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Robbins, Anthony J.

Robbins, Anthony J.

(1960-)
Robbins Research Institute, Inc.

Overview

Anthony J. Robbins is a self–help author and speaker who has authored five books. His seminars and instructional audiotapes generate more than $50 million a year in revenues.

Personal Life

Anthony J. Robbins was born on February 29, 1960 in California to Jim and Niki (Shows) Robbins. He attended the University of California in Los Angeles in 1974 but did not stay to graduate. In 1985 he married Rebecca Biggerstaff, an executive, and they have four children: Tyler Jenkins, Jollie Jenkins, Joshua Jenkins, and Jairek. He and his wife later divorced, and Robbins married Sage in late 2001 in the Fiji Islands. He resides in a 10,000–square–foot oceanside mansion in Del Mar, California.

Robbins, whose motto in life is "To live and give passionately" has become known as one of the most popular self–help gurus in the United States. In addition to being the author of five books he has conducted live seminars throughout the world, produced four infomercials, and sold millions of instructional audiotapes and CDs. He is also an entrepreneur and a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Association; he has founded nine companies and owns the luxury Namale Fiji Island Resort. His humanitarian efforts include the Anthony Robbins Foundation and his consulting clients have included President Bill Clinton and several prominent athletes and companies. In recognition of his achievements, Robbins was selected as the 1994 Outstanding Humanitarian and received the Justice Brian White Award from the Touchdown Club of Washington, D.C., and was named one of the "Ten Outstanding Young Americans" by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Toastmasters International recognized him as one of the world's top five speakers in 1993 and later he received their most prestigious award, the Golden Gavel Award.

Career Details

Robbins first gained popularity in the 1980s as a motivational speaker who taught people how to walk across hot coals. He wrote two books, Unlimited Power: Strategies for Personal Excellence (Premier Publishing, 1984) and Unlimited Power: The Way to Peak Personal Achievement (Simon & Schuster, 1986), both of which became bestsellers. During the 1980s he served as president of Achievement Enterprises in Los Angeles (1979–1981) and then as president of Diamond Method (1981–1983). In 1984 he founded the Robbins Research Institute, Inc., in La Jolla, California, for which he continues to serve as president.

In the early 1990s Robbins' fame grew considerably with the advent of his series of four television infomercials, begun in April 1989, on how to improve almost every aspect of one's life: physical health, emotional well–being, relationships, finances, and professional growth. Referring to other products sold in infomercials, Robbins told Newsweek, "With infomercials, you're in the midst of spray–on hair and kitchen mops"; but he decided "the benefits outweighed the downsides." The strategy, used for selling his motivational tapes, paid off: More than a decade later the infomercials continuously aired on average every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day somewhere in North America and had generated sales of over 25 million copies of Robbins' self–help audiocassettes. The infomercials are considered a mainstay of late–night television. Robbins' infomercials have featured such celebrities as former professional football player Fran Tarkenton and actor Martin Sheen.

From there, Robbins began to gain some prestigious clients as a "peak performance consultant." In 1997 Robbins boasted in one of his infomercials that he counseled professional tennis player Andre Agassi; as a result, Agassi moved up from being ranked thirtieth in the world to first in just six months. Other top clients include the entire professional basketball teams of the Los Angeles Kings and the San Antonio Spurs, basketball coach Pat Riley, and baseball's Tommy Lasorda. He also advised members of the British royal family including Princess Diana, and employees of large organizations such as Hallmark, Southwestern Bell, and the U.S. Army. For his high–profile clients, which included President Clinton in 1994, Robbins provides his "cognitive evaluation system." Clients fill out a detailed questionnaire documenting daily events such as diet and mental and emotional well–being. Daily updates are faxed to Robbins who then evaluates the points at which the customers are functioning best. He then assists them in re–engineering their lives to maintain peak performance. For such elaborate services the wealthy pay $1 million or more. Robbins did, however, offer his services to President Clinton in 1994 free of charge.

By the mid–1990s Robbins had written three more books: Awaken the Giant Within: How to Take Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical and Financial Destiny (Summit, 1991), Giant Steps: Small Changes to Make a Big Difference: Daily Lessons in Self–Mastery (Fireside, 1994), and Notes From a Friend: A Quick and Simple Guide to Taking Charge of Your Life (Fireside, 1995). His first three books have been translated into 14 languages around the world.

Despite Robbins' success with late–night television and publishing, his real calling was public speaking. Robbins conducts more than eighty seminars a year in eight nations. He offers a variety of programs from a one–day sales seminar to a nine–day intensive "Life Mastery" program. In seminars that draw thousands of people at a time—many of them salespeople—Robbins espouses his message of "Constant and Never–Ending Improvement" (CANI!). With his 6–foot, 7–inch frame and seemingly endless bounds of energy, Robbins whips participants into a frenzy of hope and inspiration about what they can do and be. Shari Caudron of Workforce described a Robbins seminar: "To get an idea of what it's like to attend one of these screaming hug–fests, picture yourself standing on the game floor of a sports arena surrounded by 15,000 other secret achievers, all of whom are wearing some version of khaki pants and polo shirts. Now, picture your hands and 30,000 others balled into fists, punching the air above your heads. You're yelling—hollering, 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' The concrete floor vibrates as you and your new best friends stomp your feet in a fury of motivational passion." Although the participants in his seminars have been compared to fans at a last–minute–win Super Bowl game with the same mania of glee and excitement, the message remains simple as Robbins acknowledged when he told Forbes, "I try to keep my ideas simple enough so that they are actionable."

Chronology: Anthony J. Robbins

1960: Born.

1984: Published Unlimited Power: Strategies forPersonal Excellence.

1986: Published Unlimited Power: The Way to PeakPersonal Achievement.

1989: First infomercial aired.

1991: Published Awaken the Giant Within: How toTake Immediate Control of Your Mental, Emotional, Physical, and Financial Destiny.

1994: Published Giant Steps: Small Changes to Make a Big Difference: Daily Lesson in Self–Mastery; became personal advisor to President Clinton.

1995: Published Notes From a Friend: A Quick andSimple Guide to Taking Charge of Your Life.

1997: Published Ebony Power Thoughts: InspirationalThoughts from Outstanding African Americans and Unlimited Power: The Black Choice, both titles co–authored by Joseph McClendon III.

2000: Launched Website Dreamlife.com; purchased Discovery Toys.

In 1997 Robbins came out with another book, co–authored with Joseph McClendon III, head trainer of the Robbins Research Institute, titled Ebony Power Thoughts: Inspirational Thoughts from Outstanding African–Americans (Fireside). Hoping to reach an audience that had largely ignored his work, Robbins addressed the black community once again with his fifth book, also with McClendon, Unlimited Power: A Black Choice (Simon & Schuster), which encourages blacks to overcome social roadblocks and work toward their dreams. Although Robbins, who is white, appears as co–author on the book, the message is dominated by McClendon, who is black. According to Publisher's Weekly, "In a relentlessly positive and encouraging tone, [McClendon] uses his own personal experiences and many examples of famous African Americans to explain Robbins' theories." The authors use neurolinguistic programming, which is basically changing how one thinks about things, as the basis for this book; this is the same philosophy that Robbins began with in the 1980s and continues to promote today. As U.S. News & World Report noted, according to Robbins, "If you believe you can or if you believe you can't, you're right."

In addition to his best–selling books, Robbins has been extremely successful with his audiotape series "Personal Power," which has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide. Referring to an audio series titled "Powertalk," Publisher's Weekly commented, "Robbins' motor–mouth style has particular appeal, and his slightly gravelly voice comes across as direct and engaging, matching the identity projected by his big–toothed smile in the author photo." His next media endeavor, a compact disk set, was titled Personal Power II: The Driving Force! and also sold well.

Social and Economic Impact

Robbins has made various societal contributions, including serving as a spokesperson for the Missing Children's Foundation and sponsoring a college education fund in Houston, Texas. In addition, the Anthony Robbins Foundation supplies Thanksgiving dinners for 125,000 people in 65 cities in the United States and Canada. Robbins has also served on the board of directors for Ted Danson's American Oceans Campaign and supplies books and tapes to social organizations such as schools, prisons, and homeless shelters. Robbins' Mastery University, for which he serves as dean, provides a year–long educational experience and utilizes such instructors as General Norman Schwarzkopf on leadership, Dr. Deepak Chopra on psychoneuroimmunology, and Sir John Templeton on finance. More than 10,000 people from 42 nations have attended the university.

Robbins is part of the $7–billion–a–year self–help industry. Business Week reported that Robbins' portion of that, from his books, tapes, and seminars, is $80 million a year. He has founded nine companies, including Fortune Practice Management, a practice management company for dentists and other health care professionals; the Namale Fiji Island Resort, a luxury resort in the Fiji Islands; a network marketing business in Asia for nutritional products; and a television production company.

In 2000 Robbins took control of a publicly controlled shell company whose stocks were at only a few cents per share; after announcing his plans to build a self–improvement Website, called Dreamlife.com, the shares rose to $16 a piece. Robbins' portion of that was $300 million. Started as a personal and professional development Website focused on consumers, Dreamlife.com took a different turn in 2001, focusing more on the sales forces of direct–selling organizations. It also began to acquire companies with the purchase of Discovery Toys, a maker of educational products. According to Business Week, Dreamlife.com's worth stands at $480 million.

Robbins is not without his critics. In 1995 he settled the last of five lawsuits brought against him by disgruntled distributors of his video seminars who accused Robbins of failing to honor exclusive marketing rights. Without admitting wrongdoing, Robbins forked over $221,000 to close the suits. Others denounce his blatant materialism (on one of his CDs, he tells audiences, "You deserve to have an abundance of money") and the gist of his message of wealth and success. According to Newsweek, "Robbins' conspicuous consumption—he presides over an Oceanside mansion in Del Mar, helicopters to his Palm Springs home and dresses in dazzling suits—has also drawn fire." Dr. Douglas LaBier, director of the Center for Adult Development in Washington, D.C., told Newsweek, "Robbins' vision of success—money, pools and the like—is outmoded and dangerous."

Professional analysts are particularly critical of Robbins' message that preaches "feel–good–now" only provide a quick fix. For example, Robbins has advised audiences that depression can be overcome by simply staring at the ceiling and smiling. Psychologist Robert Rosen explained to Sales and Marketing Management, "One of the dangers of self–help gurus is that their personal experience isn't consistent with the experience of large numbers of people. It may be easy for Tony Robbins to look up at a ceiling, smile, and get over feeling sad, but when a clinically depressed person realizes that that solution doesn't work, he or she may end up feeling worse."

Others are more skeptical than critical of Robbins and the entire self–help industry. "At the very, very worst, these people are charming mountebanks, completely harmless," Nicholas Lemann, author of book on the history of self–help in the United States, told U.S. News & World Report, "At their best, they can help a little." Critics aside, millions swear Robbins' techniques and message of self–help enable them to lift themselves up. Judging from his popularity, it seems more people love him than hate him and as a result, Robbins has created a multi–million–dollar business of convincing people that "Reality is the reality you create."

Sources of Information

Contact at: Robbins Research Institute, Inc.
3366 North Torrey Pines Ct., Ste. 100
La Jolla, CA 92037
URL: www.anthonyrobbins.com

Bibliography

"Anthony Robbins." Robbins Research Institute, Inc., 2001. Available at http://www.anthonyrobbins.com/bio2.html.

Berenson, Alex. "Anthony Robbins Makes an Internet Play." New York Times, 8 January 2000.

Brewer, Geoffrey. "Is This Guy for Real?" Sales and Marketing Management, November 1993.

Caudron, Shari. "Meditations on Motivation." Workforce, June 2000.

Cooper, Matthew. "The Bill–and–Newt Gurus." U.S. News & World Report, 23 January 1995.

"Dreamlife, Inc." Hoover's Online, 2001. Available at http://www.hoovers.com.

Gubernick, Lisa. "The Nemesis Factor." Forbes, 9 October 1995.

Kaufman–Rosen, Leslie. "Getting in Touch with Your Inner President." Newsweek, 16 January 1995.

Levine, Art. "Peak Performance is Tiring." U.S. News & WorldReport, 24 February 1997.

McGinn, Daniel. "Self–Help U.S.A." Newsweek, 10 January 2000.

Morris, Kathleen. "$276 Million: Now That's Motivation." Business Week, 13 September 1999.

Nelson, Corinne. "Unlimited Power: The Black Choice." LibraryJournal, 1 May 1997.

"One Man's Ted Sorenson is Another's Marieanne Williamson." Time, 23 January 1995.

"Unlimited Power: A Black Choice." Publisher's Weekly, 30 December 1996.

Zinsser, John. "'Powertalk': The Power to Create, the Power to Destroy." Publisher's Weekly, 3 August 1992.

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