Why I Almost Didn’t Go to Tony Robbins: A Review of the Power of Success Event
This past Thursday I was walking briskly down Jasper Avenue in the -13° C cold. I was carrying my grab & go falafel wrap and Fiji water that I grabbed on the walk from the downtown parkade (yes, Fiji Water Girl’s savvy advertising tactics work!). I was on my way to find a seat in the back of the Edmonton Convention Centre to see Tony Robbins. It was a last-minute decision to go, one that I was on the fence about since learning he was coming to Edmonton for the first time in 11 years.
Why I was Hesitant to Buy Tickets for Tony Robbins’ Event
After Robbins made controversial remarks about the #MeToo movement, I’ve had mixed feelings about him. The question in my mind was “Does Tony Robbins use his power more for individual gain or does he also see the bigger picture and challenge his own thinking if necessary (as he is known to ask others to do)”?
At an event last Spring, Tony Robbins was praising Steve Wynn, casino tycoon who has been accused of sexual abuse. He went on to speak about victimhood and how the #metoo movement was being used to hurt men so that women could gain significance. As you can see in the video below a woman in the audience, Nanine McCool, a victim of sexual abuse calls Tony Robbins out on how he was shaming victims.
Don’t get me wrong – if you identify as a victim and choose to use events from the past as an excuse to stop growing or to use all your energy to hurt others, then of course this isn’t serving you. I get his point on that front.
However, there’s a significantly more positive side to the #metoo movement that I beleive Tony Robbins does not understand or choose to see.
It is my belief that the #MeToo movement is a symptom of a bigger problem, a cry for help; and the people with the most influence to help are the ones in power, especially those influencing the most powerful men in the world, like Tony Robbins.
When McCool confronted Robbins on doing a disservice to the movement, he ironically illustrates my point that there is a bigger problem. He told everyone how many of his male CEO clients are afraid to hire women. He recalls a specific example where a “famous CEO” confides in Robbins that he chose a lesser qualified man over a more qualified woman because she was “attractive” and was worried it would be a liability for him.
Robbins used this above example of how “victimhood” is backfiring on women. I see Robbins’ CEO friends as examples of how (many) men in power see women as sex objects first and foremost. Robbins speaks about our mental blueprints, and this is an example of how we all have been conditioned to see women. Our sexual appeal is seen as a threat, no matter how qualified we are. It shouldn’t be a problem to hire an attractive woman if you trust that your work environment is respectful and inclusive.
I see both the #MeToo movement and Tony Robbins’ CEO example as symptoms of a bigger, systemic problem.
In the same video, Robbins’ asks the audience “who shouldn’t throw stones?” (the response of course: “people in glass houses”). Ironically, it only takes a quick Google search to see that Robbins’ has sued people who have tried to hurt his reputation. My question is, why is it ok for men to gain “significance” by holding others accountable for their actions, but not women?
Since I respect Tony Robbins, his brutal honesty, and his insightfulness as a coach, I expected him to look at this from a systems view instead of attacking women as the problem. Even his body language and words were used as a form of intimidation against McCool, in my opinion.
I so wished that McCool had been given the space to ask why Robbins didn’t challenge the thinking of his male CEO clients who were clearly making decisions based on fear of the #metoo movement. But WOW I’ve got to say, the courage it took for McCool to stand up in front of thousands of Tony Robbins’ supporters to defend what she believes in, exemplified a beautiful example of how “victims” have become empowered to speak up as a result of #metoo.
And I digress…
So then why did I end up going?
Great question. Even as I wrote about my hesitation above, I felt a bit of guilt. But, I also didn’t want to judge Robbins based on one experience.
There are a few main reasons why I decided to go:
Robbins has issued an apology for his remarks regarding #metoo (even after saying adamantly that he would not apologize). My hope he is taking this as a learning opportunity.
To be honest, my curiosity about what the event would be like, after hearing so much hype, was a driving force, especially as coach. Over 400 million people have attended his events, many of which credit him with transforming their lives. So he can’t be all bad, right?
Plus his 4-day event ranges from a few hundred to $3-4k USD and this one was a jam-packed day, priced at only $100 CDN. I figured this would be my only opportunity unless I wanted to go “all in”.
But the main reason I went was that professionally, I felt it was my duty to check it out and be able to provide feedback for my readers and clients — as most of you reading this value personal development.
So, with that final reason in mind, here is my review of the event, and Tony below. I think it’s only fair to give you the whole picture, so I am giving you my honest opinion without my bias that I’ve laid out above.
My Review of Power of Success*
As expected there was a lot of “flash”: loud music, flashing screens, getting out of your seats, clapping, dancing, etc. Robbins moves and speaks quickly so it didn’t take away from the content. As this is a one-day event we did not have time to walk on hot coals (ouch!)
Robbins challenges your perception through short, engaging exercises. None of this was new to me, but a fun way to shift your thinking.
Robbins is entertaining: he uses jokes and storytelling to keep you interested which is appreciated at the end of a long day (he came out at 3pm, the event started at 8am).
Robbins gives you simple frameworks that can be applied to how you think about your own habits and goals. These are tools you can take away and reflect on to see where you need to shift.
You will agree with Tony. Robbins asks you to raise your hand if you agree, or “say I” a LOT. Personally I found this a bit annoying but this is a way for him to keep you listening and engaged. I suspect he also uses it as a tool to send a message to your brain that you are learning, getting value, and trust him. This is important for you if you are truly going to adopt the methods learned.
There’s a lot of touching. There is a reason you leave a Tony Robbins’ event feeling better than when you arrived. There are lots of deliberate activities that (for most of us) trigger endorphin release. Other than the aforementioned dancing, on the more physical side there’s hugging and the massaging of your neighbours. I was in between two couples, and that part was a bit awky because I wasn’t getting the impression they were into it. Talk about 5th wheel. But, in general I think it’s great to make connections with your neighbours so I did appreciate this aspect.
Robbins leaves you wanting more. I was a bit annoyed that there were two slides that were skipped before the full content was displayed. For example, the three things you must know in business (only two were shown). This might have been because he was rushing through the content so he could fit it all in; I don’t think the general feeling of wanting more is coincidence though, since he’s selling tickets to his bigger (and way more expensive) Unleash the Power Within event onsite.
Robbins makes you more aware of your own state. He asks questions and uses physical exercises that force you to be more aware of your own energy and how that’s showing up in the world.
Robbins emphasizes our blueprints that are made up of our mindset, habits, cultural influences, etc. Again, this is not something that was new for me, but it helps bring awareness to the assumptions you make going through life.
He went over time. I can’t speak to all events, but the event was supposed to end at 5:30pm and he told the audience when he came on at 3pm that he would end at 6:30pm (since originally posting I learned he stayed on until 8pm- apparently this is typical for Robbins!). This was disappointing because I wanted to stay and see what else he covered but I did not have childcare arranged, so a little heads-up would have been appreciated.
(By the way, if you’re curious - he did speak about victimhood. He was careful to stick to extreme examples like Lorena Bobbitt and the Menendez brothers that in Robbins’ opinion started this culture of playing the victim).
Is it Worth it to Purchase Tickets to Power of Success?
The Power of Success event is worth the $100 - $300 investment (more if you opt for VIP) if you are looking to have some fun, shift your thinking for a day and learn some surface-level tips for helping you with general problems you are facing in your work and life. It’s not a transformational event by any means. It’s jam packed with content with a variety of speakers, all who will have a sales pitch to their big ticket products and events.
From what I hear, this is not a good representation of what Robbins’ other events are like, such as Unleash the Power Within.
If you are debating whether to make a bigger investment toward a Tony Robbins’, or any personal development event for that matter, I wholeheartedly believe that when you invest a lot of time and money into something you will get as much out of it as you invest- before, during, and after the event. You must first consider your level of disatisfaction with your current situation because that will predict whether you will follow through with what you learn. If your openness to a specific change that initially brings you to the event is stronger than your resistance or fear, then it will be worth it (assuming you receive the tools you need). So in that respect, I would never tell someone not to go to a Tony Robbins’ event or any personal development event for that matter.
That being said, there are other things to consider investing in if you are serious about seeking the personal clarity to grow into the person who can create the future you want. I’m totally biased but if you find a really good ICF certified coach who uses the same (I’ll argue maybe even stronger) principles and NLP coaching techniques in a judgement-free space, you’ll see more impactful results that are likely sustainable and tailored to your own preferences, learning style, habits and beliefs. Also, if there is specific content you need to learn, of course choose an event or coach that has the content you need.
So, only you can make the decision but hopefully this review helped you form a more balanced opinion.
I hope this article doesn’t leave you with the impression that I’m judging harshly or painting Tony Robbins with a misogynistic brush. I am simply speaking to my own truth. In general, I strive to honour my values and make choices that are aligned to the world I want to create around me. That is a world that is progressively more inclusive and open to positive change.
My hope is I was able to give you a perspective that might change how you choose your own development opportunities and how you take guidance, even from the most influential gurus. Take what you need, what serves your purpose, discard the rest. And stand up for what you believe in, because your opinion matters, no matter how unpopular.
So what are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them below. Is seeing Tony Robbins ‘live’ on your bucket list? Do you forgive him for his remarks about #metoo or do you think he needs to do more to support the movement? Please comment below and help me start a dialogue.
*Full disclaimer: I did not attend the entire event, so my review is based on watching Tony Robbins’ portion, until his scheduled end time. Other than Tony Robbins’, I was also able to watch Niurka’s presentation immediately following lunch but I have only focused this review on Tony Robbins, not the entire Power of Success event.
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