By Ray Rogers | March 9, 2015 | People
Advisor and mentor to everyone from billionaire CEOs to Midwest soccer moms, Tony Robbins finds serenity in his new South Florida home.
Tony Robbins at his home in West Palm Beach.
“I’m looking straight down onto turquoise blue waters—the Gulf Stream is less than a mile out, the color is amazing. Boats are going by. The temperature is 75 degrees. It’s as idyllic as you can imagine. Even the waves—it’s like I can reach out and grab them.”
No, this is not some visualization exercise from a motivational speaker; this is Tony Robbins’s reality. Robbins is sitting five feet from the edge of his West Palm Beach property, which was hard-won by strategic thinking, and subsequent action, over the course of a three-decade career. Global power players such as former President Bill Clinton, investor Paul Tudor Jones, and actor Hugh Jackman have paid him upwards of seven figures for his mentorship; his life events pack stadiums; and his books, including the recently released Money: Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, are New York Times best sellers. Robbins is the biggest life coach in the world—both figuratively and literally—he sprouted up 10 inches in high school, to a towering 6-foot-7 (the result, he would find out later in life, of a pituitary tumor).
Robbins rose to fame in the ’80s in part from the ubiquitous marathon of infomercials, but he bristles at the mere mention of the word “motivational.” “I am not a motivator, never have been; motivation to me is a warm bath you ought to take or you stink—but I am a strategist,” says Robbins, 55. “If all you are is somebody motivated, running east looking for a sunset, I don’t give a shit how motivated you are, you’re going nowhere without strategy.”
His knack for clear-headed thinking and his larger-than-life personality have helped him get serious results for millions of people. “I turn around businesses in a year or 18 months; I turn around individuals, their bodies; I turn around people emotionally. I recently met a Marine who got back from Afghanistan with PTSD—if I can turn him around, that is my life’s work.”
Robbins was a speaker on Oprah Winfrey’s Lifeclass, where he talked about “living fearlessly,” at Radio City Music Hall in 2012.
Strategic thinking also landed him his current $25 million six-bedroom West Palm Beach mansion. The California native—who has homes dotted around the world (including the number one-rated resort in Fiji)—decided to settle in South Florida in 2013 after an exhaustive search for more tax-friendly locales. “When California raised the income tax rate to the upper end, I was okay with that, but when they made it retroactive, I said this is out of control; it just pushed me over the edge. I’m only there 90 days a year, at most.”
The topic of money and its impact on everyday citizens has been top of mind for the guy whom Forbes calls “the CEO Whisperer” ever since the financial collapse of 2008. He has dined with the Dalai Lama, walked on fire with Oprah, and personally coached three of the past five US presidents. “I grew up dirt poor—‘when you went out to get the car and it was gone’ kind of poor,” he says. “I went through four fathers, or my mother did, and in my mind it was all tied to finance.”
Watching the Oscar-winning documentary Inside Job about the banking industry’s role in the financial meltdown was his final straw. He didn’t just get mad—he got to work. “I thought, I have a unique gift: I have access. I coached one of the top-10 financial traders in the history of the world, Paul Tudor Jones, for 21 straight years, every day. I thought, What if I interview 50 of the most brilliant minds in the financial world?”
For his November 2014 release, Money: Master the Game, his first major book since 1991’s blockbuster Awaken the Giant Within, he turned to the masters themselves, gleaning specific, actionable advice and steps from financial kingpins such as billionaire investor Carl Icahn and Vanguard Group founder John C. Bogle. “What’s cool about the book is it takes the greatest minds on Wall Street and brings it to Main Street,” he says, in language “soccer moms and kids just getting out of college” can access.
Robbins has donated all author proceeds, plus an additional personal contribution, to feed 50 million meals to people in need, via Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger relief charity, and an organization close to his heart. “When I was 11, we had no money for food on Thanksgiving. This man showed up at my house with bags of food and an uncooked turkey, and he changed my life. It wasn’t the food; it was the idea that strangers cared. That event shaped me more than anything else.”
Also part of Robbins’s teachings are his regular live events, including the weekend-long Unleash the Power Within or five-day Date With Destiny at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Gatherings are regularly scheduled for Fiji, New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas, but West Palm Beach will always be home. “It was just the pure serenity and beauty that made me settle here,” he says. “I’ve got water on both sides of my property, and I’ve got a 50-foot boat dock; I can go wherever I want.” And he does.
Photography by Francesco Carrozzini; George Burns (Winfrey)