If you think Tony Robbins’s enduring fame, wealth, and huge influence come from the fact that he’s overflowing with charisma and inspiration--and almost impossibly tall--you’re wrong. Or only partly right.
I’ll admit that I believed this myself about Robbins for many years, mainly because of his infomercial-driven, firewalk-leading past. But there’s a lot more to Robbins than that. If you think about it, there has to be for a life coach who first achieved fame nearly 30 years ago to still seem just as relevant today.
In fact, Robbins’s continued prominence is due to some very unglamorous, very workmanlike things that he has consistently done year after year. Things that have nothing whatsoever to do with charisma. That’s good news, because it means that whoever you are, you can do them too.
Here are some very smart ways to emulate Tony Robbins:
1. Be data-driven.
Every time he takes on a new coaching client, the two agree to metrics that will determine whether the client is making progress, Robbins told Fortune. Indeed, it’s clear that this career and sales coach, speaker, and multiple entrepreneur has a tight grasp on the numbers in all his endeavors, and how they relate to meeting his goals.
So should you. It’s hard to achieve success if you can’t be specific about how it should be measured.
2. Deliver maximum value.
If you want to be incredibly successful, give more than you get, Robbins explained in an interview with Inc. editor in chief Eric Schurenberg. And when Schurenberg asked Robbins for his tips on how to command a room full of people, Robbins politely made clear that was the wrong question. You can’t do it, he explained, if that’s your focus. Focus instead on delivering to every member of that audience what he or she needs, and then you’ll command everyone's attention.
3. Create systems.
Robbins is a systems geek. He helped Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff develop the V2MOM (vision, values, methods, obstacles, measures) system in use throughout Salesforce and now being taken up by CEOs everywhere.
And that’s just one example. He often creates systems for coaching clients, to go along with the metrics they have worked out together to measure the success of the coaching. Whatever the problem he’s tackling, Robbins will find a systems-oriented approach to solving it.
4. Work really, really hard.
No, not everyone who works really hard will achieve Robbins-size success. But consider that he spends 200 days a year on the road, coaching, doing interviews, and giving workshops and speeches. You can’t discount this relentless schedule and willingness to show up and keep showing up as at least a partial explanation for his success. Working harder than those around you can give you a real competitive edge.
5. Take very good care of your body.
Robbins claims that how you feel physically drives your mental attitude and even your decision making. He walks the talk: He has a vigorous exercise regimen and is very careful about what he eats and drinks (no caffeine, meat, or alcohol). And he famously uses both cold plunges and brief exposures to subfreezing temperatures to boost his health.
You don’t have to go that far. But if you’re going to follow tip number 4, you had better support yourself with exercise, a mindfulness routine, healthy eating, and plenty of sleep. You can’t keep up a grueling work schedule if you’re not in excellent health.
6. Do your homework.
The best way to give a really successful speech is to learn as much as you can about your audience and what they need from you, Robbins says. And when he set out to write a book about wealth, he interviewed 50 of the world’s smartest investors as research. He wasn’t just sharing his thoughts and ideas with the world--even though he probably would have sold exactly as many copies if he had. He went out and got the best information he could from people who knew a lot more than he did about his topic. Now that’s delivering maximum value.
7. Read. A lot.
Robbins told Fortune he studied speed reading and once set himself the goal of reading a book a day. To this day, that bookishness shows. Asked to provide a list of books everyone should read, he came up with things like Ray Kurzweil’s The Singularity Is Near and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays.
It’s a simple equation: The more you read, the more you know. And knowledge is power.
8. Spend as much time as you can with high achievers.
This was another strategy Robbins explained in his interview with Schurenberg. If you seek out occasions to meet with high achievers in areas you want to learn more about, or where you want to achieve yourself, you’ll benefit in multiple ways. You’ll forge or reinforce valuable relationships. You’ll learn a great deal about their field and set yourself up for success in it. And you’ll be forced to up your game so they don’t feel they’re wasting time with you.
9. Stay hungry.
Robbins works as hard as he does not because he has to but because he wants to. He’s hungry, he says, always looking for ways to do what he does better, faster, or as he puts it, more elegantly. And that’s an important mindset. “I've had the privilege to be around some of the most successful people on the face of the earth, the best in the world at what they do. The one common denominator is hunger,” he told Fortune.
Find something you’re so passionate about that you’ll never be satisfied. And you’ll have the most important ingredient for real success.