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Monday , 21 September 2020
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MAZZIOTTI: The scam of the motivational speaker

I’ve been to two Tony Robbins seminars, and they were vastly different experiences. The second event was very much the same as the first, but what had changed was me.

Now I see it for what it is–a scam.

Tony Robbins is a life coach, best-selling author, and public speaker. Arguably most famous for his seminars, Robbins’ most popular Unleash the Power Within nets him around $9 million annually.

I went to Unleash the Power Within, a three and a half day seminar, when I was 19 years old. At this time, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life.

After my first year of University at Carleton in Ottawa, I knew I didn’t want to go back. But that’s all I knew. When I arrived at Robbins’ seminar I was an empty glass waiting to be filled with all the knowledge that Robbins and the other speakers could bestow on me over the course of the few days.

What happened was a lot of jumping, shouting, dancing, and massaging strangers. The energy of having thousands of people in one room dancing together is empowering in and of itself.

All of the speakers came from nothing and became millionaires, and you could be too, but not only that, you now could have more successful relationships, and lead a healthier, happier life.

I left feeling more positive, like I had a head start against the pack.

The impact of the three day seminar lasted longer on me than others. Some people I knew arrived home and went back to their old ways, but I was determined to be better and to not let that lasting feeling disappear.

I worked out everyday for months, even on Christmas. I stuck to the diet Robbins recommended. I focused on the positive affirmations drilled into my brain that we chanted dozens of times every day during the seminar.

Despite my best efforts, life seemingly got in the way. I let go of everything I was so adamant on holding onto for life. How unrealistic and naive I was.

Years passed, I graduated from York University knowing exactly what I wanted to do in life. I knew where I wanted to go, who I wanted to be, and had a better understanding of how the world worked. I figured it out all on my own.

So when I was offered to see Robbins speak again, I wasn’t overly enthusiastic to go.

I was 25 years old, when I went to the Power of Success with Tony Robbins and Friends one day seminar, and I tried to go in with an open mind.

However, this time I saw it for what it was, a way for these successful people to brag to thousands about just how successful they were. Oh, and make a lot of money.

It was one big advertisement.

Each speaker went up maneuvering their speech so you would give them more money. Whether it be a book, a movie, a website, or just another seminar to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars on, every speaker aimed to manipulate the audience into doling out more cash.

Now at 25, I saw the jumping, shouting, dancing, and massages for what they were, a distraction so that we wouldn’t realize there wasn’t enough tangible information to fill a full day’s worth with actual advice.

“Do you want to know the three things you need to lead a better life?” Robbins would bellow from the stage.

And of course everyone screamed yes, but instead of getting to the point, he would say, “I’ll tell you after we all get up and jump around some more.”

Then after half an hour, he would tell you what one of the three things were and then you had to get up and jump again. After he revealed all three, you would realize just how generic and easy to access the advice was.

One of the speakers told us that to be healthier we needed to drink more water.

That was just one of the moments where I saw what was really behind the curtain of the motivational speaker: a desire to make a lot of money, and to make even more money by promoting future projects.

Rachel Hollis, a best-selling author and relationship coach, spoke that day. Her and her husband host their own seminars on healthy marriages.

Ironically, just a month ago, Rachel and Dave Hollis announced after 16 years of marriage they would be getting a divorce.

Both accumulated millions from their relationship advice seminars, while their own relationship was in shambles.

A couple that claimed to have it all figured out–didn’t. Which begs me to wonder how little any of the speakers I saw that day had any of it figured out.

How much of their lives were riddled with insecurities, doubts, and anxieties about their own human existence, just like the rest of us?

They want to paint a picture to the world that they know more than you. And that’s why their seminars are so successful, because we believe it.

If you go to a motivational seminar, your perspective on life might change for the better, or you might realize just how hollow their inspirational words really are.

About Bianca Mazziotti

Bianca Mazziotti is a York University graduate with a Professional Writing degree, who found a passion in reporting. She was fortunate enough to get a reporting job in the beautiful hamlet of Lac La Biche, and she has loved learning about the town and the people in it.