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Bob Ruffolo

By Bob Ruffolo

Mar 1, 2017


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Unleash the Power Within: Lessons from 4 days with Tony Robbins

Bob Ruffolo

By Bob Ruffolo

Mar 1, 2017

Unleash the Power Within: Lessons from 4 days with Tony Robbins

Tom and I just came back from four days at Tony Robbins’ Unleash the Power Within in West Palm Beach, FL.

We met a lot of successful people, witnessed a surprise appearance from Pitbull, chanted “Yes!” over and over again, and  shook our asses (there was a lot of dancing, and yes, I danced a lot), but most importantly, we learned a lot about success and a lot about ourselves.

In this post, I want to share a little bit of my experience and what I learned.


I have to admit before I went, I really didn’t know too much about motivational speaker and author, Tony Robbins.

When I told my peers that I was going (and after when I told them I went), there was a clear divide between people that LOVE Tony Robbins and people that think he’s a scam.

On both sides of the argument, I have people that are incredibly successful and that I trust. There was no clear black and white, so this was one of those moments where I just had to experience it and form my own opinion.

What is Unleash the Power Within?

For those of you that are not familiar with Unleash the Power Within (UPW), it’s a four-day event with Tony Robbins designed to help you create a breakthrough and create the quality of life you desire.

Each day is extremely long -- I’m talking 14 hours, non-stop. Here’s a high-level breakdown.

  • Day 2 is about understanding what you want out of life and helps you discover the steps needed to creating lasting change.

  • Day 3 is about discovering your limiting beliefs that are holding you from success, such as “I’m too young” or “I’m not educated enough” and replacing them with empowering beliefs that help drive the results you want.

  • Day 4 is all about preparing your body to have the energy you need to have an extraordinary quality of life.

Why did I go?

The main reason I went was because my friend and fellow marketer, David Meerman Scott highly recommended it.

David has attended many of Tony’s events and speaks at all of his Business Mastery Events worldwide. I look up to him a great deal, so when he told me I needed to go, bring Tom, and buy the most expensive tickets, I listened.

What did I learn?

It would be impossible for me to write every single thing I’ve learned at UPW, so below, I’m going to share some of the major takeaways that had the biggest impact on me. 

1. Outstanding by choice

unleash-thepower-within-tony-robbins.jpgOne thing that really stood out to me was the idea that being outstanding is a choice and we’re the masters of our own destiny. I remember reading Jim Collins’ Great by Choice and the concepts of discipline and keep marching.

Listening to Tony and the stories he shared was a great reminder that being the best is 100% a choice.

However, we too often limit ourselves for “good enough.” Tony explained that as human beings, our minds are designed to try and survive, to get good enough.

Why strive for a 4.0 GPA when 3.6 is good enough? Or why push to maximize our bonus when just below it is good enough?

When you can reprogram your mindset so that good enough is not good enough, you can start to separate yourself. That’s what Steve Jobs did. As did Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, and The Beatles.

“If you are hungry to grow and overcome your fears, you can achieve everything and you will not settle. “ - Tony Robbins

However, if this hunger is temporary, it will go away. This hunger, this motivational energy, is a choice. This is why many of us settle for good. It’s like when we say “I worked out the last two days, I’m going to take today off” and before you know it, you haven’t worked out in two weeks.

To illustrate, Tony shared us the story of Sister MaDonna Buder.

Sister MaDonna, at the age of 48, was out of shape and was seeking to improve her mind, body, and spirit.

So, she began training when most people would have said I’m too old for this. At the age of 52, she completed her first triathlon, and at 55, she completed her first Ironman competition. To date, she has completed over 325 triathlons including 45 Ironman Distances. At age 75, she became the oldest woman to complete an Ironman and in 2011, at the age of 82, she became the oldest person to complete the Ironman.

Sister MaDonna Buder is a great example of someone that made the choice to be outstanding.

2. Play all-out

Now, before I left, one thing David told me I needed to do was “play all-out;” just give into the experience wholeheartedly and not hold back.

He told me to dance, yell, and just go with it. One the first day of Unleash the Power Within, Tony echoed that call when he asked the 9000 of us to do the same. So, that’s what Tom and I did; it’s like we drank the Kool-Aid.

When you commit yourself to playing all out, it immediately changes your perspective.

If I thought everything was weird and acted as if I thought it was weird, I probably would not have received the most from my experience (or from my investment).

It’s amazing what happens when you change your thought process, focus, and  language.

I left UPW feeling energized and happy. I also noticed that I retained the majority of what I just learned. I don’t think that would have happened if I just sat simply just back and observed and watched everyone else play all-out.

3. Stress = fear

Another one of Tony’s concepts that really resonated with me was that stress and fear are one entity. In other words, if you break down why you’re stressed at work or home, the cause is almost fear, and at the end of the day, there are only two fears:

  1. I’m not good enough

  2. I can’t be loved.

Tony expressed that if we can come to terms with the fact that we are good enough and can be loved, we can overcome these fears.

As young professionals, we’re always stressed, right?

I hear it all the time from my team at various points in a given month -  “It’s ok, I’m just stressed.” But understanding what Tony explained really opened my eyes.

Instead of listening to a team member tell me that they’re stressed today and me just telling them they’ll be fine, I know subconsciously, they’re expressing one of the above two fears, and most likely that it’s that they’re feeling like they’re not good enough (of course you may have to use the five whys technique to get there).

So, maybe one of the best ways to counter stress with your team is by reinforcing how I feel about them, showing how much I appreciate them, and reminding them that they’re better than good enough. They’re great!

4. Outstanding is better than excellent

Tony Robbins explains that the difference between novel and good is huge and that the difference between good and excellent is just as big. The difference between excellence and outstanding, however, is only 2mm.

Good gets good rewards, but excellence unfortunately only gets good rewards too. Outstanding, on the other hand, gets all the best rewards.

For example, if you’re the best in the world at an event in the Olympics, you get a gold medal. Second and third get medals too, but they’re not gold. What does 4th place get? The 4th best person in the entire world gets nothing.

Here’s another (geeky) example of this for my marketing friends.

In Google search results, the first result gets 31% of the clicks, while the second drops all the way to 14% of the clicks, third gets 10%, and tenth only gets about 3%. “Good enough” is being on the first page, but the best, or most outstanding, is #1.

So how does one go from being excellent to the best?

Tony dedicated his time and research towards understanding this question, and he expresses that it’s not really much. The best athletes, business people, musicians, surgeons, you name it,  all shared with Tony their competitive edges. They know the one or two small little things that separate excellent and outstanding. Explained below, the difference is only 2mm.

5. Outstanding people leave clues

So, now that we know that the best people in the world know what it takes to go from excellent to outstanding, the obvious thing is to find out from them what those one or two things are and start doing them, right?

That’s what Tony explains when he says the best people leave clues / shortcuts. Instead of taking 10 years to become an expert in something (sorry Malcolm Gladwell), you can become outstanding at something in a fraction of the time by learning from the tips or “clues” outstanding people share or leave behind.

You just have to find out what those little things are that the outstanding do differently from the excellent.

"If you want to achieve success, all you need to do is find a way to model those who have already succeeded." - Tony Robbins

Here are two questions for you:

  • Whose success clues are you studying?

  • Whose model are you duplicating?

It’s time to do some first-person research. Find someone that’s already achieved something outstanding and figure out what they’re doing and how you can too.

Once you figure this out, put your own spin on it. Start with something that’s already working; don’t reinvent the wheel. Simply adapt the habit to your own lifestyle.

6. The power of full immersion training

UPW was full immersion. As I mentioned about, it was four straight full days, a few of them lasting over 12 hours. The a reason for this was that if you want to make a lasting change, you need to go full immersion.

It’s like learning a new language. I took four years of Spanish and unfortunately, I hardly remember any of it. If was dropped in the heart of Spain for three months, however, I bet I would come back knowing a heck of a lot more Spanish than I did just sitting in a classroom.

Tony explains the importance of full immersion training in this video below.


One interesting thing about me is that I’ve never really learned how to type. I mean, I don’t type with just two fingers, but it’s not far off (don’t laugh!).

Like the Spanish example above, it’s not like I haven’t tried. I took a class in high school and it just never sank in. It’s actually something that really bothers me about myself and I know I need to take care of it.

After going through this experience with full immersion, it made me realize that that’s what I have to do in order to learn how to type. I need to be fully immersed in it.

I’m currently looking for a 2-3 day workshop where I can fully immerse myself in typing or computing as a whole. If anyone knows of anything like this, let me know.

7. Importance of a peer group

This is one lesson I knew, but it’s definitely worth mentioning to wrap up this post.

A good peer group will help hold you accountable to achieve your goals, and if you have a peer that’s already the best at what they do, they’re only going to help you get better. I’ll never forget a quote I heard at INBOUND 2014 from a friend of mine, Tiffany Sauder, during her presentation.

She said “This is going to sound awful, but you have to trust me. If you hang out with successful people, you’ll become successful, but if you hang out with bottom feeders, you’ll be a bottom feeder.”

Extreme, but true.

This is a great post on Copyblogger that shows the importance of a strong peer group.

"People's lives are a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group. If your peer group doesn't expect much, it's just a matter of time before you lower your expectations of yourself." - Tony Robbins

I’m lucky enough to have several strong peer groups. First, there’s the HubSpot Partner Community and more recently, I’ve become involved in Small Giants.

I’m also part of a startup entrepreneurs group called YELOW that meets monthly in a forum format. (YELOW is growing if you’d like to join us.)

Lastly, I also really enjoyed the people I met at UPW and I’m excited to see them again at future Tony Robbin’s events.

All of these groups are filled with smart, confident, inspirational people and I know I can learn a lot from them.

Forming my own opinion

Now, after attending, it’s time for me to form my own opinion about UPW.

Was it vaguely cultish: yes. (I mean, we did walk on fire chanting “YES! YES! YES!”)

Was it expensive: yes.

Honestly, going to a Tony Robbins event comes with a hefty price tag and you’ll find there are many attempts to upsell you, but was it worth it? Yes.

You could look at the expense as a rip-off (which I definitely don’t) or you could understand that Robbins’ research is a multi-billion dollar company for a reason, and there are valuable marketing and sales lessons to be learned.

Every second and every penny spent on UPW was worth it. I’m looking forward to going to Business Mastery in August and attending more of Tony Robbins’ events in 2017.

If you’ve never been, I highly recommend you check out one of UPW or another one of his seminar. Looks like he runs a few of them a year, and the next one being in Dallas in June.

While I was torn at work, It was truly a unique and positive experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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