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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Tony Robbins WashingtonPost Puff Piece

More confirmation that I'm in the minority when it comes to Tony Robbins.  In Dec. 1's WashingtonPost, Karen Heller mostly gushes over the guy with an occasional snide aside, just to show she's really not as smitten with him as she sounds.

She's another one who thinks he looks like a movie star.  This time, it's Ben Affleck of all people.  All in all it's a bit unclear what Heller is trying to convey -- she mentions the Robbins "legend" a few times, and tells some of his stories, and repeats some of his name dropping.

Mostly, I guess the point is to let people know that Robbins has written a book about money.  This was the opportunist who, back when "believe and it will happen" was big, kept telling stories about people who believed they would win the lottery actually won it, more than once.  Back in one of the bull-bubble markets, he was out there hawking seminars telling people to ride it, but probably not telling them just when to get off.  Apparently he's worth about half a billion now -- spent $42 million on his last divorce.  Not really sure what a guy with that kind of bankroll and that kind of "financial advice" history can teach me managing my money.

My thoughts on his 2006 TED Talk and on Tony Robbins generally are here.  I still have no idea how much of that stuff about 9-11 he just made up.  It could have happened, so maybe it did.

I wrote this, and then it occurred to me to look at the comments.  I rarely do that, because Washington Post commenters are usually a mix of Democrats and Republicans who see politics in everything.  But here, they almost all seem to share my view.  Maybe it's only the people in the press that are scared to say bad things about him.

Actually, I'm starting to think it's a male-female divide thing, and it's a kind of metaphor for one significant aspect of male/female relationships generally.  It's the women who like him (Oprah, Arianna Huffington, Karen Heller, Susan Cain); men generally don't like him much, although some might want to be like him.  I have to admit that on some level, Tony Robbins is the ultimate "alpha male" -- he's big, he's rich, he's powerful, he's well connected, and he's the center of a lot of attention (especially at his seminars).  So it's probably small wonder that women seem to swoon over him, and men -- puny, pathetic, beta males by comparison -- tend to see him as a sleazeball, and wonder why the women can't see it.  The same thing plays itself out over and over again in the love lives of many men and women -- the women are attracted to the alphas, and the betas are left scratching their heads (until, of course, the women get a little bit older and come running back to the safety, security, and fidelity of the beta).  So I'm guessing that Tony Robbins's seminars are mostly populated by women who want to swoon over him, and men who want to be like him.  Probably why I've never been tempted to go.

The comments from the Washington Post (reproduced below) -- most of which seem to agree that Tony Robbins is a sleazeball -- are overwhelmingly by men:
12/2/2014 11:40 PM EST
When I think Tony Robbins I think Shallow Hal. Classic.
Point Break Hotel
12/2/2014 10:30 PM EST
Ah, if it works for you, so be it. I have friends who swear by it, clients who wanted me to take the profile they were so hooked into it. The answer to that was a polite deflection to other subjects. But, seriously, given the number of ways one can become absorbed in this life on so many different paths, I am not going to throw stones at Robbins.
12/2/2014 10:25 PM EST [Edited]
Is it ok to call him a con man and a grffter, essentially a white Al Sharpton?
12/2/2014 10:10 PM EST
If you've ever wondered what would happen if Ayn Rand were artificially inseminated by Werner Erhard, now you know!
12/2/2014 10:02 PM EST
"Robbins resembles a taller version of Ben Affleck." 
But I'm pretty sure he's never danced the horizontal tango with J-Lo!
12/2/2014 10:12 PM EST
I think he resembles a shorter version of "Jaws", the late Richard Kiel:
12/2/2014 10:01 PM EST
Has to be the most vain, superficial man on the planet.
12/2/2014 9:58 PM EST
"No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public."  
- H. L. Mencken
12/2/2014 9:57 PM EST
The Jimmy Swaggert of "Life Coaches". 
What a scam!
12/2/2014 10:26 PM EST
millions of people worldwide would beg to differ Steveo,
Jimbo Squad
12/2/2014 9:52 PM EST
He'll motivate the contents of your wallet into his.
12/2/2014 9:45 PM EST
Many dreamy-eyed, adoring women floated home from this sleazeball's seminars, motivated enough to drop their husbands and families.
12/2/2014 9:44 PM EST
Could this article be more of a puff piece? The closer I read it, the sicker I get: "Robbins resembles a taller version of Ben Affleck." Too bad the person who wrote this article doesn't resemble a journalist.
12/2/2014 9:44 PM EST
I don't think it's possible to write more of a puff piece unless Lena Dunham is in it.
12/2/2014 9:58 PM EST
The Post turns more and more into a PR vehicle for dubious celebrities. So much for responsible journalism.
12/2/2014 9:58 PM EST
The Post turns more and more into a PR vehicle for dubious celebrities. So much for responsible journalism.
12/2/2014 9:42 PM EST [Edited]
Sorry, but he's no philanthropist like Bill and Melissa Gates, who truly deserve a story on how they are helping people all over the world. Robbins is just making money off of people all over the world and giving nothing in return...unless you're rich and can pay for it.
12/2/2014 9:43 PM EST
Well, it looks like his publicist bought Karen Heller a really nice lunch, I guess that's giving back *something*.
12/2/2014 9:43 PM EST
Something for self-flattery isn't anything, as you know.
12/2/2014 9:41 PM EST
12/2/2014 9:32 PM EST
Tony Robbins is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.
12/2/2014 9:37 PM EST
I might write that too ... if I were a hermit.
12/2/2014 9:38 PM EST
Haven't you seen "The Manchurian Candidate"?
12/2/2014 9:39 PM EST
Ha ha ... now I catch your drift.
12/2/2014 9:53 PM EST
12/2/2014 9:29 PM EST
It's only fitting that Tony Robbins was photographed at New York's Four Seasons Hotel, a property owned by an equally sketchy—but even MORE successful!— flim-flam man: 
12/2/2014 9:28 PM EST
What a sad testament to what The Washington Post has become. Ben Bradlee is rolling over in his grave.
12/2/2014 9:44 PM EST
We should be able to harness the energy of his spinning to generate power for most of the Eastern seaboard.
12/2/2014 9:21 PM EST
Tony Robbins: "Personal appearance is everything."
Jimbo Squad
12/2/2014 9:31 PM EST
Every fiber of his being oozes sleaze.
12/2/2014 9:14 PM EST
I bought Tony's tapes 20 years ago and thought they were great. I used his technique to get my best friend to quit smoking and he hasn't smoked since. He gave me self help advice and it worked. I did not go to any seminars and the tapes were under a hundred dollars and well worth it.
12/2/2014 8:54 PM EST
How empty would your life have to be for you to find this guy inspiring rather than revolting? I find money in this day and age to be whatever you want it to be, and what I want it to be is mine as much as possible.
12/2/2014 8:54 PM EST
Robbins was a notorious scammer and an anti-gay bigot as well. I knew him when he was launching his "fire walks" in the Eighties. But, then again, maybe he's become respectable...
12/2/2014 8:32 PM EST [Edited]
hahaha, what a joke. Robbins is a snake oil salesman. If you don't believe me go and waste $16 on one of his books and read about how he plans to "motivate" you. 
Bezos and Robbins must be friends. I guess this starts to answer the question of what the post is going to be like with its new corporate ownership.
Fast Eddie61
12/2/2014 8:38 PM EST
"Bezos and Robbins must be friends. I guess this starts to answer the question of what the post is going to be like with its new corporate ownership." 
Dunno about that - this wasn't exactly a fawning article. More a hatchet job, as someone else said.
12/2/2014 8:39 PM EST
Either way, the Post should not be printing it.
12/2/2014 8:28 PM EST
Best film role, Shallow Hal.
12/2/2014 8:32 PM EST
"Man, look at those mitts! lt's like grabbing a bunch of bananas."
12/2/2014 8:20 PM EST
I wonder if Robbins isn't a good friend of Jeff Bozos.
12/2/2014 8:27 PM EST
Good question. There both very successful, so I'm guessing they've crossed paths.
12/2/2014 9:03 PM EST
One thing both men can probably do, which you seem unable, is to appropriately use the contraction of 'they are'.
12/2/2014 8:19 PM EST
Tony Robbins is a flim flam artist, con man, Elmer Gantry like American icon.... Others?
Fast Eddie61
12/2/2014 8:07 PM EST
How can people fall for this guy? Riddle me that. He has huckster written all over him. 
"There's a sucker..."
Jimbo Squad
12/2/2014 8:10 PM EST [Edited]
If I was stranded on a deserted island with him, I'd sleep with one eye open.
12/2/2014 8:33 PM EST
I've seen the guy on an infomercial or two over the years. Never read one of his books, never watched one of his videos, nor have I attended one of his lectures. But from what I've heard, he's a motivator (and a darned good one) who has helped a lot of people succeed. That he's profited from it shouldn't bring him scorn. What exactly is your problem with him?
Fast Eddie61
12/2/2014 8:37 PM EST
I don't have any problem at all - if people are dumb enough to give him millions of dollars, more power to him.
12/2/2014 8:41 PM EST [Edited]
Good to hear, Eddie. Calling people "dumb" because they find some value in his service and actually better their lives is a problem...with you.
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Fast Eddie61
12/2/2014 8:51 PM EST [Edited]
You're right - I shouldn't have used the word "dumb." It was rude.  
But I stand by my belief that this guy is a huckster and a charlatan. People like him have existed down through the ages. Many people have lost lots of money by giving it to Tony Robbins and his ilk.  
People like Robbins convince others that they have some answers or wisdom that others are not privy to - and people fall for it. 
Take a look at his video - would you buy a used car from this man?
Fast Eddie61
12/2/2014 8:00 PM EST
“It’s about impact and it’s all about love for me. Quite frankly, I’m a love bug.”  
Ask his first wife about that.
12/2/2014 7:57 PM EST
Tony Robbins big thing was motivating people in the sales profession. Of course the whole profession has gone downhill in a low demand/deflationary environment. Companies today don't want self-confident salespeople. They find them annoying/threatening. They want nice people who don't rock the boat. 
As far as giving financial advice - Robbins is really out of his league - running east, looking for a sunset.  
12/2/2014 9:04 PM EST
Excellent point - with the internet and equitable access to information to make buy decisions the "hard sell" and those who embody it - Robbins - looks like a dated symbol of the pre-recession era. Still he somehow finds an audience.
12/2/2014 7:41 PM EST
How does he feel about "charlatan"? 
12/2/2014 7:50 PM EST
At every one of his "seminars" they push people to buy more stuff, more CDs more books, more meetings, firewalks. Reminiscent of EST?
Jimbo Squad
12/2/2014 7:34 PM EST [Edited]
I just thought of him as a sociopathic manipulator of people as I do all motivational speakers. They will say or do anything for money, shameless con men nothing more. There's one born every minute who will pay others to say what they want to hear, sad really.
12/2/2014 7:29 PM EST
Sell them a ticket to the exit.

12/2/2014 1:22 AM EST
Not my cuppa tea. Tony Robbins has some interesting ideas but its all about finding happiness in things like money and stuff and hyperactivity. Life can be greatly satisfying by just sitting and simply paying attention to it. Stop and look around. There is nothing to accomplish or get. No goals -- just be. I have no gurus, but if I had to name any they would be the likes of Siddhartha, Lao Tzu, Marcus Aurelius, the late Alan Watts and Eckhart Tolle.
12/2/2014 8:36 PM EST
I suspect the same thing was said about Bill Gates many moons ago. Just wondering: With all that Gates is giving back now, do you feel the same about him? How do you know Robbins won't do the same?
Jimbo Squad
12/2/2014 8:47 PM EST
Please don't put a smart legitimate guy and a con man in the same boat.
12/2/2014 10:18 PM EST
Well, his software sucks, if that's any grounds for comparison.
12/2/2014 12:51 AM EST
OK, I'll ask: did he pay the Post upfront for this ridiculous article? Is this what the Bezos era has wrought: cheesecake pieces on infomercial sleazebags?
12/2/2014 7:52 PM EST
You didn't get it, crane5. This is a hatchet job.
12/2/2014 8:00 PM EST
The future of journalism seems to be publicist generated articles. I don't know if this paper does it, but many online publications take money from publicists for articles.
12/2/2014 8:06 PM EST
"but many online publications..."
12/1/2014 9:05 PM EST
I spent a weekend in LA with Tony, did the fire walk, the whole nine yards. Worth every minute, every dollar.
12/2/2014 7:49 PM EST
I guess one can say you are happy to have contributed to his billion dollar fortune...
Jimbo Squad
12/2/2014 8:11 PM EST [Edited]
How much did the whole experience set you back or does he do it just for the joy of helping people.

1 comment:

  1. When one understands that most, if not all, of one's complaints really have more to do with oneself, your mindset and paradigm of the world, than with the subject of one's complaints, the world of self-understanding and self-awareness opens up. Understanding the brain's selective bias helps shed some light on your assessment of Mr. Robbins.