKS!!!

  • Kostas Avramiotis

    James, you should share this podcast in the schools.