Tony Robbins

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Tony Robbins
Tony Robbins.jpg
Tony Robbins in 2009
Born Anthony J. Mahavorick
(1960-02-29) February 29, 1960 (age 55)
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Life Performance coach
Self-help author
Motivational speaker
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Becky Robbins (m. 1982–2001)
Sage Robbins (m. 2001)

Tony Robbins (born Anthony J. Mahavorick; February 29, 1960) is an American motivational speaker,[1] personal finance instructor, and self-help author. He became well known from his infomercials and self-help books: Unlimited Power, Unleash the Power Within and Awaken the Giant Within.

In 2007, he was named in Forbes magazine's "Celebrity 100" list.[2] Forbes estimated that Robbins earned approximately US$30 million in that year.[3]

Early life[edit]

Robbins was born Anthony J. Mahavorick in North Hollywood, California, on February 29, 1960.[4] Robbins is the eldest of three children and his parents divorced when he was 7. His mother then had a series of husbands, including Jim Robbins, a former semiprofessional baseball player who legally adopted Anthony when he was 12.

His father could not provide for their family, so he left them. His mother started abusing alcohol and prescription drugs sometime after. While growing up, Robbins was a primary care-giver, and helped provide for his siblings. Robbins was raised in Azusa and Glendora, California, and attended Glendora High School. He was elected student body president in his senior year, and grew 10 inches in high school, a growth spurt later attributed to a pituitary tumor. He has said his home life was "chaotic" and "abusive". When he was 17 years old, Robbins' mother chased him out of the house with a knife, and he never returned.[4] Robbins later worked as a janitor, and did not attend college.[4]


Robbins began his career promoting seminars for Jim Rohn.[5]

Later, Robbins began his own work as a self-help coach. He taught neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and Ericksonian hypnosis after training with NLP co-founder John Grinder. In 1983, Robbins learned to firewalk from Tolly Burkan[6] and began to incorporate it into his seminars.[7] Robbins' use of board breaking, skydiving, and later firewalking in his seminars is intended to help participants learn to push through their fears.[8]

Robbins promoted his services as a "peak performance coach" through his books and TV infomercials. His first infomercial, Personal Power, was released in 1988 and produced by Guthy Renker.[9] Early infomercials featured celebrities such as Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton and actor Martin Sheen.[10] By 1991, an estimated 100 million Americans in 200 media markets had viewed his informercials.[10]

In 1997, Robbins began the Leadership Academy seminar.[11] Robbins is a featured speaker on the seminar circuit sponsored by Learning Annex. Robbins appeared as a featured speaker at the 2007 Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference. As of August 2012, his talk was the sixth-most popular TED talk.[12]

Robbins is involved with the Robbins-Madanes Center for Strategic Intervention, which focuses on personal, family, and organizational psychology, and claims to help people "find breakthrough strategies and solutions for overcoming the problems that confront us all."[13]

In 2014, Robbins along with a group investors including Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm, and Peter Guber, acquired rights to launch a Major League Soccer franchise in Los Angeles, California. The soccer team is scheduled to begin competition in 2017.[citation needed]


Robbins has written three best-selling books: Unlimited Power, Awaken the Giant Within, and Money: Master the Game.

Unlimited Power, published in 1986, discusses the topics of health and energy, overcoming fears, persuasive communication, and enhancing relationships.[14] In the book, Robbins argues that by using neuro-linguistic programming "anyone can become successful at almost anything."[15] According to Magill Book Reviews, Robbins develops "a systematic framework for directing our own brain."[16]

Awaken the Giant Within, published in 1991, according to The New York Times, the book contains "ways to take control of your emotional, physical and financial destiny."[17] In 1994, Robbins published Giant Steps, a daily instructional book, in a pocket size. His' third best-seller, Money: Master the Game, was published in 2014 and reached number one on the New York Times' "Advice, How-To, & Miscellaneous" bestseller list in December 2014.[18] The book contains information stemming from his interviews with over 50 financial experts.[19][20] According to Forbes Magazine, the book's target audience is both beginning and experienced investors. Forbes wrote on his blog, "Remarkably, Robbins has produced a book that will appeal to both the beginner and the most sophisticated money jockey overseeing multibillions of dollars in assets."[21]


In 1991, Robbins founded the Anthony Robbins Foundation, a charity dedicated to empowering individuals and organizations.[22] According to the foundation, it has products and programs in more than 2,000 schools, 700 prisons, and 100,000 health and human service organizations.[23] Independent charity watchdog Charity Navigator gives the Anthony Robbins Foundation a rating of four out of four stars.[23]

One of his foundation's programs is the International Basket Brigade, in which groups of volunteers across the world assemble and deliver baskets of food and household items to needy families.[22] The International Basket Brigade gives baskets of food and household items to about two million people each year.[24]

In 2014, he partnered with Feeding America for the 100 Millions Meals Challenge, by donating the profits of his book, Money: Master the Game, along with an additional personal donation to feed 50 million needy people. He also invited the public to match his 50 million meals.[19]


In May 1995, Robbins Research International (RRI) responded to Federal Trade Commission charges of misrepresentation of potential earnings to franchise investors. RRI and the FTC entered into a stipulated settlement agreement, in which RRI agreed to pay US$221,260 in consumer redress. RRI did not admit guilt under the settlement.[25]

Financial seminar guru Wade Cook also sued Robbins for copyright infringement and plagiarism, alleging that Robbins used proprietary terms in his seminars and from Cook's book Wall Street Money Machine. In 1998, a Tacoma, Washington, jury ordered Robbins to pay Cook $650,900 in damages. The order to pay damages was temporarily withdrawn[26] until 2000, when the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the trial judge had misinterpreted the statutes. The verdict and damages were reinstated with a statement that "The Court found that U.S. District Court Judge, Jack Tanner, erred in "finding a conclusion contrary to the jury award" and sent instructions to reinstate the award. Cook's lead attorney said "This is a landmark decision by the 9th Circuit Court because of the high profile players and issues at stake. The Court is telling individuals that, no matter who you are, the protection of copyrightable material will be preserved." Robbins was forced to pay the entire amount.[27][28]

One chapter of Unlimited Power, called "Energy: The Fuel of Excellence", is dedicated to a discussion of health and energy. The National Council Against Health Fraud wrote a highly critical review of the chapter.[29][30]

In 2001, Robbins filed a lawsuit against The Vancouver Sun newspaper, alleging defamation and libel. The judge determined the Vancouver Sun defamed Robbins when it called him a "adulterous, wife-stealing hypocrite". Awarding Robbins $20,000 in damages, the judge wrote "While damages are presumed, the plaintiff's failure to take the witness stand and to testify about his feelings and the impact of the defamation upon his reputation leaves the court somewhat in the dark about these matters".[31][32]

In July 2012, the San Jose Mercury News published a story reporting that multiple people had been burned and hospitalized during one of Robbins' firewalking events on July 19, 2012. This story was picked up by other media outlets, including Fox News. These reports were later retracted as inaccurate.[33] A similar corrective article was published by The Huffington Post.[34][35]

Celebrity status[edit]

He had a minor role in the 2001 film Shallow Hal, hypnotising Jack Black's character and forcing him to view girls for their personality rather than their appearance.

He was lampooned in episode 22 of season 3 of Family Guy.[36] In Men In Black, an array of screens in the headquarters has monitoring aliens masquerading as humans. One of these screens shows Robbins.

In July 2010, NBC debuted Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, a reality show that followed Robbins as he helped the show’s participants face their personal challenges.[37][38] NBC canceled the show, after airing two of the planned six episodes, due to low viewership of 2.8 million.[39] In March 2012, the OWN Network picked the show up for another season beginning with the original first season set to rerun and thereafter leading directly into the new 2012 season.[40]

In April 2012, Robbins began cohosting Oprah's Lifeclass on the OWN Network.[41]

Personal life[edit]

In 1984, Robbins and former girlfriend Liz Acosta had a son, Jairek Robbins, who is also a personal empowerment trainer.[42]

In 1985, he married Rebecca "Becky" Jenkins, after meeting her at a seminar.[43][44][45] Jenkins had three children from two former marriages whom Robbins adopted. Robbins and Jenkins filed for divorce 14 years later.[45]

Robbins married Bonnie "Sage" Humphrey, a phlebotomist and acupuncturist, in October 2001. Robbins resides in Palm Beach, Florida.[46]


  1. ^ O'Keefe, Brian (30 October 2014). "Tony Robbins, The CEO Whisperer". FORTUNE. Retrieved 20 April 2015. 
  2. ^ "Tony Robbins". Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ "#62 Anthony Robbins". Forbes. June 14, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c O'Keefe, Brian (October 31, 2014). "Tony Robbins, The CEO Whisperer". Fortune. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  5. ^ Rolando Ponce de Leon. "Anthony Robbins: A true motivation life". MotivationLife. Retrieved December 31, 2009. 
  6. ^ Sternfield, Jonathan (1992). Firewalk. Stockbridge: Berkshire House. ISBN 978-0-936399-04-1. 
  7. ^ Robbins, A., 1992 Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny; ISBN 0-671-79154-0
  8. ^ Jason Fell (21 January 2014). "Tony Robbins on the Importance of Being Fearless". Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "Guthy-Renker Corporation". International Directory of Company Histories. 
  10. ^ a b Michael Granberry (1 October 1991). "A True Believer : Tony Robbins Has Attracted Converts--and Critics--to His Positive-Thinking Empire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Robbins, Anthony (2005). Leadership Academy Manual. San Diego, California: Robbins Research International, Inc. p. 3. 
  12. ^ "The 20 most-watched TED Talks as of August 2012 | TED Blog". Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  13. ^ "Robbins-Madanes Center for Strategic Intervention Products". Robbins-Madanes Center. Retrieved October 10, 2011. 
  14. ^ Robbins, A (1987) Unlimited Power Publisher: Fawcett Columbine (Ballantine Books) ISBN 0-449-90280-3
  15. ^ Moryl, John (1986). "Unlimited Power". 
  16. ^ "Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Advancement". Magill Book Reviews. January 1990. 
  17. ^ "Book Review Desk; 7". The New York Times. 8 December 1991. 
  18. ^ "Best Sellers: December 14, 2014". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  19. ^ a b Hellmich, Nanci (10 December 2014). "Tony Robbins' 7 steps to financial freedom in retirement". USA Today. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  20. ^ "Self-help guru Tony Robbins tackles financial advice". Chicago Tribune. 27 November 2014. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  21. ^ Kudla, David (8 April 2014). "Mentoring Wall Street's Next Gen". Forbes. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  22. ^ a b "Our Mission". Anthony Robbins Foundation. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  23. ^ a b Charity Navigator (2013). "Anthony Robbins Foundation". Charity Navigator Ratings. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  24. ^ Schnall, Marianne (7 November 2013). "'Growing and Giving': An Interview With Tony Robbins". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2015. 
  25. ^ Federal Trade Commission (1995). "Anthony Robbins Agrees to Pay More than $220,000 in Consumer Redress to Settle Alleged Franchise Rule Violations". Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved September 20, 2007. 
  26. ^ "All Business web site, October 6, 1998, Anthony Robbins Cos". Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  27. ^ [1][dead link]
  28. ^ "Wade Cook Jury Award vs. Tony Robbins Upheld by 9th Circuit Court.". 
  29. ^ "Fit For Life: Some Notes on the Book and Its Roots". Quackwatch. 1999. Retrieved December 31, 2009. 
  30. ^ "A critique of Mr. Clinton's self-help guru." National Council for Reliable Health Information. (Printed Jan/Feb 1995 NCAHF Newsletter. Vol. 18 Issue 1, pgs 1,2.)
  31. ^ "News > News Item". Stockwatch. Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  32. ^ "2005 BCSC 1634 Robbins v. Pacific Newspaper Group Inc. et al". Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  33. ^ Doocy, Steve (August 8, 2012). "Fox News". 
  34. ^ Schnall, Marianne (July 31, 2012). "Tony Robbins Sets the Record Straight About Fire Walk 'Controversy'". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  35. ^ Kurhi, Eric; Gomez, Mark (July 21, 2012). "San Jose: 21 people treated for burns after firewalk at Tony Robbins appearance". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved July 22, 2012. 
  36. ^ "Tony Robbins Hungry". YouTube. 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2013-09-28. 
  37. ^ Schneider, Michael (February 9, 2009). "''Variety'': "NBC Picks Up ''Breakthrough with Tony Robbins''"". Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  38. ^ "Breakthrough with Tony Robbins to Debut July 27". 
  39. ^ "Tony Robbins' series pulled from NBC schedule". 
  40. ^ "Tony Robbins, Parts 1 and 2". 2012-02-19. 
  41. ^ Gallo, Carmine (February 24, 2012). "How Tony Robbins Gets in Peak State for Presentations". 
  42. ^ "About - Tony Robbins". Tony Robbins. 
  43. ^ "Tony Robbins: An Awakened Giant Within… Life & Lessons". One Life Success. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  44. ^ Geoffrey Brewer (November 1993). "Is this guy for real?". Sales & Marketing Management. p. 92. 
  45. ^ a b Robbins, Anthony J. (2002). "Business Leader Profiles for Students". pp. 390–394. 
  46. ^ Neal Hall (30 June 2005). "Robbins posed as waiter to meet future in-laws, court told: Father-in-law says his daughter, millionaire were 'really good friends' in August 2000". Vancouver Sun. 

External links[edit]