Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins in 2009
Born Anthony J. Mahavoric
(1960-02-29) February 29, 1960
North Hollywood, California, U.S.
Occupation Businessman
Years active 1978–present
Spouse(s) Becky Robbins (m. 1982–2001)
Sage Robbins (m. 2001)

Tony Robbins (born Anthony J. Mahavoric; February 29, 1960) is an American businessman, author, and philanthropist.[1] 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, earning an estimated $30 million annually.[2]

Early life

Robbins was born Anthony J. Mahavoric in North Hollywood, California, on February 29, 1960.[3] His surname was originally spelled 'Mohorović' and is of Croatian origin.[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 helped provide for his siblings. Robbins was raised in Azusa and Glendora, California. 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.[3] Robbins later worked as a janitor, and did not attend college.[3]


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

Later, without any educational background in psychology, 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 and began to incorporate it into his seminars.[6] Robbins' use of board breaking, skydiving, and later firewalking in his seminars is intended to help participants learn to push through their fears.[7]

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.[8] Early infomercials featured celebrities such as Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton and actor Martin Sheen.[9] By 1991, an estimated 100 million Americans in 200 media markets had viewed his infomercials.[9]

In 1997, Robbins began the Leadership Academy seminar.[10] Robbins is a featured speaker on the seminar circuit sponsored by Learning Annex. Robbins appeared as a featured speaker at the 2006 Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference. As of May 2016, his talk was the seventh-most viewed TED talk.[11]

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."[12]

In 2014, Robbins, along with a group of investors including Magic Johnson, Mia Hamm, and Peter Guber, acquired rights to launch a Major League Soccer franchise in Los Angeles, California. The team is scheduled to begin competition in 2017.[13]


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, reached number one on the New York Times' "Advice, How-To, & Miscellaneous" bestseller list in December 2014, and went on to sell a million copies in its first year.[18] The book contains information stemming from his interviews with over 50 financial experts.[19][20]


In 1991, Robbins founded the Anthony Robbins Foundation, a charity dedicated to empowering individuals and organizations.[21] 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.[22] Independent charity watchdog Charity Navigator gives the Anthony Robbins Foundation a rating of four out of four stars.[22]

In 2014, he donated the profits of his book, Money: Master the Game, along with an additional personal donation, through Feeding America to provide meals to people in need.[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.[23]

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[24] 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. Robbins was forced to pay the entire amount.[25]

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.[26][27]

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 an "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 effect of the defamation upon his reputation leaves the court somewhat in the dark about these matters".[28][29]

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.[30] A similar corrective article was published by The Huffington Post.[31][32]

On June 24, 2016 dozens were burned and required medical attention after attempting to walk on hot coals during a fire walking event at a Tony Robbins motivational seminar in Dallas, TX.[33] Several attendees required hospitalization and were transported to medical facilities to treat burns while a bus was required by emergency services to handle the triage of burn victims.

According to Robbins' website, the "fire walk" is intended to help people conquer their fears by walking across hot coals.[34] It takes place during the "Turn Fear Into Power" portion of the event.

"Walking over those hot coals is a symbolic experience that proves if you can make it through the fire, you can make it through anything," his website says.

Celebrity status

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

He was lampooned in episode 22 of season 3 of Family Guy.[35]

In Men In Black, an array of screens at headquarters is 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.[36][37] NBC canceled the show, after airing two of the planned six episodes, due to low viewership of 2.8 million.[38] 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.[39]

In April 2012, Robbins began cohosting Oprah's Lifeclass on the OWN Network.[40]

Personal life

In 1982, he married Rebecca "Becky" Jenkins, after meeting her at a seminar.[41][42][43] Jenkins had three children from two former marriages whom Robbins adopted. Robbins and Jenkins filed for divorce 14 years later.[43]

In 1984, Robbins and former girlfriend Liz Acosta had a son Jairek Robbins, who is also a personal empowerment trainer.[44]

Robbins married Bonnie "Sage" Humphrey, a phlebotomist and acupuncturist, in October 2001. Robbins resides in Palm Beach, Florida.[45]

Associated people


  1. O'Keefe, Brian (30 October 2014). "Tony Robbins, The CEO Whisperer". FORTUNE. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  2. "#62 Anthony Robbins". Forbes. June 14, 2007.
  3. 1 2 3 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. Archived from the original on October 16, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  6. 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
  7. Jason Fell (21 January 2014). "Tony Robbins on the Importance of Being Fearless". Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  8. "Guthy-Renker Corporation". International Directory of Company Histories.
  9. 1 2 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.
  10. Robbins, Anthony (2005). Leadership Academy Manual. San Diego, California: Robbins Research International, Inc. p. 3.
  11. "The 20 most-popular TED Talks as of May 2016 | TED Blog". Retrieved 2016-05-12.
  12. "Robbins-Madanes Center for Strategic Intervention Products". Robbins-Madanes Center. Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  13. Scott, Nate (2014-10-30). "New Los Angeles MLS team has 22 owners, including Tony Robbins, Mia Hamm and Magic Johnson". USA Today: For The Win. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  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. 1 2 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. "Our Mission". Anthony Robbins Foundation. Retrieved 15 July 2015.
  22. 1 2 Charity Navigator (2013). "Anthony Robbins Foundation". Charity Navigator Ratings. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
  23. 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.
  24. "All Business web site, October 6, 1998, Anthony Robbins Cos". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  25. "Wade Cook Jury Award vs. Tony Robbins Upheld by 9th Circuit Court.".
  26. "Fit For Life: Some Notes on the Book and Its Roots". Quackwatch. 1999. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  27. "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.)
  28. "News > News Item". Stockwatch. Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  29. "2005 BCSC 1634 Robbins v. Pacific Newspaper Group Inc. et al". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  30. Doocy, Steve (August 8, 2012). "Fox News".
  31. Schnall, Marianne (July 31, 2012). "Tony Robbins Sets the Record Straight About Fire Walk 'Controversy'". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 7, 2012.
  32. 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.
  33. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  34. "What is the Tony Robbins Firewalk". Tony Robbins. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  35. "Tony Robbins Hungry". YouTube. 2012-06-13. Retrieved 2013-09-28.
  36. Schneider, Michael (February 9, 2009). "''Variety'': "NBC Picks Up ''Breakthrough with Tony Robbins''"". Retrieved October 17, 2011.
  37. "Breakthrough with Tony Robbins to Debut July 27".
  38. "Tony Robbins' series pulled from NBC schedule".
  39. "Tony Robbins, Parts 1 and 2". 2012-02-19.
  40. Gallo, Carmine (February 24, 2012). "How Tony Robbins Gets in Peak State for Presentations".
  41. "Tony Robbins: An Awakened Giant Within… Life & Lessons". One Life Success. 1 May 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
  42. Geoffrey Brewer (November 1993). "Is this guy for real?". Sales & Marketing Management. p. 92.
  43. 1 2 Robbins, Anthony J. (2002). "Business Leader Profiles for Students". pp. 390–394.
  44. "About - Tony Robbins". Tony Robbins.
  45. 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.
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