We asked legendary business and life coach Tony Robbins to share his advice for new and aspiring entrepreneurs. Here’s what he had to say:
When did you first learn you had a passion and talent for inspiring others?
I grew up in a tough environment. I had four different fathers and I remember telling my very strong-willed mother, “Mom, I’m confused. Why do I have four fathers?”
I had to become a practical psychologist. It was how I navigated the unstable shifts in my upbringing.
I became obsessed with understanding what makes the difference in people. Why did none of my four fathers ever find success or fulfillment in life? Why are there some people who have everything and fail, or can’t fight their way out of a paper bag? And yet others, whom life has given incredible amounts of adversity, go on to defy the odds and inspire us the most?
I discovered there are patterns. Patterns that make people happy, sad, successful, failed, fulfilled, and frustrated. By tapping into these patterns, first within myself, and transforming my own life, I had the power to transfer this to others.
How did you get your start as a life and business strategist, and what allowed you to become one of the most recognizable personalities in this space?
I was 17 working part-time as a janitor when $35 changed my life. I made that $35 purchase (a week’s worth of pay back then) for a three-hour Jim Rohn seminar.
That decision became life-changing. Jim Rohn, who would later become my mentor, let me in on this transformative adage: To become valuable, work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
The most important investment you can make is in yourself.
It will always give you a return. And no one can take that away from you. Once I knew how to invest in myself and saw the rewards, I immediately wanted to share it with others. I wanted to help other humans find their power to live the life of their dreams.
I also played without a net.
What I mean by that is I went for it. I took on opportunities and experiences without anything to fall back on if it didn’t work out.
No risk, no reward.
At the beginning of my career, I’d do radio shows where people could call in and I’d answer their questions. Occasionally, I’d have an irate therapist phone in, calling me horrible names for claiming that I couldn’t help people overcome things they had been struggling with for years in the span of the show.
My response? I’d ask them to meet in person and give me their worst patients, ones they had been working with for years, and who were not making any progress.
And I’d help solve their problems, often in front of an audience.
This is playing without a net. I didn’t know how these live interventions might go, but my reputation was tied to the results.
I had to deliver. It was a must, not a should.
And lastly, what I do isn’t about me. It might sound cheesy, but I believe that life supports what supports more of life. In other words, motivation does matter. If you’re just trying to take care of yourself, you’re only going to go so far.
When you have a goal outside of yourself, and it’s truly to serve, there’s a different level of resources and insight you can tap into. I believe life steps in and gives you a divine nudge.
Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
Growing up, I didn’t have a ton of role models, but I did have books and those were my role models until I entered the world of business. I read 700 books in one year on history, biographies, decision-making, anything I could get my hands on to feed my mind.
Today, it’s titans that I’m lucky enough to consider friends, like Ray Dalio, Peter Guber, Paul Tudor Jones, Marc Benioff, the late Jack Bogle. It’s powerhouses like Sara Blakely and Jamie Kern Lima who wouldn’t take “no” for an answer.
I look up to these human beings because they didn’t come from the lucky sperm club. They didn’t start with millions of dollars. They were self-made success stories.
These humans showed and continue to show us what’s possible, despite where we start out in life.
But I’m also inspired by the simple things in life; my wife, my family, other human beings I encounter stepping up and doing what’s right. These touch my heart and inspire me daily.
What is your No. 1 piece of advice for new and aspiring business owners?
I’ll give you three keys that any business owner needs to tap into when starting a new business:
1. Know your ideal client
It doesn’t matter what industry you get into; you have to know your ideal client. You have to know more about the customer than they know about themselves. You have to dig in and find out what they want, what they need, what they hate, what they fear, and what excites them. I’ve always said that life is the dance between what you desire most and what you fear most.
2. Create an irresistible offer
Next you need to create an irresistible offer. Something so enticing that your ideal client would feel foolish not to act on. In the instance of Zappos, they offered free shipping on an unlimited pair of shoes, and free return shipping for any shoes that did not fit. People thought they were crazy!
At the time, trying on shoes at home vs. in-store was a novel idea, but because of this newly offered convenience (and at no additional cost to the customer) Zappos became incredibly popular.
The company went from bankruptcy to being sold to Amazon for $1.2 billion seven years later, all because they had the right offer.
3. Add more value than anyone else
The mantra for success is simple: Do more for others than anyone else will. Exceed their expectations. Add more value.
Don’t make the same fatal mistake that I see so many entrepreneurs make. They fall in love with their product or service when they need to fall in love with their customers. If you get caught up loving your product or service, you’ll develop loyalty to that instead of loyalty to your clients.
And if you’re wanting concrete skills to scale your business idea, I have a 5-day immersive business program called Business Mastery where we help entrepreneurs discover the surprising factors that are holding them back in their business, create a monumental vision for their business, and develop actionable tools to grow their business.
What would you say to someone thinking about starting their own business to get them to make that leap of faith?
Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. If you want a comfortable life, you won’t have success or passion. “Comfortable” never started companies, took investment risks, or created any meaningful progress.
Push past fear — turn fear on itself. What scares you more? Being uncomfortable, or settling for a life that’s less than you desire or deserve?
The only way to get throughis faith over fear. It doesn’t necessarily have to be faith in a religious sense, but that deep knowing that you’re made for something more.