Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins was on the Tim Ferriss podcast and it was good.

Sometimes I think Robbins is more ‘Tony full of baloney’ and sometimes I hear him speak and find myself nodding along, clenching my fists, and getting ready to take over the world.

The truth is somewhere in between.

Today we’ll just touch on just three ideas.

  1. Doing simple but not easy things.
  2. Inversion as  way to solve problems.
  3. Learning from others.


1/ Daily habits. “It’s a daily practice…as you do it more and more it’s like a muscle.”

Here Robbins was talking about practice of living a joyous life, but this idea can be applied to anything.

Head coach of the University of North Carolina women’s soccer Anson Dorrance frames it the same way. The task is easy, but you need to do it daily. Dorrance compares it to flipping a light switch. “That’s all it takes, but you have to make that decision every day.”

A lot of what we want in life is simple but not easy.

Marc Andreessen said setting up another Silicon Valley is simple; “you want rule of law, you want ease of migration, you want ease of trade, you want deep investments in scientific research.” That’s very formulaic. It’s like a recipe, but it’s not easy. When Andreessen tells people they often “get a stricken look on their face and they’re like, ‘what if we want Silicon Valley but we can’t do any of those things?”

Simple, but not easy.

Or, a grander example. Steve Callahan was lost at sea for 76 days. An experienced sailor he had lifeboat and some basic supplies. He wrote that the survival process is simple but not easy.

“I must work harder and longer each day to weave a world in which I can life. Survival is the play and I want the leading role. The script sounds simple enough: hang on, ration food and water, fish and tend the still. But each little nuance of my role takes on profound significance. If I keep watch too closely, I will tire and be no good for fishing, tending the still, or other essential tasks. Yet every moment that I don’t have my eyes on the horizon is a moment when a ship may pass me.”

Survival is simple; eat, drink, and watch for ships but it’s not easy.

Or with money. Cliff Asness wrote:

“We basically know how to invest. A good analogy is to dieting and diet books. We all know how to lose weight and get in better shape: Eat less and exercise more. But as Warren Buffett would say, that is simple—but not easy. Investing is no different. ”

This is what Robbins was channeling. Choosing a joyous life is simple, but not easy. You have to do a little thing each day and that’s the challenge.

2/ Inversion. “I don’t know what would cause someone to kill men, women, and children…but I can tell you who didn’t do it, a happy person.”

Robbins’s quote is from when someone asked him what would make a person commit a mass shooting and Robinson says he doesn’t know. But he uses inversion to figure out who did not do it and if we know who didn’t, that helps give an answer too.

Neville Isdell used inversion when he worked at Coca-Cola and asked, what could Pepsi do that would take market share?

Bill Simmons used inversion when he asked, what can the opponent do that scares me the most?

Terry Gross used inversion when she said, “you find out who you are by finding out who you’re not.” Morgan Housel lived this when he worked at an investment bank, left, and ruled that out as a career choice.

In Flash Boys, Michael Lewis wrote that one aha moment was when the RBC team slowed down their trade requests rather than speeding them up.

“It was counterintuitive,” says (Rob) Park. “Because everyone was telling us it was all about faster. We had to go faster. And we were slowing it down.”

Inversion reframes a problem. Rather than trying to solve what to do, you can solve what not to do.

  • What would hurt Coca-Cola? Letting anyone else use the term “cola” and they litigated aggressively.
  • What thing could a sports team do? Play a lineup that scares you.
  • What do you want to be when you grow up? Well, I’ll tell you what I don’t want to be.

This works at many levels too. Tren Griffin said, want to have a good spouse? Then be a good spouse. 

3/ Time travel. “My father had talked about this guy that had been such a loser before and now he was so successful so I asked the guy ‘What did you do?’ and he told me he had gone to this seminar by a guy named Jim Rohn I asked ‘What’s a seminar?’ and he said ‘This man gets up and shares the best of what he’s learned over thirty years of his life in an evening, and it saves you all those years.”

Learning from other people is the best way to save time, and you always need more time. Casey Neistat vlogged that what he really wants is more time.  neistattime.gif

Time is all there is. Startups need time. Yahoo needed more time. And the best way to find time is to skip mistakes. You do that by learning from others.

Reading books is the most prescribed solution. (If you want my suggestions sign up for a monthly email).

Robbins got it by going to a seminar, and now he gives them. David Chang and Ezra Klein read biographies. We’ll give the last word(s) to Charlie Munger:

“You’d be amazed at how much Warren reads – at how much I read. My children laugh at me. They think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”

Thanks for reading. Hopefully this saved you some time too. I’m @mikedariano on Twitter if you want to talk more about books.

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