Why Do People Give Their Money to Tony Robbins?

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that the vast majority of people who make a purchase from Tony don’t materially improve their lives.

But this isn’t a critique of Robbins per se.

Sure, what he ostensibly says he does (i.e. “improve people’s lives) isn’t true.

But a much more interesting question is what’s the value being provided.

He’s the creator and king of an entire category of business. People get something out of his products. What is it?

A few possibilities:

1. He trades status. He’s coached some big names over the years, some of whom are willing to give public endorsements. When you’re in the self-improvement world and quality is almost impossible to predict, how do you show you’re worth it? By pointing at powerful names and said “I helped make them.”

2. People want an experience, not self improvement. Something like a secular religious revival experience. I could see many of Tony’s events working here. Momentarily you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself, you feel like your life has direction and purpose, etc. 1

3. He describes, understands, and empathizes with people’s problems better than almost anyone. This is Ramit Sethi’s true skill, but focused only on millenials. Maybe Tony does the same but focused much more broadly. Basically any interview he does starts with him describing people’s life problems. Sure that’s good sales in general, but maybe he connects better than most.

4. The dude’s just physically huge, and humans tend to follow bigger humans. (Shout out to my friend Derek Andersen for this idea.) 2

There’s a million coaches online selling personal services and courses. Why buy from Tony when you could get much more individualized attention and custom work done from somebody else?


  1. Though depending on your definition of religion, Tony’s following could probably qualify.

  2. Simple but “this explains everything” ideas are fun. Not because they’re necessarily right, but because the fact that it could be reveals something else about us.