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Anthony Robbins or Tony Robbins (born February 29, 1960 is an American self-help writer and professional speaker.
He became well known through the use of firewalking in his seminars. He initially studied Neuro-Linguistic Programming but went on to develop his own methods.
Robbins was born Anthony J. Mahavorick in North Hollywood, California. He was raised in Azusa, California, and he attended Glendora High School. His parents divorced when he was seven years old, and his mother later remarried twice. Tony took on the surname of Jim Robbins, his second stepfather.
In 1994, a routine medical check revealed a tumor in Robbins' pituitary gland. Robbins explains in Personal Power that the tumor was actually an adenoma that had infarcted several years earlier. Due to the pressure of the adenoma on his pituitary gland, he had circulating levels of growth hormone several times higher than what would be normal for an adult his age. This had resulted in a subclinical manifestation of the disease known as acromegaly, which doctors told Robbins was responsible for his remarkable growth spurts as a teenager, as well as his large hands and feet. (He is 6 feet 7 inches tall, or 201 cm). After consulting with multiple physicians, Robbins decided not to have the adenoma resected, as it was not causing any clinical manifestations.
In a CNN interview in 2001, Robbins said it was difficult to end his 15-year marriage to Becky Robbins, saying it was the toughest decision of his life. He said that he also knew if he stayed with her, he'd be ruining her life and his. Robbins reiterates similar comments about his previous relationship in his recent Ultimate Relationship Program.
In the same year he married Bonnie Humphrey (now Sage Robbins), who was 22 years younger than his former wife.
Robbins started his career promoting seminars for Jim Rohn, and then started teaching neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) after learning it from NLP co-founder John Grinder.
Grinder encouraged Robbins to look into the firewalking experience. In 1983, Robbins located Tolly Burkan and learned how to firewalk from him. Robbins then added firewalking to his seminars, which enabled him to gain media coverage and launch his celebrity status. Robbins later began to teach Neuro-Associative Conditioning (NAC) and "Human Needs Psychology".
In his Personal Power program, he says that the difference between NAC and NLP lies in the use of the word 'conditioning' instead of the word 'programming'. The word 'conditioning' implies that the subject has greater responsibility for his or her own change, as opposed to being programmed by someone else.
Anthony Robbins calls himself a peak performance coach rather than a motivational speaker. He tries to find out what people do when they are at their peak and then help them access that peak state whenever necessary. He believes what he does is more effective than providing temporary motivation.
Robbins also conducts seminars, including his four-day Unleash the Power Within (UPW) seminar, and his Mastery University, which includes Life Mastery, Date With Destiny, and Wealth Mastery.
The UPW is also known as his firewalk seminar, during which the participants walk barefoot over hot coals at the end of the first evening. The aim of the seminar, demonstrated in the firewalk, is to illustrate that the main quality shared by those who achieve greatness is the ability to take action ('Personal Power'). Robbins' philosophy asserts that fear often holds people back from achieving what they want with their life, and that fear is a more powerful motivator than desire or attraction. Walking safely on burning coals (with the correct preparation of the coals, and instruction of the participants) requires no special physical skills, you simply have to have the courage to brave it. Applying that same principle to other aspects of life can empower the individual to attempt tasks he or she would previously (erroneously) have considered impossible.
Mastery University is promoted at the UPW seminar. Life Mastery, espouses Robbins' ideas about what makes for a healthy lifestyle, and has in the past featured guest lecturers including Deepak Chopra and John Gray (U.S. author). Date With Destiny, the only Mastery event at which Robbins is present for the entire event, is said to be designed to help participants align their values so that they are not in conflict, but rather are aligned with the participant's individual goals. Wealth Mastery teaches concepts which believers feel can facilitate financial wealth.
In 1997, Robbins initiated his Leadership Academy seminar, in which he invites participants to learn the skills he uses, with the stated goal of the program to enable the participant to "create an identity for yourself as someone who can help anyone, no matter what his/her challenge may be."
Recently Robbins has appeared at many of The Learning Annex Real Estate Wealth Expos as a headline speaker, and at the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED conference) conference.
Robbins promotes a mainly vegetarian and vegan lifestyle and endorses the views of Robert Young and Natural Hygiene practices regarding the need for an alkaline diet, in which proteins and carbohydrates are consumed separately. In recent events, he has included fish into his diet plan, citing the need for omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids in a complete diet. He has also praised John Robbins' book Diet for a New America.
In May 1995, Robbins and his company, RRI (Robbins Research International), agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they misrepresented the potential earnings of franchises for his motivational seminars, agreeing to refund $221,260 (USD) in redress.
Financial seminar guru Wade Cook also sued Robbins for copyright infringement, claiming that Robbins lifted concepts and terms from his seminars and his book, Wall Street Money Machine, during the creation of a competing financial course. In 1998, a Tacoma, Washington jury ordered Robbins to pay Cook over $650,000 in damages.
It has been suggested that some of the information in this article's Criticism or Controversy section(s) be merged into other sections to achieve a more neutral presentation. (Discuss)
Robbins' techniques, theories, and business practices have been the subject of criticism.
In a 2002 newsletter for the James Randi Educational Foundation, Randi comments on some experiences recounted by a participant at a 2002 "Unleash the Power Within" seminar. The participant recalled some experiences that had him question the credibility of Robbins. For instance, the participant questions the basis for some of the assertions made about Robbins' healthy diet system. There was also a demonstration at the seminar by one of Robbins' associates that was intended to show that the Electromagnetic field from a mobile phone can weaken an arm as part of the marketing of an EMF reduction device. James Randi calls the applied kinesiology used in the EMF demonstration a "scam."
The participant was also strongly encouraged to sign up for the next seminar, and then found that, for him, the time span in which he had the opportunity to cancel and obtain a refund was too short.
Freelance writer Steve Salerno in his book Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, states "NLP has shown up in many settings inside and outside SHAM" (his acronym for the Self-Help and Actualization Movement) but he particularly criticizes Anthony (Tony) Robbins, who he claims "made NLP his own, refining it and personalizing it into what he christened "neuroassociative conditioning" (a claim with which other proponents of NLP would disagree; see history section in NLP article). Salerno criticizes proponents of self-help, including Tony Robbins, stating it "actually fans the fires of discontent, making people feel impaired or somehow deficient as a prelude to (supposedly) curing them." Salerno opines that there are contradictions in Richard Bandler and John Grinder (the co-founders of NLP) ending up in court over who owned the rights to NLP given NLP's promotion in business for negotiations and conflict resolution and also in Tony Robbins having become divorced while marketing products for the "perfect marriage".
William T. Jarvis identifies what he believes are several flaws and misconceptions in the ideas, in particular about health and diet, in Robbins US national best seller, Unlimited Power : The New Science Of Personal Achievement. Robbins believes that deep breathing activates the lymphatic system, and likens the lymphatic system to the sewerage system of the body. Jarvis states that there is no evidence that different breathing makes long-lasting changes in the lymphatic system, but that any effects are temporary. Jarvis agrees with Robbins' encouraging participants to eat more fruit, but criticizes the way it is presented. According to Jarvis, Robbins incorrectly argues that fruit is the perfect food. In contrast Jarvis argues that milk is the closest to being the most complete food. Jarvis states that some of the information about drinking distilled water gives an inaccurate view of how the body metabolic wastes system functions. Jarvis believes that there are misconceptions about health benefits of food combining, which are supposedly based on Herbert Shelton's ideas, and that Robbins' evidence of a positive effect of undereating is flawed. Jarvis also writes that Robbins makes inaccurate claims about dietary protein requirements.
Robbins also recycles an oft-cited but unsubstantiated reference to the "Yale Study of Goals" in Unlimited Power as scientific evidence of the power of positive thought. The anecdote claims that a survey was taken of the 1953 graduating class at Yale, and only 3% of the class had written goals regarding their financial situations. Twenty years later the class was interviewed again, and the 3% of the class who had written goals were worth more than the other 97% of the students combined. This would have been strong evidence of the power of written goal setting, but the alleged Yale study appears to be an urban legend.
Celebrity meetings and endorsements
In his book Awaken the Giant Within, Robbins recounts meetings with public figures such as Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bill Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Francois Mitterand, and Lady Diana Spencer.
In his Personal Power and Get the Edge informercials, designed to sell audio programs through 30 minute television advertisements, celebrities who are reported to have appeared without compensation to endorse his work have included Fran Tarkenton, Pamela Anderson, Quincy Jones, Erin Brockovich and Anthony Hopkins.
It was reported in the New York Times that in December 1994 President Bill Clinton invited Robbins, along with Marianne Williamson and Dr. Steven R. Covey, to Camp David, though "all refuse to divulge the substance of their meeting with the Clintons. Mr. Covey said only that it was 'marvelous.'"
In Shallow Hal Robbins appears in a scene with Jack Black's character in an elevator where Robbins hypnotizes Black's character in order to change Black's mental state. Black's character can now see people's outward appearance based on their inner personality. The scene is pivotal to the plot. In this scene, Black's character riffs on Robbins's large hands calling them "banana hands". Robbins also appears later in the movie and shares dialog with Jason Alexander.
Robbins also appears in the upcoming movie The Singularity Is Near: A True Story About The Future, which is based on the book The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (2005) by Ray Kurzweil. In the movie, an AI hires Robbins to help her become more human. The movie is scheduled for a late 2008 release.
Anthony Robbins Foundation
Robbins is the founder of the Anthony Robbins Foundation, which proclaims its mission is to empower students, help prisoners to improve their lives, organize food drives, and fund Robbins' summer "Discovery Camp". According to the website, it has "products and programs in more than 2,000 schools, 700 prisons, and 100,000 health and human service organizations. The Foundation is committed to make a difference in the quality of life for children, the homeless, the prison population, and the elderly through its various programs." Charity Navigator gives the foundation an overall rating of four out of four stars.